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22 January 1981
Seventeenth-Century Britain 1603-1714 
by J.S. Morrill.
Dawson, 189 pp., £11, May 1980, 0 7129 0839 0
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... of bold type and cross-reference before we learn on page 42 that 195 is an abbreviation for ‘Blair Worden’s brilliant reconstruction of the politics of the Rump Parliament’. My blush of pleasure, deep as it was, faded slightly when I found how many other works are hailed as brilliant too: Morrill’s range of adjectives is not quite equal to his ...
3 April 1997
The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s ‘Arcadia’ and Elizabethan Politics 
by Blair Worden.
Yale, 406 pp., £40, October 1996, 0 300 06693 7
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... by the plan to marry him to the daughter of the hero of the Dutch resistance, William of Orange. Blair Worden puts it neatly: ‘Where Sidney’s plan to marry Orange’s daughter was a pledge of commitment to international Protestantism, Elizabeth’s negotiations with Anjou signalled her repudiation of it’. In the late summer of 1579, with things ...

Past v. Present

Phil Withington: Blair Worden’s Civil War

10 May 2012
God’s Instruments: Political Conduct in the England of Oliver Cromwell 
by Blair Worden.
Oxford, 421 pp., £35, March 2012, 978 0 19 957049 2
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... manifestation was especially violent and decisive. The harbingers of ‘modern scholarship’ (as Blair Worden described them at the time) self-consciously identified themselves as ‘Revisionists’ and labelled extant interpretations as ‘Whig’ or ‘Marxist’. They then condemned these Whig and Marxist interpretations as ...
5 November 1981
History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... Hebrew studies during the century. Republicans seem much concerned with this search for forebears. Blair Worden shows how the republicans of the Long Parliament ransacked the classics for their examples. Richard Cobb catalogues the fantasy figures which adorned the Jacobin imagination. Biographical essays predominate in more recent times – mostly ...

Mighty Causes

Mark Kishlansky: The English Civil Wars

11 June 2009
The English Civil Wars 1640-60 
by Blair Worden.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £12.99, January 2009, 978 0 297 84888 2
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... body in Westminster Abbey. Hardy’s glass-all-empty perspective is brought forcefully to mind by Blair Worden’s dispiriting account of the English civil wars. This, too, is a remarkable work of concision, narrating one of the most crowded series of events in Britain’s long history in little more than 150 pages. It is aimed at the general reader on ...
21 February 1980
Sir Robert Cotton 1586-1631: History and Politics in Early Modern England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Oxford, 293 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198218777
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... In the early 17th century, more perhaps than in any period of our history, political argument was argument about the past: about precedents and about pedigrees. Sir Robert Cotton, an antiquary in politics, is a perfect focus for a study of the connections between antiquarian research and political conflict. History, an anchor in the choppy seas of political and social change, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversy: Cotton, as Mr Sharpe shows, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversial historical evidence ...
4 November 1993
Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain 
edited by Nicholas Phillipson and Quentin Skinner.
Cambridge, 444 pp., £35, March 1993, 9780521392426
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... The front cover and title-page conceal the central fact of Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain, that it is a Festschrift for the historian of political thought J.G.A. Pocock. Publishers are generally wary of Festschrifts, which are liable to interest the recipient’s friends and colleagues more than a wider audience; but this is not an ordinary Festschrift ...

In Myrtle Bowers

Blair Worden: Cavaliers

30 June 2011
Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War 
by John Stubbs.
Viking, 549 pp., £25, February 2011, 978 0 670 91753 2
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... This is a remarkable and tantalising book, luminously evocative, acutely observed, joyously written, intellectually evasive, wilfully unfocused, suicidally diffuse. Who could say, after its 500 or so pages, what it is about? Its unexplained title is presumably a market pitch. The subtitle, perhaps another pitch, lays bare a problem which John Stubbs never grips ...

New Model Criticism

Colin Burrow: Writing Under Cromwell

19 June 2008
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England: John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Marchamont Nedham 
by Blair Worden.
Oxford, 458 pp., December 2007, 978 0 19 923081 5
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... sight, though we can’t just blame Nedham’s copious quill for his blindness – and from 1650, Blair Worden argues, had been collaborating in one way or another with his apparently unprincipled friend. Worden shows how Milton and Marvell, just as much as Nedham, had to trim and adapt themselves to political ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell

21 March 2002
Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... 55,000 people made homeless. In his fine, scholarly, closely argued but clearly written book, Blair Worden traces the downs and ups not just of Cromwell’s reputation but that of the Roundheads from the 17th to the 20th century. Until fairly recently Civil War feelings remained high. ‘We are Cavaliers or Roundheads, before we are Conservatives or ...

Types of Ambiguity

Conrad Russell

22 January 1987
War, Taxation and Rebellion in Early Tudor England: Henry VIII, Wolsey and the Amicable Grant of 1525 
by G.W. Bernard.
Harvester, 164 pp., £25, August 1986, 0 7108 1126 8
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Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500-1550 
by Alistair Fox and John Guy.
Blackwell, 242 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 631 14614 8
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The Union of England and Scotland 1603-1608 
by Bruce Galloway.
John Donald, 208 pp., £20, May 1986, 0 85976 143 6
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Stuart England 
edited by Blair Worden.
Phaidon, 272 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 7148 2391 0
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...  ...

Pens and Heads

Blair Worden: Printing and reading

24 August 2000
The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 707 pp., £14.50, May 2000, 0 226 40122 7
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Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, April 2000, 0 300 08152 9
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... We Should Note,’ Francis Bacon enjoined in his Novum Organum, ‘the force, effect, and consequence’ of three inventions which were unknown to the ancients, ‘namely, printing, gunpowder and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world.’ Since Bacon’s time almost everyone has agreed that the social and cultural impact of printing must have been huge ...
6 February 1997
Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy 1650-68 
by Steven Pincus.
Cambridge, 506 pp., £45, May 1996, 0 521 43487 4
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... To contemporaries, the three Anglo-Dutch naval wars that were fought in the third quarter of the 17th century were epic encounters on which the fate of Europe depended: modern equivalents of Rome’s wars with Carthage or of the Battle of Actium. The size and prowess of the fleets drew astonishment across the continent. So did the thunderous battles, whose scale and drama can still be sensed in the paintings of the Van de Veldes ...

Sexual Whiggery

Blair Worden

7 June 1984
The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in 17th-Century England 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 544 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 297 78381 5
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Family Life in the 17th Century: The Verneys of Claydon House 
by Miriam Slater.
Routledge, 209 pp., £10.50, March 1984, 0 7100 9477 9
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... The history of women has become a lucrative subject. No historical topic offers a better hope of publishers’ contracts, or even, in the United States at least, of academic appointments. Yet if the market is wide, the pitfalls are deep. Some of them have been created by the very forces which have made women’s history fashionable. Just when other forms of Whig history have become discredited, sexual Whiggism has become almost compulsory ...
21 January 1982
The Outbreak of the English Civil War 
by Anthony Fletcher.
Arnold, 446 pp., £24, October 1981, 0 7131 6320 8
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The Royalist War Effort 
by Ronald Hutton.
Longman, £12, October 1981, 0 582 50301 9
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... The political troubles of mid-17th-century England will not go away. Every generation of professional historians – the Victorians Gardiner and Firth, who laid the chronological foundation; the Marxists and the participants in the gentry controversy, who supplied the sociological dimension; the provincialists and the revisionists of the present day – has devoted some of its best research and most lively debate to the Civil War ...

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