1. General books.
The best history of seventeenth-century England is B Coward, The Stuart Age (2nd edn, 1994), which gives a clear, largely chronological and narrative account. R Lockyer, The Early Stuarts (1989) looks in greater detail at the pre-war decades. The first two Stuart monarchs are now best introduced by a clutch of recently-published short surveys rather than by any of the older full-length biographies - see C Durston, James I (1993), S J Houston, James I (2nd edn, 1995), B Quintrell, Charles I 1625-40 (1993), C Durston, Charles I (1997) and M Young, Charles I (1997). There are also a number of excellent collections of articles covering various aspects of the pre-war decades - C Russell (ed), Origins of the English Civil War (1973), H Tomlinson, Before the English Civil War (1983), K Sharpe (ed), Faction and Parliament (2nd edn, 1985), R Cust & A Hughes (eds), Conflict in Early Stuart England (1989) and K Fincham (ed), The Early Stuart Church (1993).
The historical debate on the causes of the civil war is covered by L Stone, The Causes of the English Revolution (2nd edn, 1986), R C Richardson (ed), The Debate on the English Revolution Revisited (1989) and A Hughes, The Causes of the English Civil War (1991). Over the past decade or so Conrad Russell has written extensively on the causes of the war - see especially his The Causes of the English Civil War (1990) and Fall of the British Monarchies (1991), which emphasises that the English civil war was part of a broader 'British' problem. A different perspective, focusing on the relationship between the centre and the provinces in England, is provided by A Fletcher, The Outbreak of the English Civil War (1981).
The best general surveys of the whole period 1640-60 are I Roots, The Great Rebellion (1966) and G Aylmer, Rebellion or Revolution? (1986). C V Wedgwood's two books, The King's Peace, 1637-41 (1955) and The King's War, 1641-47 (1958), provide a pleasant if rather dated narrative of events. There are many sound histories of the civil war, some quite narrowly military in approach, others relating military events to the political, social and administrative developments of the period - see M Ashley, The English Civil War (2nd edn, 1990), M Bennett, The English Civil War (1995), M Bennett, The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland (1997), A H Burne & P Young, The Great Civil War (1959), P Gaunt, The British Wars (1997), J P Kenyon, The Civil Wars of England (1988), P R Newman, Atlas of the English Civil War (1985), P R Newman, Companion to the English Civil War (1990), R Ollard, This War Without an Enemy (1976), A Woolrych, Battles of the English Civil War (2nd edn, 1992) and P Young & R Holmes, The English Civil War (1974).
Some of the most exciting work over the past few decades has been the attempt to explore the origins, causes, nature and consequences of the civil war at the local level, focusing upon a region, a county or a town. The best such work includes A Everitt, The Community of Kent and the Great Rebellion (1966), A Fletcher, A County Community in Peace and War: Sussex (1975), P Gaunt, A Nation Under Siege [Wales] (1991), C Holmes, The Eastern Association in the English Civil War (1974), A Hughes, Politics, Society and Civil War in Warwickshire (1987), R Hutton, The Royalist War Effort [Wales, the Welsh Marches and the south-west] (1981), S Porter (ed), London and the Civil War (1996), R Sherwood, Civil War in the Midlands (1992), M Stoyle, Loyalty and Locality: Popular Allegiances in Devon during the English Civil War (1994), M Stoyle, From Deliverance to Destruction: Rebellion and Civil War in an English City [Exeter] (1996), P Tennant, Edgehill and Beyond: The People's War in the South Midlands (1992), P Tennant, The Civil War in Stratford Upon Avon (1996), D Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion [Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset] (1985) and D Underdown, Fire From Heaven [Dorchester] (1992).
