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This is a study of the 'secret history', a polemical form of historiography which flourished in England during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Secret histories promised their readers previously undiscovered intelligence about the covert actions and hidden motives of public figures, primarily monarchs, their ministers and their mistresses. In an era of absolute rule, secret histories shattered the aura of mystery which surrounded the power elite. The secret history spread through the genres and was used by polemicists, pamphleteers and novelists from across the political spectrum. Bullard argues that secret histories' rhetorical peculiarities must be understood in the light of contemporary party politics. As a form, they indicate a sophisticated, analytical and politically engaged reading public in late Stuart and early Hanoverian England.