"Into Another Mould": Aspects of the Interregnum

By Ivan Roots | Go to book overview

1
Union and Disunion in the British Isles,
1637–1660

Ivan Roots


Approaches to the Interregnum

The events of the mid-seventeenth century may be approached in many ways. The usual measure is an English yard laid alongside developments in English national institutions or groups—the monarchy, the Church, Parliament, the Privy Council, the law courts, the peerage, the gentry. Everything comes to a focus in London—Westminster or Whitehall —thence radiating outwards. Another measure much used in the last two or three decades attempts a local dimension, particularly of county communities, each disturbed by internal as well as external tensions. So we find not only the civil war in Staffordshire but the civil war of Staffordshire, an intense struggle that might well be more absorbing there than the larger conflict. Doubt has recently been cast on the notion of a county community,1 but quite apart from that historians have noted a role for other topographical units—regions (the far north, the forests), hundreds, cities, even villages—and for other sorts of communities, or particular interests such as trading companies, sects, professions.2 A man making up his heart and mind to become, say, a royalist, might draw upon his membership of or association with a whole congeries of communities—topographical, professional, kinship, religious. The interactions, contradictions and ambivalences in an individual’s or a group’s assessment of where their own interests lay helps to explain why in the civil wars the protagonists made shifting coalitions, hot for

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