The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

As public debate intensifies about the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on mental health, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 section, considers a poorly documented aspect of early modern medicine… If ever there was an era when despondency was in vogue, it was surely the early seventeenth century. Shakespeare’s plays exploited mental anguish to great dramatic effect, from the love-sick Romeo to … Continue reading The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

What might have been: The Sweating Sickness and the Representation of the County of Cornwall in Henry VII’s first Parliament of 1485-6

In today’s blog, Dr Hannes Kleineke, editor of our Commons 1461-1504 project, looks back to 1485, when a sudden epidemic impacted on the membership of Henry VII’s first parliament… By the time Henry VII overcame Richard III at the battle of Bosworth and claimed the English throne, changes of dynasty or even ruler followed an established pattern. Having successfully asserted a claim to the throne … Continue reading What might have been: The Sweating Sickness and the Representation of the County of Cornwall in Henry VII’s first Parliament of 1485-6

A Queen in Isolation: Mary Beatrice of Modena

On 7 May 1718, James II’s widow, Mary of Modena, died in exile at the palace of St Germain-en-Laye. Displaced as a result of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ Mary had been an important figure for Jacobites and thanks to her good relations with Louis XIV had also established for herself a prominent role in the court of Versailles, where she was granted precedence over all the … Continue reading A Queen in Isolation: Mary Beatrice of Modena

Social Distancing – Medieval Style: a Petition of the Commons in the Parliament of 1439

As discussions turn to how Parliament should operate during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Hannes Kleineke, editor of our 1461-1504 section, looks at the parliament of 1439. When Henry VI reluctantly called Parliament back to Westminster during the ‘Black Death’, MPs had just one request… If the efforts to control the epidemic currently sweeping the world seem unprecedented to those living through them, to medieval Englishmen … Continue reading Social Distancing – Medieval Style: a Petition of the Commons in the Parliament of 1439

‘Where the disease is desperate, the remedy must be so too’: debating the 1721 Quarantine Act

The latest blog for the Georgian Lords considers the topical issue of quarantine. In the 1720s the government was forced to update its quarantine legislation, but as Dr Charles Littleton of our Lords 1715-1790 project shows, it received spirited opposition from members of the House of Lords… In the face of pressure from opposition parties and its own back-benchers, the Johnson government substantially amended the … Continue reading ‘Where the disease is desperate, the remedy must be so too’: debating the 1721 Quarantine Act

Isolation, Containment and Financial Assistance: Parliament’s response to epidemics in the 1640s

In today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie, Assistant Editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, considers self-isolation, social distancing and containing disease in 1640s London. Some of the below may sound quite familiar… As revealed in our recent blog, when MP and diarist Sir Simonds D’Ewes was faced with the plague in mid-1640s London, he and his wife agreed that she would retreat to the safer countryside … Continue reading Isolation, Containment and Financial Assistance: Parliament’s response to epidemics in the 1640s

An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

As we face challenges unfamiliar in modern times, our director, Dr Stephen Roberts, looks back at one parliamentary diarist’s response to disease in the community around him. Sir Simonds D’Ewes (1602-50) is now best known for his parliamentary journal. MP for the Suffolk borough of Sudbury, he entered the House of Commons in November 1640 and kept up a diary in English from day one. … Continue reading An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

The ‘Other’ House of Windsor

As our House of Lords 1604-1629 project nears completion, Dr Paul Hunneyball takes a look at one of the lesser-known peers who feature in the forthcoming volumes… When we use the term ‘House of Windsor’ nowadays, we’re referring to the royal family, who adopted this name in 1917, thereby celebrating their long-standing association with Windsor Castle. However, back in the early 17th century, the ruling … Continue reading The ‘Other’ House of Windsor

The Kidney Stone of Alderman Adams

Continuing the theme of health, medicine and Parliament, Dr Patrick Little of the House of Commons 1640-1660 section looks at how a notable and multifaceted London MP of the mid-17th century provides a vivid illustration of a danger highlighted in very recent clinical trials… The link between the Ig Nobel Prize for improbable research and the 1640-1660 Section of the History of Parliament Trust is … Continue reading The Kidney Stone of Alderman Adams

Parliament and medicine in the early 17th century

Continuing the theme of health, medicine and Parliament, Dr Paul Hunneyball of the Lords 1604-29 Section considers how medical practices and language impacted on parliamentary proceedings under the early Stuarts… History of Parliament biographies contain many incidental details about medicine in the early 17th century, though the picture that emerges is very different from the modern clinical experience. Although anatomical knowledge was improving, the human … Continue reading Parliament and medicine in the early 17th century