Historiography of the years immediately preceding the English civil war has tended to conceive of two disparate entities in politics, Westminster and the localities. There are in practice two distinct kinds of history, reflecting diis division, which connect only on rare occasions. The latest major work on the period can, despite its title, limit itself almost entirely to the confines of Westminster and the court, while the student is faintly aware of volumes of local works which contain scarcely a hint of what passes outside the town wall or beyond the county boundary. Parliament was indeed an aggressively self-conscious and independent body, and the county or borough was frequently particularist and introverted, but this did not preclude all contact between the two. Dr Pearl has demonstrated how vulnerable parliament was to the influence of London, and vice versa, and there have recently been several local studies which illustrate the close relationship between the county and the centre. But by and large, Clarendon's assessment of the importance of the Buckinghamshire petition against the attempt on the Five Members, and the obvious prominence accorded by Commons leaders of both sides to petitioning, has not been sufficiently appreciated. Parliament was deeply concerned about what might be termed ‘public opinion’: events in the localities, and the reactions to parliament's policies.