The Love Life of Oliver Cromwell

In the second of his posts exploring the popular reputation of the lord protector, Dr Patrick Little, senior research fellow on our Commons 1640-1660 project, takes a look at his private life… Stories of Oliver Cromwell’s sexual adventures became commonplace after the Restoration. Two rumours circulated. In the first, he was linked with Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart in her own right, wife of the … Continue reading The Love Life of Oliver Cromwell

Oliver the red-nosed protector: Cromwell’s physiognomy revisited

In today’s blog we hear from Patrick Little, senior research fellow in our Commons 1640-1660 project, who is looking into one of Oliver Cromwell’s more famous assets… Oliver Cromwell is famous for his warts. In the Horrible Histories series, the volume devoted to the lord protector is called Oliver Cromwell and his Warts; a Google search of ‘Cromwell warts’ yields 1.4 million results; ‘warts and … Continue reading Oliver the red-nosed protector: Cromwell’s physiognomy revisited

Plots, petitions, prelates and popery: Parliament and the ‘tumults’ of December 1641

December 1641 was a month of high tension in Parliament, as Dr Vivienne Larminie from our Commons 1640-1660 project explores… It was after fierce debate that on 9 December 1641 MPs expelled three of their number from Parliament. After months of leaks, rumours and investigations, the Commons finally resolved that Henry Wilmot, William Ashbournham and Sir Hugh Pollarde stood accused of misprision of treason, a … Continue reading Plots, petitions, prelates and popery: Parliament and the ‘tumults’ of December 1641

The good, the bad and the visually memorable: characterising the Commons 1640-1660

With Westminster once more ringing with allegations of corruption, it is as well to recall that MPs have rarely been elected on account of their unimpeachable conduct. And, as Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-60 section explains, while modern politics is sometimes dubbed a ‘beauty contest’, quite a few mid-seventeenth-century Members were eye-catching for the wrong reasons… The make-up of the House of Commons … Continue reading The good, the bad and the visually memorable: characterising the Commons 1640-1660

The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1613

On our blog today Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our House of Lords 1558-1603 project, takes a look at an infamous murder that took place in 1613, and asks why foul play wasn’t suspected until two years later… In the early hours of the morning of 15 September 1613, Sir Thomas Overbury, the former friend and mentor of the royal favourite Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, … Continue reading The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1613

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

‘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