Twelve friends of the late Mark Kishlansky reconsider the meanings of England’s mid-seventeenth-century revolution. Their essays range widely: from shipboard to urban conflicts; from court sermons to local finances; from debates over hairstyles to debates over the meanings of regicide; from courtrooms to pamphlet wars; and from religious rights to human rights. Taken together, these essays indicate how we might improve our understanding of a turbulent epoch in political history by approaching it more modestly and quietly than historians of recent decades have often done.
Paul D. Halliday, Eleanor Hubbard, and Scott Sowerby
MarkKishlansky had his damascene moment as an undergraduate. From that time, he wrote, ‘I have never wanted to study anything’ besides British political history. 1 The essays in this volume reflect Mark’s fascination with politics as the impulsive force coursing through collective life; they express his concern with the dramatic transformations of politics from roughly 1620 to 1660. Few would disagree with Mark that English people rethought and rebuilt their political order in this period. Politics was revolutionised. A monarchy was transformed.
considers the nature of the Parliamentarian cause, and of the war-time Parliamentarian state, linking these issues to the discussion of Parliamentarian politics in MarkKishlansky’s stimulating and provocative Rise of the New Model Army , published in 1979 and now perhaps unduly neglected. 5 A focus on the Scots, who are central to Kishlansky’s analysis, brings these issues together, while the West Midlands material, in particular, suggests something of the complex and contradictory ways in which local grievances interacted with national or indeed transnational
and language of voting more than the content of decisions being made. An investigation of these basic processes shows the multiple forces at play in voting: structures and language of consensus, hierarchy and deference wrestled with majority decisions, individual voice and claims of right to participate.
MarkKishlansky’s seminal book Parliamentary Selection changed our understanding of politics in early modern England. He argued that in the early Stuart period, the mechanisms of elections demonstrated community acclaim for those standing for office, avoided
longer simply date all of the causes of
conflict in early Stuart England to 1625, as the grand remonstrance did, they
have tended to draw a sharp distinction between the abilities of the flexible,
wily James and his rigid and untrustworthy son.4 MarkKishlansky has warned
against ‘pulling down the reputation of James’ in order to bring him in to
balance with Charles.5 Nevertheless, this study has tended to place greater
emphasis on the continuities between the reigns of the two early Stuarts,
during a decade in which they faced similar problems and were both under
Robert Skinner explains the ideological underpinnings of the Personal Rule
However intrinsically interesting they may seem to be, it is almost never a good idea to advance large claims on the basis of newly discovered or little regarded sources. There are limits to how far one source can be pushed and there is always a chance that the material may not be either as novel or as important as the first flush of discovery makes it appear. But in emulation of MarkKishlansky, that is what I will do here.
The manuscripts in question are a set of sermons preached at court throughout the 1630s by Robert Skinner (1591–1670). I still remember
the imminent possibility of mutual human goodness by which universal rights might be enjoyed in keeping with the expectations of an immanent God. In our own world brutalized by total war, genocide, and famine, it is easy to dismiss such ideas as romantic nonsense. But this is why we might want to tell the story of the human rights revolution we cannot see. By doing so, we might identify the human rights we do not have.
Winstanley’s ideas were nothing if not revolutionary. MarkKishlansky noted how he ‘expounded his ideas in a vivid, stream-of-consciousness prose
Necessity, public law and the common law emergency in the Case of Ship Money
David Chan Smith
proceedings ultimately memorialized the defeat of the Ship Money decision as a vindication of the true rights of the subject against the pretensions of Charles I and his craven judiciary.
Parliament, in fact, always had the better story to tell about the case of Ship Money . In its account, the levying of the tax was a contest between prerogative and liberty, power and freedom. Historians have continued the telling. 11 MarkKishlansky understood the power of story to shape historical perception: he did, after all, study fables and their political meanings. 12 His
will never be, a conventional political historian, my recent book linked gender, culture, and politics through the idea of the world upside down. Thus, when I was asked to participate in the conference in memory of MarkKishlansky, I decided to honour his engagement with the Revolution as a subject as well as his willingness to take on sacred cows by addressing this subject. When he and I worked together on the Festschrift for David Underdown – who was mentor to both of us – it was obvious that Kishlansky did not understand the shift that David Underdown’s work
new captain, if they chose to accept him. Stewart himself made a ‘pleasinge’ speech ‘leaveing itt untto theire choice what to dooe’. His courtesy was well received. ‘The Companie of theire owne voluntarie love and disposition, imbraced Sir Francis Steaurtt And chose him to bee our Captaine.’ 1
The mariners unanimously ‘chose’ Stewart to be their captain, but what sort of a choice did they have? The event bears an intriguing resemblance to the uncontested early Stuart parliamentary elections studied by MarkKishlansky, who argued that these were not elections at