With Professor Bucholz, you find yourself in the hallway outside the bedchamber of Queen Anne on the night of July 27, 1714, next to the loyal servants who clearly hear the sounds of their beloved monarch weeping.
That day, the queen had been left with no choice but to demand the resignation of her Lord Treasurer, Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, the greatest politician of his era and the last of the original ministers she had chosen when assuming the throne.It is a frankly stunning moment and a vivid portrait of Queen Anne. This plain and sickly woman lacked the star quality of Elizabeth. Little had been expected of her when she took the throne 12 years earlier; yet she nevertheless forged the most successful reign of any Stuart monarch, becoming a strong and effective queen with an instinctive love for and understanding of her people.
Professor Bucholz explains that the two most successful reigns of this period were those of women, Queen Anne on the Stuart side, and, on the Tudor side, Elizabeth—the "Virgin Queen." Moreover, they did this in the face of a century of belief in the Great Chain of Being, the immutable hierarchy in which every person at birth had a clearly defined and accepted rank, To challenge it in any form was a grave sin.
Professor Bucholz takes you to the floor of Parliament during the contentious debate over the fate of Charles I, with Oliver Cromwell thundering, "I tell you, I will cut off his head with the crown on it!"; then to the king’s final meeting with his youngest sons where he asks them to preserve the monarchy; and, finally, to the execution itself, the march to the block taking Charles directly underneath a painting of James I on the ceiling of Whitehall Palace—his own father portrayed as a deified monarch.
This was far more than great theater. For England had, for the first time, "judicially and publicly murdered" its monarch, literally "lopping off [Earth’s] highest link in the Great Chain of Being" and created, for the only time in its history, a Republic.
Repercussions across the Ocean
It was during this time England became a world power and, in the process, established its American colonies. That culture of early-modern England is our root culture, and many of our institutions, laws, customs, and traditions can be traced back to that time and place.
In particular, the civil wars, revolutions, and parliamentary and legal battles described in this course led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, rule of law, the rights to trial by jury and habeas corpus, the first modern political parties, and a kind of popular participation in politics that would lead, ultimately, to democracies on both sides of the Atlantic.
"For these reasons," states Professor Bucholz, "this is not only an interesting course in its own right, it is also one with direct relevance for 21st-century Americans."
Course Lecture Titles
1. England 1485—1714, the First Modern Country
2. The Land and Its People in 1485—I
3. The Land and Its People in 1485—II
4. The Land and Its People in 1485—III
5. Medieval Prelude—1377-1455
6. Medieval Prelude—1455-85
7. Establishing the Tudor Dynasty—1485-97
8. Establishing the Tudor Dynasty—1497-1509
9. Young King Hal—1509—27
10. The King's Great Matter—1527-30
11. The Break from Rome—1529-36
12. A Tudor Revolution—1536-47
13. The Last Years of Henry VIII—1540-47
14. Edward VI—1547-53
15. Mary I—1553-58
16. Young Elizabeth-1558
17. The Elizabethan Settlement—1558-68
18. Set in a Dangerous World—1568-88
19. Heart and Stomach of a Queen—1588-1603
20. The Land and Its People in 1603
21. Private Life—The Elite
22. Private Life—The Commoners
23. The Ties that Bound
24. Order and Disorder
25. Towns, Trade, and Colonization
27. The Elizabethan and Jacobean Age
28. Establishing the Stuart Dynasty—1603-25
29. The Ascendancy of Buckingham—1614-28
30. Religion and Local Control—1628-37
31. Crisis of the Three Kingdoms—1637-42
32. The Civil Wars—1642-49
33. The Search for a Settlement—1649-53
34. Cromwellian England—1653-60
35. The Restoration Settlement—1660-70
36. The Failure of the Restoration—1670-78
37. The Popish Plot and Exclusion—1678-85
38. A Catholic Restoration? 1685-88
39. The Glorious Revolution—1688-89
40. King William's War—1689-92
41. King William's War—1692-1702
42. Queen Anne and the Rage of Party—1702
43. Queen Anne's War—1702-10
44. Queen Anne's Peace—1710-14
45. Hanoverian Epilogue—1714-30
46. The Land and Its People in 1714-I
47. The Land and Its People in 1714-II
48. The Meaning of English History—1485-1714