British Politics 1625-1642 - HI6044

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 60 (30) DR LS James







When Charles I became king of England in March 1625, he also inherited the thrones of Scotland and Ireland. This module will consider politics, religion and culture in Caroline Britain from Charles I’s assumption of the triple crown, until he declared war on the English Parliament in August 1642. During this fascinating period, the king pursued controversial policies and eventually faced armed resistance in all three kingdoms – the struggle against the Scottish covenanters (1639-40); the Irish rebellion (1641); and finally, civil war in England (1642).

Students will have the opportunity to analyse a wide variety of primary source material, including royal letters, private correspondence, paintings, journals, newsletters, religious documents and state papers. Through these rich sources, students will explore the many factors which shaped the character of Charles’s government and will be encouraged to draw their own conclusions about the nature and success of the king’s approach. Was this a period of relative harmony until the late 1630s or were all three kingdoms on a trajectory towards conflict from the outset of the reign? By the end of the module, students will be able to answer these, and other historiographical questions, including perhaps the most crucial question of all - what were the causes of the ‘British Civil Wars’?


Contact hours

3 hours throughout the Autumn and Spring terms.

Topics to be covered

The first three parliaments of Charles I
The collapse of the 1629 parliament
Royal government in England, Scotland and Ireland 1629-37
The Royal Court: Culture, Patronage and Art
Religion in multiple kingdoms
Ship Money, the Navy and Foreign Policy
Royal Finances and Local Government
Ireland under Wentworth
Scotland 1629-37
Contemporary attitudes to the Personal Rule – acceptance, resistance or indifference?
The Scottish Crisis, the Covenant and the First Bishops’ War
The Short Parliament and the Second Bishops’ War
The Long Parliament, the Irish Rebellion and the Coming of War in England

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by coursework and exam on a 40% coursework and 60% exam ratio.

The coursework component will be assessed as follows:
1. 3x3000 word essays, each worth 20% of the coursework mark (8% of the total mark),
2. 1x3000 gobbet exercise, worth 20% of the coursework mark (8% of the total mark),
3. A 15 minute presentation, worth 20% of the coursework mark (8% of the total mark),

The module will also be tested in 2 two–hour exams – which will make up 60% (30% each) of the final mark for the module.

Preliminary reading

Cust, R - Charles I: A Political Life (2005)
Cust, R - Charles I and the Aristocracy 1625-1642 (2013)
Fincham K (ed.) - The Early Stuart Church (1993)
Lee M - The Road to Revolution: Scotland under Charles I, 1625-1637 (1985)
Merritt J (ed.) - The Political World of Thomas Wentworth (1996)
Reeve L J - Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule (1989)
Russell C - The Causes of the English Civil War (1990)
Russell C - The Fall of the British Monarchies, 1637-42 (1991)
Sharpe K - The Personal Rule of Charles I (1992)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

11. The intended subject specific learning outcomes

As a consequence of taking this module all students will have:

11.1 acquired a firm grasp of the complex politics, religion and culture of the period
11.2 demonstrated a broad conceptual command of the course, and a thorough and systematic understanding of the latest research.
11.3 demonstrated their capacity to assess and critically engage with a wide range of primary sources, both visual and written.
11.4 demonstrated independent learning skills by being able to make use of a wide range of high-level resources, including up-to-date research in peer-reviewed journals, information technology, relevant subject bibliographies and other primary and secondary sources.
11.5 acquired the ability to analyse key texts and other materials critically at a high level

12. The intended generic learning outcomes

As a consequence of taking this module all students will have:

12.1 enhanced their ability to express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment
12.2 enhanced communication, presentational skills and information technology skills
12.3 demonstrated the acquisition of an independent learning style when engaging with the course content, for example in the preparation and presentation of course work, in carrying out independent research, in compiling bibliographies and other lists of research materials, by showing the ability to reflect on their own learning and by mediating complex arguments in both oral and written form
12.4 analysed, discussed, deconstructed and demonstrated cogent understanding of central texts and, subsequently, assembled and presented arguments based on this analysis; by virtue of this process, students will also have gained an appreciation of the uncertainty and ambiguity which surrounds the core themes of this module
12.5 approached problem solving creatively, and formed critical and evaluative judgments about the appropriateness of these approaches

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