A microhistory of a never-married English gentlewoman named Elizabeth Isham, this book centres on an extremely rare piece of women’s writing – a relatively newly discovered 60,000-word spiritual autobiography held in Princeton’s manuscript collections that she penned circa 1639. The document is among the richest extant sources related to early modern women, and offers a wealth of information not only on Elizabeth’s life but also on the seventeenth-century Ishams. Indeed, it is unmatched in providing an inside view of her family relations, her religious beliefs, her reading habits, and, most sensationally, the reasons why she chose never to marry despite desires to the contrary held by her male kin, particularly Sir John Isham, her father. Based on the autobiography, combined with extensive research of the Isham family papers now housed at the county record office in Northampton, the book recreates Elizabeth’s world, placing her in the larger community of Northamptonshire and then reconstructing her family life and the patriarchal authority that she lived under at her home of Lamport Hall. Restoring our historical memory of Elizabeth and her female relations, this reconstruction demonstrates why she wrote her autobiography and the influence that family and religion had on her unmarried state, reading, and confessional identity, expanding our understanding and knowledge about patriarchy, piety, and singlehood in early modern England.
This book examines the varied and fascinating ways in which the series of non-monarchical regimes of England’s civil wars and interregnum interacted with the unique locality and community of Westminster. Westminster (as opposed to London) was traditionally viewed as the ‘royal’ city – the site of Whitehall Palace and the royal courts of justice, its Abbey reputed to be the ‘house of kings’, and its inhabitants assumed to be instinctive followers of the monarch and the royal court. Westminster emerges in this study as a site of extraordinary ambiguities and juxtapositions. The promoters of vigorous moral reformation and a sustained and often intrusive military presence coexisted uneasily with the area’s distinctive forms of elite sociability and luxury. The state’s foremost godly preachers performed in close proximity to royalist churchmen. More generally, the forces of political, religious and cultural conservatism can be observed on the very doorstep of parliament and non-monarchical regimes. Yet for Westminster as a whole, this was the time when the locality became tied to the state more tightly than ever before, while at key moments the town’s distinctive geography and local government played a significant role in shaping the political crises of the period. Chapters analyse the crisis of 1640-42, the use of Westminster’s iconic buildings and spaces by the non-monarchical regimes, the sustained military occupation of the locality, the problems of political allegiance and local government, the religious divisions and practices of the period, and the problematic revival of fashionable society in a time of political tension.
In mid-sixteenth-century England, many figures celebrated the achievements of the nation's few female humanists. This book is a study of five remarkable sixteenth-century women. It contextualizes the evidence of the sisters' reading, evaluates it against the prescription for both their male and female contemporaries, and discusses the role of the sisters themselves in directing their reading. Drawing particularly on the sisters' own writings, it demonstrates that the sisters' education extended far beyond that normally allowed for sixteenth-century women. The book challenges the view that women in this period were excluded from using their formal education to practical effect. The evidence of the Cooke sisters' political activities contributes to scholarship on later Tudor political culture. The Cooke sisters' classical learning allowed them opportunities with the written word, particularly in their activities as translators and poets. The book argues that the sisters were able to turn to their humanist education to provide them with strategies for bolstering their advice, particularly over issues of politics and religion, the most contentious areas for female counsel. It looks at the political agency demonstrated in Cooke sisters' correspondence by letters, demonstrating female detailed understanding of and contribution to issues central to Elizabethan politics. The contribution of the Cooke sisters provides another perspective on the key issues of Elizabethan diplomacy, the Queen's marriage and the political divisions of the 1590s. The book also offers a warning against the methodology of past research on the stereotype of the learned woman.
The Leveller movement of the 1640s campaigned for religious toleration and a radical remaking of politics after the English civil war. This book challenges received ideas about the Levellers as social contract theorists and Leveller thought as a mere radicalization of parliamentarian thought, analysing the writings of the Leveller leaders John Lilburne, Richard Overton, and William Walywn to show that that the Levellers’ originality lay in their subtle and unexpected combination of different strands within parliamentarianism. The first part of the book offers a systematic analysis of different aspects of the Levellers’ developing political thought, considering their accounts of the origins of government, their developing views on the relationship between parliament and people, their use of the language of the law, and their understanding of the relationship between religious liberty and political life. Two concluding chapters examine the Levellers’ relationship with the New Model Army and the influence of the Levellers on the republican thought of the 1650s. The book takes full account of revisionist and post-revisionist scholarship, and contributes to historical debates on the development of radical and republican politics in the civil war period, the nature of tolerationist thought, the significance of the Leveller movement, and the extent of Leveller influence in the ranks of the New Model Army.
