In December 1916 the new British prime minister, David Lloyd George, sought to overcome the problems of waging the First World War through an unwieldy Cabinet by establishing a smaller, streamlined mechanism, the War Cabinet. He also set up a secretariat, the cabinet office, which would be overseen by the cabinet secretary, Maurice Hankey, and his deputy, Tom Jones.
The publication of what is often known simply as The Structure of Politics transformed the perceived political landscape of eighteenth-century Britain.
Helen Lacey’s excellent book appears at a time when the exercise of executive and judicial clemency has become a topical talking point.
Though these volumes cover just 12 years of parliamentary history, they are the most substantial yet to be published in the great series that will eventually make up the History of Parliament project. Seven stout volumes contain well over five million words, making their immediate predecessor, the volumes covering 1790–1820 edited by R. G. Thorne, look comparatively svelte.
The Henry III Fine Rolls project has delivered a new on-line edition of the surviving fine rolls from the reign of Henry III, king of England (1216–72).
Bill Kissane's third book on the origins of democracy and the state in modern Ireland offers a challenging vision to constitutionalists in Ireland, one which will no doubt spark much debate, criticism and serious reflection amongst Irish historians, political scientists and constitutional lawyers.
Historians have great cause to be grateful to the precocious bureaucrats of medieval England, whose records they have exploited to shed light on so many aspects of the past. They should be equally thankful for the generations of scholars who have produced printed calendars of such records since the foundation of the Record Commission in 1800.
In Joseph Heller’s 1979 novel Good As Gold, the hapless protagonist, college professor and would-be public intellectual Bruce Gold, writes a light-hearted magazine article entitled ‘Nothing Succeeds As Planned’. He sends a copy to his contact at the White House, the ineffable Ralph Newsome, who is delighted with it. ‘I can’t tell you how you’re boggling our minds’, Newsome tells Gold.
Rayne Allinson’s new book, A Monarchy in Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I, highlights some of the gaps missing in the historiography of the queen’s own involvement in foreign affairs. The author acknowledges that there is a curious void here; what about the queen’s own words?
As medieval English kings go, William I has been well-served by his modern English biographers. D.C.