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Radical Heritage

Conrad Russell, 1 September 1988

Bertrand RussellA Political Life 
by Alan Ryan.
Allen Lane, 226 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 7139 9005 8
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... infallible custodians of his or her political legacy. The fact that Alan Ryan’s view of Bertrand Russell and my own are very closely similar is not, therefore, proof that we are both right. It is merely proof that our perceptions are compatible with a thorough knowledge of the evidence, and perhaps reason for suspecting that he and I view the evidence from ...

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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... The Church shall not so expound one place of Scripture that it shall be repugnant to another. Of all the Thirty-Nine Articles, this is perhaps the most difficult, yet it lays down a scholarly principle which is binding in other contexts than the doctrinal. By the same logical, even if not theological rule, historians may not expound one period in such a way as to make it repugnant to another ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell, 6 December 1984

The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, one of the original ‘amorous sons of Wadham’, perhaps took part in writing an obscene farce called Sodom. Dr Walker drily observes that ‘to assert this twenty years ago would have damaged Rochester’s reputation as much as to deny it today.’ We are certainly more able than many of our predecessors to accept that this poetry was of some importance for its age ...

Masters or Servants

Conrad Russell, 5 July 1984

The Young Richelieu: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Leadership 
by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick.
Chicago, 276 pp., £27.20, December 1983, 0 226 50904 4
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Richelieu and Olivares 
by J.H. Elliott.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 521 26205 4
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... Cardinal Richelieu’s sister did not dare sit down, because she believed she was made of glass. Facts such as this cry out for psychological explanation, and an attempt to provide it has been made by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick, in The Young Richelieu. The attempt is bravely made, and it rests on solid archival research in the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Archives, the British Library and other places ...

Leave it to the teachers

Conrad Russell, 20 March 1997

... This is not how things were done when we were at the schools.’ This is not John Major yearning to get back to basics: it is Pope Innocent IV writing to the schools of Paris in the middle of the 13th century. There is nothing new about politicians aching to stick their noses into the management of education, nor about their belief that because they have received education, they know all about it ...

Draining the Whig bathwater

Conrad Russell, 10 June 1993

The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... This is a big book, not only in the sense that it runs to 954 pages, but also in that it contains a prodigious amount of work. All the familiar sources are here, but Dr Sharpe also draws on many manuscript collections which are less familiar because they are newly available or in remote places. He gives us many valuable ‘unconsidered trifles’. I will not soon forget the man protesting against militia rates who believed England was at peace in 1626, when it was at war with both France and Spain ...

What happened in Havering

Conrad Russell, 12 March 1992

Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering 1500-1620 
by Marjorie Keniston McIntosh.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £50, September 1991, 0 521 38142 8
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... under Edward IV than it became again until late in Elizabeth’s reign, seems to fit Elizabeth Russell’s picture better than it fits Lawrence Stone’s. It was not until after 1600 that it became normal practice for Havering gentlemen to send their sons to university. One of her most striking findings is a clear negative correlation between Puritanism ...

Christendom

Conrad Russell, 7 November 1985

F.W. Maitland 
by G.R. Elton.
Weidenfeld, 118 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 297 78614 8
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Renaissance Essays 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 312 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 436 42511 4
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History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick 
edited by Derek Beales and Geoffrey Best.
Cambridge, 335 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 25486 8
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... This could be called a review of the three Regiuses. G.R. Elton is at present Regius Professor at Cambridge. Owen Chadwick, to whom tribute is paid in a festschrift, is his predecessor in the same chair, while Lord Dacre of Glanton, more commonly known as Professor Trevor-Roper, is the recently retired Regius Professor at Oxford. From this conjunction, a classical or prophetic scholar would no doubt bring forth a portent: if the conjunction of three kings signified so much, what might the conjunction of three Regiuses symbolise? Perhaps this is a line a mere reviewer should not pursue too far, for there are many other things to be said about these works ...

