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.
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.)