The title of this book needs explaining. This collection of essays is intended to shed light on the politics of those who are often thought of as being excluded from the ‘political nation’. If by ‘political nation’ we mean ‘the members of both houses of parliament, the governors of counties and towns, and the enfranchised classes in the constituencies’,1 then the ‘excluded’ might be said to constitute those who were neither actively involved in the process of governing nor had any say in choosing those who would rule over them — the bulk of the population in early modern England.2 In many respects this is a book about ‘popular politics’, although this is a term with its own intellectual baggage,3 whilst the notion of ‘the excluded’ potentially embraces those whom we might not readily regard as members of the popular classes. However, the essays in this collection seek to show that these people were not, in fact, excluded from politics. Not only did the mass of the population possess political opinions which they were capable of articulating — often powerfully — in a public forum, but they could also be active participants in the political process themselves. Many of those we think of as being excluded were actually included, either in a formal, institutionalized way, or in an extra-institutional sense.
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