This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as [a] moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this
óWilliam Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY, the peoples of Britain lived within a fragmented and feudal society on the outer edge of Europe. The largest country in the British Isles, England, was a relatively minor state compared to its continental neighbors. Yet, by the late seventeenth century the nations of Britain had grown closer together and England had transformed itself into one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world, with a burgeoning overseas empire and a society that some historians have described as the first modern country.

This course surveys the extraordinary development of the British Isles from the late medieval period to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It will begin by addressing the social and political structures of late medieval England and how dynastic conflicts resulted in almost continuous internal warfare. It will then trace the rise of the Tudor monarchy and the split with the Roman Church, focusing on the relationship between church and state as Catholics and Protestants struggled for religious supremacy during the English and Scottish Reformations. We will examine the growth of the English state during the reign of Elizabeth and the evolution of monarchical, aristocratic, and parliamentary power. From there we will turn to the rise of the Stuart kings, the conquest and settlement of Ireland, overseas expansion in the Atlantic world, and the catastrophic civil wars of the mid-seventeenth century. Lastly we will focus on the rise of political parties and the shaping of constitutional monarchy and representative government as England and its Celtic neighbors merged to become Great Britain.

This course is designed to engage us on two levels. It is largely an empirical history of early modern Britain, yet in the process it forces us to engage with several compelling questions. How did the religious conflicts and persecutions in Tudor and Stuart Britain lead to traditions of religious toleration in the English-speaking democracies? How did a society dominated by powerful monarchs produce such a strong parliamentary government with legally protected rights and freedoms? What was life like for the ordinary folk in the villages and towns? How much did their lives change during this period? Lastly, how much of our own identity and values as Americans are rooted in our nation's origins as a colonial transplant of Tudor-Stuart society? We will keep these and other questions in mind as we examine the historical development of Britain under the Tudors and Stuarts.

Readings for this course will combine historical scholarship with literature, music, and primary source documents from the period. Students are encouraged to view all of these sources as historical texts and to consider broader questions about the nature of culture, religion, law, monarchy, gender, and national identity. Through the critical study of history, we encounter ourselves, and the world in which we live, in new and interesting ways.

This is an introductory course for which there are no prerequisites. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

David Campion
Pamplin Associate Professor of History
Miller 409 | MSC 41

Lewis & Clark College
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, Oregon 97219 USA

Tel: 503.768.7435
Fax: 503.768.7418
Email: campion@lclark.edu

Class Hours:
MWF 9:10-10:10
Miller 210

Office Hours:
MW 1:30-3:30
(or by appointment)
Miller 409

Course Requirements

Schedule of Classes

Assignment Guidelines

Map Exercise

Tudor & Stuart Film List

British and Irish Online Resources

Prof. Campion's Other Courses

Top (left to right):
"Darnley Portrait" of Elizabeth I, (artist unknown) c.1575 © National Portrait Gallery
Launch of Fire Ships against the Spanish Armada, 1588, (Flemmish, artist unknown) c.1590 © National Maritime Museum
Tudor Rose on the ceiling of Anne Boleyn Gate, Hampton Court Palace
Beheading of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, Tower Hill, (artist unknown) 1553
Charles I, Antoon Van Dyck, 1636 © The Royal Collection Trust

Bottom (left to right):
Globe Theatre woodcut (artist unknown)
Henry VIII, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1536 © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Gospel of St. John (English trans.), William Tyndale, 1525
Pond Gardens at Hampton Court Palace
Comedies, histories & tragedies of Mr. William Shakespeare, (First Folio) London, 1623 © British Library
Interior of Durham Cathedral

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated December 2017