Politics and opinion in crisis, 1678-81


Politics and opinion in crisis, 1678-81

Mark Knights

(Cambridge studies in early modern British history)

Cambridge University Press, 1994

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Based on the author's thesis

Includes bibliographical references and index



The aftermath of the Popish Plot and the subsequent succession crisis of the years 1678 to 1681 are the context for this new study. It asks two key questions: was there an exclusion crisis? and did these years witness the birth of modern political parties? The author argues that the unrest was not simply due to a centrally organized party machine based around the single issue of exclusion; but was a broad-based controversy about the succession, fears of popery and arbitrary government which produced ideological polarization and political sophistication. Part One examines central politics to explore the succession crisis within the context of the court and an emergent political structure. Part Two explores public opinion in the country as a whole, and argues that propaganda electioneering, religious conflict and petitions committed men to organized networks of belief.


  • Acknowledgments
  • List of abbreviations
  • Part One. 'A Great Crisis in Politics': 1. Introduction
  • 2. Politics and the succession 1678-9
  • 3. 'A King at Chess': politics and the succession between parliaments, May 1679-Ocotober 1680
  • 4. Politics and the succession 1680-1
  • 5. The structure of politics
  • Part II. Public Opinion, 1679-81: The Succession, Popery and Arbitary Government: 6. 'This outrageous liberty of the press'
  • 7. Public opinion in 1679
  • 8. 'The popular humour of petitioning': public opinion 1679-80
  • 9. Petitioners, abhorrers and addressers: public opinion February 1680-February 1681
  • 10. 'The scene begins to turne': propaganda and ideology in 1681
  • 11. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index.

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