Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Seminar Group 1

Tutor: Dr Naomi Pullin

Office: H3.15
Office Hours: Mondays 13:00-14:00 (or by appointment)
Seminar Time and Location: Mondays 12-1 in OC0.05

WEEK 9 Radicalism, Rebellion, Revolution and Regicide

Lecture overview

The historian Nicholas Kishlansky has influentially stated that ‘The war created radicalism, radicalism did not create the war’. This lecture looks at the factors and conditions that explain Charles I's execution in January 1649. The lecture begins by looking at the nature of the Civil War conflict in Scotland and Ireland, 1642-1646. It will then move on to explore the conflict in England in 1642-46 and will close by looking at the short-term events that led to the unprecedented act of executing a divinely ordained monarch in 1649.

Seminar overview

This seminar will focus on the consequences of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Some attention will be focused on the factors explaining the execution of Charles I, but the majority of the seminar will focus on how ordinary men and women were affected by the Civil War conflict - was this something that was welcomed in the localities? how did individuals choose what side to take during the war? how widespread was the phenomenon of neutralism or 'ambidexters' [those willing to adopt any political stance to limit the impact of the Wars on their lives, families, and livelihoods]? We will also investigate how women were affected by the conflict, the opportunities that enabled them to engage in the political and religious life of the Civil War years, as well as questioning the impact of the radical sects. We will consider the following questions:

  • Why was Charles I executed?
  • How did the regicides justify the execution of Charles I?

And (depending on where you focus your reading):

  • What opportunities for political or religious activism did the Civil War conflicts create for women?
  • Why did so many sectarian political and religious groups emerge in the 1640s? What opposition did they encounter?
  • How did the common people react to the war and the changes it brought?

In preparation:

For those of you new to this topic, you might also find one of the following useful for additional background: Clive Holmes, Why Was Charles I Executed? (2006), Chapter 5 'Why was the King Executed?'; OR Barry Coward's The Stuart Age (2014), ch. 6 'The Making of the English Revolution, 1640-1660' (e-book).


Seminar PowerPoint

George Presentation

Kaan Presentation

Lecture overview

This lecture focuses upon the reign of Charles I and the various causes behind the Civil Wars, which began in Scotland in 1639 and spread to the rest of the British Isles during the 1640s. These are sometimes described as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. When we explored James I & VI's reign and the regal union of England and Scotland in 1603, we saw a variety of influences affecting the influence of the king over his parliament and subjects, alongside the fear of Catholic tendencies within the Stuart Court. This lecture will build upon this and will provide an overview of Charles I and his personality, before exploring the various causes of the Civil Wars. This is a topic that has been subject to a vibrant historiographical debate and time will be spent exploring how the historiography on this subject has evolved. The lecture will close by looking at the Bishop's Wars in Scotland and Irish Rebellion, which were essentially the flames that lit the match and enabled this to become a three kingdom conflict.

Seminar outline

This seminar focuses upon the causes and nature of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. We will be thinking about Charles's relationship with his parliament and some of the reasons that help to explain the unprecedented breakdown of trust between the King and his subjects. We will also examine how different parts of the British Isles were affected and responded to the Civil War conflict by drawing upon different case studies in Mark Stoyle's, Soldiers and Strangers: An Ethnic History of the English Civil War (2005).

We will consider the following questions:

  • Why did the rebellions in Scotland and Ireland push England to the brink of Civil War?
  • How far did Charles's religious policies contribute to the outbreak of the Wars?
  • How far were the Wars the inevitable result of the centralisation of a composite state?
  • Why was fear of Catholicism so rife in this period?

In preparation:

  • Please read J. Peacey, 'The Outbreak of the Civil Wars in the Three Kingdoms', ch. 15 in Barry Coward (ed.), A Companion to Stuart Britain (2007) (available as an e-book).
  • You have each been assigned a chapter from Mark Stoyle's Soldiers and Strangers: An Ethnic History of the English Civil War (2005), which looks at the Wars of the Three Kingdoms from an ethnic perspective. Please read this and come to the group prepared to explain what you have read to the rest of the group. If you are interested in learning more about Stoyle's approach, you can access a scan of the introduction here.

The Welsh Dimension: Emilia, George, Jack, Simran: available here:

The Irish and the 'English Irish': Selena, Fintan, Kaan, Alice:

The Scots in England: Anastasia, Josh, Marion, Luke:

Foreign Soldiers: Dom, Charley, Bella, Siman, Ava:

NB There is also a chapter on the Cornish dimension, please let me know if you are keen to do this instead of the chapter you have been assigned, OR if you would find it useful to focus on another ethnic perspective from the one that you have been given.


Seminar PowerPoint

Emilia Presentation

Alice Presentation

There will be no lecture or seminar in Week 6 for Reading Week. Please note that I will also not be holding my regular office hours, but will be available on email and able to organise something by appointment.

