Ideas and Politics in Early Stuart England

Kevin Sharpe reassesses the role that ideology, rhetoric and intellectual discussion played in the upheavals of seventeenth-century England.

Where have all the ideas gone? In recent years this has been not so much the question asked but the lament expressed by some historians of early modern England. Most obviously the older generation of historians, such as J.H. Hexter and Lawrence Stone, who themselves lived through the ideological ferment of the 1930s, have denounced, at times emotionally, recent revisionist interpretations of the seventeenth century in which faction and interest feature more than passion and principle. But their complaints have also been echoed by some younger scholars, whose own experience of the 1960s perhaps sharpened a sense that issues and principles deserve a more prominent place in any history of the decades before the English Civil War

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