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Home Divisions 9780804733861

Home Divisions

Aristocracy, the State, and Provincial Conflict

ISBN-10: 0804733864
ISBN-13: 9780804733861
PUBLISHER: Stanford University Press
Also available at
Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access codes, CDs, DVDs)
Product Description:
Largely based on the chance survival of a rich and previously unexploited archive of Henry Hastings, fifth earl of Huntingdon and Lord Lieutenant of Liecestershire, this book affords an in-depth look at early Stuart government and politics different than any hitherto presented. Leicestershire’s Jacobean and Caroline turmoil has been generally understood as a product of long-standing rivalry and conflict between the two leading families, the Hastings and the Greys, whose notorious aristocratic feuds flared up with renewed energy in the early seventeenth century. This book reveals that the reasons for the turmoil in Leicestershire--described by contemporaries as "a cockpit, one spurring against another”--went far beyond the standard picture of feuding provincial peers.

The author demonstrates that the main element disturbing the shire’s tranquility was in fact the growth of the state--that is, the ever-growing appetite of Whitehall under James I and then Charles I for both men and funds to conduct the business of central government and the affairs of state. These national demands, which increased very rapidly in the quarter century before 1642, had a profoundly destabilizing effect on the county. Huntingdon’s success in extracting resources on behalf of the central government--a success that did much to shore up the declining fortunes of his own family--created intense rivalries and antipathies within the shire, which in turn did much to shape the political divisions that led to the English Civil War.

In the process of presenting his thesis, the author also challenges some basic interpretations of early seventeenth-century historians. He substantially eradicates the distinction between the reigns of the first two Stuarts, with the accession of Charles I seen as a watershed in the political history of England (with James I seen as a shrewd political organizer and great compromiser and Charles I as headstrong and authoritarian). The author demonstrates how similar the demands for extra-parliamentary finance were during the two reigns and how similarly they were met. Though it is a commonplace of historiography to assert that the English were undertaxed throughout this period and to see the inability of the state to extract resources as its structural weakness, the author shows how much militia rates, coat and conduct money, and the depopulation fines of the 1630’s actually took from the localities.

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CATEGORY: History, Social Science

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