Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

As the restoration of the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower reaches its final stages this summer, Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our House of Lords 1715-1790 project, takes a look at the clock tower that existed before ‘Big Ben’… The story of the at times fraught development of the clock tower of the palace of Westminster is well known. A late addition to Charles Barry’s … Continue reading Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

One of our seals is missing! How a summer vacation brought Charles I’s government to a grinding halt

During the coronavirus pandemic we have grown used to government interventions disrupting our travel plans. However, in 1625 the government itself was disrupted by a holiday in Wales, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains… In the context of contemporary British government, the office of lord privy seal – more correctly lord keeper of the privy seal – is a non-job, a … Continue reading One of our seals is missing! How a summer vacation brought Charles I’s government to a grinding halt

‘Queen Mary’, Queen Elizabeth and Parliament in the 1640s: suspicion, solidarity and nostalgia

As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates a milestone 70 years on the throne this month, we have been thinking about the relationships that other Queens throughout history had with Parliament. In 1625 Charles I married French Princess Henrietta Maria, but his Consort faced heavy comparison to other female monarchs, as Dr Vivienne Larminie from our Commons 1640-1660 project explains… The breakdown in relations between Charles I … Continue reading ‘Queen Mary’, Queen Elizabeth and Parliament in the 1640s: suspicion, solidarity and nostalgia

Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700: The State of Research

In our latest blog we’re returning to the ‘Recovering Europe’s Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700’ project. Since autumn 2021, we have been working with the University of Oxford and the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Oxford to put together series of blogs that explore European Parliamentary Culture. The series is focused on the Early Modern period – roughly 1500-1700 – but they have ranged more widely, seeking to bring in some scholars of … Continue reading Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700: The State of Research

Episcopalians, puritans, presbyterians and sectaries: contesting the Church of England in the mid seventeenth century

If you visualize religious history in the 1640s and 1650s as a blanket triumph of puritanism, think again. As Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 section explains, the real picture was much more complex… As noted in previous blogs, the myth of tight and uniformly repressive puritan rule in the mid-seventeenth has proved hard to shift. Likewise, the blame for much iconoclasm … Continue reading Episcopalians, puritans, presbyterians and sectaries: contesting the Church of England in the mid seventeenth century

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

Sitting at Oxford: the convening of Charles I’s ‘Mongrel Parliament’, January 1644

Throughout its history, Parliament has been no stranger to meeting in Oxford. Dr Vivienne Larminie, editor of our Commons 1640-1660, continues our look at Parliaments away from Westminster by exploring the unusual so-called ‘Mongrel Parliament’, which gathered in January 1644… As has been noted previously, four times in the seventeenth century alone, a Parliament met at Oxford. Epidemic or the threat of popular unrest led … Continue reading Sitting at Oxford: the convening of Charles I’s ‘Mongrel Parliament’, January 1644

After the Levellers: On the Non-Mysterious Disappearance of Parliamentary Reform in England

In our latest blog we’re returning to the ‘Recovering Europe’s Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700’ project. Since late September, we’ve been working with the University of Oxford and the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Oxford to put together series of blogs that explore European Parliamentary Culture. The series is focused on the Early Modern period – roughly 1500-1700 – but they have ranged more widely, seeking to bring in some scholars of the … Continue reading After the Levellers: On the Non-Mysterious Disappearance of Parliamentary Reform in England

Lies, stories, misinformation and collective memory: extracting vipers and unmasking cavaliers in the 1659 Parliament

‘Fake news’ might seem like a modern concept, but there’s nothing new about attempts to disguise, misrepresent or reinvent the past, as Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-60 project explains… Debates on whether to exclude from the House of Commons MPs deemed ineligible or delinquent always had an element of theatre. By the end of the interregnum they also illuminate the collective memory of … Continue reading Lies, stories, misinformation and collective memory: extracting vipers and unmasking cavaliers in the 1659 Parliament

March 1672: The Declaration of Indulgence

In March 1672 Charles II issued a document to remove harsh sanctions against religious non-conformity. But what brought about this ‘Declaration of Indulgence’ and why was a supposedly tolerant measure met with heavy criticism? History of Parliament Director Dr Paul Seaward explores… On 15 March 1672, 350 years ago, the English government issued a document headed His Majesty’s Declaration to all his loving subjects, but … Continue reading March 1672: The Declaration of Indulgence