Lecture overview

This lecture will explore the relationship between England and its neighbouring territory, Wales. It will probe the nature of the Anglo-Welsh Union, which began in the 1530s, and to explore some of the key differences between the Welsh, Irish and Scottish unions. It will offer some possible explanations as to why Wales becomes a relatively peaceful and unproblematic kingdom during our period, emphasising the importance of a shared Protestant history, as discussed by writers like the Bishop Richard Davies in his Address to the Welsh People (1569). I'll argue that whilst Wales is generally peacefully incorporated, the Anglo-Welsh union is not uncontested, especially around the issue of Welsh national identity and whether future Welsh subjects should be entirely bound with England or if they should follow their own national past.

Seminar outline

This seminar is going to turn our attention to the peculiar case of Wales and its relationship with Tudor and Stuart religion, politics and society. There will also be a skills component to this seminar in preparation for your first assignment. We will look at how students in previous years incorporated primary sources into their essays, so you can get a sense of high-quality critical analysis vs. more descriptive presentation of material.

We will consider the following questions:

    • Why was Wales and not Ireland successfully incorporated into early modern England?
    • Was the union in Wales of a wholly different character to that experienced in Ireland and/or Scotland?
    • What were the different arguments called upon to justify the union of England and Wales?

In preparation:

AND One of the primary sources below:

Primary Sources
George Owen, The Dialogue of the Government of Wales (1594) [extracts]. Taken from the edited version by John Gwynfor Jones.

Extracts from Bishop Richard Davies, Address to the Welsh People (1569).

Extracts from Welsh Act of Union 1536 [Laws in Wales Act 1535]


Seminar PowerPoint

Simran Presentation

Jack Presentation

Lecture overview

During the 17th century more than 350,000 English people crossed the Atlantic to settle in North America and this lecture explores some of the reasons why Britain started to look beyond the Archipelago and establish a transatlantic empire. We will explore some of the circumstances in which the colonies were created, look at the different types of territories that emerge, and highlight the larger moral and ideological questions about empire that English (and other European) colonisers encountered: How far is this a spiritual endeavour? How far should Native inhabitants be 'converted' or involved in the wider empire project? Is this an empire for Britain or an empire for England? How far should the North American colonies replicate the political and religious structures of England?

Seminar outline

In this seminar, we will explore the factors that best explain the creation of English settlements in North America by 1640. We will consider the role that religious has in driving imperial ambitions and compare how the English model of empire differed from that of the Spanish - is England replicating the Spanish empire or doing something different? We will close by debating the question of whether 'The English settled in America because they thought they needed an empire'. We will consider the following questions:

  • How important was religion in driving expansion into the Americas?
  • What did English commentators perceive as the prime purpose of overseas empire?
  • 'The English settled in America because they thought they needed an empire'. Discuss. [come prepared to debate this motion]
  • To what extent did conquest and union within the three kingdoms dictate approaches to the New World?
  • How significant were internal problems in Britain in the evolution of a policy of overseas expansion?

Seminar preparation

Arguing for the motion: Josh, Kaan, Fintan, Marion, Charley, Ava, George, Anastasia

Arguing against the motion: Dom, Bella, Emilia, Jack, Alice, Selena,Siman, Simran, Luke

Seminar PowerPoint
Fintan PowerPoint
Selena PowerPoint

Lecture overview

So far in the course, we have explored Irish and Scots relations with the English through the lens of the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I & VI. This lecture on the Gaelic World is an opportunity to recap on the ethnic and religious dynamics of the kingdoms of Ireland and Scotland during our period. The lecture will provide an overview of the Gaelic world of Ireland and Scotland in the 1550s, before Elizabeth and Mary Stewart come to power in England and Scotland. It will then explore the changing relationship between the Irish and Scottish peoples as these new state-building monarchs attempt to bring their kingdoms under closer royal control. We will therefore also discuss the effects of the European Reformations on reformulating, strengthening and, in some cases, fragmenting Irish and Scottish identities.

Seminar overview

In this seminar, we will be considering the effects of the European Reformations on determining the politics of the Gaelic world. We will also explore the effectiveness of English policy towards Scotland and Ireland during this period, questioning whether the Gaelic world posed a serious challenge to these ambitious English and Scottish monarchs. We will consider the following questions:

  • How far did religion determine the politics of Gaelic Ireland c. 1550-1640?
  • How effective was English policy towards Ireland and/or Scotland?
  • Why was a policy of conquest and plantation pursued in Ireland and not Scotland?
  • How far were the Gaelic Scots and Irish the excluded 'other' in Tudor and Stuart Britain?

