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The 150th anniversary of the Royal Historical Society offers an opportunity for an investigation into its publications over the longue durée. Its slow transformation from an association of literary dilettanti to a body of professional historians in the period 1890–1910 was accompanied by changes to its publication programme: the appointment of a literary director, an improvement in the quality of papers read, the merger with the Camden Society and the commitment to a programme of historical bibliographies established the basis of the Society's publishing programme for much of the twentieth century. The interwar years saw new initiatives including the launch of Guides and Handbooks, but the Society was already losing momentum, and an ill-fated foray into the publication of diplomatic records stymied its reputation. The 1950s and 1960s were a period of ongoing stasis, from which the Society was rescued in the early 1970s by G. R. Elton and his allies, who promoted a monograph series and the Annual Bibliographies. The momentum of change was sustained by the early commitment to an electronic version of its bibliographies, and still more recently by a commitment to open access monographs. The changing profile of the Society's publications by gender of author, period and area is charted, raising questions about future directions.
This essay explores further the notion associated with W. K. Jordan that a new rational protestant philanthropy emerged after the Reformation. Drawing upon a sample of London wills from the period 1520-1640, it argues that protestants sought to forge an association between protestantism and charity, but suggests that there were rather more continuities with the catholic past than the polemics of the early reformers would leave one to believe. It explores the variety of forms in which voluntary giving was expressed, and argues that although giving was increasingly channelled through public institutions, giving within those institutional frameworks was often mediated through discretionary relationships of patronage and clientage.
This article seeks to establish the burden of direct taxation in the city of London in the sixteenth century. Previous discussions have been confined to the yield of parliamentary subsidies which cannot give a full picture because of the way responsibility for equipping military levies was increasingly devolved on to the locality. Estimates of the costs of the various additional military levies are therefore made. Innovations in parliamentary taxation enabled the crown to levy extraordinary sums in the 1540s, but they required a level of intervention by the privy council which Elizabeth's government was not prepared to make. The subsidy performed especially badly in London in the later sixteenth century. Local military rates compensated to some extent, but tax levels in real terms were very much lower in the 1590s than the 1540s. Nevertheless taxation was becoming increasingly regressive, which helps explain the greater level of complaint in the 1590s.
The livery companies remained key institutions in the City because they controlled access to the freedom and the political, legal, and economic privileges it entailed. They were central to the organisation of business life, providing a framework within which the conditions of employment could be regulated, standards of production maintained, and legislation for the benefit of the craft promoted. The bonds between members were reinforced by the conviviality fostered in a rich cycle of feasting, by the charity provided by the companies, and by the availability of a framework within which disputes could be reconciled. Membership of a company was therefore a crucial component of a citizen's identity, and the companies generated those institutional loyalties which, I have argued, were important in ensuring that the pursuit of the redress of grievances remained institutionally focused. Nevertheless, to concentrate on the goals shared by members of the same trade and the social round which bound them together would only give one side of an often complex picture. Not all companies were equally successful in achieving the identification of the rank and file of the membership with the institution. Because of the unequal distribution of power within the companies, the aspirations of the artisans were often neglected by the rulers, or, worse still, the companies became instruments for the exploitation of the artisans, institutions through which wholesaling interests could ensure the dependence of producers on them.
On the evening of Sunday 29 June 1595 a crowd of London apprentices reported to have been one thousand strong marched on Tower Hill, intending to ransack gunmakers' shops, and then stoned the City's officers who had been sent to pacify them. Their ultimate intentions are unclear, but in the legal proceedings which followed it was alleged that they planned ‘to robbe, steale, pill and spoile the welthy and well disposed inhabitaunts of the saide cytye, and to take the sworde of aucthorytye from the magistrats and governours lawfully aucthorised’. Particularly ominous were the tearing down of pillories in Cheapside and the report that a gallows had been set up outside the house of the unpopular mayor, Sir John Spencer. This disturbance was the culmination of a series of riots in the preceding months. A riot on Shrove Tuesday had not indicated that anything was seriously amiss, since this was traditionally a time of apprentice misrule. But more alarming, because so unusual in the city, had been the food riots over the price of fish and butter on 12 and 13 June. And there was mounting evidence of coordination between apprentices and a discontented soldiery. Rumours were circulating that they were conspiring to ‘play an Irish trick with the lord mayor, who should not have his head upon his shoulders within one hour after’.