Lady Frances Balfour:  A Woman in Parliament before Enfranchisement

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Professor Susan Pedersen of Columbia University. On 24 May 2022, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., Susan will be presenting a paper on Lady Frances Balfour and responding to questions. Details of how to sign up for the Zoom seminar are available here. When we tell the dramatic story of women’s long campaign … Continue reading Lady Frances Balfour:  A Woman in Parliament before Enfranchisement

Parliament and the Politics of intimidation in Medieval England

As some of our previous blogs demonstrate, Medieval parliamentarians were no stranger to acts of physical violence. However as Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project suggests, sometimes the mere threat was enough to influence political change… It is a central tenet of parliamentary history that the political complexion of a Parliament was determined by its membership, particularly that of its fluctuating electoral element, … Continue reading Parliament and the Politics of intimidation in Medieval England

‘Why not you?’ Sir John Cust, reluctant Speaker of the House of Commons

It is one of Westminster’s many traditions that, when an MP is elected to the role of Speaker of the House of Commons, they must show reluctance to accept the title and even be ceremonially dragged to the chair. However as Dr Robin Eagles from our Lords 1715-1790 project explores, Sir John Cust, Speaker 1761-1770, may not have been faking his lack of enthusiasm for … Continue reading ‘Why not you?’ Sir John Cust, reluctant Speaker of the House of Commons

Sir William Oldhall, Speaker in the Parliament of 1450-1

In recent months we have been looking into some of the more notable parliamentarians to hold the post of ‘Speaker’ throughout history. In today’s blog Charles Moreton from our Commons 1461-1504 project discusses Sir William Oldhall, a long-term ally to Richard, duke of York… One of the better known fifteenth-century Speakers, Sir William Oldhall owed his political career to his association with Richard, duke of … Continue reading Sir William Oldhall, Speaker in the Parliament of 1450-1

The true premier? Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland

300 years ago, on 19 April 1722, Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, Walpole’s rival for the premiership, died following his stakhanovite efforts during that year’s general election. Dr Robin Eagles reconsiders Sunderland’s legacy and his claim to have been George I’s first premier. Sunderland had been under enormous pressure for well over two years before, having been caught up in the South Sea Bubble, … Continue reading The true premier? Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland

The English Revolution and the History of Majority Rule

In our latest blog we’re returning to the ‘Recovering Europe’s Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700’ project. Since autumn 2021, we have been working with the University of Oxford and the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Oxford to put together series of blogs that explore European Parliamentary Culture. The series is focused on the Early Modern period – roughly 1500-1700 – but they have ranged more widely, seeking to bring in some scholars of … Continue reading The English Revolution and the History of Majority Rule

Women Speakers and Deputy Speakers

As we have seen in some of our previous blogs, the role of Speaker of the House has a long history, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that women took to the Speaker’s Chair. Through the History of Parliament Oral History Project we have been able to interview some of the female former MPs who occupied the roles of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, … Continue reading Women Speakers and Deputy Speakers

‘Am I not your uncle?’: John of Gaunt, the murder of Friar Latimer and the Salisbury Parliament of 1384

Recently on the History of Parliament blog we have been looking into some of the occasions when Parliament met away from Westminster. In April 1384 they gathered in Salisbury, but it was not the location that made the events of this session so interesting, as Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project describes… The Parliament which was summoned to meet on 29 April 1384 … Continue reading ‘Am I not your uncle?’: John of Gaunt, the murder of Friar Latimer and the Salisbury Parliament of 1384

Parliament and the removal of a political leader: a fifteenth-century example

Despite Westminster’s image as the home of Parliament, throughout our project there are many examples of members gathering in other locations. On 10 February 1447 Parliament met away from London, in Bury St Edmunds, with a particular purpose in mind, as Dr Charles Moreton from our Commons 1461-1504 section explains… The Parliament of 1447, which assembled on 10 February 1447, is noteworthy for its brevity, … Continue reading Parliament and the removal of a political leader: a fifteenth-century example

Silence and Laughter in the Cromwellian House of Commons

On our blog we have often heard about the origins of the many strange and enduring traditions that exist within Westminster. In today’s blog Dr Patrick Little from our Commons 1640-1660 project takes a look at the use of non-verbal reactions within the Cromwellian Commons Chamber… When trying to understand debates in early modern Parliaments, historians rely on diaries: the private journals kept by individual … Continue reading Silence and Laughter in the Cromwellian House of Commons