Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution

In Rebellion, Peter Ackroyd reaches the halfway point of his proposed six-volume History of England (begun in Foundation and continued in Tudors). Now, Ackroyd covers the period between the accession of James VI of Scotland, crowned as James I of England in 1603, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Dazzled by the relative wealth of England compared to his native Scotland, James I spent far more than his treasury took in. When he incurred the wrath of Parliament as a result, he refused to justify the royal expenditures, instead relying on the Duke of Buckingham to shield him from "mere" politics. His younger son, Charles I, continued both his father's spendthrift habits and acrimony with Parliament, refusing to accept the king's subjection to English common law--a fight that ultimately cost Charles his head and plunged the country into civil war, resulting in the rise of Oliver Cromwell and an interregnum government that wielded absolute military authority. Cromwell's death saw the return of the monarchy in Charles II and his brother James II, the latter of whom found himself banished in a "Glorious" (bloodless) rebellion three years after his coronation.

In the same vein as the previous two volumes, Rebellion does more than lay out the facts of history. Spliced between the chapters that move the chronological history forward are vignettes on daily life in 17th-century England, covering the theatres, literature, politics and economics, and the emerging popular press, as well as contemporary analysis of historical events. This is a fascinating look at life in England during tumultuous times. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

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