Just as political news was not the exclusive preserve of a narrow elite, but reached a wide public, and just as historians have become sceptical about the existence of a single ‘popular culture’, clearly distinct from ‘elite culture’, 1 so it is hard to see ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ politics as discrete entities. In the civil wars support for both king and Parliament permeated all social strata. Although some popular elements sought to turn the world upside-down, most did not: there was not a single popular agenda. Radical historians may feel that the masses should have been driven by class hatred and that they should have had no interest in the political and religious issues which preoccupied the elite; but the evidence suggests otherwise. Similarly, under Charles II, politics involved men (and often women) from all ranks of society. When humble people showed similar political concerns to the great, they were not being manipulated, tricked or bribed into participating in disputes which concerned only the elite. There is overwhelming evidence of people participating because these disputes seemed important to them. 2 Moreover, given the broad definition of ‘politics’ used in this book, we should be wary of defining popular political activity too narrowly: voting in elections was not the only way in which people participated in ‘politics’. They used the law, civil or criminal: Paul Halliday is beginning to show how quite humble people applied to King’s Bench for ‘prerogative writs’, such as mandamus, in order to secure what they claimed were their rights. 3 They petitioned their local mayor or magistrates, Parliament, the king and council, indeed anyone in authority. Such activities could be expressions of partisan difference, but very often they were not. Before 1679 petitions to king or Parliament rarely had a clearly partisan content and in general king and council heard both sides in any dispute and preferred to leave the disputants to the law.