Showing posts from January, 2014

Personal Rule is Not Easy Even for A Man With Three Bodies

Charles I in Three Positions by Anthony Van Dyck 1635 (Royal Collection, London) Last week’s post described some events in England in 1629 that related to the dissolution of parliament. Parliament was not recalled again for 11 years. The period from 1629 to 1640 is known as ‘Personal Rule’ because the reigning monarch, Charles I, governed without parliament. Although the fractious relationship between monarchs and parliament had in the past resulted in long gaps between parliaments, the situation in the 1630s was more serious than previously for two reasons. Firstly, the unprecedented assertiveness of parliament in the late 1620s posed substantially more challenges to the king’s sovereignty than ever before. Secondly, it seemed possible that in response to the new situation this particular monarch intended to dispense with parliament altogether. In principle, parliament had broad consultative and legislative roles, but in practical terms its function was to supply the king with f

The Age of Impertinence

The logic of my focus on 17th century English politics won’t really be revealed until the blog shifts several gears through law, administration, and economy. Shamelessly I am sifting history for evidence to support a new theory of institution formation. The theory will remain secret. What you see here is the topsoil of organic material, and a trail of clues among the tea leaves. But there is another reason, which I think justifiably adds to my new found interest. I’ve discovered that at least two of my ancestral family relations played more than just walk-on parts in some of the premier 17th and 18th century institutional dramas. Today I will describe how one of those relatives, Oliver St John * , first cut his political teeth. Oliver St John by Pieter Nason (National Portrait Gallery, London) In late 1629 my relative Oliver St John was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was among a handful of noblemen, parliamentarians and lawyers accused of seditious libel, subversion of