On Wednesday 15th March, fifteen year 13 History students travelled to Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, in order to attend a lecture day appraising Stuart Britain from 1603-1702. The students who attended are currently studying the English Revolution 1625-1660 as part of their A-level course, so the lecture day provided a great opportunity to consolidate notes and learn a little more about the background and consequences of this tumultuous period.
The first lecture was comprehensively delivered by Doctor David Coast, a senior lecturer in Early Modern History at Bath Spa University. Coast posed us the question ‘Why did the personal rule of Charles I break down by 1640?’ – a topic and period (Charles’ personal rule extended from 1629-1640) many of us were more familiar with. Interestingly, Coast decidedly came down on the side of the structuralists – that is, it was inevitable that Charles’ personal rule was unsustainable. This was in contrast to other historians (e.g. Kevin Sharpe) who argue that the Personal Rule could have continued indefinitely.
Coast was followed by Dr D J Crankshaw, Kings College London, who gave a more in depth lecture regarding the importance of religious conflict to the outbreak of the civil war. After two hours we broke for lunch, wherein four students departed to play in the CSGS V Hayes School game. A good thing they did, as Chis and Sid won 22-10!
After eating, a third lecture was delivered by Dr David Smith, Selwyn College Cambridge. This was particularly interesting due to Smith’s contemplation on the sequential rulers of Stuart England after our A-level curriculum (which chiefly covers Charles I and Oliver Cromwell); choosing to explore why Charles II (the first son of Charles I) was so much more a successful ruler than James II (the second son of Charles I), highlighting Charles II’s ability to compromise and James II’s reaction to opposition, which ironically echoed Charles I’s approach to handling opposition (which, judging by his infamous execution, can be judged by anyone to be poor).
The final lecture was by Ronald Hutton, an esteemed historian, currently lecturing at Bristol University, who posed the weighty question ‘Why did the Republican Experiment in government fail?’. This was particularly engaging to listen due to the history faculty’s admiration for his work.
The trip proved an edifying experience. Many thanks are due to Mrs Saunt for organising such a beneficial day out and, also, for giving up a valued inset day!
By Maddie, year 13