Immigrants and refugees at Westminster: the foreign ancestry of mid-17th century MPs

With refugee crises and immigration back in the news, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 section, considers how these issues impacted on the character of the House of Commons nearly 400 years ago… Business involving immigrants and refugees was not uncommon in mid-seventeenth century Parliaments. Petitions for naturalization, the trading rights of ‘stranger’ merchants, provision for destitute fugitives arriving in England and … Continue reading Immigrants and refugees at Westminster: the foreign ancestry of mid-17th century MPs

What did the Elizabethan House of Lords look like?

This might seem like a simple question but, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project explains, the answer is anything but straightforward… In 21st-century Britain, we take it for granted that we know what our parliamentary chambers look like. At Westminster, both the House of Commons and House of Lords are open to visitors, and parliamentary debates are recorded on television and illustrated … Continue reading What did the Elizabethan House of Lords look like?

‘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

The Great Survivor: Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, 1540-1614

In today’s blog we hear from Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our Lords 1558-1603 project, on the elusive career of Henry Howard, earl of Northampton. Howard’s shrewd political manoeuvres allowed him to evade attention from government officials throughout his career and often evade attention from historians- until now! In medieval and early modern England, membership of the nobility could be a decidedly mixed blessing, at … Continue reading The Great Survivor: Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, 1540-1614

England’s Return to Protestantism, 1559

In the first of a new series of blogs on the Elizabethan period, Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our 1558-1603 House of Lords project, discusses the last-minute attempts by the bench of Catholic bishops to thwart Elizabeth I’s reintroduction of Protestantism. He also draws attention to an important, if little appreciated, date in the re-establishment of the English Protestant state, as it was on 24 … Continue reading England’s Return to Protestantism, 1559

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

Elizabeth I, the ‘estate of marriage’, and the 1559 Parliament

To mark Women’s History Month, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of our Lords 1558-1603 section, recalls the first public statement by the ‘Virgin Queen’ that she had no plans to marry, and the incomprehension with which her (male) subjects reacted… The first Parliament summoned by Elizabeth I opened on 25 January 1559 with a packed agenda. Urgent business in the opening days included a new … Continue reading Elizabeth I, the ‘estate of marriage’, and the 1559 Parliament

St David’s Day: Parliament and the Welsh Language/Dydd Gwyl Dewi: Y Senedd a’r Iaith Gymraeg.

To mark St David’s Day this year, we are publishing a translation into Welsh of a blog written in 2018, which provides an overview of relations between the Westminster Parliament and the Welsh language. There will no doubt be future legislation on the language, but its locus will be the Senedd in Cardiff rather than the Houses of Parliament in London. We are very grateful … Continue reading St David’s Day: Parliament and the Welsh Language/Dydd Gwyl Dewi: Y Senedd a’r Iaith Gymraeg.

Anglo-Dutch Fishing Disputes and the Sovereignty of the Seas, 1558-1640

Recent trade negotiations between the UK and the EU have shone a spotlight on European fishing rights in British territorial waters. While Britain sought to control access to her waters, arguing that her sovereignty was at stake, the EU expected to continue large-scale fishing in these same seas. Historians of early modern England might be forgiven for thinking that we have been here before, as … Continue reading Anglo-Dutch Fishing Disputes and the Sovereignty of the Seas, 1558-1640

An English baron in early 17th century America: Thomas West (1577-1618), 3rd Baron De La Warr

To mark Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States, Dr Ben Coates of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains the surprising connection between the state of Delaware and the English peerage… The new American president, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., was born in Pennsylvania, but moved as a child to Delaware, which he subsequently represented in Congress as a senator for over 30 … Continue reading An English baron in early 17th century America: Thomas West (1577-1618), 3rd Baron De La Warr