Joining them

Conrad Russell, 24 January 1985

Goodwin Wharton 
by J. Kent Clark.
Oxford, 408 pp., £15, November 1984, 0 19 212234 7
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Witchcraft and Religion 
by Christina Larner.
Blackwell, 184 pp., October 1984, 0 631 13447 6
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Lordship to Patronage: Scotland 1603-1745 
by Rosalind Mitchison.
Arnold, 198 pp., £5.95, November 1983, 0 7131 6313 5
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... Goodwin Wharton is a fascinating and amusing figure, but he is sui generis: the same things which make his flirtations with the occult such amusing reading also make it difficult to compare his doings with those of anyone else. He is a figure of the same chronological vintage as Sir Isaac Newton, dabbling in alchemy and gravity by turns, and he exhibits a perhaps comparable mixture (though in very different proportions) of the open-minded and the credulous ...

Items on a New Agenda

Conrad Russell, 23 October 1986

Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Maria Dowling.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 7099 0864 4
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Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance 
by Roy Strong.
Thames and Hudson, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 500 01375 6
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Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 
by Derek Hirst.
Arnold, 390 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 7131 6155 8
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Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660 
by G.E. Aylmer.
Oxford, 274 pp., £12.50, February 1986, 0 19 219179 9
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Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
by J.P. Sommerville.
Longman, 254 pp., £6.95, April 1986, 9780582494329
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... These five books represent something of a cross-section of current work on Tudor and Stuart English history, and they give a picture of how fundamentally the agenda for discussion in this field has changed over the past twenty-five years. Yet the point they mark in the development of the subject is not a total revolution: it is a sort of historiographical 1654, a mood in which the interesting question is seen to be, not whether the new approaches are valid, but how much of the old may be seen to have survived their onslaught ...

Real Power

Conrad Russell, 7 August 1986

Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 
by David Underdown.
Oxford, 324 pp., £17.50, November 1985, 0 19 822795 7
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The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics 
by David Starkey.
George Philip, 174 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 540 01093 6
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... These books are both attempts, by oblique routes, to explain major events in English history: in one case the Civil War, and in the other the Reformation. That, however, is where the resemblance between them ends: for the rest, it would be hard to find a more extreme contrast in historical methods. Professor Underdown, as he makes clear in his preface, sees no virtue in attempts at explanation of the Civil War which concentrate on political events at the centre ...

Losers

Conrad Russell, 4 October 1984

The Experience of Defeat: Milton and Some Contemporaries 
by Christopher Hill.
Faber, 342 pp., £12.50, July 1984, 0 571 13237 5
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... The point Mr Hill makes in his title is one he has made before, yet it bears repetition. By 1660, and in many cases before, the radical causes which make the middle of the 17th century such an exciting period for the historian of ideas had been defeated. Advocates of these causes were forced to explain to themselves why they had lost, why ‘new presbyter is but old priest writ large,’ or why the Saints had visibly failed to reign ...

They would not go away

Conrad Russell, 30 March 1989

England’s Iconoclasts: Laws against Images 
by Margaret Aston.
Oxford, 548 pp., £48, July 1988, 0 19 822438 9
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... This is a much-needed book. Perhaps no issue, not even those much-discussed issues of Justification by Faith and election, is as central to the debates of the first century of the English Reformation as that of idols or images. In this case, everything is in the word, for one man’s image was another man’s idol: for one, the terms were almost synonyms, while for another they were as opposite as God and the Devil ...

Maypoles

Conrad Russell, 5 September 1985

The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales 1658-1667 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 379 pp., £17.50, June 1985, 0 19 822698 5
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... During the years 1659-60, England enjoyed (if that is the right word) more constitutions than in the whole of the remaining eleven hundred and more years of its history as a united country. In an age when historians looking for subjects are almost as thick on the ground as subjects looking for historians, the most remarkable fact about this book is that it remained to be written ...

Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... Conrad Russell was a nephew of the ninth Duke of Bedford: every publisher in Great Russell Street and Bedford Square must have wanted to publish his selected letters, if only from simple loyalty to the landowner. Russell’s life was not remarkable, on the surface ...

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