These volumes are the first to be published by the History of Parliament Trust covering the House of Lords. With their publication, complementing the History’s previously published work on The House of Commons, 1660-1690 (edited by Basil Henning, 1983), and The House of Commons, 1690-1715 (edited by Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley and David Hayton, 2002), we have a more complete and detailed picture of the personnel and work of Parliament in the late Stuart period than ever before. These volumes will make it possible to explore remarkably closely not only the operation of the political world of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, but also its social, economic and cultural world.
The period is one of the most important in the history of the House of Lords. Over the half century or more after 1660, the Lords were the stage on which some of the critical confrontations in English and British constitutional and political history were played out, and these volumes show how the peers as politicians engaged with and sought to influence the central issues of the day: the constitutional position of the Church of England and the doomed attempt to maintain a confessional state; the implications of the succession to the throne of the Catholic prince James, duke of York, as James II; the coup of Prince William of Orange and his and his wife Mary’s accession as William III and Mary II, and its consequences in changing the theory and practice of the English monarchy; the enormous commitment to almost permanent continental war from 1689 to 1713; the relationship with Scotland, and the Union agreed in 1707; and the question of maintaining a Protestant succession after the death of the last Protestant Stuart heir, Queen Anne. They display a peerage obsessed with their longstanding legislative and judicial powers as a House, and deeply concerned to protect the position of the House of Lords against what they regarded as the encroachment of the Commons. They expose the way in which key families in the period used their politic