Skip to main content

History: Tudor-Stuart Britain

History: Tudor-Stuart Britain

History: Tudor-Stuart Britain

Course Description

The 16th & 17th centuries remain one of the most interesting, turbulent and important periods in British history. During these two centuries, Britain was transformed from a medieval kingdom of middling power and frequent disorder into a united nation preaching the benefits of parliamentary sovereignty, limited royal power, and religious toleration. Of course, getting there was not easy. These centuries saw not only the colorful reigns of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Charles II, but religious, social, and political upheaval. Henry VIII shattered the religious unity of Britain when he left the Catholic church in search of a new wife and heir. Subsequently, religion in Britain became both more diverse, with the rise of Puritans and other sects, and more divisive. Only after 1660 was some rough toleration and religious peace found.

While Parliament had its origins in the Middle Ages, under the Tudor monarchs it gained authority; powers it jealously protected when the early Stuarts attempted to establish absolutism in the 17th century. Civil War resulted, Charles I lost his head (literally), and England was briefly a republic without a king. Eventually a monarch was restored, but a revolution in 1688 brought about the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, parliamentary sovereignty and religious toleration.

During these centuries, Britain also experience significant social and cultural changes. The rise of the landed gentry challenged the traditional dominance of aristocrats in the country in the 16th C. and the Commercial Revolution saw new urban elites emerge in the 17th C. Profits and trade increased, leaving Britain a wealthier nation. As part of commercial expansion, amongst other reasons, colonies were acquired and the Royal Navy strengthened, leaving Britain wealthier and more powerful. One consequence of this prosperity was a golden age of the arts-from Shakespeare and Spenser to the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire.

This course will explore these diverse developments not only in the classroom, but by exploring London. The exact schedule is yet to be finalized but likely visits include Hampton Court (one of Henry VIII's palaces), a Tudor country house such as Hatfield House (the home of the Cecil family, chief advisors to Elizabeth I), the Globe Theatre, St. Paul's Cathedral, plus Cambridge University and the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to explore the impact of Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution. We will also visit several of the art galleries and museums within London and hear from distinguished experts on aspects of Tudor-Stuart history.

Background for Dr. Derek Blakeley

Dr. Derek Blakeley
Dr. Derek Blakeley is an Assistant Professor of History at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, and holds a Ph.D. in British History from Washington University in St. Louis. He first visited England when he was ten years old and has loved it-and had the Tube map pretty much memorized-ever since! Teaching this course in 2011 will mark his 11th trip to Britain, including a two-year stay while conducting his dissertation research in the early 1990s. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge and experience with students from all the schools within the Midwestern consortium.

A draft syllabus may be found on the Midwestern website.

For further information contact:

Dr. Derek W. Blakeley
Asst. Professor of History
Box 92860
McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA 70609

Phone: 337-475-5593