Ruling Elite of Cambridgeshire, England, C. 1520-1603

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This study suggests that geography, kinship and other communal connections were important factors for the formation of an active local political elite, often superseding religion and external or central intervention in significance. Core groups of resident gentry within the broader elite dominated local office holding and more importantly, active participation in shire government throughout the period examined. The dual focus on the myriad connections that impacted the formation of the Cambridgeshire ruling elite together with the detailed analysis of local governmental activity represent two themes that are not widely published for Tudor counties. The Cambridgeshire experience and developments in other counties are compared extensively, while considering the wider national context that includes changes in central government, the progress of the religious reformation, efforts at governmental centralization, and responses to foreign threats.


“…very interesting…adding important knowledge to our understanding of how county government worked in the sixteenth century. The main argument, that the county was governed by a small, closely integrated local elite that came to be dominated by Lord North, is cogent and carefully proven….. It will be of interest to specialists, who will find that it forces them to change their thinking on some aspects of Tudor government.” – Prof. Norman Jones, Utah State University

“…he has conducted additional research to incorporate the most recent scholarship (both published and unpublished), which is particularly useful with regard to his comparison of Tudor Cambridgeshire and other counties during the period. Another point in its favor is that it will be one of the very few county studies that examine virtually the entire Tudor period…. a good piece of work that will enrich the overall history of Tudor England.” – Dr. William B. Robison, Professor of History, Southeastern Louisiana University

“Dr. Bourgeois’s manuscript bears out his thesis about the Cambridgeshire elite and its cohesiveness. It is well documented by primary source materials and takes good cognizance of the existing secondary literature.” – Dr. Ronald Fritze, Chairman, University of Central Arkansas

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. The ‘Shire’ within Cambridgeshire: Defining the Administrative Unit
2. Commissions of the Peace: An Overview (Dignitary and local JPs – structure and size of the commissions of the peace; Residency and the size of the country bench; Quarter-session attendance patterns)
3. Henrician Cambridgeshire, c. 1520-46
4. The Mid-Tudor Years, c. 1547-64
5. The Ascendancy of Roger Lord North, 1565-84
6. The Later Elizabethan Years, 1585-1603: The Rule of Roger Lord North
Appendix I: The Cambridgeshire JPs: Their Careers and Quarter-session Attendance
Appendix II: The Size of the Cambridgeshire Commission of the Peace, 1511-1603
Bibliography; Index

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