Complete State Papers Domestic, 1547-1702: Series 2: Units 25-34: Charles II
About this Collection
The Complete State Papers Domestic 1509-1702
Series One: 1547-1625:
Unit 1 : Parts 2 and 2: Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I (1547-1569)
Unit 2 : Part 3 : Elizabeth I (1569-1575)
Unit 3 : Part 4 : Elizabeth I (1576-1585)
Unit 4 : Part 5 : Elizabeth I (1586-1592)
Unit 5 : Part 6 : Elizabeth I (1593-1603)
Unit 6 : Part 7 : James I (1603-1608)
Unit 7 : Part 8 : James I (1609-1617)
Unit 8 : Part 9 : James I (1618-1623)
Unit 9 : Part 10: James I (1624-1625)
Unit 10: Part 11: Edward VI to James I (Addenda)
Series Two: 1625-1702
Unit 11: Part 1 : Charles I (1625-1627)
Unit 12 : Part 2 : Charles I (1628-1630)
Unit 13 : Part 3 : Charles I (1631-1633)
Unit 14 : Part 4 : Charles I (1634-1635)
Unit 15 : Part 5 : Charles I (1636-1637)
Unit 16 : Part 6 : Charles I (1638-1639)
Unit 17 : Part 7 : Charles I (1640-1642)
Unit 18 : Part 8 : Charles I (1643-1648)
Unit 19 : Part 9 : The Interregnum (1649-1652)
Unit 20 : Part 10: The Interregnum (1653)
Unit 21 : Part 11: The Interregnum (1654)
Unit 22 : Part 12: The Interregnum (1655-1656)
Unit 23 : Part 13: The Interregnum (1656-1657)
Unit 24 : Part 14: The Interregnum (1658-1660)
Unit 25 : Part 15: Charles II (1660-1662)
Unit 26 : Part 16: Charles II (1662-1665)
Unit 27 : Part 17: Charles II (1665-1666)
Unit 28 : Part 18: Charles II (1666-1668)
Unit 29 : Part 19: Charles II (1668-1670)
Unit 30 : Part 20: Charles II (1671-1672)
Unit 31 : Part 21: Charles II (1672-1674)
Unit 32 : Part 22; Charles II (1675-1678)
Unit 33 : Part 23: Charles II (1678-1683)
Unit 34 : Part 24: Charles II (1683-1685), James II 1685-1688), William III and Mary (1689-1702)
Unit 35 : Part 25: William III and Mary (1689-1702) and King Williams Chest (1670-1702)
Series Three: 1509-1547
Unit 36 : Part 1 : Henry VIII (1509-1528)
Unit 37 : Part 2 : Henry VIII (1528-1535)
Unit 38 : Part 3 : Henry VIII (1536-1539)
Unit 39 : Part 4 : Henry VIII (1539-1545)
Unit 40 : Part 5 : Henry VIII (1545-1547)
Unit 41 : Part 6 : Henry VIII (1516-1547)
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Click on a link below to view subset introduction.
Series One: Units 1-5: Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, 1547 - 1603
Series One: Units 6-9: James I, 1603 - 1625
Series One: Unit 10: Addenda, 1547 - 1625
Series Two: Units 11-18: Charles I, 1625 - 1648
Series Two: Units 19-24: Interregnum, 1649 - 1660
Series Two: Units 25-34: Charles II
Series Two: Unit 35: William III and Mary - King William's Chest
Series Three: Units 36-41: Henry VIII, 1509 - 1547
An indispensable tool for researchers of all levels, this collection has been hailed as one of the most welcome manuscript micropublishing projects of all time. Professor Robert Kenny, in Microform Review, has described its publication as "a monumental service", and Professor Lawrence Stone has commented "the series makes possible serious archival research on English political and religious history from the resources of any major library."
The papers in units 1-24 cover the beginning of religious controversy and persecution, anxiety over the queens marriage and the succession, the northern rebellion of the 1570s, the deterioration of Anglo-Spanish relations, and the exploits of Sir Francis Drake. They offer a prime source of information on the politics of the early Stuart nation through an examination of national and international conflicts, including religious strife.
Also contained here is a chronicle of the growth of financial, political and religious tensions that finally erupted into the Civil War, as well as the dramatic events surrounding Charles imprisonment, trial and execution in 1649.
Finally, these units document the rise and fall of Oliver Cromwell, the wars with the Dutch and Spanish, the readmission of the Jews, the security and fate of Protestants in Ireland and the beginning of the Restoration.
Editorial Introduction to Units 25-41 by Michael Hawkins, Reader in History, University of Sussex, and General Editor of State Papers Domestic of the Reigns of Charles II, James II and William III
The State Papers Domestic from 1660 to 1702 are the main source for one of the most crucial periods of English political history. The euphoria of the Restoration gave way to increasing political difficulties in the later years of Charles II and the reign of James II, which culminated in the revolution of 1688/9. This produced new political arrangements, with an enhanced role for Parliament, but still left much room for intense political strife which was more dominated by emerging political parties. At the same time the failure to reach a religious settlement in 1660 produced increasing persecutory legislation in the 1660s (the "Clarendon Code"), paralleled by threats and rumours of uprisings by various groups of Protestant dissenters. In the 1670s and 1680s, political and religious opposition coalesced in attempts from 1679 to 1681 to exclude the kings brother, the Catholic James, Duke of York, from the throne (the "Exclusion Crisis"), attempts which were successful when he fled the country after a brief three-years reign as James II. The Toleration Act which followed provided some relief for dissenters, but did not prevent continuing struggles between Anglican and dissenting interests with strong political overtones in the reign of William and Mary.
The period saw marked fluctuations in foreign policy, a period of relative peace with fairly short and by no means always successful wars being followed, at William IIIs accession, by the start of what became a quarter of a centurys nearly continuous warfare with France. What appeared to be a pro-French and anti-Dutch foreign policy under Charles II and James II was transformed with the arrival of the Dutch William III to the throne into a prolonged war with France. These wars were fought in important colonial as well as European spheres.
The State Papers illuminate these aspects as well as many others of the period and are an indispensable tool of research in virtually every field of late Stuart society. As always the core of the State Papers collection is the correspondence and working papers of the Secretaries of State, who acted as a sort of clearing house for all aspects of government business. An inveterate hoarder, like Joseph Williamson in the reign of Charles II, preserved an extraordinary range of material. If there is one field in which the correspondence and papers stand out it is perhaps the naval affairs. All aspects - shipbuilding, ordnance, pay, manning, repairs, as well as voyages manoeuvres and engagements - receive detailed attention. There are similar papers about military matters, with the highly-charged issue of the standing army becoming very significant in the second half of the period.
Such questions were inevitably bound up with royal finances and as always the State Papers throw much light on all aspects of revenue and expenditure, as well as the Commons attempts to supervise government expenditure. The working of the political machine, with its heavy emphasis on patronage and the struggle for place and perquisites, is a recurrent theme. So too are royal relations with parliament, which, after the initial enthusiasm of the Restoration, reveal increasing strains, culminating in the Exclusion Crisis. These difficulties were hardly resolved by the 1688 Revolution, the Parliament of the 1690s being marked by fierce "Country" attacks on the conduct of government and of the war, and on William IIIs attempt to maintain a sizeable standing army even after the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697.
Religious, economic and foreign affairs are three areas where thee was continuous concern in government circles and in Parliament. Religion involved a variety of issues ranging from control of town governments (e.g.: attempts to exclude various sorts of Protestants) to rumoured or threatened risings by either Catholics on the right or a mixture of Quakers, Presbyterians and "fanatics" on the left: all these were inevitably of deep concern to the Secretaries of State and their correspondents. So too were attempts to improve the economy: the state of specific industries and trades, the regulation of overseas trading companies and the development of overseas commerce (with increasing emphasis on the re-export of colonial produce) are recurrent themes. In foreign and overseas policy, Englands growing world-wide interests became much more apparent than before 1640: for example the affairs of the American Plantations and the struggle for West-Indian islands in the west and the fate of Pula Run in the east accompany the grand themes of European power-politics. In the latter Englands fortunes ranged from the ignominy of the Dutch raid on the Medway in 1667 to the victories of William IIIs war.
As always, a wide variety of incidental topics are illustrated by the State Papers: for example, education, particularly in the universities; the early history of the Royal Society; witchcraft; literature and drama (ranging from the censorship of plays to the history of the Theatre Royal); political pamphleteering and satirical writing; official attitude to Hobbes Leviathan; horse-racing at Newmarket; the Plague and Fire of London and the subsequent rebuilding. All these show the range of interests for scholars and researchers in these papers.
This unit features the State Papers Domestic for Charles II (SP 29).
An indispensable research tool, the State Papers Domestic reflect virtually every facet of later Stuart political, economic and religious affairs. As always, the core of the State Papers collection comprises correspondence and working papers of the Secretaries of State, who acted as a clearing house for all aspects of government business.
Unit 25 features the years 1660 to 1662 beginning with the Restoration of Charles II and his coronation on St. Georges Day 1661. There are many important documents for the Restoration in Church and State, Journals of Proceedings of the House of Commons, significant letters, and a great mass of Petitions to the King.
The marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza, the twenty-three year old daughter of the King of Portugal, on May 21, 1662, and the cessation of hostilities with Spain are covered in a number of documents. There are also the texts of and accompanying papers of the Kings Speeches to Parliament.
The question of religious affairs confronted Charles II immediately in 1660. The Kings declaration on ecclesiastical affairs is reproduced in full, as well as statements about the Jews, a Declaration by the Quakers, and documents putting the case of the Roman Catholics.
Another major worry for Charles II was the state of the armed forces to protect the king and also the need to seek out regicides and also compensate royalists who had suffered in the Interregnum. There are documents outlining measures to disband the Army and to establish forces and garrisons to protect the King. There are orders to seek out regicides, and also documents recording their trials.
Other interesting papers include material on trade and commerce, for example lists of victuals for ships, a voyage to Brazil, the draft charter for the Merchant Adventurers Company, and the regulation and protection of trading companies; the role of Parliament in economic and fiscal policy; Crown lands; the visit of the Swedish ambassador to London; and the correspondence and working papers of the Secretary of State.
Publishers Note: Unit 26
This unit of the Complete State Papers Domestic covers the period from May 1662 to March 1665 of the reign of Charles II. (SP 29/54-114).
