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Monday, 1 February 2010

Tudor History Reading Lists

Recommended reading for the study of Tudor History from The University of Durham's Dr. Natalie Mears. Also viewable at The History Faculty.

General books on the Tudors:

• John Guy, The Tudors: a very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)
Written by one of the world’s leading Henrician and Elizabethan historians (and winner of the Whitbread History Prize), John Guy, this is a great introduction for students and general readers – all in less than 100 pages!

Studies of specific monarchs:

• Diarmaid MacCulloch, Tudor Church Militant: Edward VI and the protestant Reformation (London: Penguin, 1999) – also published under the title: The boy king (Yale University Press, 2001)
Not a full biography, but addresses key issues about the Reformation and chapter 1 is also very good on the general politics of the reign and the roles of Somerset, Northumberland and Edward himself.

• Wallace MacCaffrey, Elizabeth I (London: Edward Arnold, 1993).
From one of the 20th century’s best Elizabethan historians, this biography draws on Professor MacCaffrey’s important 3 volume survey of the reign. No longer fully up-to-date, especially regarding the importance of Elizabeth’s gender, it is nevertheless a better volume than more recent populist studies.

• Christopher Haigh, Elizabeth I (London, 1988 and further editions, inc illustrated editions).
A typically iconoclastic book from Haigh, who really doesn’t seem to like Good Queen Bess. Views of the queen have refined, but this is still a good read and important in the continuing reassessment of Elizabeth.

• Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller and Mary bath Rose (eds.), Elizabeth I: collected works (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). A very scholarly edition of Elizabeth’s letters, speeches, poems etc.

For a more accessible volume, try

Maria Perry’s The word of a prince: a life of Elizabeth I from contemporary documents (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1990). It was also issued in a lovely edition by the Folio Society.

Specialised studies:

• S.J. Gunn, Early Tudor Government, 1485-1558 (Basingstoke: MacMillan, 1995)
An excellent book, designed for students, that examines early Tudor government, including landed estates, taxation and the law.

J. Gwyndfor Jones, Early Modern Wales, c.1525-1640 (Basingstoke: MacMillan, 1994).
In the same series as Early Tudor Government, this is an excellent student text on Wales under the Tudors, covering religion, government and the law.

• Steven G Ellis, Ireland in the age of the Tudors, 1447-1603 (Harlow: Longman, 1998).
An updated version of Ellis’s Ireland under the Tudors, this is a dense text-book but a good one dealing with Ireland in detail and providing a clear path through its increasingly torturous history in the 16th century.

• Susan Doran and Glenn Richardson (eds.), Tudor England and its neighbours (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005).
A collection of essays by some of the leading historians in the field, exploring England’s relationship with Scotland, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

On the Reformation

• Christopher Haigh, The English Reformations: religion, politics and society under the Tudors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)
A long-standing (and deservedly so) survey of the Reformation by the historian who revolutionised our understanding in the 1970s and 1980s. It is especially good for all the details/examples of the impact of the Reformation on the ground.

• Felicity Heal, Reformation in Britain and Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)
A hefty textbook (over 500pp) but, unlike English Reformations pays attention to the independent realm of Scotland, as well as issues like the importance of the printed text.

• Eamon Duffy, The stripping of the altars: traditional religion in England, 1400-1580 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992).
Winner of the Longman-History Today Book of the Year prize, this has become a classic text by one of the world’s leading Reformation historians. At its best on pre-Reformation religion, it paints a detailed – yet eminently readable – picture of religious life in the sixteenth-century.

• Eamon Duffy, The voices of Morebath: Reformation and rebellion in an English village (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001)
Using the detailed churchwardens’ accounts of the village of Morebath, Devon, Professor Duffy constructs a wonderful narrative showing how these villagers and their priest faced the massive religious changes during much of the 16th century.

A coffee-table book

• Susan Watkins, In Public and in private: Elizabeth I and her world (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998).
Nice text, focusing mainly on the great Elizabethan houses, but the main draw of this book is the fantastic photography by Mark Fiennes.


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