Publication of the 1604-29 House of Lords volumes

The publication in January this year of The House of Lords, 1604-29 represents the culmination of ten years of writing and research by a dedicated team of four scholars led by Dr Andrew Thrush. Comprising two volumes of biographies extending in length to more than 1,600,000 words, and a separate Introductory Survey, this latest addition to the History of Parliament series complements and enhances the … Continue reading Publication of the 1604-29 House of Lords volumes

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

‘Death-bed disinherison by so foul a practice’: Parliament, the Vanlore heiresses and an early modern whodunnit

In Women’s History month, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 section, looks at how petitions to Parliament can lift the lid on the private lives of privileged women and, in the struggle to secure property rights, reveal a dark underside of manipulation, prejudice, violence, the desperation of the childless and even murder … Throughout the turmoil of the civil wars and interregnum, … Continue reading ‘Death-bed disinherison by so foul a practice’: Parliament, the Vanlore heiresses and an early modern whodunnit

From Chicken House to Palace: 10 Downing Street in the 18th century

In February 1742, Sir Robert Walpole, newly ennobled as earl of Orford quit 10 Downing Street for the last time. It was expected that his successor, the earl of Wilmington, would replace him there, but in the event it was the chancellor of the exchequer who took up residence instead. As part of our posts marking the 300th anniversary of Walpole becoming Prime Minister, Dr … Continue reading From Chicken House to Palace: 10 Downing Street in the 18th century

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

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

Did the Puritans ban Christmas dinner?

The Puritans are often accused of banning Christmas, and although the House of Commons did sit on Christmas Day during the English Republic, Dr Stephen Roberts felt the need to do a little myth-busting about the wholesale cancellation of Christmas during the interregnum, by way of the Christmas dinner table… Two images of the mid-17th century Christmas stick in the mind. The documented one is … Continue reading Did the Puritans ban Christmas dinner?

Taking back control of a ‘disordered and distracted nation’: the Provisional Government 11-25 December 1688

As many of us face a very unusual and unsettled Christmas due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are reminded that Christmases of past have also been observed during periods of great uncertainty. In today’s blog Dr Robin Eagles of our House of Lords 1715-90 project explores the Provisional Government that followed the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688… In the winter of 1688, the country briefly … Continue reading Taking back control of a ‘disordered and distracted nation’: the Provisional Government 11-25 December 1688