There are useful documents on the Act of Uniformity, on separation, warnings against disobedience to ecclesiastical authority, and on the Declarations of Indulgence. Enforcement of the 1662 Act of Uniformity effectively excluded presbyterians, baptists, independents and smaller religious sects from membership of the national Church. However, dissenters, or nonconformists, were increasingly to find an unlikely ally in the King himself. Charles was increasingly happy to grant generous declarations of indulgence if these could also be extended to Catholics. Charles II nevertheless encountered difficulties with Parliament and the Declarations of Indulgence of 1662 and 1663 were not acceptable to the Anglican majority in Parliament. There are included substantial lists of known and suspected Independents, Anabaptists, and Quakers, and other dissenters. The Conventicle Act of 1664 was passed to suppress dissenting congregations as Charles II had failed in his first attempt to grant religious toleration.
There are many petitions and a vast array of correspondence and working papers of the Secretaries of State, Sir Henry Bennet, afterwards Lord Arlington, ad Sir William Morice.
Another important piece of legislation in 1662 was the Act of Settlement. Relief of poverty under the poor laws was administered at parish level. The new 1662 statute defined eligibility for parish relief, and empowered overseers to expel paupers not born or employed in a particular parish back to their native parish. The poor were only to be entitled to relief from their native parishes.
Other interesting papers include the large number of shipping accounts and lists of victuals for ships. There is a Proclamation to seamen about prize goods; a list of the Royal Adventurers trading into Africa; papers of the Navy Board; John Kemps observations on the Dutch fishing trade; proceedings for reparations concerning both the East and West India companies; and other significant documents relating to trade and commerce.
The rapid rise of the East India Companys trade in the seventeenth century was complemented by the exploitation of the North American and West Indian colonies after 1662. The Americas became an important new "market" for English exports. The import-led advance was aided by the passing of a series of Navigation Laws. These sought to exclude the Dutch from English trading interests. The early 1660s saw increasing rivalry between the English and Dutch trading nations culminating in the Second Dutch War in 1665.
There is also a list of the Kings Household Servants; a list of Instructions and Rules for Master Gunners; the Report of his Majestys Commission Concerning the Repairs of St. Pauls; Sir Joseph Williamsons Notebook with lists and jottings of all kinds of information, both foreign and domestic, and a draft of Kalendarium Hortense in the hand of F. Ryley with a table of chapters and diverse lists of plants and gardening instructions. This gives some idea of the diverse and wide range of subjects covered by this material.
Finally, there is also a detailed, although incomplete, account of the trial of treason of Thomas Tongue; George Philips; James Hind; Francis Stubbs; John Sallows; and Nathaniel Gibbs in December 1662; the trial of Thomas Sourdy of Morehouse for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance; and a few papers relating to the execution of John Twyn for seditious printing under the new Licensing Act in 1662. Twyn was executed in 1664. These documents, and the Kings Declaration on Treason, and the lists of prisoners in the Tower of London with details of their verbal examinations and testimony demonstrate the continuing anxieties of the monarch for his safety and that of the restored establishment. They are also illustrative of the continuing religious divisions within society after the Restoration.
Publishers Note: Unit 27
This unit of the Complete State Papers Domestic covers the period from March 1665 to December 1666 of the reign of Charles II. (SP 29/115-180).
Three major issues dominate this unit: The second Dutch War, the plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of London in September 1666. The period begins with feverish preparations, in which Samuel Pepys played a leading role, of a fleet to "assert the right to dominion of the Narrow Seas". The Papers are full of letters and reports to Pepys and others detailing the state of the Navy, the problems of manpower, ordnance, stores and victuals. Repeated, but often unsuccessful, attempts were made to end corruption. Other related problems were posed by Dutch prisoners, and by prizes taken and ships lost. A host of interesting material includes, for example, orders to fell oaks and beech in the New Forest for the Navy.
The War itself began with naval victory in the summer of 1665 but then gradually became less successful. There are many reports of naval actions. While naval affairs predominate, there is also much information about the militia, the raising of taxes for it and details of impressment.
The course of the last great Bubonic Plague epidemic in England, which was not confined to London but spread widely over the South, East, Midlands and other areas, can be traced in many documents. There are also details of the desperate measures taken to try to halt it and orders for the relief of those stricken. Outbreaks at Portsmouth and Southampton hampered the naval effort while Oxford feared that parliamentary sessions held there would bring infection.
The Great Fire of London added to the disruption. Its course can be traced in many letters, as can rumours elsewhere about its effects. It produced panic measures against those rumoured to be responsible, be they Dutch, French, Catholics or Protestant Dissenters. This panic has to be seen against the background of continuing official suspicion throughout the period over the reputedly subversive activities of Republicans, Cromwellians and Dissenters, or "fanatics" as they were frequently called. Related topics such as the enforcement of the Five Mile Act against Dissenters and rebellion in Presbyterian Scotland are also illuminated.
Meanwhile, as always, the State Papers contain a whole range of other topics; including the normal workings of government, the state of its finances, appointments to posts, specific matters like the planting of Greenwich Park, numerous petitions to the King, appointments to Universities and Schools, repairs to highways, colonial administration and general diplomacy. Included also are a Rosicrucian treatise, letters of John Evelyn, some poems and the usual fascinated accounts of marvels even in the age of the Royal Society. In particular it should be stressed that the State Papers of this period are particularly full because they contain many newsletters addressed to Sir Joseph Williamson as editor of the "Gazette", the official government newspaper.
Publishers Note: Unit 28
The State Papers for the first half of this period continue to be dominated by the Second Dutch War. An immense volume of documents deals with the state and activities of the Navy, ranging from accounts of engagements to details of the problems of the supply of men, pay, ordnance and victuals. The anxieties often expressed by men like Pepys over naval problems were seen to be justified when in June 1667 the British suffered one of their greatest naval humiliations. The Dutch sailed virtually unchallenged up the Medway, destroying several ships and capturing the Royal Charles. The disaster hastened negotiations which ended in the proclamation of peace in August 1667. Recriminations followed the war, their most notable victim being Lord Chancellor Clarendon, Charles IIs leading adviser since the Restoration, who was impeached and fled into exile. Other lesser figures were also attacked ranging from the Kings mistress to the shipbuilders Pett. There were riots in London and elsewhere and attacks on the extravagance of the royal household. The period also sees the emergence of the influence of the Cabal, particularly in the persons of Buckingham, briefly imprisoned earlier, and Arlington, and the new foreign policy of the Triple Alliance with Holland and Sweden.
Other aspects of administration were also under fire, for example the postal service was accused of delay and over-charging (!): incidentally there are useful details of the times taken for the post to reach various towns. Military affairs are inevitably less prominent than naval, but are still sell represented. So too is the usual host of other public and private affairs. The expensive war led to difficulties in and outside Parliament over taxation, for example the Hearth Tax, and to attempts by the Commons to supervise expenditure. There is much on overseas commerce, particularly with America, and many papers illuminate the expanding slave trade.
Political issues continued to be intertwined with religious ones. There was a Covenanter rebellion in Scotland; the spread of Quakerism was frequently of concern to the authorities, and there were continuing anxieties about the activities of Catholics and efforts to enforce the Clarendon Code against religious dissent.
But the period also saw the beginnings of a shift in royal policy towards trying to build an alliance between the King and Protestant dissent in order to win support for toleration which would include Catholics: this in turn was to revive Anglican fears.
As always the State Papers include a mass of information on a range of topics too diverse to classify. There are many private petitions to the King which illustrate many aspects of social life. Other topics dealt with range from by-election intrigues to quarrels among the Kings violinists, and include the licensing of hackney coaches, the state of the Goodwin Sands lighthouse, the coinage, bills of mortality, University politics, the move to London suburbs as a result of the Great fire, the building of Greenwich Palace and a project to find a passage through the Great Lakes. There are also copies of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, letters from Hobbes, William Penn and Wenceslaus Hollar, an account of the funeral of the poet Cowley and treatises on medicine, astrology and heraldry.
University of Sussex
Publishers Note: Unit 29
This was a period of peace between the second and third Dutch Wars, but naval affairs continued to dominate the domestic State Papers. After the disaster of the Medway which ended the second Dutch War the state of the kings ships remained paramount. Anxieties about the building and repair programme, the state of shore fortifications, the supply of mariners through pressing and other means, wages, victuals, stores and timber, continued to dominate the work of the Naval Commissioners and administrators such as Pepys. There are also many reports on ship movements, including interesting information about weather conditions in the Channel, and about action against Algiers and other pirates. Closely connected with these matters was the work of the Committee for Trade and Plantations: much material concerns the affairs of the American and West Indian colonies, overseas commerce and the doings of trading companies such as the Royal African and the Levant. A series of letters from the latter to its consuls at Smyrna, Constantinople and Aleppo is included. Although these are domestic papers, it will be seen that they are not confined to affairs in England: there is much incidentally on European affairs in the run-up to the Secret Treaty of Dover.
At home the governments main preoccupations were finance and the supposed threat from religious nonconformists: in that sense England was still in the aftermath of the Civil War and Interregnum. In finance the work of the Treasury Commissioners and Customs and Excise officers is highlighted, as are fiscal devices such as the Hearth Tax and official lotteries, accounts of government revenue, attempts to get money from Parliament and efforts at retrenchment. There is material on the activities of Jesuits and Papists generally but much more on Protestant dissenters, including Quakers, Baptists and Fifth Monarchy Men. Conversely there was Anglican and royalist discontent at the Cabals Declaration of Indulgence to Protestant Dissenters.
The correspondence of members of the Cabal, and especially of Joseph Williamson, secretary to Arlington, one of them, are constant sources of information on the day-to-day conduct of politics, the search for office and reward, the struggles of factions as well as the makings of policy and affairs in parliament. Of especial interest are Williamsons diaries of public events.
The Kings speech to Parliament on February 14, 1670, raised again the question of Union with Scotland and the ultimately abortive negotiations are fully documented. Generally Scotland was perceived as a source of trouble by London and there are many accounts of its disturbed religious and political situation as well as Anglo-Scottish issues such as trade.