Broader studies of the impact and outcome of the civil wars include two collections edited by John Morrill - Reactions to the English Civil War (1982) and The Impact of the English Civil War (1991). The military and physical impact is also explored in C Carlton, Going to the Wars (1992) and S Porter, Destruction in the English Civil War (1994). The role of the new parliamentary army created towards the end of the main war is assessed by M Kishlansky, The Rise of the New Model Army (1979) and I Gentles, The New Model Army (1991). The political and religious radicalism unleashed by the war is examined by C Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (1972), F D Dow, Radicalism in the English Revolution (1985) and J F McGregor & B Reay (eds), Radical Religion in the English Revolution (1984).
R Ashton, Counter-Revoltuion: The Second Civil War and Its Origins (1994) is a very detailed study of the years 1646-8, while A Woolrych, Soldiers and Statesmen (1987) is an equally detailed examination of the role of the army within the political developments of 1647-8. D Underdown, Pride's Purge (1971) is a masterly analysis of parliamentary politics between the civil war and the execution of the King. C V Wedgwood, The Trial of Charles I (1964) is the standard account of that episode.
The period 1649-60 is surveyed by three excellent chronological surveys - A Woolrych, England Without a King (1983), R Hutton, The British Republic (1990) and T Barnard, The English Republic (2nd edn, 1997). There are also two good collections of articles on this period - G Aymler (ed), The Interregnum (1972) and J Morrill (ed), Revolution and Restoration (1992). The best detailed account of political developments 1649-53 is provided by A B Worden, The Rump Parliament (1974) and A Woolrych, Commonwealth to Protectorate (1982). S Kelsey, Inventing a Republic (1997) is a broader study of the issues surrounding the establishment of republican rule.
For the period of the Protectorate, 1653-58, see the section on 'Oliver Cromwell' below.
The collapse of the republic and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy are explored by R Hutton, The Restoration (1985), P Seaward, The Restoration (1991) and J Miller, The Restoration and the England of Charles II (1997). C Hill, The Experience of Defeat (1983), examines what happened when God apparently deserted the parliamentary cause.
2. Books on Cromwell.
Biographical studies of Cromwell are legion and range from excellent to dire. Although inevitably dated in places, the studies written by the two greatest late Victorian historians of the period remain masterpieces - S R Gardiner, Cromwell's Place in History (1897), S R Gardiner, Oliver Cromwell (1901) and C H Firth, Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans (1900). Firth's book rests in part upon the biography he wrote for the Dictionary of National Biography in 1888, which itself provides a concise and thoughtful introduction to Cromwell. Of the more recent, twentieth-century biographies, J Buchan, Oliver Cromwell (1934) is an elegant study, C V Wedgwood, Oliver Cromwell (1939) reflects the author's outstanding narrative skills, R S Paul, The Lord Protector (1955) is particularly strong on Cromwell's personal faith and religious policies, P Young, Oliver Cromwell (1962) and J Gillingham, Cromwell, Portrait of a Soldier (1976) both focus on Cromwell's military career, and C Hill, God's Englishman (1970) is a brilliant and stimulating thematic study. A Fraser, Cromwell, Our Chief of Men (1973) is a very detailed account and is probably the biography best known outside academic circles. I Roots has edited a good collection of articles on the man and his policies, Cromwell, A Profile (1973).
Turning to the 1990s, there has recently been a clutch of new biographical studies of Cromwell. B Coward, Oliver Cromwell (1991) and P Gaunt, Oliver Cromwell (1996) are both good, clear, up-to-date biographies, giving straightforward accounts of Cromwell's life and achievements. Although intended principally for students, general readers will find much of interest in D L Smith, Oliver Cromwell, Politics and Religion in the English Revolution (1991), which reproduces extracts from contemporary sources and includes introductions and commentary. John Morrill has edited an outstanding collection of new writing on Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1990). As well as a general introduction, it includes chapters by Morrill on Cromwell's early life, by J S A Adamson on Cromwell and the Long Parliament, by A Woolrych on Cromwell's military career, by D Hirst on Cromwell as Lord Protector, by D Stevenson on Cromwell's attitude to Scotland and Ireland, by J C Davis on Cromwell's own religious beliefs and A Fletcher on his religious policies, by J Sommerville on Cromwell and political thought and lastly by Morrill again on contemporary views of Cromwell.
