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Towards Breakdown: ‘New Counsels’ and the Dissolution of Consensus

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Abstract

Gradually after 1625, under the impact of a king who operated very differently from his predecessor, the pattern of English political discourse began to alter. Whereas in the Jacobean period the three chief modes of political discourse were of clearly recognized compass and incorporated into a coherent overall framework (albeit one with some tensions within it), Caroline England saw the development of implicit disagreement about the scope of the three modes, which disagreement ultimately threatened the framework itself. For our purposes the most significant aspect of this process was a crisis in the confidence which people were able to repose in the common law. A consequence of this was the dissolution of that mentalité which has been referred to as ‘the common law mind’.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Russell, Parliaments and English Politics 1621–1628 (Oxford, 1979), pp. 349–59.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The idea that there was a ‘crisis of parliaments’ is, of course, associated with the work of Conrad Russell. See, for example, his Parliaments and English Politics index entries for ‘Parliaments, feared extinction of’; Russell, The Crisis of Parliaments: English History 1509–1660 (Oxford, 1971), pp. 40–1, 296–7, and generallyGoogle Scholar
  3. Russell, ‘Parliamentary History in Perspective 1604–1629’, History vol. 61 (1976), pp. 2–3. Also Kevin Sharpe, ‘Parliamentary History 1603–1629: In or Out of Perspective?’, introduction to Sharpe (ed.), Faction and Parliament: Essays on Early Stuart History (Oxford, 1978). For a substantial critique of this line of interpretation see Thomas Cogswell, ‘A Low Road to Extinction? Supply and Redress of Grievances in the Parliaments of the 1620s’, Historical Journal vol. 33 (1990), pp. 283–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    Richard Cust, The Forced Loan and English Politics 1626–1628 (Oxford, 1987), p. 29; on ‘new counsels’ generally see pp. 5, 27ff.Google Scholar
  5. L. J. Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule (Cambridge, 1989), chpt. 2. N.B. also Reeve’s remark that he believes Cust to have exaggerated the speed with which a new pattern of politics was established after 1625 (p. 2, n. 3). Also, Richard Cust, ‘Charles I, the Privy Council, and the Forced Loan’, Journal of British Studies vol. 24 (1985), pp. 208–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 4.
    S. R. Gardiner, History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War (London, 4th ed., 1895), vol. VI, p. 110 L. J. Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule p. 13; Russell, Parliaments and English Politics p. 306.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    See Conrad Russell, ‘Introduction’ in Russell (ed.), The Origins of the English Civil War (London, 1973), p. 23 Nicholas Tyacke, ‘Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-Revolution’, in Russell (ed.), Origins p. 140; Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism c.1590–1640 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 157–9; and H. R. Trevor-Roper, ‘Laudianism and Political Power’ in Trevor-Roper, Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans: Seventeenth Century Essays (London, 1987), chpt. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 7.
    Sharpe, Politics and Ideas in Early Stuart England (London, 1989), pp. 126–7Google Scholar
  9. G. W. Bernard, ‘The Church of England c.1529-c.1642’. History vol. 75 (1990), pp. 201–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 8.
    J. Sears McGee, ‘William Laud and the Outward Face of Religion’, in Richard L. De Molen, Leaders of the Reformation (Selinsgrove, 1984), p. 323.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    Ibid., pp. 332–3; Christopher Hill, Economic Problems of the Church: From Archbishop Whitgift to the Long Parliament (London, pbk. ed., 1968), chpt. 14Google Scholar
  12. Esther S. Cope, Politics Without Parliaments 1629–1640 (London, 1987), pp. 66–76.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    L. J. Reeve, ‘Sir Robert Heath’s Advice for Charles I in 1629’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research vol. 59 (1986), pp. 215–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 12.
