Module type: Histories and Contexts
Module Code: HIS00048I
Sixteenth-century England was a place of vivid contrasts. The Tudor monarchy cultivated magnificence on a European scale, yet lacked the military power to dominate its people or to pursue an aggressive foreign policy. Protestant reforms and conversions were met with an equally passionate defence of the Catholic faith. The re-assertion of royal power by the Tudors was countered by theories of resistance to tyranny on both sides of the religious divide. Add in the constitutional significance of the break from Rome and the rise of Parliament, the drama of court politics and the unique situation of women ruling England, and it is not difficult to see why the Tudors occupy such a central place in the national memory.
This module covers the full span of the period from the victory of Henry Tudor at Bosworth to the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603. Historical landmarks include the Reformation under Henry VIII and Edward VI, the attempt to return England to the Catholic faith under Queen Mary, the cult of the Virgin Queen and the coming of the Spanish Armada. Within this chronological framework we pause to examine themes across the whole of the period, including popular rebellion and resistance theory; the importance of royal ministers such as Cardinal Wolsey and Francis Walsingham; problems of poverty and vagrancy, and the idea of the commonwealth; and England’s relationship with Ireland and Wales. Particular emphasis is placed on the structures by which royal power was sustained, including art and propaganda as well as the formal institutions of government. We conclude by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Tudor regime, and why it is that this period of history continues to have such a strong grip on the public imagination.
The lecture programme is likely to include the following:
Discussion groups will likely deal with the following:
For more information, please visit the module catalogue.