"Locating Dissent: Power and Resistance in Interregnum England"
Grant in Aid of Research
Final Report: "This grant funded housing and meals for research conducted in the UK at The National Archives in London and the York City Archives in York. This research is part of a much larger monograph study that is under contract with Boydell and Brewer Press. While in London, I research the State Papers for the Committee on Indemnity (TNA, SP 24) during the British Civil Wars period. I found these records quite dense and somewhat unwieldy. Records for cases against individuals with the last names ranging from Aa-Ar totaled over 300. I was only able to get to the end of the A’s after several days of full-time work at the National Archives. Most likely I will have to adjust my plans to use these records in my monograph. UW-Madison has since purchased digital copies of these records, but I can only access them on Madison’s campus. Currently, I plan to travel to Madison and to sample each file rather than read each record—which would take at least a month of full-time work, and most likely only 5% of the cases would even be of use to me. The research I completed at the York City Archives was much more fruitful. I was able to go through the city court records in a couple of days, and found a few key examples to incorporate into my monograph. Description of project: Despite numerable advances in the study of popular politics, we still know remarkably little about how ordinary English men and women responded to the transformations that accompanied the regicide, the creation of a republic, and the rise of the Cromwellian Protectorate. “Locating Dissent in Interregnum England” forgoes the hunt for popular political allegiance in favor of recovering grassroots responses to the tangible consequences of revolution. The book delves into the spaces where every day practices, social interactions, and power struggles intersected with the macro-politics of regime change. Tussles at local alehouses, encounters with excise collectors in the high street, and contests over authority at the marketplace reveal how the sites and scenes of everyday life became places where national politics were felt in the most ordinary of activities. Using a series of case studies from counties, boroughs, and the London metropolis, I argue that factional discourses and shifting power relations complicated traditional patterns of social interaction that supported the social and political orders. Men and women who discussed unwelcome taxes by the market stall, griped over policies at the victualing house, and were pointedly silent before state pageants expressed their disaffection through acts of protest that threatened to provoke new divisions or redefine old conflicts. Localized disaffection was broadcast beyond communities in newsbooks, pamphlets, and broadsides, shaping political rhetoric that refashioned grassroots grievances to promote royalist desires. Strands of royalist writings bemoaned the plight of the laboring poor under “arbitrary” programs of the interregnum regimes. Reports of real and fictional grassroots resistance to tyrannical tax collectors, mercenary soldiers, or meddlesome religious radicals questioned the authority of a state whose legitimacy rested on the support and will of the “commonality.” By uniting disparate people who were alienated by the policies of interregnum regimes, such literature helped create the specter of a unified, royalist commons that materialized in the months leading up to Charles II’s Restoration. Grassroots agitation–from disaffected mutters to ritualistic violence against officials–formed an integral part of the broad political culture that shaped debates over governance during one of the most volatile decades in British history."
"The Politics of Speech: Slander and Sedition During the Protectorate"
Grant in Aid of Research