'A big historical advance. Ours, it turns out, is a very un-insular "Island Story". And its 17th-century chapter will never look quite the same again' John Adamson, Sunday Times
A ground-breaking portrait of the most turbulent century in English history
Among foreign observers, seventeenth-century England was known as 'Devil-Land': a diabolical country of fallen angels, torn apart by seditious rebellion, religious extremism and royal collapse. Clare Jackson's dazzling, original account of English history's most turbulent and radical era tells the story of a nation in a state of near continual crisis.
As an unmarried heretic with no heir, Elizabeth I was regarded with horror by Catholic Europe, while her Stuart successors, James I and Charles I, were seen as impecunious and incompetent, unable to manage their three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. The traumatic civil wars, regicide and a republican Commonwealth were followed by the floundering, foreign-leaning rule of Charles II and his brother, James II, before William of Orange invaded England with a Dutch army and a new order was imposed.
Devil-Land reveals England as, in many ways, a 'failed state': endemically unstable and rocked by devastating events from the Gunpowder Plot to the Great Fire of London. Catastrophe nevertheless bred creativity, and Jackson makes brilliant use of eyewitness accounts - many penned by stupefied foreigners - to dramatize her great story. Starting on the eve of the Spanish Armada's descent in 1588 and concluding with a not-so 'Glorious Revolution' a hundred years later, Devil-Land is a spectacular reinterpretation of England's vexed and enthralling past.
The book is a big historical advance. Epic in scale, briskly paced and elegantly written, it reveals just how much of the momentum driving the rollercoaster of 17th-century English politics flowed from the religious, cultural and military revolutions that were transforming Europe. Ours, it turns out, is a very un-insular "Island Story". And its 17th-century chapter will never look quite the same again.
The story of the rise and fall of the Stuart dynasty in England, as seen through the eyes of our often confused European neighbours ... Wonderfully clear and original.
Fascinating. This Stuart-centred view from across the Channel of the years 1588-1688 offers a fresh, provocative and highly readable take on one of the most formative centuries of English history.
Wonderful ... So vivid, plunges you into the chaos and the uncertainty, and inevitably has echoes of now. It reminds us that states are not inevitabilities, and that they're formed out of chaos and may go back to the conditions of their formation.