Course Outline

The seventeenth century was an era of phenomenal political, social and religious change across the British Isles. No other period in the history of these islands has experienced such dramatic and dynamic changes that were felt at every level of society. This course opens with the arrival of a new dynasty on the English and Irish thrones, which was the first time that the crowns of all three Britannic kingdoms had been united in a single person. However, the fact that it was only the crowns that were united would become an all too apparent, and indeed problematic issue as the century progressed. The century witnessed rebellion against the new Stuart Dynasty in all three kingdoms, the execution of a legitimate sovereign, the establishment of a militaristic, pseudo-theocratic republic, the restoration of the monarchy, the usurpation of
another legitimate king, and the emergence of a parliamentary democracy by the eve of the
eighteenth century. Even though they took place some 400 years ago, the events of seventeenth century continue to have an impact to this day across the nation states that currently occupy the British Isles.

1. Introduction
2. James I & VI: a New King and the Challenge of Unity
3. James I & VI and Religion: Problems at Home and Abroad
4. Charles I: the Man and the Monarch
5. Charles I: The Personal Rule
6. The Bishops’ War
7. The Great Irish Rebellion
8. England’s Civil War: Parliament v. Crown
9. The Decline and Fall of ‘Charles Stuart’
10. Cromwell and his Republic
11. The Restoration and the Settlement of the Three Kingdoms
12. Charles II – A Golden Age?
13. Charles II: Court and Country
14. James VII and II: Fears, Hopes and Reality
15. Glorious Revolution and the Orange Triumph


Course Aims & Objectives

  • The primary aim of this course is to enable students to develop their knowledge of British
    and Irish history and facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the varying strands
    of the history of the three kingdoms (England, Scotland and Ireland).
  • It will aim to achieve this through both thematic and prosopographic structures, whilst
    simultaneously enhancing the historiographical skills of the student.


  • To demonstrate, orally and in written form, a knowledge of ideological concepts of
    political history and government and be able to apply these to particular situations.
  • To demonstrate developed research skills and justify their appropriate application,
    orally and in written form.
  • To complete regular class work each week, as set by the tutor, using a range of visual,
    oral and written material, both individually and as a member of a group.

Assessment Process

All students must fulfil formal assessment requirements. These consist of:

  • Weekly class assignments (60%). These will normally take the form of essays or
    documentary analysis. The completed work will be examined and discussed with the
    tutor in weekly individual tutorials.
  • Class participation (40%). Students are required to attend all group and individual
    sessions and will be expected to participate fully in all class activities and discussions.
    Where appropriate this will also involve preparatory reading of recommended texts.

Assessment Criteria

Grade A
Student understands broad range of ideological concepts, has excellent
understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations,
and shows excellent communication skills in constructing an original and persuasive argument, with reference to a broad range of evidence.
Grade B
Student understands core ideological concepts clearly, has advanced
understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations,
and can construct a sound argument to reflect that with persuasive use
of evidence.
Grade C
Student understands core ideological concepts, has clear understanding
of their impact in relation to given historical situations, and can construct an argument to reflect that knowledge accurately, with reference to a range of evidence.
Grade D
Student understands basic ideological concepts, has some
understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations,
and some ability to communicate that information both orally and in
written form.
Fail None of the criteria listed above is met.

Recommended reading

The list below is for guidance and to supply some ideas for preliminary reading. We
recommend that you do not purchase the books on this list before arrival and certainly not all
of them; most should be available from a good library. Your tutor will recommend the most
appropriate books for purchase at the first class of term.

Extended bibliography:

Adair, John, Puritans: Religion and Politics in Seventeenth Century England
and America
Anderson, Angela, Stuart Britain 1603-1714
Anderson, Angela, The Civil Wars 1640-1609
Ashley, Maurice, Oliver Cromwell and his world
Aylmer, G. E., The Struggle for the Constitution: England in the Seventeenth
Brailsford, H. N., The Levellers and the English Revolution
Brice, Katherine, The Early Stuarts 1603-1640
Coward, Barry (ed), A Companion to Stuart Britain
Coward, Barry, The Stuart Age
Cust, Richard, Charles I
Fellows, Nicholas, Charles II & James II
Fraser, Antonia, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605
Fraser, Antonia, Cromwell – Our Chief of Men
Fraser, Antonia, King Charles II
Gaunt, Peter, The British Wars, 1637-1651
Gillespie, Raymond, Seventeenth Century Ireland
Haley, K. H. D., Politics in the Reign of Charles II
Harris, Tim Restoration: Charles II and his kingdoms
Heard, Nigel (ed), The English Civil War
Heard, Nigel, Stuart Economy and Society
Hill, Christopher, God’s Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution
Hill, Christopher, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the
English Revolution
Hill, Christopher, Puritanism and Revolution
Hirst, Derek, England in Conflict, 1603-1660
Holmes, Geoffrey, The Making of a Great Power, 1660-1722
Houston, S. J., James I
Jones, J. R., Country and Court, England, 1658-1714
Kenyon, J. P., Stuart England
Kenyon, John, The Popish Plot
Kishlansky, Mark, A Monarchy Transformed, Britain 1603-1714
Lockyear, Roger, Tudor and Stuart Britain, 1485-1714
Lynch, Michael, The Interregnum, 1649-1660
Macinnes, A. I., The British Revolution, 1629-1660
Miller, John, The Glorious Revolution
Miller, John, James II
Newman, P. R. Atlas of the English Civil War
Parry, R. H., The English Civil War and After, 1642-1660
Purkiss, Diane, The English Civil War: A People’s History
Richardson, R. C., The Debate on the English Revolution
Seel, G. E., Regicide and Republic: England 1603-1660
Smith, David Lee, A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707
Sparey, Elizabeth, Cromwell
Stone, Lawrence, Causes of the English Revolution, 1529-1642
Wedgwood, C. V., The King’s Peace, 1637-1641
Wedgwood, C. V., The Trial of Charles I
Woolrych, Austin, England Without a King
Young, P. & Holmes, R., The English Civil War

Additional notes

This subject can be taken as a core or an elective module.