“A Pattern for Princes to Live by”: Popery and Elizabethan History During England’s Exclusion Crisis, 1679-1681

Open access


This article investigates the intersections of historical memory and political behavior during England’s “Exclusion Crisis” of 1679-1681. In doing so, I bring together theorists of social and historical memory in interpreting the Exclusion Crisis polemic. Between 1679 and 1681, opposition Whigs and Loyalist Tories rehashed sixteenth-century Elizabethan history because it provided potent analogues to the contemporary crisis over the succession. Through an analysis of parliamentary debates and historical writing, I argue that England’s sixteenth-century history was an integral part of the contemporary political debate. The context of Elizabeth’s Treason Act and the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots provided historical parallels that opposition writers used to justify the exclusion of the Duke of York as well as make claims for parliamentary sovereignty in determining the succession. The Elizabethan era provided a wellspring of historical examples that could be culled to refute arguments for monarchial divineright absolutism. Rather than foreground the role of political theory in structuring attitudes and assumptions about the monarchy and parliament, this article sets out to show that sixteenth-century historical polemic set the terms of contemporary debate and, thus, influenced political outcomes.

Anon. An Answer to a Late Pamphlet Entitled: A Character of a Popish Successor. London, 1681. Print.

Anon. A Pattern for Princes to Rule By and for Subjects to Obey By. London, 1680. Print.

Anon. A True and Exact Account of the Wars with Spain in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth of Famous Memory. 1682. Print.

Baker, Keith Michael. “Memory and Practice: Politics and the Representation of the Past in Eighteenth-Century France.” Representations 11 (1985): 134-164. Print.

Burnet, Gilbert. History of His Own Time. London: J.M. Dent and Son, 1991. Print.

Brady Robert. The Great Point of Succession Discusses. With an answer to a late Pamphlet, Entitled, A Brief History of Succession & c. London, 1681. Print.

---. A True and Exact History of the Succession of the Crown of England. London, 1681. Print.

E.F. A Letter from a Gentleman of Quality in the Country, to his Friend, upon His Being Chosen a Member to Serve in the Approaching parliament, and Desiring his Advice. 1679. Print.

E.M. A Brief History of the Life of Mary Queen of Scots. London, 1681. Print.

Gent, W.G. The Case of Succession to the Crown of England Stated, in a Letter to a Member of the Commons. London, 1679. Print.

Gilmore, Myron. “The Renaissance Conceptions of the Lessons of History.” Facets of the Renaissance. Ed. William H. Werkmeister et al. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. Print.

Grey, Anchitell. Debates on the House of Commons from the Year 1667 to the Year 1694. 10 vols. London, 1763. Print.

Hawlbachs, Maurice. On Collective Memory. Trans. Lewis A. Coser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Print.

Historical Manuscripts Commission. The Manuscripts of Allan George Finch ... of Burley-on-the-Hill, Rutland. Vols. 2-5. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1922-2004. Print.

Historical Manuscripts Commission, The. The Manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormonde: Preserved at Kilkenny Castle. Vols. 4-8. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, by Mackie & Co., 1906-1920. Print.

L’Estrange, Roger. The Character of a Papist in Masquerade. 1681. Print.

---. The Observator in Dialogue. August 19, 1682. Print.

Luttrell, Narcissus. A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs from September 1678-April 1714. 6 Vols. Oxford, 1857. Print.

Neufeld, Matthew. The Civil Wars After 1660: Public Remembering in Late Stuart England. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2013. Print.

North, Roger. Examen. Or an Inquiry into the Credit and Veracity of a Pretended History. London, 1740. Print.

Parliament. Statutes of the Realm, 13. Eliz Cap. 1. An Act Whereby Certain Offences be Made Treason. 4: 526-528. Print.

Phillips, John. The Character of a Popish Successor and what England May Expect from such a One: Part the Second. London, 1681. Print.

Poole, Ross. “Memory, History, and the Claims of the Past.” Memory Studies 1. (2008): 149-166. Print.

Rose, Jacqueline. Godly Kingship in Restoration England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

---. “Robert Brady’s Intellectual History and Royalist Antipopery in Restoration England.” English Historical Review 72. 499 (2007): 1287-1317. Print.

Rider, Matthew. The Power of Parliaments in the Case of Succession or a Seasonable address to the High Court of parliament, Touching the present Grievances of the Nation. London, 1680. Print.

Scott, Jonathan. Algernon Sidney and the Restoration Crisis, 1677-1683. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Print.

Settle, Elkanah. The Character of a Popish Successor and What England May Expect From Such a One. London, 1681. Print.

Somers, John. A Brief History of the Succession. London, 1681. Print.

Somers, Margaret. “Narrativity, Narrative Identity, and Social Action: Rethinking English Working Class Formation.” Social Science History 16 (1992): 591-619. Print.

Walsham, Alexandra. “History, Memory, and the English Reformation.” The Historical Journal 55. 4 (2012): 899-938. Print.

Woolf, Daniel. Reading History in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

American, British and Canadian Studies

The Journal of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Journal Information

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.101


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 287 214 8
PDF Downloads 151 124 14