A Monarchy Transformed: 1603-1714


A Monarchy Transformed narrates the tempestuous political events of the Stuart dynasty. Beginning with the accession of James I and concluding with the death of Queen Anne, it details the aspirations of subjects and sovereigns, the growth and decay of political institutions and the clashes of ideology and of arms that make seventeenth-century British history one of the most fascinating of epochs. Here can be found the story of the reigns of six monarchs, the course of two revolutions and of religious upheavals ...
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A Monarchy Transformed narrates the tempestuous political events of the Stuart dynasty. Beginning with the accession of James I and concluding with the death of Queen Anne, it details the aspirations of subjects and sovereigns, the growth and decay of political institutions and the clashes of ideology and of arms that make seventeenth-century British history one of the most fascinating of epochs. Here can be found the story of the reigns of six monarchs, the course of two revolutions and of religious upheavals that shook the beliefs of seventeenth century Britons to the core. While the political history of England holds centre stage, developments in Scotland and Ireland, as well as the interaction of all three of the Stuart kingdoms, are carefully treated. The narrative is constructed to give full play to circumstance, accident and the impact of personalities in unfolding some of the most dramatic events of British history. Conspiracies, rebellions and revolutions jostle side by side with court intrigue, political infighting and the rise of parties. The personalities of political figures as diverse as the Duke of Buckingham and the Duke of Marlborough, the Earl of Strafford and the Earl of Danby, are captured in vibrant pen portraits. The characters of the two Kings James and Charles, of Oliver Cromwell, William and Mary and Queen Anne are assessed for their impact on the events of their eras. A Monarchy Transformed is a vigorous, concise account of the political developments that changed an isolated archipelago in the corner of Europe into one of the greatest powers of the Western world.

At the accession of James I, Britain was an isolated archipelago; a century later it had become a world-class intellectual, commercial, and military center. In "A Monarchy Transformed". Kishlansky blends scholarship with insight and learning with imagination to profile Britain in the 17th century--an era of of profound social, economic, and religious change.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sweeping, dramatic chronicle of a century of Stuart rule will rivet even the general reader with no particular interest in British history. Harvard history professor Kishlansky charts a tumultuous period of internecine wars, revolutions, political crises and endless religious strife, an era that saw England's union with neutralized Scotland, its conquest and plunder of Ireland, its acquisition of an empire in America. Each narrative chapter begins with a vivid italicized account of a key event (e.g., the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649; the 1628 knifing assassination of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, scapegoat for the failure of wars against Spain and France)-a device that works well, segueing into in-depth discussions of the political, social and economic conflicts that roiled Britain. There are magisterial, incisive portraits of Oliver Cromwell, fired by a millenarian vision of a glorious world to come; Catholic zealot James II, whose unprecedented, abortive libel suit against the Archbishop of Canterbury and six bishops led to his own ouster; and peacemaker Queen Anne, stubborn, unattractive, taciturn, yet beloved, whose rule brought the maturing of party politics. Kishlansky freshly delineates an age that opened with the public whipping, branding and mutilation of vagrants and closed with a newly defined interdependence of king, Parliament and the people. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A beautifully written but narrowly focused narrative of high politics in 17th-century Britain.

Kishlansky (English and European History/Harvard) recognizes that history is a story and that a good historian is a storyteller. His strongly delineated point of view contributes to the flow of the narrative, and his enthusiasm for the subject sustains the reader through thickets of detail about high politics and war. Viewing 17th-century Britain through the eyes of those at the top, Kishlansky always comes down on the side of political stability. He successfully avoids uncritical power worship with judicious criticism of both the Stuart monarchs and of Cromwell. However, as a volume in the new Penguin History of Britain (see also Peter Clarke, Hope and Glory: Britain 19001990, p. 186), A Monarchy Transformed is intended to provide a definitive introductory guide for the student and general reader. Although every historian must leave things out of the story, too many important things are neglected in this one. Kishlansky mentions in passing such important matters as Britain's overseas empire, the slave trade, art and literature, science and mathematics, but doesn't weave such materials into his narrative. John Donne is identified merely as a recipient of royal patronage, and John Milton dismissed as an "ideologue." The momentous religious changes of the period are discussed mainly when they influence politics or threaten social stability. What is most disappointing, though, is the treatment of women. Queen Mary is mentioned and Queen Anne gets a chapter, but beyond that women appear at the margins of history, as irrational teenage royal brides or midwives accused of kidnapping children for satanic rituals. Women should not be marginalized in any volume that aspires to the status of a general survey.

Although successful as a forceful narrative of politics at the center, this volume is a disappointing general introduction to 17th-century British history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140148275
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/1997
  • Series: Hist of Britain Series
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 585,092
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

A Monarchy TransformedList of Maps
1. The Social World
2. The Political World
3. The Scottish Accession, 1603-1618
4. The Duke of Clubs, 1618-1628
5. The Reign of Charles I, 1629-1637
6. Rebellion and Civil War, 1637-1644
7. Civil War and Revolution, 1645-1649
8. Saints and Soldiers, 1649-1658
9. The Restoration Settlements, 1659-1667
10. For Church and King, 1668-1685
11. A Protestant Succession, 1685-1689
12. A European Union, 1689-1702
13. Great Britain, 1702-1714
For Further Reading

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 19, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A History of Stuart England

    This book covers the entire Stuart period of English history from James I to Queen Anne. That period included the civil wars of the 1640's where Charles I lost his head, the Commonwealth and restoration, the Glorious Revolution. It ended with the war of the Grand Alliance where England became a world power and the War of Spanish Succession. The two left England with massive debts which led to the founding of the South Sea Company (South Sea Bubble of George I's reign). It led from an Absolute Monarchy justified by "Divine Right" to a Constitutional Monarchy justified by Social Contract. More importantly, it led to a real revolution in political philosophy with writers like Sir Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes, defenders of absolute monarchy; and like John Locke, Algernon Sidney, and David Hume, the defenders of social contract theory and the people's right to resist the sovereign. These latter, in fact, supplied the ideological fuel for the American Revolution and the United States Constitution 100 years after the Glorious revolution.<BR/><BR/>The style is easy to read and follow, though the author makes occasional use of trite expressions or similies. The book opens with two chapters on the Social and Political conditions of the century. From the third chapter on it is in strict chronological order. One feature that leads into the successive chapters is that each chapter begins with a two page description of one significant incident (2-3 pages in length) followed by a short 1-2 page thumbnail sketch of the entire period.<BR/><BR/>It is an easy read and informative for the non-specialist who is interested specifically in this period or in some of the background for the American Revolution. That connection is not explicit, but one familiar with American Revolutionary history cannot miss many of the parallels and the rhetoric common to that period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2009

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