The Domestic State Papers are always a mine of incidental information. Topics illustrated include industry (tin, salt and fishing), patents, the problems of licensing publications, the postal service, crime, imprisonment for debt, urban disputes, educational affairs (especially of the Universities and Dulwich College), the Royal Society and ecclesiastical patronage and promotions. There are many private petitions and disputes, bills of mortality for London and Westminster and details of the royal purchase of Audley End. Wenceslas Hollar asks for payment to go to draw Tangier, William Penn asks for access to the King on behalf of Quakers, Thomas Hobbes makes a scientific request of the Royal Society and Samuel Pufendorf writes about Bacons works. As always the State Papers retain their richness and diversity.
Publishers Note: Unit 30
In 1672 the State Papers double in size compared with 1671, mainly because of the increased activity of Sir Joseph Williamson.
The period saw the end of the uneasy peace and the outbreak of the third and last Dutch War. Accordingly naval affairs continue to dominate the State Papers: there are frequent references to the administration of the navy (financing, victualling, manning and shipbuilding) with Pepys playing a notable role, and also to the questions in dispute with the Dutch. The latter ranged from major issues to matters of prestige such as saluting and striking of flags.
The early stages of the war itself are illuminated with accounts of naval actions (including Sole Bay, May 1672) and French military advances against the Dutch. As always there was much cause for complaint about the conduct of the war and its political and diplomatic background. The financial crisis affecting the government, given low tax revenues and high war and other expenditure, reached its peak with the Stop of Exchequer payments in 1672. There was increasing reliance on French subsidies.
Growing concern was expressed, in and out of Parliament, about the governments attempts to move to an alliance with Catholic and Protestant dissenters against the dominant Church of England: the persecution of dissenters gave way to the Indulgence and the licensing of dissenting meeting places, while Parliament protested about the spread of Popery.
All these issues are fully illustrated in news-letters, other correspondence and official documents. The government was very conscious of disaffection and what it saw as sedition: there is news of riots; celebration of the anniversary of the raising of the royalist siege of Taunton in 1645; reports of the activities of Fifth Monarchy Men and Quakers; a search for Richard Cromwell; and Colonel Bloods attempt to steal the Crown.
The State Papers continue to illustrate an enormous range of other topics: such issues as the development of the American Plantations and other overseas commercial activities as whaling and the Eastland trade appear, as do domestic economic matters - inventions and patents, disputes over sugar-refining and the famous and constitutionally significant case, Skinner versus the East India Company. There is an industrial dispute between the Newcastle keelmen and the Master Colliers over wages and hiring conditions. Commercial, political and other questions relating to Scotland and Ireland are frequent. There is information on the prosecution of a witch and on duelling. Other aspects of ecclesiastical affairs, such as appointments, visitations and patronage recur, as do University matters: Charles II intervenes often and there are accounts of university building, of the university press and of the Duke of Buckinghams election as Chancellor of Cambridge. Among many other miscellaneous documents, some of those of interest relate to the Coventry Act, town government, law suits and many private petitions, the death of the Duchess of York and a refutation of Hobbes propositions to the Royal Society. John Evelyn is a frequent correspondent on Anglo-Dutch relations and on domestic issues.
Publishers Note: Unit 31
The years 1672-1674 were dominated by the Third Dutch War, an expensive and inconclusive affair eventually concluded after tortuous peace negotiations in February 1674. From England's point of view it was largely a naval war and the first half of the State Papers for this period continue to be dominated by naval matters. Naval operations in the North Sea and English Channel are fully reported as are the threats from Dutch privateers, but most information concerns the background. Again problems predominate: naval finances remained parlous - as did government finances generally (the Stop of the Exchequer was extended) - and there were the usual complaints about supplies, victuals, pay and the quality of vessels. It may have been symbolic that in January 1673 the Navy office was burnt down, but actually there is much evidence of the efforts by the Navy Board and dedicated officials, including Pepys. The land war is also reported, as too is the raising of new regiments in England and the perennial problems of soldiers arrears. However from the resignation of the Duke of York as Lord High Admiral in June 1673 the naval papers have been transferred to the Admiralty archive and after that the State Papers, while not so numerous, are more varied.
Domestic politics veered between the dominance of the Cabal, marked by an anti-Dutch policy, friendship with France and toleration of Catholics and Dissenters, and the growing attack on all those policies. There is much evidence of the licensing of Dissenters places of worship under the 1672 Declaration of Indulgence, but also many signs of the increasing trouble in Parliament (with consequent discussions of the desirability of a dissolution), culminating in the passing of the Test Act, the Duke of Yorks resignation and the beginnings of the break-up of the Cabal. The political tension led to much interception of private mail, drives on seditious pamphleteering, press control and hotly-contested by-elections, all of which are documented.
The House of Commons protesting against the Dukes unpopular marriage to Mary of Modena and the standing army: even Pepys was accused of Popery. Eventually anti-popish measures were taken to placate Parliament, and there are signs of the rise of the later Protestant hero, the Duke of Monmouth. All these tensions occur against a background of climatic disasters, epidemics, riots, plots against the King, fears for his health after three apoplectic fits, and economic difficulties, including scarcity of coin and complaints about prices. As usual religious and political tensions were echoed in troubles in Ireland and Scotland, both increasing after the restoration of foreign peace. Forerunners of later troubles are found in papers about religious disorders in Derry and the problems of the Irish cattle trade. Colonial affairs in America, the Africa trade in slaves and rivalry with the French near Madras are fully documented, as are overseas commercial questions.
The ordinary working of government continues of course, with much on royal finances, many petitions to the King on a wide variety of matters, and government concern with ecclesiastical appointments and the affairs of the universities. The early history of the Royal Society continues to be illuminated. As always there are many incidental matters of interest: for example the long campaign of one pamphleteer for the suppression of stage coaches may be mentioned.
Publishers Note: Unit 32
The period from 1675 to 1678 represents something of a lull between two of the great crises of Charles IIs reign - the Third Anglo-Dutch War and the Exclusion Crisis. But it was not without its problems. Chares II was trying to reconstruct his government, after the fall of the Cabal, on the basis of a Tory-Anglican hegemony under the Earl of Danby. This meant a more specifically Anglican religious policy and an abandonment of overtures to Catholics and Dissenters. It also involved peace with the Dutch, cemented by the marriage of William of Orange with Princess Mary.
Danby plays an increasingly prominent part in the State Papers, but their core remains the correspondence and official papers of Sir Joseph Williamson, the Secretary of State. Indeed the problems revealed by the Papers show much continuity with the earlier period. England may have been at peace, but the state of the Navy and the problems of shipping continued to loom large, with French and Spanish piracy prominent and the English continuing to demand that foreign ships strike their flags. There is much detail on foreign affairs generally, including topics such as French tax riots in Brittany.
At home the affairs of the army, particularly the command of the Duke of Monmouth, are still notable, while government fears (genuine or exaggerated) of sedition continued. Rumours of plots led to actions against both Catholics and Protestant Dissenters (in England, Scotland and Ireland), and there were scurrilous attacks and satires on both the royal family and Parliament, leading to the frequent seizure of unlicensed books and temporary suppression of coffee-houses. The open admission by the Duke of York, the heir to the throne, that he was Catholic, ensured the political crisis continued and paved the way for the later demand that he be excluded from the succession. The King, for fear of something worse, was trying to keep the Cavalier Parliament, which had sat since 1681 (though with long intermissions - for example it did not sit during the whole of 1676), while the opposition was attempting to force its dissolution. The papers contain much detail on parliamentary procedure, disputed elections, and the Earl of Shaftesburys trial, culminating in the famous Habeas Corpus decision.
Other political topics illuminated include the growing cost of maintaining the kings natural children, the general state of royal finances, government borrowing in London, personal and political intrigues at Court and elsewhere, the proceedings of the Privy Council and the affairs of the Duchy of Lancaster. Economic questions loom large: there were complaints about French taxation on English and Irish wool, evidence about the great rise in bullion minted between 1648 and 1675, information about the state of the coal trade and patents for new inventions, and riots by weavers, especially directed against their French immigrant rivals. The affairs of the city of London are frequently illustrated, including its rebuilding after the Great Fire. There is also news of the disastrous fire which destroyed much of Northampton in 1675.
Other related topics with political and social dimensions include the affairs of the Church of England and of the Universities, ranging from ecclesiastical promotions, and the quarrels of the Bishop of Bristol with the town corporation, to the piracy of books printed at the Universities.
Much attention is paid to the affairs of Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the colonies. Scotland continued to be disturbed politically and religiously, and the Irish land question and revenue occupied much time. In the colonies there were the dangers or the reality of slave rebellions in Jamaica and Barbados, and an expedition was sent to help suppress Bacons major revolt in Virginia in 1676. The affairs of the Royal Africa Company and of plantations in the colonies are other frequent topics.
There are, as always in the State Papers, many interesting details on a whole range of Social and Other Issues. For example, the growing royal patronage of horse-racing, the Kings Role in touching for the Kings Evil, upper class duels, the comet of 1676, the Kings demand that the East India Company allow Edmund Halley to remain on St. Helena for scientific experiments, and the state of the weather reveal the scope of incidental information available in the Papers. Finally, and again as always, there are innumerable private petitions and other papers which reveal the breadth of social and other issues confronting people: these range from a husbands petition for the reprieve of his wife from hanging (granted) to requests for perquisites and sinecures and help in lawsuits.
Publishers Note: Unit 33
Unit 33 covers the period from 5 February 1678 to 30 June 1683. These were the years of the second great crisis of the reign, that of the alleged Popish Plot to kill the king, replace him by his Catholic brother James, and restore Catholicism, and the consequent attempt by the Whigs to exclude James from the succession. This was the Exclusion Crisis. The period begins with Danby still trying to reorient English foreign policy in a Protestant anti-French direction: there is much evidence of the rising tension with France during the first three-quarters of 1678 and of the proceedings of the dying months of the Cavalier Parliament. The revelation of the Plot by Oates and Tonge in September 1678 and the rapid murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, the Justice of the Peace to whom it had been revealed, change the nature of politics. The Whigs at last achieved the dissolution of Parliament and the dismissal of Danby and a number of other leading ministers. Three brief Parliaments followed in the years 1679-1681, all being prepared, at least in the House of Commons, to exclude James from the succession. But the Whigs overplayed their hand, and clever delaying tactics by the king and the temporary exile of James eventually led to a reaction in the kings favour. The period ends with the Tories on the offensive, with no more parliaments summoned, renewed persecution of Dissenters and attacks on the charters of cities and boroughs which had supported the Whigs: the surrender of Londons charter was soon followed by that of over a dozen other towns.
All aspects of this crisis are fully represented in the Papers. Although the fall of Secretary Williamson in February 1679 meant that he was replaced by Secretaries less dedicated to keeping every scrap of paper and therefore the documentation is less intensive, nevertheless parliamentary proceedings are fully recorded and cover not only the Exclusion Crisis but other key issues such as the impeachment of Danby, attacks on supposed Catholic plotters and quarrels over supply and government finance. Details of electioneering in a highly excited country are particularly revealing. The Council is shown investigating the Plot, and is then remodelled twice, first to include Shaftesbury and his Whig allies, then to exclude them. The revelation that the Plot was a forgery, the inquiries into dissenting activities, the intrigues of the Whig Green Ribbon Club, and the trial, acquittal and flight of Shaftesbury are fully recorded, as are the remodelling in 1682 of the Commission of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenancy, as well as the attack on borough government.
Foreign affairs range from the English treaty with the Dutch and threats of war with France in 1678 to a more peripheral English role as the government became embroiled in domestic difficulties. There is however still much information on French advances, including the capture of Strasburg in 1681, and on the growing persecution of the Huguenots, as well as on political and military developments in other parts of Europe. The English had difficulty in defending Tangier.
At home there was some continuity from earlier periods despite the Crisis. The government is still interested in the threat of sedition, and there are many reports from the localities and details of the control of coffee-houses, unlicensed books and nonconformist meetings. Military and naval affairs remain, as earlier, much in the forefront in 1678, with detail on troop recruitment, appointments, and ship movements, but the government had to abandon its extra forces in 1679. Thereafter its growing diplomatic rapprochement with France and financial difficulties in the absence of parliamentary grants reduced its military and naval activity.
The ordinary conduct of government as Church and State continued with much material on political and ecclesiastical appointments, Court news, and the state of government finances. There are the usual intrigues in the affairs of the universities.
Economic matters produce as always much information with details of petitions about and difficulties in a variety of trades and industries: for example textiles, whaling, whine, pepper, tin, pewter, lead, hats and silk. There is much on the price of corn, the level of minting of coin and on fen drainage. Closely involved with trade were colonial affairs: there is much on the state of the Virginian tobacco crop, on Indian wars, and even on the import of an elephant in 1678.
Three other areas of continuing concern to the government were Scotland, Ireland and the city of London. All are fully illustrated, from the troubles of Lauderdale with highlanders and Covenanters and the efforts to reorganise militia forces in Scotland, to the activities of Tory brigands and fear of French intervention in Ireland. The city provides much information, with popular demonstrations against Danby, tumultuous elections of sheriffs, as well as more mundane matters such as patents for hospitals and new buildings.
As always the incidental matters illustrated are full of fascinating detail: they include murders and the abductions of heiresses, Lord Conways matrimonial affairs, art, horseracing, monstrous births, a patent for erecting Turkish baths, the sighting of a merman in the Bristol Channel and the virtues of horseradish as a panacea.
Publishers Note: Unit 34
Unit 34 of the Complete State Papers Domestic mostly comprises documents from the period from 1 July 1683 to 6 February 1702, some of the most tumultuous years of English history. The collection starts with the governments extensive and voluminous inquiries into the Rye House Plot, the Whig grandees attempt to assassinate Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York and other similar conspiracies and rumours of plots. The Councils investigations ranged widely into county and town affairs, with many examinations of suspects and reports of local inquiries. Material from as far afield as the Scottish highlands was also included. Generally the years 1683-1685 saw the climax of Charles IIs power, with continued persecution of Dissenters, exile or execution of many of his opponents and attacks on the bases of Whig power in the municipal corporations and London livery companies: the surrender of old, and reissue of newly modelled, charters to the corporations and companies are fully documented in this period and the early years of James II. Five volumes of documents are devoted to the short, troubled reign of James II as early loyalty and enthusiasm, combined with repression, censorship and the defeat of Monmouths rebellion, gave way to increasing disaffection as many Tories joined the Whigs in their antagonism to James pro-Catholic policies. There is much on James parliaments and notable events such as the trial of the Seven Bishops and the raising of a strongly Catholic army.
The downfall of James II changed much of the nature of English politics. In foreign affairs the reign of William III was marked by a nine years war with France, followed by anxious manoeuvring over the future of the Spanish empire as Charles II of Spain neared death and the prospect of the French inheriting the Empire loomed: the two Partition treaties with Sweden and the United Provinces are documented. At home Parliament became an annual event with much agonising over the cost of war and Williams interest in maintaining a standing army after the war was over. There is much on the war itself, including military and naval triumphs and disasters, and the mundane but very significant administrative matters behind the raising and financing of armies and navies. These successive crises were intimately bound up with the fate of Irish and Scottish politics and there is much on the internal struggles in both countries and on English involvement in them.
From the Massacre of Glencoe to the siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne, some of the most notable events in Scottish and Irish history are fully documented. Equally colonial affairs played a notable part, in the West Indies, the Far East and especially in New England, where James IIs attempt to destroy the independence of the individual colonies by uniting them n a single federation under a royal governor was short-lived, being reversed by William III. The problems of the role, powers and composition of the East India Company also provoked much controversy.
Domestic questions continued to run through the Papers. Some issues were perennial, such as the composition of ministries, the search for place, government finance, methods of taxation, the levels of customs duties, details of electioneering (a more intense matter given the frequency of elections after the 1689 Triennial Act), church government, educational (especially university) affairs, commercial and industrial policies and possible reform of the coinage. Others, such as the establishment and early problems of the Bank of England, the active role of Queen Mary during her husbands frequent absences abroad and the problems of Irish linen and woollen exports, represent new departures.
The papers do vary in quantity. Some Secretaries of State (for example, Sir Leoline Jenkins) were more assiduous in keeping papers than were others (for example, the Earl of Sunderland). Generally SP 32, the papers dealing with the reign of William and Mary, are only part of those available for the period. The volumes of manuscripts known as King Williams Chest (SP 8) is included as part of Unit 35.
A separate set of volumes, which comprise the Addenda to the State Papers of the reign of Charles II, are included in this Unit. They cover the whole reign but deal especially with the first decade or so. These contain further information on the political and religious issues and on other questions in that period: as examples may be mentioned the early History of the Royal Society and the problems of the London goldsmiths following the Stop of the Exchequer in 1672.
Chronology for Units 25-34 - Reign of Charles II , 1660-1685
Declaration of Breda.
Coronation of Charles II.
Church of England restored.
Royal Society receives its Charter.
Marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza.
Act of Uniformity.
Act of Settlement.
Charles II fails in his initial attempt to grant religious toleration.
Execution of John Twyn for seditious printing under the new licensing Act of 1662.
Second Dutch War; Dutch attack on the Medway.
Final major outbreak of the Great Plague.
Great Fire of London.
London Gazette enjoying monopoly of news coverage.
Publication of Miltons Paradise Lost.
Fall of Clarendon.
The Cabal assumes control of Charles IIs Council.
Charles II first meets actress Nell Gwynne.
Charles II begins his regular pilgrimages to Newmarket.
Secret Treaty of Dover.
Buckingham negotiates second secret treat with Louis XIV.
Louise de Kéroualle establishes herself at English court.
Suspension of interest payments on loans.
"Stop of the Exchequer".
Charles II fails in further attempt to grant religious toleration.
Third Dutch War.
First Test Act excludes Catholics from military and civil office.
Decline in influence of the Cabal.
James, Duke of York, marries the Catholic princess, Mary of Modena.
Treaty of Westminster ends Third Dutch War.
Grain bounties introduced; Bunyans Pilgrims Progress, part 1, published.
Failure of Royal proclamation to suppress coffee houses,
King Philips War and Bacons Rebellion in America.
Charles II secures a new subsidy from France.
Shaftesbury and Buckingham despatched to the Tower.
William of Orange visits London. Marriage of William and Mary.
Second Test Act excludes all Catholics except York from Parliament.
Lapse of the new Licensing Act allows production of new spate of political tracts during the Exclusion Crisis.
The Exclusion Crisis.
Emergence of Whig and Tory parties.
Monmouth, the exclusionist candidate to the throne is banished.
Sir Christopher Wren becomes President of the Royal Society.
Third Exclusion parliament held at Oxford.
Shaftesbury arrested for treason. He flees to Holland.
Death of Lauderdale. Halifax appointed as Lord Privy Seal.
Rye House Plot.
Shaftesbury, leader of Exclusionists dies in Holland in exile.
Monmouth banished once again to the Continent.
Charles II dies.
Accession of James II.
Charles IIs Principal Ministers: Unit 25-34
Lords Privy Seal
1660 -- Viscount Saye & Sele
1661 -- Lord Robarts, afterwards Earl of Radnor
1669 -- Commissioners: Sir Edward Dering, Sir Thomas Strickland, Robert Milward
1673 -- Earl of Anglesey
1682 -- Marquis of Halifax
Lord Chancellors & Keepers of the Great Seal
1658 -- Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon
1667 -- Sir Orlando Bridgeman, lord keeper
1672 -- Earl of Shaftesbury
1673 -- Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards Lord Daventry, lord keeper
1675 -- The same, now Earl of Nottingham & lord chancellor
1685 -- Sir Francis North, afterwards Lord Guildford, lord keeper
1660 -- Commissioners: Sir Edward Hyde; George Monck, afterwards Duke of Albermarle; Earl of Southampton; Lord Robarts; Lord Colepeper; General Mountagu; Sir Edward Nicholas; Sir William Morice
1667 -- Commissioners: Duke of Albermarle; Lord Ashley; Sir Thomas Clifford; Sir William Coventry; Sir John Duncombe
1669 -- Commissioners: Duke of Albermarle; Lord Ashley; Sir Thomas Clifford, and Sir John Duncombe
1672 -- Lord Clifford, in commission
1673 -- Earl of Danby, in commission
1679 -- Commissioners: Earl of Essex; Lawrence Hyde; Sir John Ernley; Sir Edward Dering; Sidney Godolphin
1684 -- Commissioners: Earl of Essex; Lawrence Hyde, and Sir John Ernley
Secretaries of State
1660 -- Sir Edward Nicholas (south); Sir William Morice (north)
1662 -- Sir Henry Bennet, afterwards Lord Arlington (south)
1668 -- Sir John Trevor (north)
1672 -- Henry Coventry (north until 1674, south 1674-80)
1674 -- Sir Joseph Williamson (north)
1679 -- Earl of Sunderland (north until 1680, south 1680-1)
1680 -- Sir Leoline Jenkins (north until 1681, south 1681-4)
1681 -- Lord Conway (north)
1683 -- Earl of Sunderland (north until 1684, south 1684-8)
1684 -- Sidney Godolphin (north)
Presidents of the Council
1679 -- Lord Ashley
1679 -- Earl of Radnor
1684 -- Lawrence Hyde, Earl of Rochester
1685 -- Marquis of Halifax
Archbishops of Canterbury
1660 -- William Juxon
1663 -- Gilbert Sheldon
1677 -- William Sancroft
Lord High Admirals
1660 -- James, Duke of York
1673-1684-- Various commissioners
Principal French Ambassadors in London
1661 -- Gaston, comte de Cominges
1664 -- Honoré de Courtin
1665 -- Henri de Bourbon Duc de Verneuil (supplementary)
1667 -- Henri de Ruvigny
1668 -- Charles Colbert de Croissy (brother of Jean Baptiste Colbert)
1677-1685-- Paul Barrillon
1678 -- Henri de Ruvigny (son of 1667 ambassador, as supplementary)
Unit 35 of the Complete State Papers Domestic consists of two distinct parts: the eighteen volumes of S.P. 8, known as King Williams Chest, and the four cases which comprises S.P. 33.
King Williams Chest mainly includes very significant foreign correspondence, frequently addressed to the King himself, mostly during the first nine years of his reign in England, the period up to 1698. The letters of Williams continental allies, German princes and others such as the Elector of Bavaria, the Dukes of Brunswick and Lorraine, the Count of Flodrop and the Prince of Waldeck, throw much light on the conduct of the war and European diplomacy. There is also a significant volume of material on military logistics, details of recruitment, the size and cost of Williams armies, assessments of military prospects and needs, plans of fortifications and battles and accounts of campaigns in Flanders and elsewhere. Specific items concern for example Danish infantry at Plymouth. A number of parallel documents illuminate the navy. There are also details of suspected French plots and plans for invasion. Other documents throw light on the state of French Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and on Swiss refugees. As a whole the collection is indispensable both for the study of King Williams War and for the subsequent peace, as it includes details of peace proposals in 1696 and the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.
After the Peace the collection continues for a year with further military details and foreign correspondence. It includes letters between Louis XIV and William III, and also regular reports to the King from Lord Portland, his ambassador in Paris. It ends with Portlands return to England in June 1698.
The collection is also indispensable for the, especially domestic, political difficulties which faced William as ruler of Great Britain. Particularly valuable are the very detailed accounts from the Duke of Schomberg of the progress of his campaign to enforce Williamite rule in Ireland: these also include accounts of the state of Ireland in the early 1690s. Other papers relate to Irish grievances and to proposals for the settlement of Ireland after the Jacobite defeat. Parallel documents include Lord Melvilles letters to the King about Scottish affairs, including details of Jacobite rebellions and conspiracy, the state of Scottish politics and Scottish ecclesiastical affairs.
The collection is not confined to foreign affairs, Ireland and Scotland. There is information on government finances, on the administrative problems caused by war, on the organisation of the Cabinet Council, and on the ecclesiastical settlement in England. Jacobite conspiracy, culminating in Sir John Fenwicks plot of 1696, is prominent. There are captured Jacobite letters, details of visitors to prisoners in the Tower, interrogations of suspects, and Fenwicks confession. The papers include many letters from leading English, as well as Dutch, politicians to the King: among the correspondents are Godolphin (including comments on the Bank of England), Shrewsbury, Devonshire, as well as Bentinck (Earl of Portland), Princess Sophia also corresponds. Finally there are the usual private petitions to the King and other documents which always illuminate social and political history: they include, for example, Lady Sunderlands plea from overseas for help, and the Earl of Sunderlands protestation of loyalty to William.
The Unit is completed by S.P. 33 which consists of four cases of documents not included, for special reasons, in S.P. 32. The material is of two types: parchment documents from the reign of William III which could not be bound with the papers in the volumes of S.P. 32, and a large number of tax assessments relating to specific counties.
By Michael Hawkins
Reader in History, University of Sussex and
General Editor of The Complete State Papers Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII.
It is the rise to prominence of the Secretaryship, a post held in the 1530s by Thomas Cromwell, which make the domestic State Papers of the reign of Henry VIII so voluminous and valuable for the first time in England history. The State Papers from this time on were essentially, but not exclusively, the working papers of the Secretaries of State. From the 1530s, a decade which, it has been claimed, saw a major restructuring of English central government, the Papers become unquestionably the most significant source for its working.
But this collection includes material from the whole of Henry VIIIs reign and provides documentation for all the events of one of the most decisive periods in English history. The reign had a certain symmetry, beginning and ending with costly wars against both France and Scotland: the middle decades were marked largely by peace but also be intense diplomatic activity. Each of these central decades was dominated by one man, the 1520s by Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey, and the 1530s by Thomas Cromwell. But the hinge of the reign was the Divorce Crisis which, whether intended or not, eventually led to the break with Rome, the establishment of an independent English state (though still practising a form of Catholic religion), and the dissolution of the Monasteries. Many years have been designated the end of the Middle Ages, but 1529, the year of the summoning of the Reformation Parliament, has a good a claim as any.
For all these domestic events the State Papers are an indispensable, perhaps the most important, source. War was as always a stimulus to political crisis and development: those with France and Scotland produced major financial strains, involving political discontent and occasional popular protest. At the end of the reign the demands of war finance were instrumental in hastening the sale of monastic property, with significant consequences for the reduction of the capital assets of the Crown and the consolidation of the lay landed elite in English society.
Generally the Papers provide detailed evidence for the working of English government, both in the formal procedural sense and informally in the making and execution of policy. Mixed with routine administrative papers - warrants, orders, grants - are others illuminating the great themes. There were continuing uneasy relations between the Crown and the great nobility, from Buckingham early in the reign to the Howard dynasty at the end. Court faction and patronage and the workings of the Royal Household and Privy Chamber have recently been of intense interest to Henrician historians. Wolseys domestic policies, including his difficulties with new forms of taxation, were closely intertwined with his diplomacy. The success or otherwise of Wolseys diplomacy has long been debated, but there is no doubt that he was destroyed by his failure to secure the papal annulment of Henry VIIIs marriage to Katherine of Aragon.
All these topics and many others from the first twenty years of Henrys reign, are illustrated in the State Papers, but, as has been said, it is in the 1530s that the volume of material expands rapidly, a reflection of the great range of Thomas Cromwells activity in government. Many historians now see the Reformation as difficult to achieve, imposed piecemeal on a largely reluctant population, and requiring immense government care, diplomacy, and supervision of society. The use made by the government of Parliament to push through the changes also made it imperative to deal carefully with that body, which itself acquired a new, if perhaps temporary, significance in political and religious affairs. There is much information about the government' attempts to anticipate, or if necessary quell, opposition, which ranged from disaffected individuals through aristocratic factionalism, to full-scale provincial risings, as in the Pilgrimage of Grace.
Henry VIIIs matrimonial adventures continued to be surrounded by the play of aristocratic interests: each new match had its victors and victims (including Thomas Cromwell himself in 1540) among courtiers in particular and the political nation in general. There was intense interest in the twists and turns of religious policy, which themselves reflected the rise and fall of particular interests. For all his religious conservatism the King appears to have allowed the Reformers to gain a position of influence in his later years which they were able to translate into real power as soon as he died.
The working papers of the Office-holders which form the bulk of these papers document all the major developments: the restructuring of the government, the progress of the Reformation, the workings of Parliament, the dissolution of the monasteries, the factional struggles for dominance, and the matrimonial twists. Mixed with them is an innumerable range of illustrations of other major themes and of the minutiae of English life: reports on local conditions; matters of trade, especially of course textiles, and of industry; the history of the universities; the workings of national defences (Henry VIIIs reign saw the last major period of defensive castle building against a possible French invasion). Last but by no means of least significance to historians is the multitude of private suits, petitions, correspondence and incidental information about the lives of ordinary Englishmen and women which was to find its way into the State Papers for the next two or three centuries.
Publishers Note: Unit 36
Unit 36 which is the first unit of the State Papers of the reign of Henry VIII comprises the first forty-nine volumes of class S.P. 1 at the Public Record Office, and covers the period from Henrys accession in 1509 to the summer of 1528, the eve of the Reformation. Domestic and foreign policy during most of the period was dominated by Wolsey and the unit includes large numbers of his working papers and letters. The correspondents of Wolsey and the King naturally extended to all the great, both in Church and State, and most notable foreign potentates. They include aristocratic politicians such as Howard Suffolk, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Dacre and Darcy, knights carrying out significant administrative and political roles like Poynings, Vaughan, Talbot and Wingfield, and other notable figures such as Pace, Sampson, Starkey and Spinelli. Archbishop Warham, Cardinal Bainbridge, and Bishops Fox, Tunstall and Ruthal were among the ecclesiastical correspondents. Foreigners included the various Popes, Maximilian I and Charles V, the kings of France, the Doge and Senate of Venice and the Medicis. Other writers of interest include Campeggio, Catherine of Aragon and Sir Thomas Boleyn.
Wolseys career, from his appearance organising the 1512-13 expedition to France to the desperate efforts, presaging his fall, to use his influence with the Papacy to secure the annulment of Henry VIIIs marriage to Katherine of Aragon, is fully illuminated. So too are many aspects of his personal affairs - his wealth, apparel, household expenses, use of patronage, buildings, response to private suits and efforts to dissolve some religious houses in order to establish new colleges. Thomas Cromwell, who was eventually to supplant him, appears in the early 1520s.
