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Historical Research

New Historical Research articles



The Bari charter of privileges of 1132: articulating the culture of a new Norman monarchy by Paul Oldfield

This article examines how Roger II, who in 1130 became the first king of Sicily, articulated the culture of a new monarchy to his subjects. It does so through extensive analysis and contextualization of a crucial, yet undervalued, royal charter issued to the city of Bari in 1132 (and here translated into English for the first time). Previous scholarship has overlooked key evidence within the charter and tended to emphasize conflict in royal-urban relations. Instead, it will be argued here that the monarchy promoted and upheld negotiation and reciprocity as an integral facet of this new kingdom.





Sierra_Leone_miners_panningThe art of governing contingency: rethinking the colonial history of diamond mining in Sierra Leone by Lorenzo D’Angelo

This article briefly outlines the history of the colonial diamond industry of Sierra Leone from 1930 to 1961, highlighting its contingent aspects and the bonds guiding the decisions and actions taken by local social actors in different contexts and at different times. By drawing on colonial documents and memoirs of colonial officers, it shows how the colonial government of Sierra Leone and the mining company that exercised a monopoly on diamond extraction collaborated on the establishment of a series of legislative and disciplinary devices that encompassed forms of biopolitical expertise.



New Historical Research articles


HighlanderOf crofters, Celts and claymores: the Celtic Magazine and the Highland cultural nationalist movement, 1875–88 by Ian B. Stewart

This article examines the cultural nationalist movement in the Scottish Highlands during the period 1875–88, through the lens of the Celtic Magazine, a source which has been overlooked by historians. The cultural nationalist movement resulted from the intertwining of the crofters’ land reform movement with a Celtic cultural revival. It was propelled by intellectuals who promoted the distinctive Celtic nature of the Highlands and demanded recognition from the government. An imagined Highland nation, distinct from the rest of Scotland, arose from the cultural nationalist movement but fitted within a wider ‘unionist-nationalist’ identity.

Royal and non-royal forests and chases in England and Wales by John Langtonroyal forest

Royal forests comprised land devoted primarily to hunting. They were a distinctive feature of Norman and Angevin England and Wales. Expressing the crown’s arbitrary power to prevent holders of land from using it as they chose, they were generally resented. Royal forests must disappear to enable individuals to utilize landholdings for their own private economic purposes, and so for commercially oriented land uses to occur. However, it is shown here that ‘royal forests’ did not constitute a hermetic historiographical category, distinct from non-royal ‘chases’. There were royal chases as well as royal forests; monarchs had private forests and chases as well as royal ones; and non-royal earls, barons and high churchmen possessed and created forests and chases of their own, which were as well protected and displayed the same non-economic imperatives and cultural consequences as those of the crown. They were not a transient feature of medieval times which inevitably disappeared with the inexorable progress of commercial economy. Some of them continued to flourish, in all their distinctiveness, through early modern times into the nineteenth century. In consequence, the transition between the medieval and modern worlds was not as clear-cut nor as complete as is suggested by the conventional narrative of English historical development.

Obstinate juries, impudent barristers and scandalous verdicts? Compensating the victims of the Gordon Riots of 1780 and the Priestley Riots of 1791 by Jonathan AthertonGordon riots 2

Historians have devoted considerable attention to both rioting and the rise of the adversarial trial in the eighteenth century. Despite this, no research has explored how victims of riot used the courts to seek compensation. Through a comparison of the Gordon Riots and Priestley Riots, this article examines the factors that determined the relative success or failure of such cases at trial. It is suggested that the ambiguities of the Riot Act, the choice of counsel and the political and socio-economic context in which the trials were held could all influence the juries’ verdicts.

The humble ballot paper


Londoners_Record_Their_Vote_on_National_Polling_Day,_Holborn,_London,_England,_UK,_5_July_1945_D25100Ballot papers and the practice of elections: Britain, France and the United States of America, c.1500–2000, a new Historical Research article by Malcolm Crook and Tom Crook.

The humble ballot paper is a defining technology of elections throughout the world. This article interrogates its contested past by demonstrating – over a long period and in the context of three contrasting countries – how and why it emerged in the early modern period and how it was then used, abused and regulated in the context of the expanded, and eventually mass, electoral arenas of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Ironically, by the time that the ballot paper was firmly established, its monopoly was already being challenged by mechanical and then electronic media, which may eventually condemn it to extinction.

