About this course

The Tudor and Stuart period was one of almost continuous social and political conflict, out of which came the outline of modern Britain. Parliament and monarchs fought for supremacy within politics and, ultimately, on the battlefields in the English Civil War (1642-49). We will examine how parliament’s victory in that war led to a re-evaluation of how, and by whom, the country should be governed. We will also look at the religious persecution that filled England with martyrs following Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church; and at the witchcraft, astrology and superstition that infiltrated both heresy and official religion. The ideas that had coloured the medieval world were challenged and fell away: literacy increased; the scientific revolution began to redefine the nature of man and the world; Elizabeth’s Court encouraged a reformation of manners and new possibilities for women; and the voyages of Drake and Raleigh opened up the Americas to the English imagination. The period confirmed England as a parliamentary state with world influence and interests.

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