The Stuart Age : England, 1603–1714 book cover
5th Edition

The Stuart Age
England, 1603–1714

ISBN 9781138944176
Published February 20, 2017 by Routledge
650 Pages

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Book Description

The Stuart Age provides an accessible introduction to England's century of civil war and revolution, including the causes of the English Civil War; the nature of the English Revolution; the aims and achievements of Oliver Cromwell; the continuation of religious passion in the politics of Restoration England; and the impact of the Glorious Revolution on Britain. The fifth edition has been thoroughly revised and updated by Peter Gaunt to reflect new work and changing trends in research on the Stuart age. It expands on key areas including the early Stuart economic, religious and social context; key military events and debates surrounding the English Civil War; colonial expansion, foreign policy and overseas wars; and significant developments in Scotland and Ireland. A new opening chapter provides an important overview of current historiographical trends in Stuart history, introducing readers to key recent work on the topic. The Stuart Age is a long-standing favourite of lecturers and students of early modern British history, and this new edition is essential reading for those studying Stuart Britain.

Table of Contents

PART 1 Early Stuart England, 1603 –1640 1

Introduction 3

1 The economy of early Stuart England 5

The population and the economy 5The optimistic case 7The pessimistic case 10Conclusion 16

2 Society in early Stuart England 18

The achievements of social historians writing in the 1970s and 1980s 19From the 1990s onwards: social history with the politics put back 35Intellectual developments and popular beliefs 38Conclusion 58

3 The Elizabethan constitution 62

The framework of government 63Stresses within the Elizabethan constitution: political and religious divisions and ‘the public sphere’ 77

PART 2 The reigns of the early Stuarts, 1603 –1640 87

Introduction 89

4 The survival of the Elizabethan constitution, 1603 –1621 93

James I and the succession 94Peace with Spain and the settlement in Ireland 99Puritans and Catholics 103James’s first parliament, 1604 –1610 110Rule without parliament, 1610 –1621 121

5 The breakdown of the Elizabethan constitution, 1621–1640 129

1621–1624: the emergence of conflicting conspiracy theories 131The prerogative ‘extended . . . beyond its just symmetry’, 1625 –1629 137The Personal Rule, 1629 –1640 146

PART 3 The English Revolution, 1640 –1660 165

Introduction 167

6 The making of the English Revolution, 1640 –1649 169

The constitutional crisis, November 1640 –September 1641 170The crisis becomes a civil war, September 1641–July 1642 182The first civil war, 1642–1646 191The search for a settlement: king, parliament, the army and the Scots, 1645 –1649 215

7 The search for a new settlement, 1649 –1660 233

The search for a ‘godly reformation’ 234The Rump Parliament, 1649 –1653 242Barebones Parliament, July–December 1653 254Oliver Cromwell 257Cromwellian government, 1653 –1658 265The end of the Good Old Cause, 1658 –1660 281

PART 4 The reigns of Charles II and James II, 1660 –1688 285

Introduction 287

8 The failure of ‘the Restoration Settlement’, 1660 –1667 291

The Convention Parliament, 1660: old wounds reopened and old problems unsolved 291The Cavalier Parliament and the restored monarchy, 1661–1664 296The Cavalier Parliament and the restored Church, 1661–1664 299The second Dutch war and the downfall of Clarendon, 1664 –1667 305

9 ‘Catholic’ or ‘Cavalier’ policies, 1668 –1674 311

10 Anti-Catholicism and exclusion, 1674 –1681 321

Anti-Catholicism 321Danby, 1674 –1678 325The Popish Plot 333The Exclusion Crisis, May 1679 –March 1681 337

11 The trend towards absolutism, 1681–1688 343

The strengthening of royal authority, 1681–1685 344James II and Protestant unity, February 1685 –June 1688 347The intervention of William of Orange, 1688 354

PART 5 The reigns of William III and Queen Anne, 1689 –1714 357

Introduction 359

12 The reign of William III, 1689 –1702 363

Politics in the reign of William III 363The Glorious Revolution, 1689 –1690 367A country at war, 1690 –1697 378Peace and politics: the collapse of the Junto, 1697–1701 397Party issues redefi ned, 1701–1702 403

13 The reign of Queen Anne, 1702–1714 409

Politics in the reign of Queen Anne 409The failure of the ‘managers’, 1702–1708 416The failure of the Whigs and Tories, 1708 –1714 440

PART 6 Later Stuart England: change and continuity 463

14 Change 465

The long-term effects of the Glorious Revolution: war and constitutional changes 465Religious and intellectual changes 474Economic and social changes 486

15 Continuity: 1714 – the end of the Middle Ages? 507

Bibliographical note 512Appendix: Timeline 532Index 565

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Barry Coward was Reader in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. His publications include Oliver Cromwell (2000) and The Cromwellian Protectorate (2002).

Peter Gaunt is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Chester and current President and past Chairman of the Cromwell Association. His previous publications include The English Civil War: A Military History (2014) and, together with Barry Coward, English Historical Documents, 1603–1660 (2010).


The Stuart Age enjoys a hard won reputation as one of the best introductions to the 'British Isles' during an era of civil war and revolution. This updated edition, containing much that is new, makes the volume still more indispensable to students and teachers alike.

Dr David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University, UK

The late Barry Coward’s The Stuart Age, 1603-1714 has long been regarded as the best single-volume introduction to the history of seventeenth-century England. This revised fifth edition elegantly updates Coward’s work for the post-Cameron generation. The book is prefaced with an excellent new introduction by Peter Gaunt, which surveys the dizzying quantity of new writing on the subject which has appeared since the fourth edition was published, in 2012, and incisively summarises the current state of the field. Gaunt’s deep knowledge of all aspects of seventeenth-century English life makes him the ideal scholar to refresh and rejuvenate Coward’s original text - and his work has ensured that, in its latest incarnation, The Stuart Age will continue to be required reading for all who teach and study this most fascinating of historical periods.

Mark Stoyle, University of Southampton, UK