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England Under the Stuarts

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England Under the Stuarts
by G. M. Trevelyan. Introduction by John Morrill. (Routledge, London and New York: 2002. Pg. xix, 546. maps) ISBN: 0-415-27785-X.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 21, 2003

England Under the Stuarts is George Macaulay Trevelyan's timeless treatise on English history. Covering the period from 1603-1714, Trevelyan offers a riveting and fluid narrative of this decisive and exciting period, which covers the time of the English Civil War, the Glorious (Great) Revolution, and the Restoration.

This timeless classic begins with an overview of the State of England, 1603-40. This overview looks at English society and culture, and also the political makeup of the state. Trevelyan looks at the difference between country and city life, and the state of English industry up to 1640. He delves into the religious differences between various groups in the country, in particular the Puritans and Catholics. He also offers in-depth overviews of the reigns of James I and Charles I, and the events leading up to the English Civil War.

Throughout his discourse, he takes a well-rounded approach to the topic, intertwining biographical insights regarding the most influential players, as well as in-depth analysis of the political and religious machinations that where swiftly driving England toward regicide.

The English Civil War is covered in minute details, including details of the numerous battles fought between the Cavaliers and Roundhead - and the state of their various forces. This narrative is followed by a detailed look at Oliver Cromwell and the various religious sects that matured during the revolutionary period, such as the Quakers. Trevelyan also looks at the situation of the Catholics in England during Cromwell's rule, as well as the return of the Jews to England during this period.

Trevelyan also looks at the reasons why Cromwell's son was unable to retain power, how and why the Restoration occurred, and the effects that the reign of Charles II had on the country. This book concludes with in-depth overviews of the reigns of James II, William and Mary, and Queen Anne.

Throughout, this book not only looks at the historical events that occurred, but how these events affect modern England. Trevelyan takes a multifaceted approach, looking not only at the political, but also the social and cultural aspects of the England during this tumultuous era. This gives the reader a feeling for what life was like for people from all classes and religions during this period, and the impact that 'common' people had on the political direction that England took.

This book was first published in 1904, and Trevelyan revised the text about twenty years later. Although this is an 'old' history book, it is nonetheless as relevant to scholars and students today as it was when first written. However, it should be read in conjunction with more recent histories, in order to benefit from all the information uncovered since the book was first written.

Eminently readable, the narrative is written in a fluid narrative style that brings the history and culture of the period to life. Throughout the text, side notes can be found along the outside margins of the text that highlight the most salient points being covered. This is a great study aid for students using the book as a textbook. Trevelyan also included extensive footnotes and a comprehensive bibliography.

Related Reviews:

Cavaliers and Roundheads: The English Civil War 1642-1649, By Christopher Hibbert.
A compelling social and military history of the English Civil War.

The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England, Edited by Antonia Fraser.
This outstanding reference book offers short biographical sketches of all the English monarchs since 1066, starting with William the Conquer and ending with the present day monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth II.

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