Wednesday, 5 August 1998

Maurice Ashley: England in the Seventeenth Century (1952)

Edition: Penguin
Review number: 96

The Pelican English history series reaches the Stuarts. This particular volume takes each reign in turn, looking at the social, economic and art history of the period as well as the political (as does each volume in the series).

In some ways this is a more balanced book about the Stuart period than either The Stuarts or The Early Churchills; it doesn't have an axe to grind or a group of people to praise. Particularly from the economic and social points of view, the period calls out for longer, more detailed treatment than was possible here; many important trends saw their beginnings in the Stuart era and there is much argument about the causes and meanings of these beginnings. (The Marxist analysis of the Civil War by Christopher Hill is a good example - though I found many of his conclusions unconvincing - of a new way of looking at a war usually considered religious/political through economic/social eyes as part of the rise of the bourgeouisie).

Considering the limitations of space and the necessity of being accessible to a wide audience, this is another success.

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