Samuel Pepys, my part in his downfall

History is to blame. Apparently. With thanks to Ralph Luker at HNN for picking this up. It’s an odd sort of thing, an essay on Pepys based around the recent Plot Against Pepys book, my Glorious Revolution book and the Penguin selected Pepys.

At least it markets itself as an ‘essay’ and not a review essay. I’m getting increasingly sick of those newspaper book reviews which spend 3/4 of the review telling you how much the reviewer knows about a subject (usually gleaned with no acknowledgement from the book they are actually reviewing), leaving just about a para at the end for some dismissive evaluation of the work itself. I want to know whether the book is any cop or not, not how clever the reviewer thinks they are.


Revolutionary England and the National Covenant: State Oaths, Protestantism and the Political Nation

My research monograph is now available via Google books.

A Radical Solution to Library Seating Shortages

From Kimbooktu.

Published in: on August 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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Cromwell 350th Carnival

A quick reminder about the above – which I will be posting up a day or two before the anniversary itself (3rd Sept folks.) if you have a blog please just send me the link. If you don’t have one but have something you would like to post, please e-mail it to me before the end of this month (for my address, see the ‘about me’ page.)


Published in: on August 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm  Comments (3)  
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A bit of puff – A radical history of Britain

When I started writing this blog, it was mainly to promote and discuss this work in progress. As ever with blogs, I ended up writing about an awful lot more.

Now, having written the last chapter of the draft of the book, it seems a fitting time to give the project a little puff here. The working title is A Golden Thread: A Radical History of Britain from Magna Carta to the Present Day. It already has its own Amazon page which tells you that it will be coming out June 09 (which is right) in paperback (which is wrong, this will be the date of the hardback publication.)

To give you a bit of a taster, here’s the chapter rundown (these are broken up into mini-chapters too, but I can’t be bothered to write all that down here.)

Introduction: ‘King Alfred, Secret Republican’ – I’ll leave you guessing about that.

1. A Talisman of Liberty – everything you ever needed to know about Magna Carta, its history and its role as a symbol of British freedom, important to many subsequent radical movements.

2. When Adam Delved – the emergence of popular rebellion in 13th century, the Peasants’ Revolt, Jack Cade’s Rebellion and the ‘Commotion Time’ of 1549. This chapter looks at the connections between these medieval and early modern rebellions and argues that they deserve to be included in Britain’s ‘radical tradition’.

3.’The poorest he that is in England’-radicalism in the English Revolution, concentrating in particular on the Levellers and the Diggers, this chapter also offers its own radical reinterpretation of that famous clash in the Putney Debates between Ireton and Rainsborowe.

4. ‘The Age of Paine’ – surveys the revival of radical politics in the second half of the eighteenth-century, especially the emergence of Tom Paine, his classic ‘The Rights of Man’ and the turmoil of the 1790s which appeared to bring Britain close to another revolution.

5. ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ -charts the beginnings of 19th century radicalism, recast as a patriotic, constitutional movement, a movement which was brutally crushed at ‘Peterloo’ in 1819. The massacre nonetheless created a powerful memory, repeatedly called upon by subsequent radicals.

6. ‘A Knife and Fork Question’ addresses the Chartists whose politics and style was a clear outgrowth of the ‘mass platform’ developed by Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt.

7. ‘A Bloodless Revolution’ looks at the interconnections between the successful campaign for women’s suffrage and the growth of the Labour party. It demonstrates that the suffrage movement was truly radical not only in terms of its militant methods, but also in terms of its vision of a society transformed by the emancipation of women.

Epilogue ‘After this-what?’ surveys British radicalism after the equalisation of suffrage in 1928. It suggests that the strength of Britain’s constitutional tradition was both a blessing and a curse.

Conclusion ‘A Golden Thread?’

More hot oath news – MPs plan to ditch oath of allegiance to Queen

As reported with predictable hurrumphing in both the Telegraph and the Mail (complete with traditional, unfunny Mail cartoon.)

Of course, Lord Tebbit is quite right. The oath taken by MPs worked very well for most of its existence, excluding Catholics, nonconformists, atheists and other undesirables from taking up their seats in the Commons.

Also, ‘John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, was said to have deliberately mumbled the words.’ Deliberately?

Oh, and over here, Michael White offers the usual shabby argument that it’s ‘better the devil you know’ as far as the monarchy is concerned. After all, if you went for a republic, you might just get some crappy elected politician instead. Like Nelson Mandela. The example of the German Presidency is also worthless in a British context given the very obvious historical reasons why the Germans now prefer a low-key essentially ceremonial national figurehead to a powerful head of state.

Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Authority and Authorities Conference, Reading 2009

Early Modern Research Centre, University of Reading

Reading Conference in Early Modern Studies 2009

Authority and Authorities

The next annual meeting of the Reading conference on early modern studies will be held on 6-8 July 2009. The Reading conferences are as broadly based as possible, reflecting the most interesting developments in current research. Accordingly we welcome proposals for either complete sessions or individual papers from scholars in any discipline or any area of early modern studies, including Atlantic, European and imperial perspectives.

The informal theme of the conference in this year of particular significance for the history of monarchy (1509, 1649, 1689) will be Authority and Authorities. Plenary lectures will be arranged around this theme and papers or entire sessions on authority and authorities are particularly welcome. Participants might think of addressing the following themes:

  • Literary and visual representations of authority
  • The rituals of authority including coronations, progresses, civic entries and civic ceremonial, the punishment of malefactors
  • The exercise of authority by monarchy, landlords, urban, rural and colonial governors
  • Challenges to authority and authorities: rebellion, resistance, subversion
  • Patriarchialism and authority within the household
  • Authoritative texts (Classical, scriptural, Patristic, authorised service books and government proclamations): their uses and their circulation, in manuscript and print
  • the emergence of new sites of authority in cities, in print, medicine and other spheres
  • The basis of authority in the Reformation and post-Reformation churches
  • Reformations of manners and the exercise of authority over marginal groups

Proposals for panels should consist of a minimum of two and a maximum of four papers. Each panel proposal should contain the names of the session chair, the names and affiliations of the speakers and short abstracts of the papers.

A proposal for an individual paper should consist simply of a 200 word abstract of the paper with brief details of affiliation and career.

Proposals for either papers or panels should be sent by email to the chairman of the Conference Committee, Professor Richard Hoyle, by 31 January 2009,

Proposals are especially welcome from postgraduates. The conference hopes to make some money available for postgraduate bursaries. Anyone for whom some financial assistance is a sine qua non for their attendance should mention this when submitting their proposal.

Vallance vs. Dillon update

Woo, and indeed, hoo! Over here.