Seminar preparation

Gaelic Ireland: Jack, Josh, Kaan, Fintan, Alice, Charley, Selena, Ava, Siman

Gaelic Scotland: Luke, George, Simran, Dom, Marion, Anastasia, Bella, Emilia

  • Have a look at one (or more) of these primary sources:

1. Hugh O'Neill's War Aims (1599).
2. Excerpts of Bardic Irish poetry: Courtier and Rebeland The Death of Ireland

3. A New Description of Ireland by Barnabae Rich (1610) taken from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Burton (ed.), Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion (2007) (also available as e-book)

4. A Description of Scotland by Sir Anthony Weldon (1659) taken from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Burton (ed.), Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion (2007) (also available as e-book)

5. Letter from Elizabeth I to Charles Blount, 1603 [conditions for surrender during Tyrone's rebellion].

NB this is a slightly more challenging topic than others we have covered, please let me know if you have any questions about anything you have read.

Seminar PowerPoint
Luke's presentation

Marion's presentation

Lecture overview

This week will cover the period from 1603, when a Scotsman, James VI inherited the English throne. James had been King of Scotland since his mother, Mary Stuart, abdicated in 1567. This lecture will explore the nature of the dynastic union between England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. We explore James's plans to achieve 'Perfect Union' between England and Scotland. Although unification of these kingdoms under a single monarch is a significant moment in the history of the British Isles, it also brings with it a number of ambiguities and tensions about a) what type of union this should be; b) how it would work; and c) how it could be justified. We will also consider the impact of wider European events and how this destabilised James's grip over the religious and political autonomy of his kingdoms.

Seminar overview

In the seminar we are going to explore whether James's plans for perfect union were viable. We will also think about James's ideas and beliefs [he was a great intellectual thinker] and will explore some his writings and attitudes towards kingship. We will also explore some of the tensions the Scotsman James faced in uniting his English and Scottish subjects, and will look at some of the anti-Scots sentiments prevalent in Westminster politics at the time. We will consider the following questions:

  • What were the main arguments for and against James I/VI’s plan for ‘perfect union’?
  • Did James do more than Elizabeth to strengthen royal authority?
  • Was rule of the three kingdoms intrinsically unworkable?
  • How and to what extent had the process of plantation changed the politics of Ireland by 1625? (Canny is good for this question)

Seminar preparation

    Seminar PowerPoint
    Anastasia's and Dom's Presentation

    Lecture overview

    One of the principal themes running through this module is rivalry between the kingdoms of England and Scotland. The lecture for this week will focus on the rival monarchs of Elizabeth I of England and Mary Stuart of Scotland, who were both trying to centralise control over their own kingdoms, and maximise their influence over the rest of the British Isles. It will explore the significance of the old Anglo-Scottish enmity; how the political and cultural relationships of England and Scotland are reshaped by the European Reformations; and how events in Europe have a transformative impact on the British Isles, especially with the rise of Spain as a major world power.

    Seminar overview

    In the seminar we are going to focus on Elizabeth's relationship with Europe and the wider world, focusing on her foreign policy, including her relationship with Scotland and the Muslim world. We will also explore how Elizabeth attempted to deal with the challenges of religious division within her kingdoms. We will consider the following questions:

    • How far do encounters with the Muslim world alter our understanding of political and religious life during the reign of Elizabeth I?
    • In what ways was Elizabethan policy determined by developments in Europe and the wider world?
    • How far did Elizabeth and her council have a ‘British’ vision?
    • Why and to what extent did the ambitions of the Scottish monarchy destabilise English politics 1558-1603?

    Seminar preparation

    • Please make sure that you sign-up to deliver a short presentation (3-5 minutes) centred on a primary source. If you encounter any problems or there's a topic you particularly want to do and it gets booked up, then just let me know. For those of you who sign-up for next week on Elizabeth I, please feel free to email me to meet up and discuss what's expected of you, as I appreciate this might be daunting. You can sign-up here: 
    • Read Nabil Matar, 'Elizabeth Through Moroccan Eyes', in The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I (2011) (available here).
    • Read a primary source of your choice from the reading list.
    • Read one other 'Key Texts' from the reading list. Come to class prepared to explain the key argument/ideas of the text to the rest of the group.


      Given that the seminars follow shortly after the lecture and are on the first week of term, extensive preparation will not be expected this week. This seminar will primarily give you the opportunity to me and learn about the course. If you have a chance to look through/listen to any of the following, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts in class.

      Those of you who have not done so already should also get a feel for the material on the background reading page, especially if early modern history is entirely new to you.

      We will consider the following questions

      • What does 'Britishness' / being 'British' mean to you?
      • How and why have historians disagreed about what constitutes the 'British nation' in the early modern period?
      • In what ways have historians connected the idea of Britishness with the development of 'modern' national identity?
      • To what extent do you think early modern people expressed a British identity?
      • What are some of the key factors that affected the political development of the British 'nation' at the start of our period?