    Wilfrid R. Prest, The Rise of the Barristers: A Social History of the English Bar 1590–1640 (Oxford, 1986), pp. 213–4.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Ibid., p. 257; W. J. Jones, Politics and the Bench: The Judges and the Origins of the English Civil War (London, 1971), pp. 84ff. But note also W. R. Prest, The Inns of Court under Elizabeth I and the Early Stuarts 1590–1640 (London, 1972), pp. 215–16. Probably the most discussed of the common lawyer agents of Charles’s policies of the early 1630s was William Noye, on whom see W. J. Jones, ‘“The Great Gamaliel of the Law”: Mr. Attorney Noye’, Huntington Library Quarterly vol. 40 (1977), pp. 197–226. Noye was accused, probably maliciously by the maliciously-minded Anthony Weldon, of being ‘a great papist if not an atheist’: Prest, Rise of the Barristers p. 213, n. 10.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    The account here conflates the reports in E. S. Cope & W. H. Coates (eds.), Proceedings of the Short Parliament of 1640 (London, Camden Fourth Series, vol. 19, 1977) pp. 185–6Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Wallace Notestein (ed.), The Journal of Sir Simonds D’Ewes from the Beginning of the Long Parliament to the Opening of the Trial of the Earl of Strafford (New Haven, 1923), p. 8.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    Notestein (ed.), Journal of D’Ewes pp. 169–70; H. R. Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud 1537–1645 (London, 3rd ed., 1988), pp. 403–4 (chpt. 12 of this work provides a useful account of Laud’s last years, and basic information is taken from this source unless otherwise indicated).Google Scholar
  19. 27.
    State Trials vol. IV, col. 26 — the articles of impeachment are at cols. 23–6. In his speech on episcopacy (8 Feb. 1641), Falkland also cited two examples of individuals who illustrated his claim that the bishops, who had once excommunicated the violators of Magna Carta, were now encouraging the breach of it — Manwaring and Beale: J. Rushworth, Historical Collections (London, 8 vols, 1659–1721), vol. IV, p. 185.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    Edmund Waller, A Worthy Speech Made in the House of Commons, this present Parliament, 1641 (London, 1641), p. 6, datable by its place in the Thomason collection to March 1641. The speech has been thought to date from 22 (or 23?) April 1640, but it seems probable that it was never delivered. Its publication in mid-1641 served the needs of that time rather than of the period of the Short Parliament, hence its value as evidence for the mood in 1641 not 1640. (See Cope (ed.), Proceedings of the Short Parliament pp. 306–8).Google Scholar
  21. 30.
    Henry Parker, The Case of Shipmoney briefly discoursed (London, 1640), pp. 33–4.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    For overviews of the evidence see M. Judson, The Crisis of the Constitution: An Essay in Constitutional and Political Thought in England 1603–1645 (New York, 1976), chpt. VGoogle Scholar
  23. Godfrey Davies, ‘English Political Sermons, 1603–1640’, Huntington Library Quarterly vol. 3 (1939), pp. 1–23. N.B. the verdict of J.W. Allen, English Political Thought 1603–1660 vol. I (1603–1644) (London, 1938), p. 101 — ‘There are but very few traces in English writings before 1642 of any theory of royal absolutism by divine right’. For further detail see my ‘The Divine Right of Kings Reconsidered’, English Historical Review (forthcoming).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 33.
    John Buckeridge, A Sermon Preached at Hampton Court before the Kings Majestie … 1603 (London, 1606)Google Scholar
  25. William Dickinson, The Kings Right, Briefly set downe in a Sermon preached before the Reverend Judges at the Assizes held in Reaching … June 28, 1619 (London, 1619).Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    This view is implicit in the work of J. P. Sommerville (though he has rather different uses for it than mine); it is probably most apparent in J. P. Sommerville, ‘The Royal Supremacy and Episcopacy “Jure Divino”, 1603–1640’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History vol. 34 (1983), pp. 548–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 36.
    This is not to say that ‘constitutional’ issues were more important than ‘religious’ ones in 1640–1, or that some actions taken against the Laudian church could not command very wide support; nevertheless the attack in the Long Parliament on the ‘illegalities’ of Charles’s rule did command a consensual support lacking for much religious policy, and the issues of episcopacy and other (wider) religious issues did help to divide Royalists from Parliamentarians by 1642. For background see J. S. Morrill, ‘The Religious Context of the English Civil War’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th Series, vol. 34 (1984), pp. 155–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morrill, ‘The Attack on the Church of England in the Long Parliament, 1640–1642’ in Derek Beales and Geoffrey Best (eds), History, Society and the Church: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 105–24. Cf. Sheila Lambert, ‘Committees, Religion, and Parliamentary Encroachment on Royal Authority in Early Stuart England’, English Historical Review vol. 105 (1990), pp. 60–95, esp. pp. 90–5 where evidence is given for thinking that the Long Parliament never was united against the Laudian church, pace Morrill.Google Scholar
  29. 37.
    Linda S. Popofsky, ‘The Crisis over Tonnage and Poundage in Parliament in 1629’, Past and Present No. 126 (1990), p. 45.Google Scholar
  30. 39.
