Legislature meets library: Parliament at Oxford in 1625

As part of our Parliament away from Westminster series, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explores the factors which led to England’s oldest university hosting Parliament for the first time since 1258… In July 1625 Charles I faced the first crisis of his reign. England was currently at war with Spain, and the king urgently needed money to fund a fresh campaign. Parliament … Continue reading Legislature meets library: Parliament at Oxford in 1625

Commemorating same-sex desire in early modern England

To mark LGBT History Month 2022, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project considers a paradox in perceptions of same-sex relationships four hundred years ago… Very few declarations of same-sex love survive from early-17th-century England, and generally they occur only in private correspondence, such as that of James I and his favourite George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham. However, tucked away in central Cambridge … Continue reading Commemorating same-sex desire in early modern England

The Love Life of Oliver Cromwell

In the second of his posts exploring the popular reputation of the lord protector, Dr Patrick Little, senior research fellow on our Commons 1640-1660 project, takes a look at his private life… Stories of Oliver Cromwell’s sexual adventures became commonplace after the Restoration. Two rumours circulated. In the first, he was linked with Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart in her own right, wife of the … Continue reading The Love Life of Oliver Cromwell

Oliver the red-nosed protector: Cromwell’s physiognomy revisited

In today’s blog we hear from Patrick Little, senior research fellow in our Commons 1640-1660 project, who is looking into one of Oliver Cromwell’s more famous assets… Oliver Cromwell is famous for his warts. In the Horrible Histories series, the volume devoted to the lord protector is called Oliver Cromwell and his Warts; a Google search of ‘Cromwell warts’ yields 1.4 million results; ‘warts and … Continue reading Oliver the red-nosed protector: Cromwell’s physiognomy revisited

What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

Accusations of political sleaze are on the rise again, but the concept of government insiders profiting from the system is nothing new, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project explains… If the Committee on Standards in Public Life had existed 400 years ago, it would have needed a rather different remit. While Jacobean politicians periodically attacked corruption and venality in government, it was … Continue reading What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

‘The Downe-fall of Dagon’: the post-Reformation campaign against Cheapside Cross

The recent trend of attacks on statues with uncomfortable moral or historical associations is nothing new; Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project considers the parallels with early modern English iconoclasm… In November 1290 the queen consort, Eleanor of Castile, died in Nottinghamshire. Her grief-stricken husband, Edward I, subsequently constructed 12 stone monuments, the so-called Eleanor crosses, along the route of her funeral procession … Continue reading ‘The Downe-fall of Dagon’: the post-Reformation campaign against Cheapside Cross

Red Streak: cider-making and drinking in Cromwellian Herefordshire

As we contemplate the further lifting of Covid restrictions on hospitality venues, Dr Patrick Little of our Commons 1640-1660 project looks at the pleasures and pitfalls of drinking a native beverage in the seventeenth century, and the science behind its production… Cider has been produced in England since Norman times, if not before, with different traditions emerging in the east (notably East Anglia and Kent) … Continue reading Red Streak: cider-making and drinking in Cromwellian Herefordshire

Edward, Lord Stafford and the 1621 parliamentary protections scandal

Four hundred years ago this month, in an unprecedented move forced on it by circumstances, Parliament adjourned for more than five months. As Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains, this seemingly innocuous procedural move had unfortunate and unintended consequences… The 1621 Parliament is now chiefly remembered for its sustained attacks on corruption in high places. The lord chancellor, Francis Bacon, Viscount St … Continue reading Edward, Lord Stafford and the 1621 parliamentary protections scandal

Three degrees of separation: alternatives to divorce in early modern England

As part of the History of Parliament’s blog series on marriage, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 project, considers the options available four centuries ago to those whose marriages had broken down… Contrary to popular belief, Henry VIII never got divorced. In sixteenth-century England, the option of divorce as we now understand it didn’t exist. The only way to end a marriage … Continue reading Three degrees of separation: alternatives to divorce in early modern England

Benjamin Valentine and the politics of protest

Prompted by the recent assault on the United States Congress, and the passions which fuelled that incident, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of our Lords 1558-1603 section, considers an English MP of the early 17th century who similarly refused to accept defeat… Benjamin Valentine is remembered today almost entirely for his part in the 1629 ‘riot’ in the House of Commons which helped to precipitate … Continue reading Benjamin Valentine and the politics of protest