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Archives and Information in the Early Modern World$
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Kate Peters, Alexandra Walsham, and Liesbeth Corens

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266250

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.001.0001

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‘Friction in the Archives’: Access and the Politics of Record-Keeping in Revolutionary England

‘Friction in the Archives’: Access and the Politics of Record-Keeping in Revolutionary England

Chapter:
(p.151) 7 ‘Friction in the Archives’: Access and the Politics of Record-Keeping in Revolutionary England
Source:
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World
Author(s):

Kate Peters

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.003.0007

This chapter traces the legal and political frameworks that underpinned rights of access to archives in the decades preceding the outbreak of civil war in 1642, showing that there were two different cultures of access: one determined by the rights of subjects to consult legal court records; the other shaped by the culture of secrecy associated with the records of crown estates and royal prerogative. Over the course of the civil war, a new language of access emerged. The assertion of parliamentary sovereignty and the dislocating experiences of civil war mobilisation led to a radical, perhaps unprecedented, articulation of the rights of the people to control and access the information that defined their material rights and status. Ultimately this chapter argues that this new, if short lived, articulation of public right of access to records is important not only for the history of record-keeping, but also reveals much about the political and material interests that were at stake in the English revolution.

Keywords:   archives, record-keeping, public access, secrecy, legal records, prerogative, sovereignty, Parliament, English revolution

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