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Charles I and the People of England by David Cressy

By David Cressy

The tale of the reign of Charles I - during the lives of his humans.

Prize-winning historian David Cressy mines the widest variety of archival and revealed resources, together with ballads, sermons, speeches, letters, diaries, petitions, proclamations, and the complaints of secular and ecclesiastical courts, to discover the aspirations and expectancies not just of the king and his fans, but in addition the unruly energies of a lot of his topics, displaying how royal authority was once constituted, in peace and in warfare - and the way it all started to collapse.

A combination of micro-historical research and constitutional concept, parish politics and ecclesiology, army, cultural, and social background, Charles I and the folk of England is the 1st significant try to attach the political, constitutional, and non secular background of this important interval in English historical past with the event and aspirations of the remainder of the inhabitants. From the king and his ministers to the typical dealings and evaluations of parishioners, petitioners, and taxpayers, David Cressy re-creates the broadest attainable landscape of early Stuart England, because it slipped from complacency to revolution.

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Their disorderly living and gross dependency was an affront to the sensibilities of respectable Christians. In the words of the Oxfordshire minister John Randol, preaching in 1631, they were ‘a dishonour to the king, confusion to the kingdom, the off-scouring both of men and beasts, and the very scum of all the land’. 155 Fortunately for settled society, there were statutes in place for dealing with the destitute and disorderly, placing the principal burden on parish authorities. 156 No new legislation was necessary, but Charles I’s government sought energetic compliance with existing laws.

Addressing this development, without fully grasping its measure, the educational theorist John Dury counted ‘three sorts of people’ in Caroline England. The nobles and gentlemen at the top of society were distinguished by their ‘largeness of possessions’, and naturally enjoyed ‘a preeminence in honour above others of the vulgar sort’. These men constituted the governing elite, who were especially suited for ‘public charges in peace and war’. Next in rank came men of Dury’s own class, ‘the learned for increase of science and training up of others’, who might loosely be identified with the professions.

62 These figures may be compared with cruder measures of probated wealth over the entire seventeenth century, showing gentlemen worth £329 at death, yeomen £195, husbandmen £80, and labourers £28. 64 The clerical estate comprised some 12,000 men, of whom just over 9,000 served as rectors, vicars, or curates to parish congregations. There were also hundreds more private chaplains, unbeneficed clergy, place seekers, and hopeful ordinands, as well as clerics associated with Oxford and Cambridge colleges and cathedral chapters.

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