July 23, 2009

Men of Business

Not many people have heard of John Rushworth or William Clarke not to mention Henry Elsynge, yet these men were crucial, as Mercurius Politicus argues, to the development of the English Civil War. The reasons he gives are entirely apt- concentrating on the kind of politics that David Starkey has made us so aware of in the Tudor court- the politics of access, the kind of politics in which individuals like Dr Butts and Sir Anthony Denny thrived on in the Henrician regime. Also important is the point he makes about information- I think in a sense we can see something of that operating, particularly with Clarke. Clarke is an interesting figure- he produced the Clarke Papers- a set of manuscripts which contained notes of the council of the army, letters to and from the army high command and letters to and from the army command in Scotland, not to mention copies of newspapers and circulars sent from London and pamphlets too. One of the interesting things about Clarke's collection is the gaps: you look at the account of the Putney debates and there are significant moments, particularly towards the end of the debate, where Clarke just stopped taking notes. There are even moments during days, where he seems to have laid down his pen and ceased to note a particular passage. Of course we can never know what was said then, but neither could men after the event and given the importance that all politicians have for the record of what they said and did not say, one wonders why Clarke stopped recording. Governing the history of a series of exchanges or the way that they are publically disclosed often is the same thing as governing what was said and done at the time: I agree with Mercurius we should put Clarke and Rushworth back at the centre of our histories.

2 comments:

James Higham said...

Your research is superlative over here, Tiberius. :)

Gracchi said...

Thank you James.