Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

Stuart England

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

Stuart England

Article excerpt

Angus Stroud, Stuart England, London, Routledge, 1999, pp. 220, pb. £14.00, ISBN: 0415206537

Designed primarily for the bright secondary school pupil, or the mainstream sixthformer, there is much that is sound and indeed laudable about Angus Stroud's new textbook on English society and politics under the House of Stuart. In combining a wide range of primary and secondary sources with a solid interpretative text, and in providing students with a clear and concise introductory essay - outlining the differences between the major schools of historical thought - this study bridges the difficult gap between the worlds of the exam primer and the university study guide, while succeeding largely in its stated aim as a useful educational tool.

The sections on the personal rule of King Charles I, the outbreak of civil war across the British Isles, and the quest for settlement under successive republican administrations, are particularly strong and serve as models of clarity. The author is well versed in recent academic debates and revisions, and draws upon the scholarship of John Morrill, Conrad Russell and Kevin Sharpe to good effect, while paying warm tribute to the earlier contributions of Christopher Hill. His conclusions about the middle years of the century are framed by carefully chosen extracts from the writings of Ralph Verney, Lucy Hutchinson, Richard Baxter and Edmund Ludlow, in order to encourage his readership to evaluate the nature of the contemporary evidence placed before them and to help familiarise them with the problems inherent in drawing lasting conclusions from disparate, and often heavily ideologically charged, sources.

Given the validity of his approach to the early and mid-Stuart periods, it is unfortunate that events after the Restoration of 1660 are afforded far less prominent treatment, and that the convulsions occasioned by the Popish Plot, the Exclusion Crisis and the fall of King James II are shoe-horned into barely a quarter of the total text. …

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