11 November 2011

Tudor-Stuart England: A Summary

A few centuries ago some people with wigs and castles did some stuff.  This period is also known as Tudor-Stuart England.  I hope to educate you on the areas I have strategically (lazily) decided to study for my forthcoming History examination.

We start our romp through Shakespearean England with Elizabeth I.  Lizzie makes my list of Top 10 Most Likeable Redheads.  She lived and reigned for ages thus created stability and historical events that are pleasant to study.  Her Religious Settlement of 1559 was the first and most important thing she did.  The rest of her throne time was spent chilling and teasing her mammoth ginger wigs.  As Liz was not a creeper, she had "no desire to make window's into men's souls".  Thus the RS was a compromise between two faiths as Sir John Neale put it.  Elizabeth had to create a broad based church to allow the warring Catholic and Protestant gangs to chill.  She was able to actually get along with people, unlike her extreme half-siblings.  As Conrad Russell wrote the reformed Church of England "looked Catholic and sounded Protestant".  The stability of her reign was largely because the Church let everyone get on with their religions and lives.  Our dear Lizzie was all about "outward conformity for the sake of good order not to impose her views" as Simpson wrote.  In another time the Queen would totes have had her own Disney Channel show in which to sing below averagely under the stage name 'Gloriana' and preach acceptance.

Elizabeth's interactions with her cousin*, Mary Queen of Scots, are also notable.  Mary is best known for blowing up her husband and unwittingly naming an alcoholic beverage**.  I think I would be happy with my life if they named a brew of tea after me.  Mary and Liz never got the chance to partake in such cousinly activities as brandy-snap blowing competitions and general frolicking.  Mary was French, ruler of Scotland and Catholic; no bridges of family love could be built between the two.  After Mary fled the land of Scots she was hospitably imprisoned by Liz.  She became the focal point for Catholic treason and her presence sparked the Rebellion of the Northern Earls (1569), The Ridolfi Plot (1571) and finally the Babington Plot (1586).  Graves & Frood, who likely only wrote a textbook because their names are oh so poetic together, wrote that "Mary's arrival hardened Catholic attitudes of Elizabeth".  The Papal Bull of excommunication in 1570 made Elizabeth a legit heretic and "pretended Queen of England" in Catholic eyes.  English Catholics were forced to chose between their Religion and Queen.  Elizabeth was forced to punish treasonous activity.  In practise this meant hatin' on the Catholics with harsher recusancy penalties.  As John Hasler wrote religious diversity was a danger to order.  Once Elizabeth's 007 Babington proved Mary's involvement in plots against the Crown she could be trialled and executed.  Yaaaay?  Liz agreed with "reluctance and ill-grace" as Simpson wrote.  She realised the dangerous precedent executing a royal.  Her lack of appreciation for Mary trying to "bring my kingdom to destruction" overcame her trepidation.  So Mary was killed for the "Catholic Faith and the assertion of my God-given right to the English Crown" and Elizabeth went on being Queen.  The uprisings associated with Mary, and the Spanish Armadas which were sort of related, made propagandists associate Protestantism with patriotism.  Doreen Rosman wrote that beauty.  It is upsetting that she is the ONLY FEMALE HISTORIAN I have come across this year.  Mary succeeded, not in bringing Catholicism back, but increasing fear of everything Popish in England.

James became King of Engerrrland after the lovely Lizzie.  He was pretty harshly judged, but compared to his Son wasn't all that bad.  He crushed on men, didn't balance his favourites, was necessary extravagant to buy his friends and was Scottish.  Not remembered overly fondly but HATERS GON HATE.  Most of his clashes with Parliament were over the "perpetual problem" of finance as Graves & Frood so poetically express.  The Crown was not obliged to call Parliament thus royal poverty actually benefited the governing class because they got to go to London and vote in subsidies.  The proposition of the Great Contract was a radical political occurrence during James' time.  Graves & Frood elegantly explain how the GC "surrendered feudal dues in return for annual taxation".  Feudal taxation was "exploited" by the Crown as Kerr explains.  It was hated because they were "hard to avoid" and had a high political cost.  Kerr also wrote that the gentry was "unsure about trusting the monarch" as an annual tax would make Parliament redundant.  Parliament was the only place where the people (MP's were limited to rich, privileged males.  That represents the population right?) had a voice in Government.  The gentry was not willing to compromise that voice.  As Sharp commented it was in the English people's "interest, that James remained short of money".  Faction fighting, which James' fixation with Carr and Buckingham exacerbated, and James' unwillingness to compromise also contributed to the failure of the Great Contract.  The state's "serious structural weaknesses" that Graves & Frood so wisely mention, remained unaddressed under James.  The trend of discontent amongst the English people regarding their rights continued.  Kerr makes the point that unlike his son James "remained at peace with his people and died in his bed".  Considering he didn't alienate his people to the point of civil war James wasn't the worst ruler of England.

I'm looking at my notes on Charles  and headdesking.  I can't be bothered with all the multitudes of ideas and problems that led to Civil War.  There will be no Charles essay for me.  Basically Charles was an incompetent monarch who was born at a time when the state desperately needed intelligent reform.  The End.  

*or some sort of weird royal relation.
**Except that is a lie because Bloody Mary's were named after Mary I.  Oh well, it sounded good in the sentence.


  1. Just wondering how all the studying is coming along....reading this entry made me miss history a bit.


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