The Long Parliament of Charles II Annabel Patterson

Publication date:
15 Aug 2008
Yale University Press
304 pages:
Sales territories:

Charles II’s first and most important parliament sat for eighteen years without a general election, earning itself the sobriquet “Long.” In 1661 this parliament began in eager compliance with the new king. Gradually disillusioned by Charles’s maneuvers, however, its members came to demand more control of the economy, religion, and foreign policy, starting a struggle that led to the Exclusion crisis. This lively book is the first full study of this Restoration Parliament.


Using parliamentary diaries, newsletters, memoirs, letters from members of parliament, scofflaw pamphlets, and the king’s own speeches, Annabel Patterson describes this second Long Parliament in an innovative and challenging way, stressing that how its records were kept and circulated is an important part of the story. Because the parliamentary debates of this age were jealously guarded from public knowledge, unofficial sources of information flourished. Often these are more candid or colorful than official records. Eighteenth-century historians, especially if Whiggish, recycled many of them for posterity. The book, therefore, not only recovers a crucial period of parliamentary history, one that helps to explain the Glorious Revolution, it also opens a discussion about historiographical method.

Annabel Patterson is Sterling Professor of English Emeritus at Yale University. She lives in New Haven, CT.

"As might be expected from one of the foremost literary scholars of the English Renaissance, Patterson does not attempt to write a traditional history of the Parliament. Instead she focuses her analysis on the sources generated within Parliament, from Charles II's speeches to diaries of MPs and newsletters sent to the country relating parliamentary affairs."?Chris R. Kyle, American Historical Review

"This book will prove of value for scholars of the period. . . . Recommeded." —D. R. Bisson, Choice