Power and rule in 17th century Britain—The Stuarts revealed in Part III of State Papers Online

Marking the 350th anniversary of the Restoration of the British Monarchy, Gale, part of Cengage Learning, unveils today State Papers Online Part III: The Stuarts: James I to Anne, 1603–1714. The collection is the third of a four-part digital series that enables researchers and students to examine Tudor and Stuart government and society through thousands of historical manuscripts preserved by The National Archives in Kew. State Papers Domestic for the Stuart era (1603–1714) charts national affairs during one of the most dramatic periods of revolution and upheaval in Britain’s history. Researchers can find a wealth of primary source documents on such pivotal events as the Gunpowder Plot, the Civil Wars (1642–51), the trial and execution of Charles I (1649), the rule of Cromwell, the Restoration of the British Monarchy (1660), and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ (1688–9).

The collection digitally captures 450,000 manuscript images (approximately 775,000 pages). Correspondence written and received by the ruling monarchs, reports, memoranda, treaties and acts of parliament reveal the behind the scenes workings of the Stuart regimes, whilst reports of military manoeuvres and accounts of battles bring the Civil War sharply to life. Historians can also uncover the clandestine world of espionage and treason in numerous documents describing plots and assassination attempts. Three volumes of the State Papers are dedicated to the Gunpowder Plot alone and researchers can read Guy Fawkes’ interrogation on 7th November 1605, confessing ‘the conspiracy began eighteen months before’ and admitting ‘they intended to place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne, and marry her to an English Catholic.’ (SP 14/216/1 f.61a) *

In the year marking the 350th anniversary of Charles II’s triumphant return to London, researchers can read the King’s declaration to his people on 1st May 1660 assuring them ‘lest fear of punishment should lead any to oppose our restoration, we grant a free and general pardon, to all who return to their loyalty in 40 days.’ (SP 18/221 f.12)* Only six years later, on 8th September, 1666, Lord Conway would receive the following letter about the Great Fire sweeping through London, “Alas, my lord, London—all London, almost, within the walls, and some part of it which was without the walls—lies in ashes. Last Sunday, at 1 a.m., a fire broke out in Pudding Lane, burned the new houses on the bridge, and left the old ones standing.” (SP 29/450 f.46)*

Linking the original historical manuscripts to fully searchable calendar entries, State Papers Online simplifies the process of research and interpretation of these key historical materials for students and researchers. Users can carry out searches with limiters, view illustrations and maps, magnify or rotate documents, view two manuscripts or calendar entries side-by-side to draw comparisons and use a notepad to prepare notes or transcriptions alongside the historical document. The development of a more accessible, modern style of handwriting makes these documents easier to read than those in the Tudor collections of Parts I and II and will be welcomed by students and researchers without specialist palaeographical training.

Professor John Miller from Queen Mary, University of London, General Editor of Parts III and IV comments: “The documents in the State Papers are the essential first port of call for those who wish to study most aspects of seventeenth-century England, including politics, government and religion.”

Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives, says: “The State Papers are The National Archives’ bedrock early modern collection, and represent the authentic, original workings of government at the birth of the modern state. Cengage Learning is to be congratulated for building such an innovative online environment in which to read, search, share and collaborate in research not just on the well-known Tudor records, but on this further set of Stuart material. We are proud to have facilitated the project”.

Linden Harris, publisher at Cengage Learning, comments: “Part III represents the largest collection in the series to date and the richest primary source collection of its kind to cover the Stuart period. The manuscripts and accompanying calendars are vital to any scholar’s understanding of this fascinating century of change, allowing them to trace in document after document, the nature of monarchy, religious conflict, the role of Parliament, and public reaction to current events.”

Due to be released in four stages, Parts I, II and III of State Papers Online are now live and cover the complete collection of Stuart State Papers Domestic, Tudor State Papers Domestic and State Papers Foreign, Ireland, Scotland, Borders and Registers of the Privy Council as well as the State Papers in the British Library’s Cotton, Harley and Yelverton Collections. Part IV containing the Seventeenth Century State Papers, Foreign, Ireland and Registers of the Privy Council will follow in 2011.

For further information about State Papers Online, please contact Nicholas Berg at Gale/Cengage Learning (Tel: +44 (0)7879 448777; Email: ni[email protected] or visit the web site at http://gale.cengage.co.uk/statepapers

About Cengage Learning

Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. The company’s products and services are designed to foster academic excellence and professional development, increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes. Cengage Learning’s brands include Heinle, Gale, Wadsworth, Delmar, Brooks/Cole and South-Western, among others. For more information on Gale, part of Cengage Learning please visit www.gale.cengage.co.uk.

About The National Archives

The National Archives, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk, is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archives of the UK government, it cares for, makes available and ‘brings alive’ a vast collection of over 1000 years of historical records, including the treasured Domesday Book.

Not only safeguarding historical information, The National Archives also manages current digital information and devises new technological solutions for keeping government records readable now and in the future. It provides world class research facilities and expert advice, publishes all UK legislation and official publications, and is a leading advocate for the archive sector.

At the heart of information policy, The National Archives sets standards of best practice that actively promotes and encourages public access to, and the re-use of information, both online or onsite at Kew. This work helps inform today’s decisions and ensures that they become tomorrow’s permanent record.

The National Archives brings together the Public Record Office, Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. See also www.opsi.gov.uk.

* The National Archives’ catalogue reference. Every SPO reference indicates the number of the Manuscript Series and the volume number within that collection.