The Causes of the English Revolution 1529-1642

The Causes of the English Revolution 1529-1642

The Causes of the English Revolution 1529-1642

The Causes of the English Revolution 1529-1642


In this classics work Lawrence Stone brilliantly leads the reader through the complex and tumultuous events that culminated in the outbreak of Civil War in 1642.


In the spring of 1966 I bought the most expensive history book I had ever owned. The more than six hundred pages – filled with graphs and tables – of Lawrence Stone’s The Crisis of the Aristocracy cost a princely L5 but were, in my view, worth every penny. For here was history as it should have been written in the second half of the twentieth century – a passionate but rigorously scientific account of a social phenomenon which, if Stone were right, profoundly affected the course of British history. Only two other works of that generation – Edward Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class (1963?) and Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971) – matched Stone’s eloquence, magisterial sweep, and interpretive depth. And all three books, though very different in politics and method, collectively represented the triumph of what came to be known as ‘the new social history’.

Stone, as he explained in an autobiographical lecture delivered in 1985, was first drawn to the seventeenth century by the Christian Socialist R. H. Tawney. Stone visited Tawney regularly when on leave from the navy during the Second World War. He imbibed from this ‘saintly, if not altogether practical figure’, whom he describes as living in squalor in Bloomsbury dressed in clothes peppered with black holes caused by the burning herbs that fell from his pipe, a revolutionary view of seventeenth-century England:

I learnt that in this period there had taken place in England nearly
all the greatest transformations in the history of the West: the

I should probably add the collective oeuvre of Christopher Hill. Though no one of his works matches those of Stone, Thompson and Thomas, cumulatively they were of comparable importance.

Lawrence Stone, 1985 Haskins Lecture, printed in The Life of Learning. The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Societies, ed. Douglas Greenberg and Stanley N. Katz (ACLS, Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 17–36.

Stone, Haskins Lecture, pp. 21–2.

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