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

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

Commemorating same-sex desire in early modern England

To mark LGBT History Month 2022, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project considers a paradox in perceptions of same-sex relationships four hundred years ago… Very few declarations of same-sex love survive from early-17th-century England, and generally they occur only in private correspondence, such as that of James I and his favourite George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham. However, tucked away in central Cambridge … Continue reading Commemorating same-sex desire in early modern England

Disability at Court in Early Modern England

As the UK marks Disability History Month over the next few weeks, in today’s blog Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our Lords 1558-1603 project, looks into the prominent early modern figures who had physical disabilities and their treatment at court… Writing in the late 1590s to his sister-in-law, the dowager Lady Stourton, Secretary of State Sir Robert Cecil observed that it was ‘the fashion of … Continue reading Disability at Court in Early Modern England

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

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

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

‘None can sit here but a natural liegeman’: Scots at Westminster in the Jacobean era

As a prelude to this month’s spotlight on politics in Scotland to mark St Andrew’s Day, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the House of Lords 1558-1603 project, examines one of the most sensitive questions in early 17th century politics – should Scots be allowed to sit in English parliaments?…  Historical perceptions can be deceptive. The year 1603 is now primarily remembered as the moment when … Continue reading ‘None can sit here but a natural liegeman’: Scots at Westminster in the Jacobean era

Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

As we approach Bonfire Night on 5 November, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project ponders whether we should be remembering a much more prestigious figure than Guy Fawkes… The Gunpowder Plot is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of British history. For more than four centuries we’ve commemorated the scheme’s failure – but if it had succeeded, and the House of Lords had … Continue reading Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

The Mayflower: The New England men at Westminster, 1640-1660

In September 1620, the ship Mayflower set sail, transporting the first Puritan separatists to the ‘New World’. But, even thousands of miles across the sea, ‘New England’ would not be unfamiliar to many of those in Westminster, as our director Dr Stephen Roberts explores… Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, Devon, in September 1620, reaching what became New Plymouth, on the eastern coast of America, in November. … Continue reading The Mayflower: The New England men at Westminster, 1640-1660