'I am doing your Majesty some service here, whilst I am preparing the story of your sufferings; that posterity may know by whose default the nation was even overwhelmed with calamities, and by whose virtue it was redeemed.'
Clarendon's massive History has since its first publication in 1702-4 dominated our images of the English Civil War. Written by a man who for over a quarter of a century was one of the closest advisers to Charles I and Charles II, it contains a remarkably frank account of the inadequacies of royalist policy-making as well as an astute analysis of the principles and practice of government. Clarendon chronicles in absorbing detail the factions and intrigues, the rise of Cromwell and
the death of Charles I, the bloody battles and the eventual Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 after the Interregnum. He brings to life the key players in a series of brilliant character portraits, and his account is admired as much for its literary quality as its historical value. This new selection conveys
a strong sense of the narrative, and contains passages from Clarendon's autobiography, The Life, including the important description of the intellectual coterie at Great Tew in the 1630s.
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Paul Seaward is General Editor, with Martin Dzelzainis, of an Oxford edition of the complete works of Clarendon (forthcoming). He has edited Thomas Hobbes's Behemoth as part of the Clarendon edition of the works of Thomas Hobbes and has previously published The Cavalier Parliament and the Reconstruction of the Old Regime (CUP,1989) and The Restoration, 1660-1688 (Macmillan, 1990). He has been Director of the History of Parliament Trust, London, since 2001 and was previously a clerk in the House of Commons and held a research fellowship at Christ's College, Cambridge.