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Title: Bucolic politics : the administration of Sir Robert Walpole and the rise of the country interest
Author: Sargeant, P.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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Through an examination of a variety letters and printed works, this thesis argues that the political influence of the Country interest during the administration of Robert Walpole has been systematically underestimated in the historiography. New and previously neglected archival sources have been uncovered to form a better understanding of how the Country interest operated during the period. The emergence of the Country helps to address wider historical issues, such as why a ‘rage of party’ under Queen Anne disappeared during the reigns of George I and George II, only to be replaced by shifting associations of power. This examination of the Country platform in the eighteenth century challenges the notion of Walpole's adept mastery of party and patronage in developing a Whig oligarchy. This thesis is concerned primarily with the traditional, textbook treatments of Walpole’s tenure in office and how orthodox views (most notably of the Whiggish variety) continue to permeate into the present historiography, affecting how the eighteenth century is interpreted. A variety of methodological approaches have been deployed to answer how the Country rose to prominence and why they became effective in their opposition to Walpole's administration. Inspiration has been drawn from the prosopographical approach to scholarship, frequently associated with Sir Lewis Namier. In this instance, prosopography was an effective tool to reveal that there is important evidence to be examined concerning the role of the Country outside of London. Micro-historical practices favoured by historians such as Steve Hindle are also utilised, with emphasis placed on tracing the methods in which individuals used language to demonstrate their alignment with Country politics, alongside how they implored others to join them. Finally, the Cambridge school of political thought, linked with the analysis of changing linguistic practice and most associated with Quentin Skinner and John Pocock is also adopted to place the ideas mentioned above in context. The emphasis on language used in private correspondence provides important insights when examining the link between political motivations and action.
Supervisor: Ashworth, W. J. ; Towsey, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral