The Royal Historical Society (and its predecessor body, the Camden Society) has published editions of primary sources on British History since 1838. It is an excellent collection of editions of sources and important unpublished texts for historians, with expert commentary, and many of the early volumes remain in regular use. The publication is on-going (two volumes per annum), and is currently published by Cambridge University Press. The series now comprises over 325 volumes.
Availability of electronic text
Over 325 volumes of the Camden Society publications are now available on-line through Cambridge Journals Online, providing an extraordinarily rich conspectus of source material for British history as well as window on the development of historical scholarship in the English speaking world.
A number of volumes are freely available through British History Online.
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Recently published Fifth Series Volumes
Volume 57: The Rise of Labour and the Fall of Empire. The Memoirs of William Hare, Fifth Earl of Listowel, edited by H Kumarasingham
The life and career of William Francis Hare (1906–1997), fifth Earl of Listowel, witnessed some of the most remarkable events in twentieth-century British history. Joining a small band of Labour supporters in the House of Lords in 1932 and later holding senior ministerial posts under Attlee, he was at the forefront of Labour politics for over sixty years. At the time of his death in 1997, he was the longest serving member of both the House of Lords and the Privy Council. Educated at Eton and Oxford and Cambridge, ‘Billy’ Listowel, born into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, was from an early age devoted to social democracy and to eradicating injustice in Britain and the world. During the interwar years he witnessed the fall of Republican Spain and campaigned on behalf of China. He served in the intelligence corps, and eventually took offi ce in the wartime coalition. Entering the Attlee Cabinet in 1945 while still in his thirties, he became the last Secretary of State for India and Burma and thus took a critical role in the climactic end of Britain’s Indian Empire and the subsequent emergence of the modern states of India, Pakistan and Burma. Further roles awaited him, including offi cial work in Australasia, the Caribbean, and Africa, and being Kwame Nkrumah’s choice to be the last Governor General of Ghana. Listowel remained active in the Lords and in Labour politics well into the 1980s. The Rise of Labour and the Fall of Empire gives a privileged account of British History in the twentieth century and especially of the decolonization of the British Empire.
Volume 56: British Envoys to the Kaiserreich, 1871-1897, edited by Markus Mösslang.
British Envoys to the Kaiserreich, 1871-1897 concentrates on Anglo-German history prior to German Weltpolitik. Volume II presents official diplomatic reports from the British embassy at berlin (German Empire) and from the four independent legations in Darmstadt (Hesse and Baden), Dresden (Saxony), Stuttgart (Württemberg), and Munich (Bavaria) during the years 1884 to 1897. The selection reveals the attitudes and perceptions of British observers in a period of great diplomatic activity and increasingly complex Anglo-German relations. The dispatches offer new perspectives on the rise of German colonialism and imperialism, the early years of Wilhelm II’s reign, the final years of Bismarck’s chancellorship and the New Course under his successor Leo von Caprivi, as well as on the varied British interests in Germany and its regional peculiarities. They also mirror the diplomats’ increasing attention to German press coverage of both domestic and foreign affairs, and especially to Anglophobic tendencies in German public opinion.
Volume 55: An Account of an Elizabethan Family: the Willoughbys of Wollaton by Cassandra Willoughby, 1670–1735, edited by Jo Ann H Moran Cruz
This Account of an Elizabethan upper-gentry family provides revealing insights into the personal, and often strained, relationships of the Willoughbys of Wollaton. Composed by a descendant, Cassandra Willoughby, at the start of the eighteenth century, it includes fair copies, synopses, and selections of no longer extant letters and household accounts. Of particular interest is the role of female letter-writers and the insight their letters provide into transgressive dynamics and their consequences within a patriarchal society. This is the first complete edition of the manuscript now held in the University of Nottingham Manuscripts and Special Collections’ Middleton archives; it is supplemented by excerpts from early drafts of the Account in the Huntington Library. The introduction details the context in which this account was written and provides background information on the lives of family members and friends of the Willoughby family. This volume will be useful to scholars studying early modern childhood and education, the social dynamics of Elizabethan marriage, the roles of wives, daughters, husbands and fathers, the activities of servants and the functions of a large Elizabethan household with an extended social network.