Some of the more general books cited in section one include substantial material on Cromwell. Thus C Holmes, The Eastern Association (1974) has much on Cromwell's military career during the opening years of the civil war, A Woolrych, Soldiers and Statesmen (1987) explores Cromwell's role and influence within army politics in 1647-8, and I Gentles, The New Model Army (1991) gives some account of Cromwell's military career 1645-51. Cromwell's political role and career from 1648 to 1653 can be traced through the trio of detailed studies of the period - D Underdown, Pride's Purge (1971), A B Worden, The Rump Parliament (1974) and A Woolrych, Commonwealth to Protectorate (1982).
We need much more on Lord Protector Cromwell and on the Protectorate. There are some good PhD dissertations and a growing body of articles in specialist history journals, but many aspects of the Protectorate still await detailed examination in full-length books. R Sherwood, The Court of Oliver Cromwell (1977) is a thorough and perceptive examination of the Lord Protector's court and household, and R Sherwood, Oliver Cromwell. King in all But Name (1997) argues strongly that as Protector Cromwell exercised much of the role and power of a traditional monarch. On financial aspects of the Protectorate, M Ashley, Financial and Commercial Policy under the Commonwealth and Protectorate (2nd edn, 1972) remains the most detailed study. The foreign policy of this period has recently been explored by T Venning, Cromwellian Foreign Policy (1995); the introduction to M Roberts (ed), Swedish Diplomats at Cromwell's Court (1988) is also valuable. The Protector's handling of Scotland and Ireland is best explored in F D Dow, Cromwellian Scotland (1979) and T Barnard, Cromwellian Ireland (1975) respectively. But there is room for much more on Cromwell's regime in England, on his role and powers as Lord Protector, on his relationship with the Protectorate council and parliaments, on his dealings with the army 1653-58 and on his religious policies.
The best account of the portraiture of Cromwell is D Piper, The Contemporary Portraits of Oliver Cromwell (1958). P Gaunt, The Cromwellian Gazetteer (1987) is a guide to sites associated with Cromwell and includes his known itinerary. The conflicting interpretations of Cromwell amongst contemporaries and succeeding generations of historians are explored in R C Richardson (ed), Images of Oliver Cromwell (1993). The same theme is explored in the closing chapter of C Hill, God's Englishman (1970) and in the final essay in J Morrill (ed), Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1990).
Perhaps the best way to approach Cromwell is through his own words. Many of his letters survive and we also possess texts of some of his public and state speeches. All the material then known was gathered together and printed in a very weighty, four-volume collection edited by W C Abbott, The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (1937-47); it was reissued in 1988, though it was not amended to include the small number of letters which had come to light since Abbott's original work. An earlier collection, not quite as full but far more concise and attractive, is T Carlyle (ed), The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell; originally printed in 1845, it went through many later editions, edited first by Carlyle and then after his death by others, steadily growing in size as further material was added. More recently, I Roots has reproduced all the major speeches (but not the letters) in Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (1989). Versions of Cromwell's speeches in the important debates held by the army in 1647 are printed in C H Firth (ed), The Clarke Papers, volumes I and II, originally published in 1891 and 1894 respectively, but recently (1992) both reprinted in a single volume with a new preface by A Woolrych.
For those who are new to Cromwell and who may wish to read about him, the best starting point is probably one of the two recent, straightforward biographies - either B Coward, Oliver Cromwell or P Gaunt, Oliver Cromwell. Follow that up with the older and more subtle approach of C Hill, God's Englishman and the thematic studies in J Morrill (ed), Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution. Lastly, read some of Cromwell's own letters and speeches, either in T Carlyle (ed), The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell or in I Roots (ed), Speeches of Oliver Cromwell. With the exception of the Carlyle collection, editions of which can often be picked up quite cheaply in second hand bookshops, all these books are currently in print and available as modestly priced paperbacks.
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