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Title: The third generation of an arriviste family : William Cecil, Second Earl of Salisbury, and the consolidation of noble status in unpropitious and tumultuous times
Author: Bird, William Peter
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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This PhD dissertation is a biographical study of the life and political career of the second earl of Salisbury (1591-1668). It examines his early life and the preparation for the aristocratic role he would be expected to play. It looks at the early influences he experienced in his highly politicised home and also from Pembroke, Raleigh, Harrington, Buckingham, as well as in the courts of King James and Prince Henry. The second and third chapters discuss how he dealt with the deaths of his father and Prince Henry, which came at a crucial point in his life. He had to finish the first earl's building programme and settle the debts that had been incurred by him. These chapters also look at the care he gave his family and staff; the rationalisation of his inheritance; and his success in passing on a large patrimony to his family. The final four chapters deal with his long political career. They look at the difficulties he faced to get a Court appointment, the problems he experienced with Buckingham and the troubles he met later with King Charles's personal rule and his anti-Calvinist policies. He was a loyal courtier, who also served as a competent Lord Lieutenant for thirty years and a Privy Counsellor for fifteen. Despite this he displayed an independent streak and was prepared to stand his ground when the occasion demanded, although he was cautious enough to be pragmatic where his sovereign was involved and did not risk political suicide. He could not be counted as a front rank political leader, but he was able, because he did not allow himself to be identified with any faction, to influence those lords who occupied the middle ground. In the fraught years of 1641-2 he tried to bring the king and Parliament together, even risking his inheritance by going to York contrary to a Lords' order. When civil war broke out he continued to work to bring the two sides together, whilst maintaining his loyalty to Parliament. After Charles's execution he served Parliament in the Commons and also in Cromwell's Council of State. The thesis brings out Salisbury's devotion to Calvinism and the part this played in his actions. It also deals with the stain that his reputation has suffered from historians who have neglected him and accepted unthinkingly the royalist Clarendon's judgement. Whilst researching this thesis the rapid introduction of digitisation has seen an increase in the material available to the student at home. This has increased the hours available for study and decreased travelling costs. I have found this beneficial but can see that younger students would not enjoy the increased isolation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available