The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603

The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603

The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603

The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603

Synopsis

The Later Tudors, the second volume to be published in Oxford's authoritative series The New Oxford History of England, tells the story of England between the accession of Edward VI and the death of Elizabeth I. The second half of the sixteenth century was a period of intense conflict between the nations of Europe, and between competing Catholic and Protestant beliefs. These struggles produced acute anxiety in England, but the nation was saved from the disasters that befell her neighbors and, by the end of Elizabeth's reign, achieved a remarkable sense of political and religious identity. In this masterly and comprehensive study, Penry Williams explains how this process came about. He begins by weaving together the political, religious,and economic history of the nation, setting out the workings and development of the English state. Later chapters establish the broader perspective, with a thorough analysis of English society, family relations, and culture, focusing on the ways in which art and literature were used to uphold--and sometimes to subvert--the social and political order. The final chapter looks to Europe and across the seas at England's part in the shaping of the New World.

Excerpt

The first volume of Sir George Clark Oxford History of England was published in 1934. Undertaking the General Editorship of a New Oxford History of England forty-five years later it was hard not to feel overshadowed by its powerful influence and well-deserved status. Some of Clark's volumes (his own among them) were brilliant individual achievements, hard to rival and impossible to match. Of course, he and his readers shared a broad sense of the purpose and direction of such books. His successor can no longer be sure of doing that. The building-blocks of the story, its reasonable and meaningful demarcations and divisions, the continuities and discontinuities, the priorities of different varieties of history, the place of narrative--all these things are now much harder to agree upon. We now know much more about many things, and think about what we know in different ways. It is not surprising that historians now sometimes seem unsure about the audience to which their scholarship and writing are addressed.

In the end, authors should be left to write their own books. None the less, the New Oxford History of England is intended to be more than a collection of discrete or idiosyncratic histories in chronological order. Its aim is to give an account of the development of our country in time. Changing geographical limits suggest it is hard to speak of that solely as a history of England. Yet the core of the institutional story which runs from Anglo-Saxon times to our own is the story of the State structure built round the English monarchy, the only continuous articulation of the history of those peoples we today call British. Certainly the emphasis of individual volumes will vary. Each author has been asked to bring forward what he or she sees as the most important topics explaining the history under study, taking account of the present state of historical knowledge, drawing attention to areas of dispute and to matters on which final judgement is at present difficult (or, perhaps, impossible) and not merely recapitulating what has recently been the fashionable centre of professional debate. But each volume, allowing for its special approach and proportions, must also provide a comprehensive account, in which politics is always likely to be prominent. Volumes have to be demarcated chronologically but continuities must not be obscured; vestigially or not, copyhold survived into the 1920s and the Anglo-Saxon shires until the 1970s. Any one volume should be an entry-point to the understanding of processes only slowly unfolding, sometimes across cen-

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