The Stuart Parliaments 1603-1689

Smith, David L.
Date published: 
April 1999

The seventeenth century was one of the most crucial periods in the history of the English Parliament. Smith offers us the first synthesis of the large body of research on the subject, transcending both the 'Whig' and 'revisionist' positions by integrating parliamentary history into the wider processes of government and the continuing relationship between successive rulers and their subjects. Consideration of the nature of medieval and Tudor Parliaments provides a context for exploration at the outset of the main themes and sources for the Stuart Parliaments. The remainder of the book is in two sections: the first analysing how Parliament functioned as an institution, and the second exploring the history of parliamentary politics in the period. Attention is paid to the composition of each House, Parliament's function as both a High Court and Great Council, its financial role, the nature of parliamentary procedure, and the changing relations in both theory and practice between Crown, Lords, and Commons. A series of chronological chapters locates the proceedings of both Houses within broader political and constitutional trends. The final chapter assesses how far continuity of terminology masks significant change, and looks ahead to the period after 1689.