The Three Kingdoms in an Age of Revolution, 1660–1720 (seminar)

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This was a fall 2003 semester seminar.

The late seventeenth century was a period of upheaval across the British Isles: the three different revolutions in England, Scotland, and Ireland not only dramatically altered the course of historical development within the respective kingdoms but also necessitated a reworking of the relationship between them, thus spawning a fourth "British" revolution that led to the formation of the British State. Drawing on an eclectic range of sources—including contemporary histories, sermons, broadsides, political poetry, and satirical prints—this seminar explored the interconnections between high and low politics across the three kingdoms. Rather than focusing solely on the elite, we emphasized the important interventions of the lower orders across the Britannic archipelago, seeking both to measure the extent to which "the people" really counted and to assess the best methodologies for recapturing popular political sentiment in this period. The seminar also considered whether these upheavals can genuinely be said to be British in the making or whether political developments in Scotland, Ireland, and England simply ran their separate, albeit parallel, paths. Once we set the so-called Glorious Revolution in its appropriate three-kingdoms context, we observed that it was not the tame, tranquil affair often depicted by historians, but rather a major revolution in its own right which fundamentally-and permanently-transformed the nature of the polities across the three British kingdoms.

Director: Tim Harris is Professor of History at Brown University. His books include London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II (1987), Politics under the Later Stuarts (1993), and most recently an edited volume, The Politics of the Excluded, c. 1500–1850 (2001). His British Revolutions: The Making of the Modern Nation, 1660–1720 is forthcoming.