Parliament and the crown jewels in the English Revolution, 1641–1644

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Abstract

This article argues that parliamentary debates over the access to and control of the crown jewels from 1641 to 1644 were intrinsic to the emergence and proliferation of revolutionary ideas about political sovereignty in the earliest stages of the English Civil Wars. In combining the methodologies of parliamentary history with theoretical scholarship on the material foundations of power, it demonstrates that shifting attitudes toward the royal regalia were indicative of more general developments in parliamentary thinking on the origins and limits of monarchical authority. In so doing, it contributes to recent scholarship on the problem of ‘ideological escalation’ at Westminster, demonstrating how quickly an initially radical proposal for access to the crown jewels became sufficiently popular in the House of Commons to authorize the melting down of the royal regalia only a year later. By emphasizing the centrality of the crown jewels to ongoing debates over the ‘ancient constitution’, it suggests that their destruction was understood as a step towards the abolition of monarchy per se.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-835
Number of pages25
JournalThe Historical Journal
Volume63
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2019

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