For most of this century the history of the Elizabethan and Jacobean parliaments was dominated by the interpretations of Sir John Neale and Wallace Notestein. They argued that the major feature of these parliaments was the emergence of an organized opposition which contributed greatly to the constitutional development of England through their conflicts with the monarchy. This view has recently been challenged by a number of historians who stress parliament’s role as a legislative body, arguing that there was a high degree of co-operation and agreement, and that there was no organized opposition. This paper suggests that these two alternative models - political arena/conflict and legislative body/co-operation - are overstated and that a better model is to consider parliament as an arena in which different ‘interest groups’, ‘factions’ or ‘lobbies’ operated. It investigates a number of lobbies which are discernible from parliamentary, state and local archives and concludes that such a model enables us to return the organized puritan opposition to the history of these parliaments without their becoming the dominant feature. It allows for the interpretation that the primary function of parliament was legislative, and that this was achieved through co-operation and consensus, while not under-estimating the conflicts that legislation could provoke.
Parliaments, Estates and Representation
Carleton Centre for Public History

Dean, D. (1991). Pressure groups and lobbies in the elizabethan and early jacobean parliaments. Parliaments, Estates and Representation, 11(2), 139–152. doi:10.1080/02606755.1991.9525801