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Charles I ruled England without Parliament from 1629 to 1640 largely by the local implementation of his policies. The ranking county officials—justices of the peace, deputy lieutenants, and sheriffs—were responsible for maintaining the militia, collecting ship money, establishing royal enclosures, and implementing poor laws. The author makes unprecedented and intensive use of the public and county records, utilizing every relevant source known. Somerset—rich, populous, important, and largely untouched by religious extremes—is an ideal subject.