Politics of Counsel Project awarded British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant


An international project based in St Andrews has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant by the British Academy in support of a workshop and linked volume.  The Politics of Counsel Project is led by Dr Jacqueline Rose in partnership with Professor Roger Mason and two postgraduates in the School of History, Claire Hawes and Wayne Cuthbertson.  It investigates the theory and practice of political advice across a range of countries and centuries, facilitating comparative work on how counsel reflects and creates the dynamics of power and authority between political actors and the institutional and theoretical frameworks in which they operate.  More information about the Project is available on its website.

The workshop to be held on 9-10 May 2014 interrogates counsel in the late mediaeval and early modern English and Scottish polities.  It considers the problem of political counsel, comparative work on counsel at local, national, and colonial levels, the role of counsel in Anglo-Scottish politics, and the changing nature of ecclesiastical counsel before and after the Reformations.  Papers will be presented by Michael Brown, Jeremy Catto, Wayne Cuthbertson, Susan Doran, Eliza Hartrich, Alexander Haskell, Claire Hawes, Paulina Kewes, Alan Macdonald, Roger Mason, Richard Rex, Jacqueline Rose, Laura Stewart, John Watts, and John Young.  The workshop’s proceedings are planned for publication as a themed volume of The Proceedings of the British Academy, entitled The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707.

The workshop is also supported by the School of History, Institute of Intellectual History, the Institute of Scottish Historical Research, and the Reformation Studies Institute.  For more information see http://politicsofcounsel.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/may-2014-workshop/ or contact Dr Jacqueline Rose.

Applications invited for James K. Cameron Faculty Fellowship 2014-15 – Reformation Studies Institute

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The Reformation Studies Institute in the School of History at St Andrews invites applications for the Cameron Faculty Fellowship, 2014-15.  This is open to any colleague in a faculty post with research interests in the field of Early Modern religious history. It covers the cost of accommodation for a semester in St Andrews (in a University-owned apartment) together with the costs of transportation to and from St Andrews from the holder’s normal place of work up to a total maximum of £3000.

The Fellowship carries no teaching duties, though the Fellow is expected to take part in the normal seminar life of the Institute for the duration of his or her stay in St Andrews.

Candidates should apply by submitting to the Director a curriculum vitae, together with the names of two academic referees and a plan of work for the proposed tenure of the Fellowship. Closing date: 4 December 2013.

The Fellowship may be taken during either semester of the academic year 2014-15 (September to December or February to May).  Any enquiries about it should be sent to the Acting Director, Dr Jacqueline Rose.

The History Society’s Annual Interdepartmental Quiz 2013

Each year a handful of only the bravest tutors make their way to the History Society’s Interdepartmental Quiz (IDQ). The quiz pits the brains of Ancient, Mediaeval, Modern and Scottish tutors against each other in a battle to be crowned IDQ champions.


The teams this year were: Dr Jon Coulston, Mr Risto-Matti Sarilo  & Mr Emerson Stevens for Ancient History; Professor Chris Given-Wilson, Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker and Dr Katie Stevenson for Mediaeval History; Professor Conan Fischer, Dr Kate Ferris and Mr Nick Blackbourn for Modern History (defending champions) and for Scottish History, Professor Colin Kidd, Dr Christine McGladdery and Dr Jacqueline Rose.

There were five rounds; four based on the respective historical periods of the teams and a general knowledge round. Each team was given the chance to answer questions relating to their own historical period. If a team could not answer the question the other teams could use their buzzers (in this case a tambourine, a horn, a bell and a frying pan) to grab double points.IDQ_Nessie

After a hard fought battle, and some dodgy historical re-enactments by the History Society committee, Scottish History took the lead with an impressive 24 points, beating Medieval (19pts), Ancient (18pts) and Modern (5pts) and claiming IDQ victory for 2013.IDQ_ScottishWinners

Can Scottish hold on to their victory or will someone else claim supremacy in 2014? We’ll have to wait and see.


