Levelling the Lords

In the inaugural blog of our Revolutionary Stuart Parliaments series, the editor of our new House of Lords 1640-60 section Dr David Scott, and Dr Sarah Mortimer of Christ Church, Oxford, consider the politics behind the abolition of the House of Lords in 1649… In November 1648, after a summer and autumn of hard-fought victories against royalist insurgents and Scottish invaders, the New Model Army … Continue reading Levelling the Lords

‘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

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

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

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

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

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

Religion, relief and the ‘slaughtered saints’: foreign aid in the seventeenth century

As modern-day discussions on how best to help nations across the world fight the COVID-19 pandemic continue, in today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie from our Commons 1640-1660 project looks into the notion of foreign aid in the 17th century. When, in 1655, a Protestant group faced religious persecution in Europe, the government rushed to their aid… ‘Avenge, o Lord, thy slaughtered saints/ Whose bones lie … Continue reading Religion, relief and the ‘slaughtered saints’: foreign aid in the seventeenth century

Oliver Cromwell’s Western Designer

In today’s blog Dr David Scott, senior research fellow for our Commons 1640-1660 project, continues our look at parliamentary links to the trade of enslaved people and colonial expansion in the seventeenth century. The name Martin Noell may not be familiar nowadays, but this notorious merchant trader rose to prominence during the interregnum and his legacy ought not to be overlooked when considering Parliament’s colonial … Continue reading Oliver Cromwell’s Western Designer