Sunday, September 23, 2012

Five notable books on the English Revolution of 1688

Steven Pincus is professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of The Politics of the Public Sphere in Early Modern England, Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668, and England’s Glorious Revolution: A Brief History with Documents.

His latest book, 1688: The First Modern Revolution, has won a number of prizes, including the 2010 Morris D. Forkosch Prize given by the American Historical Association.

With Sophie Roell at The Browser, Pincus discussed five top books on the English Revolution of 1688, including:
The Revolution of 1688 in England
by JR Jones

What does the next book, JR Jones’s The Revolution of 1688 in England, bring to the table? This was published in 1972, you mentioned.

Jones made two really significant contributions. The first was to point out that a number of former Whigs, people who had been active in trying to remove James II from the throne, were willing to work with James once he promoted his Declaration of Indulgence. So there are Whig collaborators with James’s regime, which, again, puts pressure on seeing it straightforwardly as a Protestant-Catholic struggle. The second contribution Jones made was to go back to something which Macaulay had done, which had fallen out in Trevelyan’s work, which was the international context of diplomatic struggles and how those made it important, from William’s perspective, to get involved in the British situation. I learned a great deal from both of these contributions.

One point I would make about the foreign policy issue is that Jones’s assumption was that these diplomatic issues motivated European actors. They explain why William wanted to get involved in Britain, but weren’t an issue for Britons, because Britons didn’t care about what was going on on the Continent. In my view, Britons cared deeply about what was going on on the Continent. The transformation of foreign policy – that turned England from an anti-Dutch alignment to an anti-French alignment – was something that a lot of people in Britain actually wanted and was on their agenda long before William came on the scene. In fact, part of the reason they wanted William was because they supported William’s foreign policy. It wasn’t William who imposed it on them.
Read about another book Pincus tagged at The Browser.

The Page 99 Test: 1688: The First Modern Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue