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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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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
Year Released: 2003
  • 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
    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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Rated 4.8 out of 5 by 102 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by An Engaging Guide to Early Modern England This course by Professor Bucholz spans some 250 formative and often turbulent years of England’s history encompassing two major royal houses and including transitional lectures at each end of the course, respectively, on the defeat of the Yorkists in 1485 and the advent of the Hanoverians in 1714. The course is an ideal complement to the excellent “Great Course” by Professor Jennifer Paxton tracing medieval English history from King Arthur to Richard III. Professor Bucholz is a dynamic speaker who masterfully holds the attention of both his student and adult audiences as he guides them in 48 lectures through the maze of England’s royal and parliamentary conflicts in politics, religion, finance and wars, as well as complex relationships with Continental powers (France, Spain, Holland, the Holy Roman Empire and the Vatican). He combines vivid descriptive and narrative history with keen analysis of issues. Armed with a doctorate in English history from Oxford, he displays an impressive knowledge, love and deep understanding of his subject. This course covers much more than just the lives and reigns of the kings and queens who ruled during this period, whose names are all most of us really know or can recall about the Tudor-Stuart periods. The biggest name is of course is Henry VIII, famed for his divorce-related break with the Roman Catholic Church and for his six wives, but he was also a fascinating and talented individual whose 38-year reign that started brilliantly but deteriorated to the point that he is remembered as a sterling example of Lord Acton’s famous dictum that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dr. Bucholz is an admirer of the ruling queens of the period, notably Elizabeth I and Queen Anne, whom he regards as underrated. Three lectures are devoted to the mid-17th century civil war involving the execution of Charles I and the eleven-year interregnum of Oliver Cromwell, the only interruption in the monarchy in all of English history. In his later lectures Dr. Bucholz stresses the increasing role and authority of Parliament especially in money matters that limited the power of the monarch to spend freely and to wage war during the Stuart period. England was gradually becoming a constitutional monarchy, leading to the vesting of ruling authority in the first genuine Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, under the early Hanoverians, George I and II. If these event-filled lectures are challenging to absorb fully, the accompanying guidebook, presented as a coherent narrative rather than in abbreviated outline form, will serve to help retain the substance of this important history course. The last lecture is devoted to why a study of English history is relevant to Americans. Despite our break with England during and after the Revolutionary War, we are, through our language, culture and values, the legatees of England’s long history. We cannot fully appreciate our own American history without some understanding of what came before in England. This course provides a strong basis for that understanding. October 16, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Truly a "Great Course" There isn't much to add to the many positive reviews other than to say that of the thirty plus courses I've completed this is one of the best. #I am not some adoring Anglophile either.# Professor Bucholz is engaging, informed and has a clever wit, a great lecturer. Cons - beware this is a long comphrensive course and may require some tenacity. Pros - though it is not the course's expressed intent, I really found this course to be very helpful in understanding the origins and subsequent political development of the United States. Great Course. Thanks. November 22, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Best I've listened and watched Great Courses for years and I think I am in triple digits on the number of courses that I've experienced. My experience is that the Great Courses are uniformly good. This one is the best of the courses I have experienced. September 22, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Really enjoyable Professor Bucholz has an excellent presentation style - smooth, engaging delivery and easy to understand. He makes complex issues clear and understandable, and lightens the material with personal and historical anecdotes. The course material covers an immensely eventful and interesting period in English history, and has a nice balance of top-down history (kings and queens) versus bottom-up (ordinary people). For American listeners, he draws out the significance of this period for the history of the United States. June 26, 2015
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