‘Never ending war’ and ‘the enriching of Parliament-men’: MPs and corruption in the 1640s

In the second of two blogs from Dr Vivienne Larminie, editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, here attention is turned to accusations of corruption and financial incentives in the Parliaments of the 1640s… In the 1630s the venom-filled pen of pamphleteer William Prynne had excoriated the court of Charles I for what he regarded as immorality and corruption. But by the later 1640s, a seemingly … Continue reading ‘Never ending war’ and ‘the enriching of Parliament-men’: MPs and corruption in the 1640s

Charles I in search of friends: government in crisis and the rewards of loyalty, 1640-1644

Today we hear from Dr Vivienne Larminie, editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, who discusses Charles I’s attempts to secure loyalty by giving out peerages and other honours in the early 1640s… By late 1640 the government of Charles I was in deep trouble. A treaty signed at Ripon on 26 October signalled the end of three years of war against his Scottish subjects – the … Continue reading Charles I in search of friends: government in crisis and the rewards of loyalty, 1640-1644

William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke: the ‘nearly man’ of early Stuart politics

As we wait to hear who has triumphed in the latest contest to become prime minister, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section considers a leading 17th-century courtier who seemed destined for the top, but never quite made it… It’s tempting to assume that present-day politics has little in common with government 400 years ago, but in fact there are quite strong parallels.  Then … Continue reading William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke: the ‘nearly man’ of early Stuart politics

A month in politics: the fall of Protector Richard Cromwell, 1659

As we ponder the abrupt end to Boris Johnson’s premiership, Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-60 section offers a salutary reminder that the sudden collapse of a government is far from unprecedented in British history… Reporting on events at Whitehall palace on 6 April 1659, weekly newspaper The Publick Intelligencer depicted a harmonious outcome to a potentially dangerous political confrontation. That evening, ‘in one … Continue reading A month in politics: the fall of Protector Richard Cromwell, 1659

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

The jubilee tour of King James VI and I

In the 21st century, royal visits are often quite brief events, with high-speed travel, and an emphasis on public appearances and social events, rather than affairs of state. Four hundred years ago the picture was very different, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains… In March 1603, following the death of Elizabeth I, her cousin James VI of Scotland became James I … Continue reading The jubilee tour of King James VI and I

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