    This is my interpretation of the phrase, indicating that tonnage and poundage was known ‘to have been had and enjoyed by the several Kings, named in those acts, time out of mind, by authority of Parliament’, even before the formal granting of it, S. R. Gardiner, The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625–1660 (Oxford, 3rd ed., 1906), p. 88.Google Scholar
  31. 41.
    For the proceedings in King’s Bench, and discussion of them in the 1628 parliament, see the masterly account by J. A. Guy, ‘The Origins of the Petition of Right Reconsidered’, Historical Journal vol. 25 (1982), pp. 289–312. Most details below are taken from this source. See also Linda S. Popofsky, ‘Habeas Corpus and “Liberty of the Subject”: Legal Arguments for the Petition of Right in the Parliament of 1628’, The Historian vol. 41 (1979), pp. 257–75 which also discusses prior events. For background see Cust, Forced Loan and English Politics pp. 55–62, 236–8; Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule pp. 14–15, and chpt. 2 generally.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 42.
    Cf. the legal background discussed in F. W. Maitland, The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge, 1908), pp. 271–5, 313–4.Google Scholar
  33. 58.
    Useful contributions on the question of exactly what legal status the Petition of Right had, or was intended to have, are E. R. Foster, ‘Petitions and the Petition of Right’, Journal of British Studies vol. 14 (1974), pp. 21–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. L. J. Reeve, ‘The Legal Status of the Petition of Right’, Historical Journal vol. 29 (1986), pp. 257–77. On the actual decision to proceed by petition, after the king effectively blocked the possibility of preceding by bill, see Michael B. Young, ‘The Origins of the Petition of Right Reconsidered Further’, Historical Journal vol. 27 (1984), pp. 449–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 59.
    On the political differences between Saye (and his allies) and some of the Commons leaders (including Coke), see the useful remarks in Christopher Thompson, ‘The Origins of the Politics of the Parliamentary Middle Group, 1625–1629’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th series, vol. 22 (1972), pp. 71–86, esp. pp. 82–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 69.
    Cf. Charles Carleton, Charles I: The Personal Monarch (London, pbk ed., 1984), p. 109, also pp. 343–4, 84–5.Google Scholar
  37. 73.
    See Conrad Russell, ‘The British Problem and the English Civil War’, History vol. 72 (1987), pp. 395–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 79.
    For accounts of the case see Gardiner, History of England vol. VIII, pp. 271–80; and D. L. Keir, ‘The Case of Ship-Money’, Law Quarterly Review vol. 52 (1936), pp. 546–74. The best analysis of the judgements is Conrad Russell, ‘The Ship Money Judgments of Bramston and Davenport’, English Historical Review vol. 77 (1962) pp. 312–18.Google Scholar
  39. 82.
    Judgements in ibid., cols 1065–1251; also S. R. Gardiner (ed.), ‘Notes of the Judgment Delivered by Sir George Croke in the Case of Ship-Money’, Camden Miscellany vol. 7 (London, Camden Society, n.s., xiv, 1875); and The Autobiography of Sir John Bramston (London, Camden Society, 1st series, xxxii, 1845), pp. 77–81 (This Sir John Bramston was the son of the Shipmoney judge).Google Scholar
  40. 89.
    Most valuable on the political aspects of Hampden’s case is Michael Mendle, ‘The Ship Money Case, The Case of Ship Mony and the Development of Henry Parker’s Parliamentary Absolutism’, Historical Journal vol. 32 (1989), pp. 513–36, esp. pp. 516–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 93.
    Kenneth Fincham, ‘The Judges’ Decision on Ship Money in February 1637: the Reaction of Kent’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research vol. 57 (1984), p. 234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 95.
    The Works of the Most Reverend Father in God, William Laud, D.D. ed. W. Scott & J. Bliss (Oxford, 1847–60), vol. VI, p. 524 (Laud to Wentworth, 14 May 1638). Further insight into the popular reaction to the Shipmoney trial can be found in the diary of Robert Woodford, extracts in Historical Manuscripts Commission Ninth Report Appendix, Pt II, pp. 496–99. Cf. John Fielding, ‘Opposition to the Personal Rule of Charles I: The Diary of Robert Woodford, 1637–1641’, Historical Journal vol. 31 (1988), pp. 769–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 96.
    See Nelson P. Bard, ‘The Ship Money Case and William Fiennes, Viscount Saye and Sele’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research vol. 50 (1977), pp. 171–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 99.
    Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England … Also His Life Written by Himself (Oxford, 1843), pp. 28–9.Google Scholar

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© Glenn Burgess 1992

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