The late 17th and early 18th centuries witnessed constitutional revolutions in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Representative institutions advanced in authority at the expense of the crown. Government became more responsive to the concerns and wishes of the ‘people’ as politicians, and political theorists professed the supremacy of public over private interest.
It was also a time of intensive popular participation in political life: mobs rioted for the redress of grievances; a partisan press cultivated the prejudices of the electorate; and political adventurers mobilised ordinary people in armed rebellion.
This course examines popular involvement in politics, in all its different forms, in the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. It will seek to discover what contemporaries meant when they spoke of ‘the people’; how far ordinary Englishmen, Scotsmen, and Irishmen became politically aware and politically active in this period; what kinds of issues aroused their passions; how they expressed their views and whether or not “the people” had any meaningful influence on the government of the later Stuart and Hanoverian state.