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By Mark A. Kishlansky

Parliamentary choice examines the method through which individuals of Parliament have been selected within the interval among the reigns of Elizabeth I and William III. via concentrating on the character of the choice method, instead of on its effects, Professor Kishlansky uncovers a basic transformation in assumptions approximately political behaviour within the early smooth interval. until eventually the time of the English Revolution, collection of contributors of Parliament used to be a social procedure ruled through problem approximately rank and standing, own honor, and group team spirit. County elites equipped their choices to mirror the realities in their neighborhood social constructions, accounting for the impression of the county peerage and larger gentry. Borough elites used neighborhood consumers, officeholders, and denizens for nominations to their areas. In either county and borough the main of parliamentary choice was once non-competitive selection.

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Example text

J. E. Neale, "Three Elizabethan Elections," English Historical Review, 46 (1931), pp. 209—38. Neale built much of his case for the inherent corruption of the electoral system upon its supposed absence of remedy. This was not a precise idea, although certainly it was difficult to obtain a seat on petition to the Lord Chancellor and impossible to gain a reversal on a writ from Star Chamber. Some reversals were being granted by the House itself in the very late Elizabethan period. Instead of reflecting upon why this should have been so, Neale simply concluded that it served the interests of the corruptors of elections.

Cases lasting years beyond the lives of the parliaments that generated them attest to the motives and aspirations of Star Chamber litigants. Contests resulted in riots, in ambushes, in lawsuits. They were the focal point of division that could last for decades, as did the bitterness of the 1614 election in Somerset. Contests were a catastrophe for the community and were seen as such both in the extraordinary efforts taken to avoid them and in their aftershocks. Because they are so rare and so extraordinary, contests are not a barometer either of normal social relations or of the level of social conflict within society.

On some occasions a gentleman desiring a place might begin by offering his support to someone with an equal or better claim to the honor. This was generally done with the hope that a reciprocal arrangement would follow and that the combined strength of the two would resolve the issue for any other seekers. " Although Coryton had designs of his own, he immediately agreed that "he would sit down and throw all his voices upon his said kinsman. "25 This was a common pattern, as was that by which a number of gentlemen would approach their agreed choice and request that he stand for the place.

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