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History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts

History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts

Professor Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago

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History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts

Course No. 8470
Professor Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
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4.8 out of 5
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88% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 8470
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  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is well illustrated and features more than 500 portraits and paintings (of figures like Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, and James II), illustrations (of events ranging from the British Civil Wars to the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht), and family trees that help you make sense of the period's various dynasties and claimants to the throne. There are on-screen spellings and definitions to help reinforce material for visual learners.
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Course Overview

During the 229-year period from 1485 to 1714, England transformed itself from a minor feudal state into what has been called "the first modern society," and emerged as the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. Those years hold a huge story. The English people survived repeated epidemics and famines, one failed invasion and two successful ones, two civil wars, a series of violent religious reformations and counter-reformations, and confrontations with two of the most powerful monarchs on Earth, Louis XIV of France and Philip II of Spain.

But they did much more than survive. They produced a marvelous culture that gave the world the philosophy of John Locke, the plays of Shakespeare, the wit of Swift, the poetry of Milton, the buildings of Christopher Wren, the science of Isaac Newton, and the verse of the King James Bible.

And despite the cruelty, bloodshed, and religious suppression they visited on so many, they also left behind something else: the political principles and ideals for which we—and so many of them—would work and die, and on which we Americans would build our nation.

"A Terrific Story"

Professor Robert Bucholz presents a sweeping, 48-lecture course on one of the most intriguing times in modern history. England's changing social, economic, religious, and political structures unfold while first the Tudors (1485–1603) and then the Stuarts (1603–1714) establish their monarchies, and you hear the facts behind dramatic stories:

  • Henry VIII's wives and his fear that a woman would rule
  • The reigns of Henry's three children: Edward VI, "Bloody Mary," and popular Elizabeth I
  • James I's insistence that the monarchy be stronger than Parliament
  • Charles I in his best attire, walking to his own beheading
  • James II believing Britain couldn't live without him
  • William III, invited by the British to invade their country
  • Queen Anne's War and her immense popularity
  • The great, tumultuous city of London
  • Continuing religious persecution and change, including the Reformation and the relationships between the royalty and the pope
  • Change through the onset of the printed word
  • Problems of law and order, witchcraft, the Poor Law, and the rise of Puritanism
  • The blossoming of Elizabethan and Jacobean culture in art, music, and literature.

You learn about great works of art, important discoveries, castles, and coronations. And with the rich history of England's monarchs you also learn how the English people were born, worked, played, worshipped, fell in love, and died.

You also discover answers to intriguing questions such as:

  • Why have all Britain's glory days been under women monarchs?
  • Why did experimenting with a Republic lead to the monarchy's return?
  • Why was Thomas More executed?
  • Why do rebellion and war continue in Ireland and Scotland?
  • What has been England's ongoing relationship with Wales?

Professor Bucholz presents this history in an intimate way that draws you into unfolding events, weaving quotes from parish records, diaries, letters, newspapers, and the political press into his own narrative.

"This is," he says simply, "a terrific story."

AudioFile© magazine comments: "Professor Bucholz intertwines descriptions of court intrigue with portrayals of its effects on those governed, from the merchant to the tenant farmer to the beggar. Bucholz's lecturing style engages his students in the realities of the time with empathy, data, and humor. … The listener will find no dry history here, but a colorful album of real peoples' memories."

Professor Bucholz—whose work has been solicited and commented upon by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales—is a noted expert on the English court and royal household, and a frequent media commentator on British history and the Royal Family.

Two Strong Queens and an Execution

This is a course filled with drama.

With Professor Bucholz, you find yourself in the hallway outside the bedchamber of Queen Anne on the night of July 27, 1714, next to the loyal servants who clearly hear the sounds of their beloved monarch weeping.

That day, the queen had been left with no choice but to demand the resignation of her Lord Treasurer, Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, the greatest politician of his era and the last of the original ministers she had chosen when assuming the throne.

It is a frankly stunning moment and a vivid portrait of Queen Anne. This plain and sickly woman lacked the star quality of Elizabeth. Little had been expected of her when she took the throne 12 years earlier; yet she nevertheless forged the most successful reign of any Stuart monarch, becoming a strong and effective queen with an instinctive love for and understanding of her people.

Professor Bucholz explains that the two most successful reigns of this period were those of women, Queen Anne on the Stuart side, and, on the Tudor side, Elizabeth—the "Virgin Queen." Moreover, they did this in the face of a century of belief in the Great Chain of Being, the immutable hierarchy in which every person at birth had a clearly defined and accepted rank, To challenge it in any form was a grave sin.

Professor Bucholz takes you to the floor of Parliament during the contentious debate over the fate of Charles I, with Oliver Cromwell thundering, "I tell you, I will cut off his head with the crown on it!"; then to the king's final meeting with his youngest sons where he asks them to preserve the monarchy; and, finally, to the execution itself, the march to the block taking Charles directly underneath a painting of James I on the ceiling of Whitehall Palace—his own father portrayed as a deified monarch.

This was far more than great theater. For England had, for the first time, "judicially and publicly murdered" its monarch, literally "lopping off [Earth's] highest link in the Great Chain of Being" and created, for the only time in its history, a Republic.

Repercussions across the Ocean

It was during this time England became a world power and, in the process, established its American colonies. That culture of early-modern England is our root culture, and many of our institutions, laws, customs, and traditions can be traced back to that time and place.

In particular, the civil wars, revolutions, and parliamentary and legal battles described in this course led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, rule of law, the rights to trial by jury and habeas corpus, the first modern political parties, and a kind of popular participation in politics that would lead, ultimately, to democracies on both sides of the Atlantic.

"For these reasons," states Professor Bucholz, "this is not only an interesting course in its own right, it is also one with direct relevance for 21st-century Americans."

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48 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
  • 1
    England 1485–1714, the First Modern Country
    A look at the scope of the course, the significance of English history, and why this Early-Modern period was crucial not only to the development of England, but to transatlantic civilization itself. x
  • 2
    The Land and Its People in 1485—I
    This lecture examines England's so-called "island mentality" and its complicated relationship to both Europe and the Celtic lands of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. x
  • 3
    The Land and Its People in 1485—II
    The discussion of the physical world of the English people in 1485 continues with this look at the material and social topography of the English town, manor, and village, from the wealthiest residents to the poorest. x
  • 4
    The Land and Its People in 1485—III
    The focus switches to the mental landscape of the English people, and especially to the concept of the "Great Chain of Being" and the unyielding social hierarchy it implied. x
  • 5
    Medieval Prelude—1377–1455
    Beginning with the end of the reign of Edward III, the English monarchy and constitution undergoes more than a century of instability prior to the accession of the Tudors. This lecture begins the explanation of why this happened. x
  • 6
    Medieval Prelude—1455–85
    Over a 30-year period, the Lancastrian and Yorkist claimants to the throne fight three different Wars of the Roses and produce a short-lived line of Yorkist kings, including Richard III, whose reign ends in the successful rebellion that begins the Tudor Dynasty. x
  • 7
    Establishing the Tudor Dynasty—1485–97
    This lecture examines the steps taken by Henry VII to secure the crown after his victory over Richard III, the failed Yorkist rebellions that follow, and Henry's subsequent efforts to secure alliances that will deprive future rebels of allies or secure bases. x
  • 8
    Establishing the Tudor Dynasty—1497–1509
    This lecture examines Henry's efforts to make England's government more efficient, less expensive, and more responsive to his wishes by following three old principles of medieval kingship: the king must be strong, he must govern with consent, and he must live "of his own" (within a budget). x
  • 9
    Young King Hal—1509–27
    A look at the larger-than-life personality of Henry VIII and the early years of his reign, years dominated by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, one of the most hated government officials in English history. x
  • 10
    The King's Great Matter—1527–30
    This lecture examines Henry VIII's attempts to secure from the Roman Catholic Church a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the complex implications that surround it. x
  • 11
    The Break from Rome—1529–36
    With the Catholic Church weak and divided at the top, Henry and his new leading minister, Thomas Cromwell, are able to break England's allegiance to the Pope, secure the king's divorce, and initiate the Reformation in England. x
  • 12
    A Tudor Revolution—1536-47
    An examination of what some historians have seen as a Tudor plan to increase the power and efficiency of the monarchy, not only in religion, but in all areas of English life. x
  • 13
    The Last Years of Henry VIII—1540–47
    An aging king attempts to avoid invasion by the Catholic powers, balancing the demands of Protestant reformers with his own desire for a traditional Church—under his command—that would retain many Catholic practices. x
  • 14
    Edward VI—1547-53
    Two successive advisors to the boy-king (only nine when he takes the throne) increasingly push the country toward Protestantism, including an attempt to alter the succession. But when Edward dies, the country still rallies to the Catholic heir, Mary Tudor. x
  • 15
    Mary I—1553-58
    Failing to realize that her people have rallied to her only because she is the rightful heir and not because she is Catholic, "Bloody Mary" attempts to ally with the Spanish Empire and undo the Reformation—at tremendous human cost. x
  • 16
    Young Elizabeth—1558
    As Queen, Elizabeth uses her superb political skills to balance off both competing court factions and potential suitors. Rejecting marriage, she cultivates the image of "Gloriana," the Virgin Queen symbolically wed to the people of England. x
  • 17
    The Elizabethan Settlement—1558–68
    Bitter religious divisions are tearing at England as Elizabeth takes the throne. This lecture examines those divisions and how the Scottish Reformation, the rebellion against Mary Queen of Scots, and Mary's flight into Elizabeth's protection place in grave peril not only both women, but also the prospects for peace in the British Isles. x
  • 18
    Set in a Dangerous World—1568–88
    Increasing tensions between England and Spain over trade and the Protestant Revolt in the Netherlands mark a period of plots against Elizabeth, the assembling of the Spanish Armada, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and the defeat of the Armada by a newly strengthened Royal Navy. x
  • 19
    Heart and Stomach of a Queen—1588–1603
    The beginning of a world war with Spain has a devastating effect on England's economy and makes for a stormy relationship with Parliament. In the end, it is the cult of "Gloriana" that keeps Parliament and the people loyal and allows the smooth succession of the Stuarts to the throne. x
  • 20
    The Land and Its People in 1603
    The start of an eight-lecture intermission from the political narrative to address the economic and social changes experienced by the English people since 1485—beginning with unprecedented stresses on the Great Chain of Being. x
  • 21
    Private Life—The Elite
    An examination of how members of the landed aristocracy (i.e., nobles and gentry) lived their lives circa 1603. x
  • 22
    Private Life—The Commoners
    The same topics dealt with in the previous lecture—education, courtship, marriage and day-to-day living—are dealt with as they are experienced at the other end of the "Chain." x
  • 23
    The Ties that Bound
    A look at the institutions, habits, and attitudes designed to promote meaning and community in England, including popular religion, paternalism, extended family ties, and the support of one's neighbors. x
  • 24
    Order and Disorder
    Toward the end of the sixteenth century, English men and women are convinced that disorder, poverty, and crime are on the rise. This lecture examines whether they were right and how the system functioned to address these issues. x
  • 25
    Towns, Trade, and Colonization
    England begins its movement out of the countryside—not only into towns, but to fledgling colonies that form an alternative for those who cannot make a go of it in England or conform to its rigid religious and social structure. x
  • 26
    London
    A guided walk through what is, by far, the largest city in the realm, as well as its capital, greatest port, and center of culture and fashion. x
  • 27
    The Elizabethan and Jacobean Age
    A look at the tremendous flowering of English culture at the turn into the seventeenth century, including what is possibly the greatest achievement of the age—the development of the English language itself—and the reaction of authorities to this powerful and thus dangerous tool. x
  • 28
    Establishing the Stuart Dynasty—1603–25
    The problems that James I inherits from the Tudors will eventually overwhelm the early Stuart state and produce the British Civil Wars. This lecture introduces five enduring areas of tension—sovereignty, financing the government, war and foreign policy, religion, and local control—with a focus on the first two. x
  • 29
    The Ascendancy of Buckingham—1614–28
    A look at the 14-year dominance over English politics and government of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who rises to be the principal favorite of both James I and his son, Charles I. x
  • 30
    Religion and Local Control—1628–37
    This lecture examines the impact of the different and problematic religious settlements reached in each of the three kingdoms ruled by the Stuarts: England, Scotland, and Ireland. x
  • 31
    Crisis of the Three Kingdoms—1637–42
    In 1637, Charles I attempts to impose an Anglican liturgy on Presbyterian Scotland, unleashing a chain of crises that ultimately leads to the complete breakdown of understanding between king and Parliament and a resulting declaration of civil war in England. x
  • 32
    The Civil Wars—1642–49
    A look at how the wealth controlled by Parliament eventually wears away Charles I's advantage in experienced fighting men and leads to an event unprecedented in English history: the execution of a king on a charge of high treason against the people of England. x
  • 33
    The Search for a Settlement—1649–53
    This lecture examines the first part of England's 11-year period without a king, including the flowering of a period of relative political, social, and religious freedom, and the conquests of Ireland and Scotland. x
  • 34
    Cromwellian England—1653–60
    Parliament and the army ask Cromwell to administer England as Lord Protector of the realm. But after five years of effective rule, Cromwell dies—unleashing a period of instability that leads to the negotiated restoration of the Stuart monarchy. x
  • 35
    The Restoration Settlement—1660–70
    The restoration settlements in Church and State seem to turn the clock back, with the king dependent on Parliament, the Church of England reestablished and Puritans made outlaws, and defeat at the hands of the Dutch plunging the nation into crisis. x
  • 36
    The Failure of the Restoration—1670–78
    Charles II and his new ministry—the Cabal—begin a bold attempt to solve all of his problems by signing the Treaty of Dover with France, England's ancestral enemy. x
  • 37
    The Popish Plot and Exclusion—1678–85
    An alleged "Popish plot" to kill the king and establish his Catholic brother, James, Duke of York, on the throne leads to the rise of the Whig and Tory parties, a failed effort to bar James, and the pursuit by Charles of what comes to be known as the Tory Revenge. The Revenge culminates in a deathbed conversion to Catholicism and the peaceful succession of James. x
  • 38
    A Catholic Restoration? 1685–88
    A look at the short and unpopular reign of James II and his attempts to restore toleration for Catholics. Unpopular though he is, no one contemplates rebellion, until the surprise birth of a Catholic heir leads seven prominent noblemen to invite invasion by the Protestant William, Prince of Orange. x
  • 39
    The Glorious Revolution—1688–89
    James flees in the face of William's invasion, and a compromising Parliament declares his abdication, placing William on the throne and marking England's final break with the Great Chain and her entry into the modern world. x
  • 40
    King William's War—1689–92
    The necessities of the war with France bring about a fundamental shift in the respective roles of England's two political parties, and irrevocably extend the reach of Parliament's power and role in the constitution. x
  • 41
    King William's War—1692–1702
    An examination of the economic strategy that enabled victory over France; the Act of Settlement that solved England's succession question—at least on paper—and moved the nation closer to constitutional monarchy, and the two royal deaths that brought England to the brink of yet another war with France. It is a war that will have to be fought by a new ruler after a hunting accident claims William's life. x
  • 42
    Queen Anne and the Rage of Party—1702
    A close look at a Queen greatly underestimated in both her own time and by historians, yet whose strong common sense and identification with her people's hopes and dreams would make her the most successful of the Stuarts. x
  • 43
    Queen Anne's War—1702–10
    The War of the Spanish Succession decides the thrones of Spain and Britain and settles the balance of power in Europe and North America for a generation. But even after a series of major victories, it is the queen's subtle political maneuvering that paves the way for peace. x
  • 44
    Queen Anne's Peace—1710–14
    Though the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 ends the war and lays the groundwork for the British Empire and England's commercial and military dominance of Europe for the rest of the century, issues of religion and succession are still in play when Queen Anne's lifelong fragile health finally fails, and the last of the Stuart monarchs dies. x
  • 45
    Hanoverian Epilogue—1714–30
    A look at how the peaceful accession of George I, combined with Britain's victory in the War of the Spanish Succession, solves or pacifies most of the tensions that have wracked England under the Stuarts, and allows Great Britain to become the richest and most powerful country in Europe during the eighteenth century x
  • 46
    The Land and Its People in 1714—I
    An examination of the social and economic state of the country as the reign of the Stuarts ends. x
  • 47
    The Land and Its People in 1714—II
    As England turns into the eighteenth century, the face of artistic and intellectual life is changing as primary patronage of the arts passes from the Church and court, replaced by noble and popular sponsorship of architecture, literature, music, and painting. x
  • 48
    The Meaning of English History—1485–1714
    A summary of what twenty-first-century Americans should take from English history under the Tudors and Stuarts: a time when ideas and concepts that still lie at the heart of our notion of democratic civilization were pioneered. x

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Your professor

Robert Bucholz

About Your Professor

Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
Dr. Robert Bucholz is Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where he has taught since 1988. He earned his B.A. in History from Cornell University and his D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University. Before joining the faculty at Loyola University, Professor Bucholz taught at numerous universities, including Cornell University; California State University, Long Beach; and Loyola, Marymount University. He is a...
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Reviews

History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 117.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Means to Tie Together a 3 Century Mosaic What would cause an American to buy a course about an arbitrary period of English literature? Nothing much other than that you are curious enough to try to connect the dots between the times of Shakespeare's historical plays like Richard the 3rd, 17th century portraits and the state of mind of 18th century audiences listening to Handel's music commissioned by a Hanoverian monarch. In between this country invented the Anglican church to assure the Tudor succession and then turns around and invites royalty from all over the continent to interview for the same position? Then intervenes in the succession of monarchs elsewhere? Does any of this make sense so far? Well, we haven't even scratched the surface. My own tip toward listening and watching this tale was the near simultaneous discovery of Pepys notes and a Dutch movie about the exploits of Admiral de Ruyter. Commoner Pepys begins his diary with a mysterious General Monck marching rumored on his way to London to sort out the post Oliver Cromwell state - and then Pepys invited to work in the navy office by a close yet noble relative. They sail secretly to Holland to pick up the England's next king, whose father lost his head about two decades before. En route back to English reception the vessel is renamed Charles for the 2nd monarch of that name. Before the decade is over, there is Plague in London, a sweeping fire and war with the Dutch, uncharacteristically not about religion or succession, but about trade. "Unknownst" to most of us Americans, the Dutch also seize the docked Charles with its royal coat of arms on a raid up the Medway. Pepys account of much of this in my version is highly edited ("the concise") but he refers to almost everyone he encounters while performing as a civil servant as My Lord so and so, their wives and mistresses with similar honorifics. What footnotes there are in this 19th century dial in the specifics of rank for those identified, their position in peerage. And that's where we come to how our instructor helps us to tie together this mosaic. Professor Buckholz who recorded this series of lectures about a dozen years ago brings us both a studied and American view of this migration from the medieval to the modern. He introduces the Tudor England of Henrys and Richard III as an underpopulated realm sharing an island group with several other peoples as well as a a view of the world know as the Great Chain of Being. That the idea of the GCB has not fossilized entirely, I can attest to since I encountered its schematics in my own parochial education decades ago. I was struck by the orders of angels identified above human kind and had remained curious about scholastics centuries ago had established all that hierarchy. But the main point in the course was that the strata in practice were differentiated even further for earthly matters: from Kings who reigned as appointed by heaven and those below assigned to their ranks in the scheme of things for life. It is made clear that 17th century Stuarts still adhered to this belief and that Henry VIII would move all earth and axe all opposition to maintain his position in it. Pepys, I should add, having survived the 1660s nearly lost it in the next decade, as I discovered in a biography that covered his post diary career, since it was presumed by the McCarthys of his day that he was part of the international papist conspiracy. But he survived it and continued as a member of the Royal Society. As near as he cam to appearing Catholic after that in a very Protestant realm was providing an "imprimatur" for the writings of Isaac Newton in 1686 - The Principia. And that's a further reflection of the remarkable historical mosaic of the island. But the demographic data that Professor Buckholz provides is sobering: the periods of population loss, the effects of armed occupation in Ireland and Penal Laws, the reverses in growth caused by the Plague and the effectiveness of warfare with the New Model Army... If there is a criticism I would like to level on the course, I believe that Professor Buckholz wanted to spend more time describing the exploits of others besides kings, people next in succession, chancellors and archbishops. Samuel Pepys and Isaac Newton being two examples. He would also have liked to tell us more about what the economic underpinnings of the combined kingdoms were: slavery, rum, sugar and tobacco. And I believe he was well versed in this material as he was with the course of the central government and the snapshots he gave of the people of the realm at the beginning, midway and toward the end. I am just afraid that despite the 48 lesson excursion there was still not enough time to describe everything that attracted his (or perhaps many of his students') attention. But thank you, Professor Bucholz for enriching us all the same.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoying English history I have really enjoyed this class. I wish there were more visual aids.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of England from the Tudors to the Stewarts Great storytelling! The best course I've taken! Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of England from Tudors to Stuarts. Outstanding and keeps you wide awake and listening.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too much info thrown at you. The teacher talked so fast and threw so many names and dates all at once that I was completly lost and gave up after a few lectures.
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overly Simplistic This is primarily a political history of England as well as Scotland and Ireland during the Tudor Stuart area. During this time major economic changes were occurring in how land was being used, and the relationship of people to the land. These changes set conditions for the development of capitalism in England and eventually for the Industrial Revolution. The early development of capitalism in England gave England an important lead and advantage over other countries, and this helped England to achieve political and military power. All of this seems to have gone over Robert Bucholz's head. He makes some references to the growing importance of trade for luxuries from America and the triangular trade, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If Bucholz wanted to focus on political changes, and ignore economic changes, then one also has to wonder why he did not speak about the Putney debates. The Putney debates show common people advocating democracy, and they are important for anyone who cares about democracy. The shortcomings of these lectures are highlighted by a comparison with Keith Wrightson's lectures on the same general subject area presented by Yale University and Academic Earth. I love The Great Courses, but Professor Bucholz's lectures lack the sophistication that one would hope for from a good college-level course.
Date published: 2016-10-15
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