King Henry VIII, credit duncan1890, courtesy of Getty Images

This module explores the main political, religious and social developments in Britain in the period 1485 to 1660. Starting with an analysis of the emergence of the Tudor dynasty and the great political and social upheaval of the Reformation it traces the effects of this on the ‘three kingdoms’ and the popular reaction to the changes. It looks at the structures of power, the growth of the state; the advent of print and popular politics; exploration and new ways of understanding the world. This module is designed to allow students to develop their research, presentation and writing skills. Work for this module will involve the acquiring of more detailed historical knowledge through a wide range and amount of reading in specialised historical literature and sources. 

Students taking this module will have the opportunity to read key documents of the period such as Elizabeth I’s ‘Armada Speech’ at Tilbury in 1588. They will also engage with society at different levels and not just at the elite level. Contemporary primary sources that highlight the concerns of ordinary people about issues such as the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries will also be utilised. The Tudor and Stuart period of British history offers students the opportunity to read some of the most exciting and innovative historical research. Each year the university hosts a number of major speakers in these fields (students may attend these talks for free). In recent years speakers have included Anna Whitelock, John Morrill, Ann Hughes and Angela McShane among others. Students taking this module also have the opportunity to go on a series of local and national field trips each year to places of relevance to the module. Recent trips included visits to the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth and a pre-Reformation church at Bere Ferrers.

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Henry VII - Tudor monarchy
  • Henry VIII – politics, culture, society and the Reformation
  • Mid Tudor Crisis – reigns of Edward VI and Mary I
  • Elizabeth I – gender, politics, religion and Reformation
  • James I – politics and culture
  • Charles I and Oliver Cromwell – Wars of the Three Kingdoms
  • Charles II – sex, power and culture