This is the first intensive study of the political development of a major English town during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Perry Gauci examines the activities of the local oligarchy over a period which begins in upheaval, in the aftermath of civil war, and ends in therelative stability of early Georgian England. He brings a fresh perspective to such important episodes as the borough regulation of the 1680s, and the `rage of party' after 1689, by broadening the sphere of `politics' to encompass provincial experiences. He examines the role of the towncorporation, a little-studied organ of local government, whose membership reveals much about the relationship between social and political change in this period. Gauci challenges accepted views on these corporations, showing them to be much more dynamic, and less self-interested, than is usuallysupposed. His analysis of the structures of local politics transcends local history and reveals a great deal about the influence of national authorities over provincial life. It is a significant contribution to the urban history of England.