Volume 54: Henry Piers’s Continental Travels, 1595-8. Edited by Brian Mac Cuarta
The text, published here for the first time, is a significant addition to Elizabethan travel writing and religious autobiography. It describes a journey in 1595 to Rome through the Low Countries, Germany and Italy. The author describes life in Rome (1595-7) which included an encounter with the Inquisition; his work is unusual among contemporary memoirs by also including an account of his subsequent sojourn in Spain in 1598. Affording a rare lay perspective on conversion to Catholicism, its value is heightened by the author’s origins in Ireland and connections in England, thus illuminating a recusant community which straddled both realms. As an eye-witness, the author offers fresh and individual insights on the Elizabethan Catholic diaspora in Rome and Spain during the turbulent decade of the 1590s.
Volume 53: William Acres ed, Letters of Lord Burghley to Sir Robert Cecil, 1593-8
William Cecil, Lord Burghley’s 128 letters to his son Sir Robert Cecil in Cambridge University Library Manuscript Ee.3.56 are the largest collection of papers showing the close direction and counsel he gave his son in seeking and obtaining the office of Principal Secretary, 1593-8. The materials concentrate on the task of receiving and crafting a wide and large array of papers on behalf of the queen and privy council: finance, administration, foreign policy and religion figure prominently as does the shift from continental war to Ireland. These letters give an intimate perspective of their intimate relationship: Burghley’s care for family, thoughts of death, a unique record of illness and old age are framed by his political and spiritual anxieties for the future of the queen and her realms.
Volume 52: W Mark Ormrod, Helen Killick and Phil Bradford eds, Early Common Petitions in the English Parliament, c.1290–c.1420
The fourteenth century witnessed the emergence of the parliamentary common petition, a statement of grievance and request for reform that provided the basis for much of the royal legislation of the period. In the process of compiling the common petitions, much proposed business was set aside and not committed to the permanent record of the parliament roll. A significant body of that ‘lost’ material has now been recovered and is published here for the first time, providing a fresh understanding of the full range of preoccupations of the medieval House of Commons as it emerged as the mouthpiece of the political community before the king. Alongside questions over the rights of the church, the corruption of officials and the processes of royal justice, the commons also expressed deep concerns over the many political, economic and social concerns of the period, including the consequences of war, plague and revolt.
Volume 51: Markus Mösslang and Helen Whatmore eds, British Envoys to the Kaiserreich 1871-1897
British Envoys to the Kaiserreich, 1871–1897, concentrates on Anglo-German history prior to German Weltpolitik. The first volume presents official diplomatic reports from the British embassy at Berlin (German Empire) and from the four minor – however still independent – diplomatic missions in Darmstadt (Hesse and Baden), Dresden (Saxony), Stuttgart (Württemberg), and Munich (Bavaria) during the years 1871 to 1883. The selection reveals the attitudes of British observers and their perceptions of a wide variety of political, social and cultural developments in a period of great diplomatic activity and changing Anglo-German relations. The dispatches offer new perspectives on Bismarck’s imperial chancellorship, on the integration of the German states into the new Kaiserreich, as well as on the varied British interests in Germany and its regional peculiarities.
Volume 50: Richard Toye and Andrew Thorpe eds, Parliament and Politics in the Age of Asquith and Lloyd George: The Diaries of Cecil Harmsworth MP, 1909-22
Cecil Bisshop Harmsworth, 1st Baron Harmsworth (1869-1948), was the younger brother of the press proprietors Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothermere. Although he played a role in the early development of the Harmsworth journalistic empire, Cecil chose a political career. He served as Liberal MP for Droitwich from 1906-1910, and for Luton from 1911-1922. After holding a number of minor government positions under Asquith, Harmsworth became a member of Lloyd George’s war cabinet secretariat in 1917, and from 1919-22 served as Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office. Harmsworth’s diary forms a highly readable record of the politics of the period, detailing late-night Commons sittings and the rough-and-tumble of the campaign trail as well as giving skilful pen-portraits of the major figures of the day. Northcliffe complained that Harmsworth lacked the ambition to make it to the front rank of politics, but his diary is a fascinating source.
