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

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

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

Religion, relief and the ‘slaughtered saints’: foreign aid in the seventeenth century

As modern-day discussions on how best to help nations across the world fight the COVID-19 pandemic continue, in today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie from our Commons 1640-1660 project looks into the notion of foreign aid in the 17th century. When, in 1655, a Protestant group faced religious persecution in Europe, the government rushed to their aid… ‘Avenge, o Lord, thy slaughtered saints/ Whose bones lie … Continue reading Religion, relief and the ‘slaughtered saints’: foreign aid in the seventeenth century

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

An Indispensable Member? Legal expertise in the Long Parliament, ‘an ancient lawyer’ and civil war intimidation

In the past, as with now, it was not uncommon to find those trained in the practice of law seated on the benches of Parliament. In today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, looks into the tumultuous political career of one such lawyer in the 17th century, John Whistler. With their expertise at a premium in the drafting of legislation, … Continue reading An Indispensable Member? Legal expertise in the Long Parliament, ‘an ancient lawyer’ and civil war intimidation

‘What a theatre is the House of Commons!’

In today’s blog we hear from the History of Parliament’s director Dr Paul Seaward, continuing our recent theme of Parliament and theatre. However, as Dr Seaward explains, sometimes Parliament is a theatre all of its own.. Although the English parliament had existed for centuries already, the first descriptions we have of either chamber come after the sittings of the house of commons were relocated to … Continue reading ‘What a theatre is the House of Commons!’