The Politics of Counsel and Council in Britain Workshop, ISHR 27.10.12

The Institute of Scottish Historical Research hosted this one day workshop on Saturday 27 October 2012, bringing together postgraduate and established scholars from a dozen universities across Britain, aiming to build bridges between both late medieval and early modern history, and research on England and Scotland.  Organised by four colleagues at St Andrews (Wayne Cuthbertson, Claire Hawes, Prof. Roger Mason, and Dr Jacqueline Rose), the workshop highlighted the elusive yet ubiquitous role of counsel and councils in Britain between 1400 and 1700.  Participants discussed the blurred boundaries between counsel, petitioning, and lobbying, and considered counsel to and from various groups.  Papers also crossed the border between study of political languages/ideas and close archival work – one important recurring theme was the problems thrown up by the nature of the records: the need to draw reasonable conjectures where records are lacking, multiple versions of records on councils, and the gap between the theory of counsel and its practice.  Comparing different groups giving counsel also suggested the different contexts in which it developed – in political crises or ‘normal’ circumstances, and the importance (or not) which individuals attributed to counsel in politics.

John Watts (Corpus Christi, Oxford) began proceedings by dissecting ‘the mystery of Edward IV’s council’, asking whether a body called a council existed and elegantly demonstrating how the nature of record keeping has obscured this body’s role.  He showed the growing formality of this body towards the end of Edward’s reign, influenced by a number of developments in the personnel and business of government; and considered what sort of wider story it could be fitted into.  Claire Hawes (St Andrews) continued the combination of detailed archival study with attention to political language in her account of counsel in the Aberdeen burgh records of the mid fifteenth century.  Claire analysed the multiple meanings of certain terms (e.g. consent, community, common profit, common good) and their employment by the burgh and (occasionally) the king, also touching on the ritual enactment of community consent and counsel.

The workshop then moved to consider Elizabethan counsel, through papers by Joanne Paul (Queen Mary University of London) on ‘Machiavellians, monarchs, and counsel in the late Tudor period’ and Stephen Alford (Leeds) on ‘Counsel and compulsion in early Elizabethan politics’.  Joanne tracked the way in which ‘policy’ appeared in works on counsel, something utile rather than honestum.  She argued this theme shows an awareness of Machiavelli’s refutation of humanist models of counsel in the Prince.  Her paper was complemented by Stephen’s re-examination of the way in which Elizabeth’s advisors had to negotiate ‘that difficult no-man’s land between counsel and compulsion’ given their Queen’s ‘creative inertia’.  Discussion after this revealed the difficulty of even knowing what oath privy councillors swore and who tendered it to them.

Three papers then considered counsel in Scottish politics.  Amy Blakeway (Homerton, Cambridge) discussed ‘Counsel and political conflict in 1540s Scotland’, examining various plans for councils to aid the Governor Earl of Arran.  Her account brought to the fore the need to return to the original records to uncover the chronology and development of council meetings and attendees, and exposed the problems of enforcing attendance at councils.  Alan MacDonald (Dundee) offered a subtle account of the ‘depersonalisation of the Scottish monarchy’ with the union of the crowns in 1603.  Bringing counsel and consultation back into analysis of the impact of absentee monarchy, he highlighted the loss of the ‘almost obsessively consultative’ style of pre-union government as landed, ecclesiastical and burgh contact with the king changed.  Finally, Adrienne Miller (Edinburgh) spoke on ’The marquis of Hamilton, the earl of Menteith, and the question of proximity in Charles I’s conciliar relationships’.  She compared the careers of two of Charles I’s Scottish counsellors: Hamilton and Menteith, to demonstrate how, when both were accused of treason, Hamilton survived whilst Menteith declined due to the way in which different strategies of counsel shaped their different contacts with Charles.

This event will hopefully be the first of several on the subject of counsel.  For more information or to express an interest in involvement, contact Dr Jacqueline Rose (jer9@st-andrews.ac.uk).