The Tudors

The Tudors

The Tudors

The Tudors

Synopsis

First published as part of the best-selling The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, John Guy's Very Short Introduction to The Tudors is the most authoritative short introduction to this age in British history. It offers a compelling account of the political, religious and economic changes of the country under such leading monarchs as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The work has been substantially revised and updated for this edition. In particular, the reigns of Henry VII, Edward VI, and Philip and Mary are comprehensively reassessed.

Excerpt

The age of the Tudors has left its impact on the English-speaking world as a watershed. Hallowed tradition, native patriotism, and post-imperial gloom have united to swell our appreciation of the period as a golden age. Names alone evoke a phoenix-glow – Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mary Stuart among the sovereigns of England and Scotland; Wolsey, William Cecil, and Leicester among the politicians; Marlowe, Shakespeare, Hilliard, and Byrd among the creative artists. The splendours of the court of Henry VIII, the fortitude of Sir Thomas More, the making of the English Bible, Prayer Book, and Church of England, the development of Parliament, the defeat of the Armada, the Shakespearian moment, and the legacy of Tudor domestic architecture – these are the undoubted climaxes of a simplified orthodoxy in which genius, romance, and tragedy are superabundant.

Reality is inevitably more complex, less glamorous, and more interesting than myth. The most potent forces within Tudor England were often social, economic, and demographic ones. Thus if the period became a golden age, it was primarily because the considerable growth in population that occurred between 1500 and the death of Elizabeth I did not so dangerously exceed the capacity of available resources, particularly food supplies, as to precipitate a Malthusian crisis. Famine and disease unquestionably disrupted and disturbed the Tudor economy, but they did not raze it to its foundations, as in the fourteenth . . .

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