A number of themes dominate this mass of letters and other working papers, some of which, of course, predate Wolseys rise to power. The working of the administrative and political systems at home embrace such wide issues as the state of royal finance, political relations with the aristocracy, riot and disorder, social and economic policy, and relations with Parliament. As always there are also many petitions of concern immediately only to the petitioner, but which often illustrate significant wider issues. Compared with Henry VIIs reign, royal finances soon deteriorated under the impact of Henry VIIIs and Wolseys much more aggressive and active foreign policy. There is much on efforts to collect royal debts owed to both Henry VII and VIII, negotiations with Italian financiers, and details of Exchequer, Household and Wardrobe accounts, and of royal revels and jewels. Of great importance are the many manuscripts relating to parliamentary taxation from 1510 on, and Wolseys efforts to raise extra-parliamentary revenue by benevolences, forced loans, and the "Amicable Grant" the political discontent thus raised is well illustrated. So too is the granting of clerical subsidies. Many other documents, for example draft bills and committee papers, deal with other aspects of parliamentary business. The other normal processes of royal administration, such as the grants of offices, annuities and other favours, as well as specific items of interest like the building of the Banqueting House at Greenwich, Princess Marys household accounts and New Years gifts to the King, find a place. So does local government, for example, the 1516 inquiry into sheriffs abuses.
Wider political themes range from perceived or actual threats of treason, including the trial and execution of the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, and the crisis caused by the unauthorised marriage of Suffolk to the kings sister, to the continuing difficulties of policing the North. There are instructions to, and reports from, Lord Dacre in the marches on the border with Scotland and much on the garrison at Berwick.
Such matters were closely related to the wider issues of relations with Scotland: diplomatic negotiations both with James IV before the expedition which ended so disastrously for him at Flodden, and subsequently with James V, occur frequently as do wider issues of foreign affairs and of the governance of Ireland and Calais, both insecure parts of Henrys domains. There are reports from both the latter and much information on the state and cost of English garrisons there. Foreign affairs generally are dominated by relations, often stormy, with France. The accounts of the various expeditions mounted by henry and the subsequent negotiations for peace are a recurrent theme. These include the Field of Cloth of Gold and the marriage negotiations between the French king and Henrys sister. Many documents relate to the temporary English occupation of Tournai. Relations with the Hapsburgs were comparatively tranquil, especially after the significant negotiations for the marriage of the king and Katherine of Aragon, until of course the issue of the annulment arose. Much incidental information is thrown on other foreign developments not directly affecting England, such as the course of Hapsburg/Valois wars, the affairs of the Turks, German and Italian politics, the grievances of the German peasants in 1525, and the Turkish threat to the Hungarians.
An active war policy meant much attention had to be paid to military and naval mobilisation. Large numbers of papers relate to the levying, victualling and arming of soldiers and sailors with full accounts of costs these imposed. The organisation of war in the early Tudor state is one of the best documented themes. This naturally overlaps not only with political strains but also with social tension. The government was anxious for information on the level of food stocks, the development of engrossing and depopulation, and the general state of commerce. Surveys correspondence, accounts of local disorder, parliamentary bills and court decrees relate to these matters. Incidental information is given on many aspects of the English economy and social life, from the problems of cloth exporters, the wool staplers and the shipping industry, and threats from pirates, to the state of the coinage and level of prices. Other documents of specific interest include aristocratic household account-books, a surgeons bill, and the stipend to be paid of Erasmus was to stay at the University of Cambridge.
Finally many papers provide information on the state of the Church on the eve of the Reformation. These range from notable events like the Standish affair and Wolseys attacks on heresy and on seditious preaching, to the mundane but significant working of church patronage and information on monastic affairs. By 1527 the Boleyn affair was becoming prominent and that year and 1528 have much on English efforts at Rome to secure an annulment of the kings marriage.
Publishers Note: Unit 37
Unit 37 covers the period 1528-1535, some of the most momentous years in English history. They witnessed the meeting of the Reformation Parliament, the annulment of Henry VIIIs marriage to Katherine of Aragon, his remarriage to Anne Boleyn, the birth of Princess Elizabeth, the exclusion of Papal authority and establishment of royal supremacy over the Church, and the beginning of change in religious practice and of the dissolution of the monasteries. All these themes, and many others, are illustrated in these manuscripts. The core of the papers comprises the correspondence first of Wolsey and, after his fall, increasingly of Thomas Cromwell. There are many letters to and from the King and other leading political and religious figures, both at home and abroad. These include Charles V, Francis I, Pope Clement VII, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earls of Northumberland and Wiltshire, Archbishops Lee and Cranmer, Anne Boleyn, Lords Audley and Lisle, Sir Thomas More, Sir Robert Wingfield, Sir Henry Guldeford, Tuke, Bonner, Gardiner, Vannes, Bryan, Paulet, Vaughan, Knight, Moryson, Starkey, Pole, Hales and Coverdale, to name only the most well-known.
At the beginning of the period Wolsey appears securely in power, but the divorce was already dominating his policy, with abortive negotiations both in Rome and with Campeggio in England. 1529 saw an open attack on Wolsey for alleged corruption, followed by more open accusations when the Reformation Parliament met. There is much information resulting from inquiries into Wolseys wealth. An illustration of the uncertainty felt among those who had hitherto depended on Wolsey is seen perhaps in Thomas Cromwells making of his will in July 1529. 1530 saw the removal from national politics and then the death of Wolsey, subsequent years showing Cromwell' ability to survive and rise to a position of dominance in the administration. All the major stages of the Reformation are illustrated. There are very many drafts of agreed parliamentary acts, as well as accounts of other proceedings in Parliament, including petitions against ecclesiastical abuses. These proceedings gave effect to the breach with Rome and made new arrangements for the succession to the throne. Parliamentary proceedings took place against a background of innumerable tracts, sets of instructions, working papers, expressions of opinion from lawyers and from foreign universities relevant to the campaign against papal authority and in favour of the annulment of the Kings marriage to Katherine, finally granted to Henry by Archbishop Cranmer in 1533. A rumour of Pope Clements death led the English government into immediate intrigues to try to influence the election of his successor. There is full documentation of the acknowledgement of the royal supremacy by religious houses, but that was not to save them from dissolution. The beginnings of that process can be seen in 1535 in visitations of monasteries by Layton, Legh and others, the valuation of ecclesiastical estates and the actual surrender of some monasteries to the King.
Meanwhile the government faced hostility at home and abroad. The fate of the famous opponents of the Henrician Reformation, such as Sir Thomas More, various groups of friars, and the Nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton is well illustrated, and so too is the undercurrent of seditious speech, prophecies and unlawful assemblies which kept the government continually on the alert. The regime was still concerned to make only minimal changes, such as the removal of the Popes name from the liturgy, in religious practice. It continued to issue injunctions against heretical works and came down hard on heretics themselves: there is much for example on the execution of Thomas Bilney and the intense interest shown later in whether or not he had recanted. The government had also to be alert on its borders and abroad. Particular difficulties continued on the Scottish and Welsh borders, in Ireland and in relations with James V of Scotland. Overseas the defence of Calais is fully detailed with many papers on costs, fortifications, garrisons and victuals. Crucial of course were relations with Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The governments main aim was to ensure there was no interference with its domestic affairs from either of these singly or jointly. This meant much diplomatic activity and information on affairs in Germany, including relations with the Schmalkaldic League, and Italy, as well as France and Spain.
At the same time the ordinary affairs of government continued in both Church and State. The reactions of Convocation to the Reformation are well documented, as are general church affairs. These include clerical taxation, archiepiscopal visitations to various dioceses, and clerical appointments and resignations. In secular government there is much on finance, including subsidy and other tax assessments, and on varieties of expenditure. There are Exchequer, Chamber and Wardrobe accounts, details of Chancery expenses, valuations of crown lands, costs of royal building, lists of the kings jewels, New Yorks Gifts to and from the King, information on the establishments of Katherine of Aragon and of Princess Mary after the annulment, and details of plate and other gifts from Henry to Anne Boleyn. Other aspects of the workings of government include lists of the kings wards and of the grantees to whom they were sold, and details of appointments of sheriffs and of other officials. Increasingly Thomas Cromwells extensive holding of offices is illustrated: there are papers relating to his Masterships of the Wards and of the Jewels, and to his fees in the Hanaper of Chancery. Very important are his frequent "remembrances", memoranda of the multifarious aspects of government with which he was concerned.
As always in these collections much light is thrown on other aspects of social and economic life. Educational topics include material on both universities, the finances and progress of Wolseys proposed colleges at Oxford and Ipswich, and on the estates of Eton College. Of particular interest are the continuing struggle between the university and town of Oxford over privileges, and the request by the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, to Thomas Cromwell for the provision of teaching in Greek. More general social and economic topics range from the state of the coinage, with documents on the Mint, assaying, the Trial of the Pyx, and counterfeiting, through customs accounts and the state of overseas trades (including those in salt, wine and corn), to the wool staple at Calais, French piracy and the Iceland fisheries. Many industries are illustrated, such as mining, metal working, and shipbuilding. Social problems are raised in documents relating to royal purveyance, regrating in dairy products, enclosure in Oxfordshire and elsewhere, the high price of corn and the draining of the Ely fens.
Finally private individuals affairs frequently came to the attention of Cromwell and other members of the government: lawsuits, wills, private finances, sales of land, rentals, funeral expenses and information about robberies are only a few of the many aspects illustrated in papers which show the continuing reality of individuals lives whatever great changes were taking place on the national and international scale.
Publishers Note: Unit 38
Unit 38 covers the period from January 1536 to April 1539. Two issues dominate: the dissolution of the monasteries and the governments efforts to deal with dissent, notably the religiously conservative Pilgrimage of Grace, the most widespread rebellion against Henry VIII. Thomas Cromwell was still in undoubted power and his correspondence dominates the collection, but all the key figures of Henrician church and state are represented. There are letters to and from Henry himself, James V of Scotland, the Emperor Charles V, Francis I of France, and Princess Mary. Among the nobility the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earls of Derby, Essex, Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmorland, Worcester and Shrewsbury, and Lords Lisle, Audley, LaWarr and Sandys may be picked out. Notable ecclesiastics include Cardinals Campeggio and Pole, Archbishops Cranmer and Lee, Bishops Foxe, Clerk, Longland, Nix, a variety of abbots and other significant figures in ecclesiastical politics such as Bonner, Tunstall and Coverdale. Others of interest are Sir Anthony Browne, Sir Brian Tuke, Sir Thomas Audley, the Lord Chancellor Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir John Gage, Sir Francis Brian, Sir John Russell, Sir Richard Rich, Dr. William Petre, and Starkey, Wriothesley, Vaughan, Dacre, Pate, Morison, Southwell, Parry and Husee.
