Chapter

A turncoat aristocracy

Andrew Hopper

in Turncoats and Renegadoes

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199575855
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744617 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575855.003.0002
A turncoat aristocracy

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This chapter establishes that English peers were particularly susceptible to side‐changing, with more shifting alignment at some point in the 1640s than remaining parliamentarians throughout. Many nobles adopted flexible views on loyalty to navigate the crisis, as up to a third of those eligible to sit at Westminster served both sides. The chapter examines the military mobilization of the peerage and charts their defections. Lordly allegiance was credited by contemporaries with huge significance because it was expected that their decisions would be exemplary, so the defection of the six peers to Oxford in August 1643 deepened the decline of parliament's cause. The chapter then examines the less known but equally dramatic crumbling of aristocratic royalism in the wake of the parliamentarian recovery thereafter. It endeavours to unpick the motivations behind aristocratic defections and how far side‐changing was forced upon them by changing events.

Keywords: aristocracy; nobility; peer; noble; honour; allegiance; loyalties; politics; side‐changing; House of Lords

Chapter.  10728 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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