Volume 49: David Scott Gehring ed., Diplomatic Intelligence on the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James VI: Three Treatises
This collection brings to light three accounts on the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark during the second half of the sixteenth century. Written by two Englishmen and one Scot, these works demonstrate the depth of diplomacy as carried out by highly specialized representatives, the complexity of politics in the Empire, and the volatile but crucial role played by religion in international relations during a period of conflict. The first treatise dates from 1569, when Queen Elizabeth and the Protestant Princes of Germany tried to form an alliance against Catholic powers, the second from 1588, when Denmark was adjusting to new realities under a regency government, the third from 1590, when King James VI sent this first embassy to Germany and Denmark after his marriage to Anna. With a lengthy introduction and extensive criticus apparatus, this volume will be useful to scholars of Britain, Germany and Denmark, as well as those interested in more general aspects of early modern diplomacy and religion.
Volume 48: Peter Clarke and Michael Questier eds, Papal Authority and the Limits of the Law in Tudor England. Camden Miscellany XXXVI
This volume brings together contributions from two separate editors. The first is a collection of texts edited by Peter Clarke that evidence Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s legatine powers to grant dispensations and other papal graces and his exercise of these powers during the 1520s in Henry VIII’s realm; these papal favours released Henry’s subjects from the rules of canon law in certain instances. The second is a text edited by Michael Questier comprising glosses on and suggested readings of the Elizabethan statute law which imposed treason penalties on Catholic clergy who exercised their office in reconciling to Rome (i.e. absolving from schism and heresy) and on those who availed themselves of this sacramental power. Both contributions illuminate the limits of the law and flexibility in interpreting and applying it and regard the role of Catholic clergy as agents of papal authority in Tudor England before and after the break with Rome.
Volume 47: David Crouch ed., The Acts and Letters of the Marshal Family: Marshals of England and Earls of Pembroke, 1145—1248
This collection of documents represents the surviving output of the clerks of the men and women of what became the most powerful magnate dynasty in England, Wales and Ireland in the thirteenth century. Its greatness did not last even half of that century, but as a result of the Marshals’ spread of interests and marriage alliances the charters and letters edited here embrace a remarkable diversity of lordships and societies. That fact and the central place the two Earls William Marshal held at the court of the young Henry III between 1216 and 1231, playing a decisive role in the establishment of Magna Carta, give this collection a particular interest for medieval historians of Britain and France, more so perhaps than for any other contemporary magnate family. The personalities of the elder and younger William Marshal were central to Angevin politics for over three decades; personalities to which we have access through the elder Marshal’s biography and the number of letters that survive for his eldest son and namesake.
Volume 46: H. Kumarasingham ed.,Constitution Maker: Select Writings of Sir Ivor Jennings
Sir Ivor Jennings (1903-65), Downing Professor of Law at Cambridge, was one of the 20th century’s most famous and significant constitutional scholars and the author of numerous well-known texts. Beyond his prestigious roles in Britain, Jennings was also very influential internationally as an advisor on constitutional questions between the 1940s and 60s. This volume brings together for the first time previously unpublished letters, memoranda, diaries and confidential evaluations of constitutional issues, political elites and critical events in territories including Ceylon, Ethiopia, Gibraltar India, Malta, Malaya, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Rhodesia, Singapore, South Africa and Sudan. Also included are Jennings’ candid and forthright assessments on Britain’s constitutional influence abroad and his direct experience of constitution making. The introduction provides a guide to this English Professor’s remarkable international role and his scholarly value. This collection sheds light not only on Jennings’ work and influence, but also on British ideas about democracy and on institutions across the globe during the climactic era of decolonisation.
Volume 45: David Potter, ed., A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I : the Correspondence of Michel de Seure, French ambassador 1560-2
This edition fills a notable gap in our knowledge of Anglo-French relations in the early Elizabethan period. During the 1560s, the reports of French ambassadors are only preserved in fragments and it has long been thought that nothing survived of the reports of Michel de Seure, ambassador from February 1560 to February 1562. De Seure’s reports shed light on the difficulties of negotiating with Elizabeth I, her preoccupations in 1560-1 and French opinion on her policy. Documents in the appendices cover De Seure’s dealing with the regime of the regent Mary or Lorraine in Edinburgh as well as his formulation of propaganda in response to Elizabeth’s declarations concerning Scotland and France. The introduction seeks to set out his English embassy in the context of his formation, initially as a naval commander in Scotland and the Mediterranean, negotiating with the Turks and the Order of Malta and then as ambassador in Portugal. There is also a note on his subsequent career.
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