Doubtful and Dangerous examines the pivotal influence of the succession question on the politics, religion and culture of the post-Armada years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Although the earlier Elizabethan succession controversy has long captured the interest of historians and literary scholars, the later period has suffered from relative obscurity. Our book remedies this situation. Taking a thematic and interdisciplinary approach, individual chapters demonstrate that key late Elizabethan texts – literary, political and polemical – cannot be understood without reference to the succession. The chapters also reveal how the issue affected court politics, lay at the heart of religious disputes (notably the Archpriest controversy), stimulated constitutional innovation, and shaped archipelagic and continental relationships. By situating the topic within its historiographical and chronological contexts, the editors offer a revised account of the whole reign, challenging many established interpretations. The book brings together scholars from the fields of literature and history working in England and the US. Most are distinguished academics, such as Patrick Collinson whose last work is published here; others are younger scholars who are already making their mark on early modern studies. Interdisciplinary in scope and spanning the crucial transition from the Tudors to the Stuarts, the book will be indispensable to scholars and students of early modern British and Irish history, literature, religion, and culture.
This book is a response to a demand for a history which is no less social than political, investigating what it meant to be a citizen of England living through the 1570s and 1580s. It examines the growing conviction of ‘Englishness’ in the sixteenth century, through the rapidly developing English language; the reinforcement of cultural nationalism as a result of the Protestant Reformation; the national and international situation of England at a time of acute national catastrophe; and through Queen Elizabeth I, the last of her line, who remained unmarried throughout her reign, refusing to even discuss the succession to her throne. The book explores the conviction among leading Elizabethans that they were citizens and subjects, also responsible for the safety of their commonwealth. The tensions between this conviction, born from a childhood spent in the Renaissance classics and in the subjection to the Old Testament of the English Bible, and the dynastic claims of the Tudor monarchy, are all explored at length. Studies of a number of writers who fixed the image of sixteenth-century England for some time to come; Foxe, Camden and other pioneers of the discovery of England are also included.
This book explores the religious, political and cultural implications of a collision of highly charged polemic prompted by the mass ejection of Puritan ministers from the Church of England in 1662, providing an in-depth study of this heated exchange centring on the departing ministers' farewell sermons. Many of these valedictions, delivered by hundreds of dissenting preachers in the weeks before Bartholomew's Day, would be illegally printed and widely distributed, provoking a furious response from government officials, magistrates and bishops. The book re-interprets the political significance of ostensibly moderate Puritan clergy, arguing that their preaching posed a credible threat to the restored political order.
This book looks at the interrelationship between nationalism and theatre in the Jacobean period. It also looks at the creation of a British identity brought about by the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603. The most significant political legacy of James's national project was the creation of an emphatically British identity among the settlers from both England and Scotland who planted Ulster. A series of plays in London's theatres was staging the lives of a group of earlier British rulers. The theatre of the Jacobean period does not rest on Shakespeare alone. What emerges in the study of the London stages in this period is that his work fits into a wider framework of dramatic material discoursing on not just the Union, but on issues of war, religion and overseas exploration. Under James VI and I, the discourse on empire changed to meet the new expansion overseas, and also the practicality of a Scottish king whose person fulfilled the criteria of King of 'Great Britain' in a way that Elizabeth never could. For James VI and I, Shakespeare's play was a celebration of the British imperium that seemed secure in the figures of Henry, Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and the Princess Elizabeth. The repertoire of the theatre companies suggests that in terms of public opinion there was a great deal of consensus regarding the direction of foreign policy.
This collection of essays is set up to explore the dynamics of local/national political culture in seventeenth-century Britain, with particular reference to political communication. It examines the degree to which connections were forged between politics in London, Whitehall and Westminster, and politics in the localities, and the patterns and processes that can be recovered. The fundamental goal is to foster a dialogue between two prominent strands within recent historiography, and between the work of social and political historians of the early modern period. Chapters by leading historians of Stuart Britain examine how the state worked to communicate with its people and how local communities, often far from the metropole, opened their own lines of communication with the centre. The volume then is not meant to be an exhaustive study of all forms of political communication but it nevertheless highlights a variety of ways this agenda can be addressed. At present there is ongoing work on subscriptional culture across the nation from petitioning to Protestation, loyal addresses, lobbying and litigation to name but a few. It is hoped that this volume will provide a reminder of the gains to be made by placing political communication at the heart of both social and political history and to provide an impetus for further scholarship.
This book offers historical reappraisals of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the early modern anglophone world. Prompted by modern debates about whether or not limitations on free expression might be necessary given religious pluralism and concerns about hate speech, it brings together historians, political theorists and literary scholars, and offers a longue durée approach to the topic. It integrates religion into the history of free speech, and rethinks what is sometimes regarded as a coherent tradition of more or less absolutist justifications for free expression. Contributors examine the aims and effectiveness of government policies, the sometimes messy and contingent ways in which freedom of speech became a reality, and a wide range of canonical and non-canonical texts in which contemporaries outlined their ideas and ideals. It is shown that – on this issue at least – the period from 1500 to 1850 is a coherent one, in terms of how successive governments reflected on the possibility of regulation, and in terms of claims that were and were not made for freedom of speech. While not denying that change can be detected across this period, in terms of both ideas and practices, it demonstrates that the issues, arguments and aims involved were more or less distinct from those that characterise modern debates. As a collection it will be of interest to religious and political historians, intellectual historians and literary scholars, and to anyone interested in the history of one of the most important and thorny issues in modern society.