The dissolution of the smaller monasteries (those with an income of less than sterling 200 p.a.) was completed in this period and that of the larger made much progress. Relevant papers include Instructions to the Dissolution Commissioners, inquiries into the state of the monasteries, attacks on abbots, inventories of the monasteries contents and surveys of their estates, details of their surrenders and distribution of their property, and lists of pensions to the ex-religious. Other religious changes occurred in Thomas Cromwells injunctions of August 1536, and there is much on the enforcement of change, including archiepiscopal visitations and inquiries into the state of the parishes.
These changes and rumours of other more radical ones sparked off the Pilgrimage of Grace in October 1536. In the next two months the revolt spread to five counties, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmorland, and Cumberland. The aims and course of the rebellion, its suppression, the capture, examination, trials and punishment of its leaders, later movements such as that associated with Bigod, and the subsequent attempts to settle the North are voluminously documented.
The papers seized include part of Lord Darcys family archive going back to the early sixteenth century. There were rumours of other pilgrimages, but Catholic-inspired revolt was not the governments only anxiety. Many documents deal with generalised sedition and threats of treason and illustrate the spread of Lutheran and other heresy. There was for example sedition in Norfolk, inquiry into John Bales preaching, and seditious songs and Protestant preaching reported from Bristol.
In general there are many religious and political tracts, dealing with doctrine, the royal supremacy, episcopal authority, the nature of the sacraments and other key issues of the moment. They include Reginald Poles discourse on ecclesiastical unity addressed to Henry VIII.
Other manifestations of political unrest came with the examinations and trials of the Marquis of Exeter, Countess of Salisbury, Sir Geoffrey Pole and Lord Montague, which produced many manuscripts, as did the fate of the estate of the deceased Earl of Northumberland.
Through all this the Kings matrimonial adventures persisted. The period began with the death and burial of Katherine of Aragon, followed by the trial and execution of Anne Boleyn and Lord Rochford. There are papers on Anne Boleyns finances. The King then obtained Archbishop Cranmers dispensation to marry his distant cousin Jane Seymour. The birth at last of the much-desired male heir, Prince Edward, occurred in October 1537, only for the new Queen to die a month later.
Meanwhile the ordinary affairs of government continued. Political manoeuvres at Court, the role of patronage and appointments to offices are frequently illustrated. Thomas Cromwells "remembrances" provide recurrent illustration of the range of his concerns, and there is much on Council business. The Parliamentary session of 1536 provides accounts of proceedings and detail of draft legislation. Other illuminating administrative papers include details of Privy Chamber officers and gentlemen, navy accounts and details of the 1539 musters.
Royal finance was of concern beyond the profits from the dissolution of the monasteries. There are notes of debts to the King, accounts of assessments of subsidies, fifteenths and tenths, customs accounts, Wardrobe papers, and accounts of the Lieutenant of Windsor Castle. Details of the households of the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth and of Thomas Cromwells revenue and expenditure are also of interest. There are accounts of royal building (including Nonsuch Palace) and incidentally of the progress of Wolseys buildings. Some documents deal with the assay of coinage and counterfeiting.
The government was also concerned with border defence. Documents deal with the affairs of the Cinque Ports, fortifications at Dover, Calais and Guisnes, and, especially numerous, the continued troubles on the Scottish border. There is a reference to the lack of preaching on the border. Scottish internal affairs frequently impinge. Disorder also occurred in the Welsh Marches, and other papers relate specifically to the 1536 Act for Wales, which reconstructed its government. Irish history is also frequently illustrated. There are details of proceedings in the Irish Parliament of 1536-1537, accounts of the army in Ireland, details of Irish coinage, and many Irish Council letters to Henry VIII.
Foreign affairs range widely and include much on the internal history and diplomacy of France and of the Emperor Charles Vs dominions in Germany and Spain. Other topics embrace the Duchies of Savoy and Milan, depredations by Flemish ships, trade with France, the affairs of Turkey and news of the Turkish Fleet. There are many dispatches from Wriothesley, Vaughan and Carne on their prolonged diplomatic mission to Europe.
As always a wide range of incidental topics arise in these papers. For example information is given about forest riots, vagabonds, horse stealing, the export of grain, the weakness of the Lincolnshire sea-dikes, and the affairs of the universities. John Parkyn addressed Cromwell with a scheme for the reorganisation of the universities, bishoprics, abbeys, priories and almshouses. Private individuals frequently addressed their concerns to the government, especially to Cromwell, with petitions for favours and redress of grievances, such papers illuminate the social and economic history of early Tudor England.
Publishers Note: Unit 39
Unit 39 covers the period from April 1539 to 1545. These were momentous years in both foreign and domestic affairs. For the first year or so Thomas Cromwell retained his dominance and his correspondence and remembrances continue to be the core of the collection. We read much of his clients and there is material on his personal affairs and financial accounts. The elections for and accounts of proceedings in the 1539 Parliament are significant in the early part of the collection: among its proceedings were attacks on Cromwells enemies, the Marquis of Exeter and other lords and, most notably, the dissolution of the larger monasteries. The documentation of the latter continues throughout this Unit: there are details of the surrender of monasteries, of resistance, of the disposal of lands and of the pensions and annuities granted, and sometimes paid, to the dispossessed monks. The disposal of church plate and destruction of shrines are also noted. There is material too on the limited restructuring of the Church, with the creation of some new bishoprics. Opposition, real or imagined, to the religious changes on the one hand, and, on the other, efforts to quicken the spread of reformed doctrines and practices are recurrent themes, Giving much anxiety to Cromwell and his successors as they tried to monitor and contain dissent in the context of changes in the dominant faction at Court. Many reports from the localities illuminate opinion. There is much on seditious preaching and speeches, the working of the Act of Six Articles, the proclamation to ban the English Bible, the issue of the Kings Book, the rising influence of Bonner and Gardiner, the spread of reformed doctrines, especially in Kent, the question of the English Litany, the affair of Ann Askew, and the punishment of heretics and sacramentaries (including the burning of Barnes in July 1540). There are also theological tracts and debates on the sacraments and other live issues. Church government is also included with material on church patronage.
In April 1540 Cromwell was made Earl of Essex: at the height of the following summer he was executed, a victim of his political rivals and of the unfortunate marriage with Anne of Cleves which he had negotiated for Henry VIII. There is much on the diplomacy behind that marriage, on Annes arrival and reception, on the annulment of her marriage, and on her subsequent treatment. The Spring Parliament of 1540, which was allowed to attaint Cromwell, is fully covered. Henrys last two marriages, with Catholic Katherine Howard, niece of the Duke of Norfolk, and, after her fall, trial and execution, with the moderate reformer Katherine Parr, are included in the material. There are papers on the finances of Katherine Parr and of the Earl of Hertford, uncle and later Protector of Edward VI, who was the recipient of many grants of land. Domestic politics may also be followed in the Parliaments of 1542, 1543 and 1544, the proceedings and Acts of which are noted, and in numbers of Privy Council letters. As usual there is much information on the workings of patronage, and on the struggles for influence at Court and for posts in State and Church. There are details of arrangements and ordinances for the royal household as well as payment of wages.
Foreign affairs became increasingly significant in these years with the renewal of foreign war. Relations with France and the Holy Roman Empire remained the centre of foreign policy with all efforts devoted to avoiding a union between them to undo the English Reformation. There are many reports from overseas and much news of developments in France and in the German Reformation (including for example Sir Thomas Wyatts instructions and diet as ambassador), while the Valois and Hapsburg ambassadors, Marillac and Chapuys, report frequently from England. An interesting report of the Turkish victory over the Christians at Buda survives. The Cleves marriage represented the height of Henry VIIIs support for German Protestant Princes against the Empire. Border defences both in Calais and Guisnes and on the Scottish border remained crucial and fill many documents, with details of fortifications at Calais and Berwick. The government in London was always concerned about the loyalty of the North, and there is much on the Yorkshire rebels, the fate of Dacre lands and the threat of northern troubles.
But as it became clear that an Hapsburg-Valois alliance against Henry was more and more unlikely, and indeed war broke out between them, Henrys foreign policy, buoyed up by the apparent wealth of the dissolved monasteries, became more adventurous. Negotiations for a marriage alliance between Princess Mary and Orleans were still possible in 1542, but relations with Scotland deteriorated, culminating in the breakdown of negotiations and the campaign which culminated in the victory at Solway Moss and the death of James V. The victory did not lead to peace, but renewed inconclusive war, with consequent financial and organisational problems. A truce led to unsuccessful marriage negotiations between Prince Edward and the young Mary of Scotland: this was soon replaced by a rough wooing of war. The aim of keeping Scotland from a French alliance was difficult to achieve. A treaty with Charles V in 1543 was followed by an ultimatum to France and war on the two fronts of Scotland and Flanders. The later papers are full of details of campaigns, both by the Earl of Hertford in southern Scotland and around Boulogne. There were French raids on the English south coast.
War meant of course even greater emphasis on military and naval matters. There are details of supplies, military destruction, costs and logistics. Throughout the period the collection includes many musters certificates, details of garrisons and ordnance and the organisation of local defences, while naval papers include lists of ships and details of naval difficulties. There is also an account of the failure to raise the recently-sunk Mary Rose.
Concurrently Ireland was a source of anxiety to the English government. Henry became king, rather than lord (a Papal title), of Ireland. Papers relate to the Irish Parliaments of 1541 and 1542, and to the affairs of the Deputy and Council of Ireland, with much correspondence relating to military affairs, finances and the possibility or actuality of rebellion. There are reports from Sir Anthony St. Leger, accounts of the doings of Lord Leonard Grey, a petition from the city of Limerick and material relating to the reform of Irish law and government generally.
Despite the bonus of monastic property, government finances remained parlous, particularly when war began. Many documents illuminate royal finances, both generally, and specific topics such as the levying of loans, benevolences and subsidies, the kings debtors, the workings of the Court of Augmentations and the accounts of the Great Wardrobe. Mint affairs are especially interesting given this period saw the start of the enhancement of the coinage and the great debasement of mid-Tudor England which had serious inflationary consequences.
Other economic matters illustrated are the state of the cloth and wool trades, the copper industry, the export of grain, the accounts of merchants, the use of royal forests, guilds and hospitals, action against foreigners engaged in crafts and trades and the grievances of the Hanseatic League in England.