Free access until the end of May as part of our Election special virtual issue

May issue of Historical Research: vol. 88, no. 240




An unrealized cult? Hagiography and Norman ducal genealogy in twelfth-century England. Ilya Afanasyev

Two oaths of the community in 1258. Joshua Hey220px-William_Laud

Bishop William Laud and the parliament of 1626. Mark Parry

‘Now the mask is taken off’: Jacobitism and colonial New England, 1702–27. David Parrish

Religion, politics and patronage in the late Hanoverian navy, c.1780–c.1820. Gareth Atkins

Through French eyes: Victorian cities in the eighteen-forties viewed by Léon Faucher. Philip Morey

Representing commodified space: maps, leases, auctions and ‘narrations’ of property in Delhi, c.1900−47. Anish Vanaik

Herbert Read and the fluid memory of the First World War: poetry, prose and polemic. Matthew S. Adams

The creation of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance as seen from the Romanian archives. Elena Dragomir



New Historical Research articles published online






Recovering Charles I’s art collection: some implications of the 1660 Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. Andrew Barclay

After 1660 Charles II attempted to recover those royal goods which had been sold off by parliament following his father’s execution. The assumption has been that this was straightforward confiscation. The 1660 Act of Indemnity, however, contained a deliberate loophole protecting the rights of royal servants granted goods in lieu of arrears. A review of the legal cases arising from that act confirms that this was understood and accepted at the time. Yet many of those exempted goods are known to have re-entered the Royal Collection, raising the possibility that a significant number of them were returned voluntarily.

‘Such nonsense that it cannot be true’: the Jacobite reaction to George Lockhart of Carnwath’s Memoirs Concerning the Affairs of Scotland. Daniel Szechi

This article is a response to the critique of the Jacobite George Lockhart of Carnwath’s, Memoirs Concerning the Affairs of Scotland published by Christopher Whatley and Derek Patrick in the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies in 2007. Whatley and Patrick argued that Lockhart’s influential account of the Union has for too long been uncritically accepted by historians. This article builds on their use of contemporary whig reactions to its version of events by reviewing the text in light of critical Jacobite sources (Lockhart’s acerbic narrative also antagonized many of his comrades-in-arms). It nonetheless, concludes that neither whig nor Jacobite critics of the Memoirs diminish its usefulness as a source. Ultimately both bodies of criticism focus on particular moments, rather than on the Memoirs as a whole, and far from all the criticisms were valid. Thus if the text is handled according to the regular canons of historical evidence it more than retains its value for the historian.

Notable protests: respectable resistance in occupied northern France, 1914–18. James E. Connolly

This article introduces the notion of ‘respectable resistance’ as a way of conceptualizing French notables’ protests against German policies during the occupation of the département of the Nord in the First World War. It argues that this did constitute a form of resistance that was relatively widespread, occasionally organized, and legalistic. Although this opposition was largely unsuccessful in practical terms, it sometimes worked as a stalling tactic. Its real success was as a performative demonstration of the notables’ defence of compatriots, reinforcing their social/political status, and it was born of patriotism, a sense of duty, but also fears of future judgment.



Historical Research – Election Special


singometerNew virtual issue on Elections: a collection of previously published articles from Historical Research and podcasts from the IHR research seminar series. Content freely available until the end of May 2015

Parliamentary Elections in the Reign of Edward I.  J. S. Illsley

 The Coventry Parliament of 1459: a Privy Seal Writ concerning the Election of Knights of the Shire.  S. J. Payling

The Origins of the Nottinghamshire Whigs: an Analysis of the Subscribers to the Election Expenses of Sir Scrope Howe and John White.  P. R. Seddon

Radicalism and Public Opinion in the General Election of 1784
. Paul Kelly

Electoral violence in mid nineteenth-century England and Wales. Justin Wasserman and Edwin Jaggard

Uniting the whole people: proportional representation in Great Britain, 1884–5, reconsidered
. Ted R. Bromund

Joseph Chamberlain, the Conservative party and the Leamington Spa candidature dispute of 1895
. Ian Cawood

The Parliamentary Electoral System, the ‘Fourth’ Reform Act and the Rise of Labour in England and Wales. Duncan Tanner

‘Rival foundlings’: the Ross and Cromarty by-election, 10 February 1936.  Ewen A. Cameron

Rethinking a progressive moment: the Liberal and Labour parties in the 1945 general election. Peter Sloman

Voluntary Action History podcastCampaigning the vote.  Elizabeth Crawford (Voluntary Action History podcast)


New Historical Research article


The seditious murder of Thomas of Sibthorpe and the Great Statute of Treasons, 1351–2. David Crookmurder

Thomas of Sibthorpe, a Nottinghamshire clergyman and chancery clerk, prospered under the regime of Edward II and his favourite Hugh Despenser the younger, and again under Edward III, when he also became a clerk of parliament and a justice of assize and of the peace. In 1326 he established at Sibthorpe a college of chantry priests to pray for his soul and those of others; it was twice expanded and more lavishly endowed, in 1335 and 1343. He appointed a keeper or warden to take charge of the college, and used all available legal means to ensure that the endowment was firmly appropriated to the warden, who was obliged periodically to render him accounts. In 1351 the third warden, Robert of Kneeton, aided by others, allegedly murdered him in order to avoid rendering such an account. They were tried at a Nottingham gaol delivery, convicted of seditious killing and sentenced to be drawn and hanged, the punishment reserved for traitors, because the victim was a royal clerk and justice. The circumstances of Sibthorpe’s death may have had a significant effect on the terms of the first Great Statute of Treasons, adopted by parliament only a few months later, and presumably incorporating the views of the most senior judges in England.

Annual Pollard Prize 2015


Entries are invited for this year’s Pollard Prize (sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.) awarded for the best paper presented at an IHR seminar 2014-15 by a postgraduate student or by a researcher within one year of completing the PhD.1096214263368_PXYJwtsF_l

First prize

Fast track publication in the prestigious IHR journal, Historical Research, and £200 of Blackwell books.

Runner up prizes

Publication in Historical Research, and a selection of Blackwell books.


Applicants are required to have delivered a paper during the academic year in which the award is made. Submissions should be supported by a reference from a convenor of the appropriate seminar. Papers should be fully footnoted, although it is not necessary at this stage to follow Historical Research house style. All papers submitted must be eligible for publication.

The closing date for submissions is  30 May 2015

Enquiries and submissions should be directed to the Executive Editor, Historical Research (

New Historical Research articles


red cross

Humanitarian assistance during the Rif War (Morocco, 1921–6): the International Committee of the Red Cross and ‘an unfortunate affair by Pablo La Porte

This article focuses on the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) in the Rif War (Morocco, 1921–6) and places humanitarian action in three inter-related contexts: the complexity of the international scenario after the First World War, the institutional architecture of the Red Cross and the developments in international humanitarian law. Challenging simplistic approaches to an otherwise historically overlooked affair, the article argues that the rather undignified role of the I.C.R.C. during the conflict was a result both of Eurocentric assumptions and international manipulation.

Liberal Unionism and political representation in Wales, c.1886–1893 by Naomi Lloyd-Jones

This article reassesses the history of Liberal Unionism in Wales and the impact the Irish Home Rule crisis had on constituency politics. Liberal associations played a crucial role in the revolt against ‘dissentient’ M.P.s, whom they charged with ‘misrepresenting’ constituency opinion (as articulated by the ‘caucus’). This damaged Liberal Unionism irreparably, and the party failed to build a viable organizational machinery that could beat the Liberals at their own game. Yet this study of failure tells us much about attitudes toward representation and illustrates the importance of a grass-roots approach to a vital period in Welsh and British political history







New Historical Research article online


policeLocal initiative, central oversight, provincial perspective: governing police forces in nineteenth-century Leeds by David Churchill

This article examines police administration as a branch of urban government, based on a case study of Leeds between 1815 and 1900. Making extensive use of local government and police records, it takes a longer-term view of ‘reform’ than most existing studies, and privileges the more routine aspects of everyday governance. It thus provides an original exploration of central-local government relations, as well as conflict and negotiation between distinct bodies of self-government within the locality. Previous studies have rightly emphasized that urban police governance was primarily a local responsibility, yet this article also stresses the influence of central state oversight and an extra-local, provincial perspective, both of which modified the grip of localism on nineteenth-century government.

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