Tag: English History

Book Review: Thomas Cromwell, from Commoner to Britain’s Principal Nobleman

 

Today, many confuse Thomas Cromwell with his distant descendant, Oliver Cromwell. Others were introduced to him in C. J. Sansom’s first two Matthew Shardlake’s historical mystery novels as Henry VIII’s chief, but sinister adviser.

“Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life,” by Diarmaid MacCulloch is a biography of Cromwell who, when remembered is credited with the dissolution of church properties and, along with Thomas Cramner, as one of the twin pillars of Britain’s Protestant Reformation.

MacCulloch provides a fresh appraisal of Cromwell in this book, a man more nuanced than Sansom’s bully, and as significant as Oliver Cromwell. MacCulloch reveals Cromwell receives too much credit for monastic dissolution, and was more equivocal about introducing Protestantism than commonly believed.

The White King: A Narrative Story on the Life of King Charles I

 

England’s King Charles I is often pictured as arrogant, clueless, and stupid. A less common view, offered by Alexandre Dumas in Twenty Years After, portrays him as a noble martyr. Where does the truth lie? The White King: Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr by Leanda de Lisle offers an objective biography of this king.

De Lisle paints a portrait of a Charles Stuart that reveals him more nuanced than the popular image of the man today. He is shown as intelligent and active, acting more out of principle than of self-interest. Indeed, principle would lead to his downfall. As de Lisle shows, he was willing to compromise on many areas, including the power he would exercise as king.

Yet, Charles was unwilling to compromise on religion. His life took place against the backdrop of the Thirty Years’ War, a convulsion driven by religion. Charles viewed himself as “The Defender of the Faith,” the faith being the Anglican church established by Henry VIII. Charles refused aid from France contingent on a conversion to Catholicism, from the Scots if he became Presbyterian, and rejected a settlement with the victorious Parliamentarians because it required changing the established church along Puritan lines.

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What is political philosophy? She is the last great child of nature. People come to see it in different ways according to their bent of thought. Some notice in the speech of Socrates, I know that I don’t know anything, the birth of science & man’s situation in the cosmos. Others notice, in some unpredictable […]

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I was once impractical enough to waste a college credit on a course devoted entirely to the Arthurian legend. Even if the stories were good, the course would have been wasteful. But the stories were not good, to my surprise. It was like reading a soap opera over and over again.  The 1981 film Excalibur […]

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Akira Kurosawa is the most famous of the Japanese directors & one of the directors with an acknowledged, plausible claim to title, greatest director. This is a difficult thing to decide. We have to consider that & why he admired John Ford. If people who admire Kurosawa are right about him, that would suggest John Ford […]

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