Social history includes a proclamation against vagabonds, plague deaths, violent local quarrels, criminal matters, and much on private affairs from the death of Sir Thomas Wyatt to private suits, details of Berkeley estates and the sale of wardships and marriages.
The history of the universities and education is illuminated, with papers on fellowships at both Oxford and Cambridge, cases under university statutes, and a debate between Cheke and Gardiner on the pronunciation of Greek.
Much of this material is contained in thousands of letters, from nearly all the notable, and many less famous, figures of late Henrican England, Those receiving and/or sending letters include, as a sample, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Hertford, Lords Audley, Dacre, Grey, Hungerford, Lisle, Mordaunt, Sandys and Stourton, leading ecclesiastics such as Cranmer, Lee, Longland, Bonner, Gardiner, and Thirlby, as well as Tuke, Petre, Paget, Husee, Southwell, Vaughan, Wotton, Layton, Wriothesley, Sadler and Miles Coverdale.
Publishers Note: Unit 40
Unit 40 comprises volumes 201 to 246 of the class S.P. 1 of the reign of Henry VIII. It may be divided into two parts. The first thirty volumes cover most of the last two years of the reign. The main correspondents are the Privy Council, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earls of Surrey and Hertford, Lords Petre, Russel, Paget and Lisle, and Cranmer, Wotton, Lee, Gardiner, Thirlby, Bonner, Cox, Wharton, Southwell, Carne, Vaughan and Mason, a full range of the leading political and ecclesiastical figures of the late Henrician period. Foreign political leaders also feature frequently in the letters. Two themes dominate: foreign policy, and the struggle for influence as the king neared his end. In foreign affairs the governments policy was mainly pro-Imperial and anti-French and Scottish. Tortuous negotiations with the Emperor, made difficult by commercial rivalries, led eventually to the 1546 Treaty of Utrecht. Meanwhile the fate of Protestants in Germany and France was of much interest: there are details of the progress of both the Council of Trent and the Colloquy of Ratisbon, including a Protestant account of the latter. There is also an anti-Protestant parody. The war with France was largely unsuccessful. At stake were such matters as the security of Boulogne and Calais, and there is much on their defence and fortification, as well as their internal affairs. At home military preparations continued to be evident with much on musters as well as on naval affairs. Military operations were difficult, with a military disaster for the Earl of Surrey and his temporary loss of favour. Long peace negotiations with France followed culminating in the agreement of June 1546. Scottish politics focused on the murder of Cardinal Beaton and the incipient and actual state of civil war there. Meanwhile there were lengthy negotiations with the Fuggers and the city of Antwerp for loans. Other foreign topics illustrated include, for example, affairs of the city of Dantzig.
Meanwhile Henry VIII was declining in health, though reports of this were punctuated by rumours that he would dispose of Catherine Parr and take a seventh wife. In December 1546 he made a famous will and the next month he died. His last few weeks were dominated by the purported plot of the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey, to seize control of government after his death: there is much on the trials of both. Surrey was executed but Norfolk was saved by the kings own death the day before his execution. There is material on the Parliament of 1546, including proposals for the dissolution of collegiate churches and chantries and confiscation of their lands: these were to reach fruition in the next reign. These policies wee combined with the continued hunting of heretics, including most famously Anne Askew, and of those felt to be guilty of seditious speech or dangerous prophecies. A proclamation against heretical books was issued in July 1546. The sale of monastic property proceeded apace under the needs of war finance: it, as well as the less enthusiastic payment of monastic pensions, are frequently illustrated. Generally royal finances are well documented with much on royal expenses (including such detail as the bills of the kings apothecary), and lists of royal debtors. Irish affairs were dominated by the disputes between the Earl of Ormond and the Lord Deputy St. Leger, but there is also material on the work of the Council in Ireland and the general state of the country. A full range of social and economic matters are as usual illuminated by the state papers. The actions of government in issuing grants and patents throw much light on administrative and political history as well as socio-economic affairs. The price of food and other commodities, action against the regrating of wool, the trades and industries of fishing, glazing, and saddlery are examples of the range of topics which appear. The internal religious and political affairs of both universities are other matters of interest.
The remaining sixteen volumes (numbers 231 to 246) are addenda, not included in the original calendaring of the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. They cover the whole of Henrys reign, although, like the documents already reproduced, they are more numerous in the last two decades. Many of them provide further material on topics already illuminated, though they have probably more bias towards domestic affairs than the original volumes. Henry VIIIs aggressive early foreign policy with its domestic consequences is an early theme, with material on negotiations with France and the Empire, as well as papers about Tournai, Calais, and the Isle of Jersey. Other foreign topics include the internal affairs of Portugal, Germany, and of the Turks, the course of the Diet of Ratisbon, and the state of Antwerp and of French merchants. The affairs of Ireland (particularly those of the Earl of Kildare), and the Scottish border (notably security at Berwick) recur, and there is material on Wales. The fall of Buckingham is marked by a survey of his estates. The key themes of Wolseys rule, his foreign policy, the governments financial problems, the unpopular fiscal measures of the 1520s, and the difficulties with parliament gave way to the rise of Thomas Cromwell and the central issues of the 1530s. There are more working papers of Cromwell, details of proceedings in Parliament and Convocation, tracts on the royal supremacy, much more on the affairs of the monasteries, particularly Glastonbury, and the coronation of Jane Seymour. The Northern Rebellion and its consequences are further documented, as is Cromwells fall and the jointure of Katherine Howard. Attacks on heresy and the pursuit of those felt guilty of seditious speeches or dangerous prophecies are frequent. There are anxious accounts of Anabaptist activity. Further material is provided on musters and royal ordnance, and the state of the Henrician army and navy, including details of supplies and wages. The state and price of food supplies were of recurrent concern. Other topics of social interest include the continuation of the wearing of liveries, the affairs of the Charterhouse, sumptuary legislation, proposals to set the poor on work and to restore tillage, homilies, and how to read character from appearance. Notable individuals whose affairs are illuminated include the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Darcy. Trades and industries illustrated include those of the clothiers and wool exporters (with much on the Merchant Adventurers and the Calais staple), coal, tin and lead miners, bakers, vintners, skinners, glaziers, goldsmiths, fishermen (including those going to Iceland), and shipbuilders. There are papers about the rates of exchange and of purveyance, accounts of the kings clockmaker, moneys due to his jeweller, his woods, details of the decay of York, the state of Bristol, the kings works at Hampton Court, the sale of his wards, the provision of hospitals, a crossbow licence, and information about sheepstealing, poaching and piracy. There are many papers relating to personal affairs and private petitions and lawsuits, as well as a host of miscellaneous items of much interest.
Publishers Note: Unit 41
Unit 41 comprises three classes, SP 2, SP 3, and SP 4, from the reign of Henry VIII.
SP 2 is a miscellaneous collection of twenty volumes from the year 1516 to 1539; it contains those documents too large to be included in SO 1. Broadly they may be divided into documents of public and private interest. Examples of the former are lists of fees and annuities paid by the King in 1516, the 1526 Eltham Ordinances for the Reform of the Royal Household, judicial proceedings before Wolsey in 1527 on the Kings divorce, and twenty-five inquisitions, also from 1527, on lands of the monasteries to be suppressed to endow Wolseys Colleges at Oxford and Ipswich. Relevant to the last are also many indentures and leases concerned with the establishment of the College at Ipswich. From the 1530s there are details of the Kings New Years gifts, the 1532 bill for reforming abuses in the Spiritual Courts, 1533 papers concerning the Divorce, including a draft parliamentary bill declaring the Kings marriage with Katherine of Aragon invalid, the 1534 Treaty between Henry and James V of Scotland, and papers on Ordnance for Ireland from the same year.
These are only a sample of a very wide range of official or semi-official papers; the ones concerning individuals are even more varied. Many concern private lawsuits and there are numerous leases and sales; a number of these concern Thomas Cromwell, which accounts for their presence in the State Papers. An example is Cromwells indenture of 1532 concerning a house at Austen Friars. Also included are many other patents of grants of lands from the Crown to private persons. In addition there are executors papers concerning the debts of the late Lord Monteagle, a roll of Sir Thomas Lucys funeral expenses in 1525, an account of the felonies committed by John Norbrooke of Exeter between 1524 and 1532, a 1534 patent creating Thomas Halley alias Carlyll Norroy King-at-Arms, a bill for cables, a license to export work, and a 1535 list of thieves and coiners in Lancashire.
SP 3 comprises the famous Lisle Papers, a collection of some three thousand letters to and from Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle and members of his family during the years 1533 to 1540 when he was Deputy of Calais, Englands last remaining continental possession. About two-thirds of these have been published, but this is of course the full collection. The collection is unparalleled for the period in combining correspondence relating to public office and high politics with intimate family matters. Lisle was immersed in the multitude of problems which faced any governor of Calais during the last decades of English rule there. The correspondence is full of information about the problems of military and naval defence, finance, politics, patronage, local religious problems and international diplomacy. At the same time this was a period of intense political and religious tension in England, and Lisle frequently received information on and was involved in those matters. His correspondents included all the most notable names in political and religious life in England, ranging from Thomas Cromwell, Edwards Seymour, William Fitzwilliam, Robert Wingfield to Thomas Cranmer and other leading ecclesiastics. Meanwhile, Lisle private affairs were in many ways equally tumultuous. Despite the windfalls of land grants he received he was usually in chronic debt; his domestic correspondence combines efforts to deal with creditors and debts and the management of his estates with intimate details of family relationships, the education of his children, even with the family sports and pets. Lisle was by this time married to his second wife, Honor, born in the Conrnish Grenville family, and widow of Sir John Basset. She was a very positive, active woman whose correspondence is a central part of the collection. So too are the letters of Lisles agent or secretary, John Husse or Hussey who, like Lisle himself, was much involved in contemporary politics and patronage, and whose many letters are a major source of knowledge for political affairs in the 1530s.
Lisles illegitimacy saved him from being considered by Henry VIII as a rival to the throne and from sharing the fate of many of those with Plantagenet blood. However, his connections with Pole and the conservative religious interest led to his loss of office and imprisonment in the tower by Cromwell in 1540. Lisles life was saved by Cromwells own fall, but he remained in the Tower and in fact died there in 1542, though his release had been granted just before.