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Mark Knights: Research

Brief description of research:

My research spans early modern British history but focuses on the political culture of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. I am particularly interested in the nature of partisanship and the relationship between ideas, discourse and action.

I am currently researching and writing about the history of corruption in Britain and its empire, from the sixteenth century Reformation to nineteenth century Reform. Click here to read my blog about corruption past and present.

Recent Publications:

  • 'The Long-Term Consequences of the English Revolution: State Formation, Political Culture, and Ideology' in The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution edited by Michael J. Braddick (2015)
  • 'Samuel Pepys and Corruption', Parliamentary History, Volume 33 Number 1 (2014), 19-35
  • ‘John Locke and Post-revolutionary Politics: Electoral Reform and the Franchise’, Past & Present, December 2011
  • 'The 1780 Protestant Petitions and the Culture of Petitioning' in Ian Haywood and John Rule (eds), The Gordon Riots (Cambridge, 2011).
  • 'Regulation and Rival Interests in the 1690s' in Perry Gauci (ed) Economic Regulation 1660-1850 (Ashgate, 2011)

  • 'Commonwealth: The Social, Cultural and Conceptual Contexts of an Early Modern Keyword', Historical Journal Sept. 2011 (in collaboration with many early modern colleagues)
  • The Devil in Disguise: Deception, Delusion and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2011).The book examines the impact of the two seventeenth century revolutions on religious, political, scientific, literary, economic, social and moral cutlures through a series of linked case studies centering on the Cowper family. The picture that emergeces if of an early Enlightenment that, far from being simply a movement of ideas sparked by 'great thinkers', was fundamentally shaped and advanced by local, personal and partisan struggles. For resources relating to the book click here


A review of The Devil in Disguise by Ronald Hutton in the TLS (2 Dec. 2011) described it as 'a work which is ambitious in its remit, entertaining in its form, and successful in its argument: a further notable achievement by a historian with a sure grasp of his craft'. Prof Hutton also observed that it was written 'in a form which both fellow specialists and general readers should find equally appealing'.

  • Towards a Social and Cultural History of Keywords and Concepts’, History of Political Thought xxxi no.3 (2010), 427-448. This is a collaborative piece, the result of a British Academy funded project for which I was the PI.‘Participation and representation before democracy: petitions and addresses in pre-modern Britain’ in Political Representation eds. Ian Shapiro, Susan Stokes, Elizabeth Jean Wood and Alexander Kirschner (Cambridge, 2010).
  • ‘Possessing the Visual: The Materiality of Visual Print Culture in Later Stuart Britain’ in James Daybell and Peter Hinds (eds) Material Readings in Early Modern Culture 1580-1730 (Palgrave).
  • ‘Roger L’Estrange, Printed Petitions and the Problem of Intentionality’, in Liberty, Authority, Formality. Political Ideas and Culture, 1600-1900 eds. John Morrow and Jonathan Scott (2008), pp.113-130
  • ‘Uncovering a Jacobite Whig? The Commonwealth Principles of Henry Booth, 1st earl of Warrington’, in British Politics in the Age of Holmes, Special issue of Parliamentary History ed. Clyve Jones (2009), pp.59-87.


  • The Devil in Disguise will be available in paperback in the autumn of 2015
  • 'Addressing the monarch 1685-1715: a new Stuart genre' in Stuart Succession Literature edited by Paulina Kewes and Andrew McRae (Oxford University Press, 2015/16)
  • ‘"The Lowest Degree of Freedom": The Right to Petition 1640-1800' in Richard Huzzey, Pressure on Parliament (2015/16)

  • The Power of Laughter and Satire, edited by me and Adam Morton (2016)

Some earlier publications:

  • ‘Petitioning and the Political Theorists: John Locke, Algernon Sidney and London’s “Monster” Petition of 1680’, Past and Present no.138 (1993), 94-111
  • Politics and Opinion in Crisis 1678-1681 (Cambridge University Press 1994)
  • Contributions to the History of Parliament volumes for the House of Commons 1690-1715 ed. E.Cruickshanks, D.Hayton and S.Handley (Cambridge University Press, 2002)
  • Representation and Misrepresentation in Later Stuart Britain: Partisanship and Political Culture (Oxford University Press 2005, paperback 2006)
  • Volume 5 of The Morrice Ent’ring Book, relating to the period 1689-1691 (General Editor Mark Goldie, 6 vols., Boydell and Brewer, 2007)
  • ' Rationality and the Public Sphere', in The Early Modern Public Sphere ed. Peter Lake and Steve Pincus (Manchester University Press, 2008)