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Internecine discord: party, religion, and history in Hanoverian Britain, c. 1714-65

Skjönsberg, Max (2018) Internecine discord: party, religion, and history in Hanoverian Britain, c. 1714-65. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.6gxo702pc3jo


This thesis is a study of the place of ‘party’ and different ways of understanding this phenomenon in eighteenth-century British political discourse, especially between 1714 and 1765. Party is one of the most basic concepts of politics. If we are looking for party in any form, the idea of partisan division may be at least as old as the earliest societies where there was competition for office. But what did ‘party’ mean in the eighteenth century? While ancient factions usually denoted interest groups representing different orders in the state, party in the eighteenth century had a range of meanings, some general and others more specific. Broadly speaking, it could either mean a parliamentary constellation vying for power, or carry the more sinister connotation of civil war-like division, with roots in the Reformation and its aftermath. In spite of the fact that the emphasis was on principles and beliefs rather than organisation in both cases, modern historians have tended to focus on the latter. The party debate was considered by political writers at the time to be profoundly important, and political life in the period simply cannot be understood without reference to party. Although ‘party spirit’ waxed and waned, ‘party’ was consistently a key word in political debate. By concentrating on the writings of Rapin, Bolingbroke, David Hume, John Brown, and Edmund Burke, in the context of political developments, this thesis presents the first sustained examination of the idea of party in eighteenth-century Britain. It demonstrates that attitudes towards party were more diverse, penetrating and balanced than previous research has managed to capture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Max Skjönsberg
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Hochstrasser, Tim

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