The Political History of Tudor and Stuart England: A Sourcebook

The Political History of Tudor and Stuart England: A Sourcebook

The Political History of Tudor and Stuart England: A Sourcebook

The Political History of Tudor and Stuart England: A Sourcebook

Synopsis

A Political History of Tudor and Stuart England draws together a fascinating selection of sources to illuminate this turbulent era of English history. From the bloody overthrow of Richard III in 1485, to the creation of a worldwide imperial state under Queen Anne, these sources illustrate England's difficult transition from the medieval to the modern.Covering a period characterised by conflict and division, this wide-ranging single-volume collection presents the accounts of Yorkists and Lancastrians, Protestants and Catholics, and Roundheads and Cavaliers side by side. A Political History of Tudor and Stuart England provides a crucial opportunity for students to examine the institutions and events that moulded English history in the early modern era at first-hand.

Excerpt

A historian's work is grounded in, and bounded by, the sources available and without them we would be authors of myth. But understanding history is not as straightforward as it might appear - for it is not just the sum of countless documents, written, visual, and oral. It involves an act of interpretation: extracting meaning from piles of paper, or ruined buildings or even the fairy tales passed from one generation to another. Every historical document has a story to tell - letters, diaries, and memoirs - even laundry lists reveal something about the time in which they were produced. But no document reveals its secrets willingly - it must be interrogated. Who wrote it? When, and why, was the document written? What was the author's perspective? An account of Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic church written by a committed Protestant, for example, would probably look very different from that produced by a devout Catholic. How might an author's social status, or ethnicity, or gender affect his or her views? What can the form of a particular document tell us? Down to the 1650s, for instance, the records of the common law courts in England were kept in Norman French - a language that existed only in the minds of lawyers and their clerks. Why was this so? Some would argue that this peculiarity reveals something about the conservative nature of English law. Others might claim that it reveals a self-interested determination on the part of lawyers to mystify the public, making laymen dependent upon their expertise. When the clerk of the Privy Council wrote up the minutes of its meetings, he always began with a list of those who attended, noted in strict order of rank, from the sovereign down to the untitled office holders and bureaucrats with council seats. The attendance list of a particular meeting of the council might say important things about the making of policy - who was present when a major decision was taken, for example. But the form of the document itself reveals something about the role of status and hierarchy in early modern England.

No single document ever tells the full story: it is often difficult to reconcile conflicting accounts or to fill in the blank spaces in the record. Readers must approach the sources with a critical eye as well as an understanding of the context in which those sources were produced. This collection focuses upon government and politics in early modern England - a period of rapid, and often violent, political change. During these two centuries England travelled a path - one with more than

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