Published2010 by Cambridge University Press
The period covered takes in the seven early Stuart Parliaments and has been intensively scrutinized by historians interested in tracing the causes of the English Civil War. It was marked by conflict with the Commons over the exercise of the royal prerogative and a growing, well-founded conviction that the future existence of Parliaments was under threat. Among the most notable parliamentary occurrences were the Union debates of 1604-7, the abortive Great Contract (1610), the revival of impeachment (from 1621), the attacks on the king's chief minister the duke of Buckingham (1625-28), and the formulation of the Petition of Right (1628). Many important and middle-ranking parliamentary figures of the 1640s, such as John Pym, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Gilbert Gerard and Sir Henry Mildmay served their political apprenticeships at Westminster during the 1620s; but the real Parliamentary giants of the period were men like the distinguished lawyer Sir Edward Coke, the free trade enthusiast and Virginia Company spokesman Sir Edwin Sandys, and such champions of 'country' causes as Edward Alford and Sir Thomas Wentworth, later earl of Strafford.
These volumes contain biographies of the 1,782 Members of the House of Commons from 1604 to 1629, surveys of elections in the 259 constituencies of Britain over the same period and a groundbreaking introductory survey of the early seventeenth-century House of Commons as an institution. The result of research in over 170 archives by expert historians, illuminating individual lives, local politics and national events, they constitute the most comprehensive survey of British politics during this period. These years constitute a critical moment in parliamentary history, which witnessed a far-reaching breakdown in the relationship between James I and Charles I and their parliaments. As the survey shows for the first time, they also saw a collapse in the capacity of the House of Commons to legislate, and increasing interest in membership of the Commons. Together, these volumes provide the means to transform the study of early Stuart politics.