Studies in History was founded by Sir Geoffrey Elton in 1975 and re-launched in 1995, with the support of the Economic History Society and the Past and Present Society.
Studies in History Series established itself as one of the principal publishers of monographs by early-career historians across the full breadth of the discipline and launched the careers of many distinguished historians. After forty years of successful publishing in this form, Studies in History drew to a close in 2020, with the launch of our new open access book series, New Historical Perspectives.
If you are an early career scholar and would like to publish your monograph with the RHS, please consider submitting a proposal to New Historical Perspectives.
Luke Blaxill, The War of Words: the Language of British Elections, 1880 – 1922 (2020)
The late nineteenth and early twentieth century have been widely eulogised as a “golden age” of popular platform oratory. This book considers the language of British elections – especially stump speeches – during this period. It employs a “big data” methodology inspired by computational linguistics, using text-mining to analyse over five million words delivered by Conservative, Liberal and Labour candidates in the nine elections that took place in this period. It systematically and authoritatively quantifies how and how far key issues, values, traditions and personalities manifested themselves in wider party discourse.The author reassesses a number of central historical debates, arguing that historians have considerably underestimated the transformative impact of the 1883-5 reforms on rural party language, and the purchase of Joseph Chamberlain’s Unauthorized Programme; that the centrality of Home Rule and Imperialism in the late 1880s and 1890s have been exaggerated; and that the New Liberalism’s linguistic impact was relatively weak, failing to contain the message of the emerging Labour alternative.
Tom Hulme, After the Shock City: Urban Culture and the Making of Modern Citizenship (2019)
After the Shock City is a comparative and transnational study of urban culture in Britain and the US from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Using the industrial cities of Manchester and Chicago as case studies, the book traces the idea of ‘citizenship’ across different areas of local life – from philosophy and festivals to historical re-enactment and public housing. Coalitions of voluntary associations, municipal government and local elites lambasted modern urban culture as the cause of social disintegration. But rather than simply decanting the population to new and smaller settlements they tried to re-imagine a reformed city as a place that could foster loyal and healthy communities. Celebrating civic progress in the period since the ‘shock city’ of the nineteenth century, they sought to create a sense of local pride that could bracket growing class and racial tensions. The diverse individuals, groups and communities of the city reacted in different ways to this message. Some jumped on board, happy to gather under the identity of one civic banner. Others, held back by discriminatory structures of society, chose to shape their own idea of citizenship – one that looked far beyond the city for a sense of belonging and rights. Historians have tended to emphasise the rise of national identity, state centralisation and popular patriotism at the expense of distinctive local identities, municipal autonomy and expressions of civic pride. After the Shock City redresses this imbalance and demonstrates how local ideas of belonging could still exert a powerful hold until at least the 1930s.
George Southcombe, The Wonders of the Lord: the Culture of Dissent in Restoration England (2019).
Over the past generation, scholars have offered a much deeper and more persuasive account of the centrality of religious issues in shaping the political and cultural worlds of Restoration England. However, in this work the voices of individual dissenters have not always been clearly heard. This book offers a fresh and challenging new approach to those that the confessional state of Restoration England had no prospect of silencing. it provides case studies of a range of very different but highly articulate dissenters, focusing on their modes of political activism, and on the varieties of dissenting response to the Restoration. Each case study demonstrates the vitality and integrity of witnesses to a spectrum of post-revolutionary Protestantism. This book seeks, through an exploration of textual culture, to illuminate both the varied ways in which Nonconformists sought to engage with central authorities in Church and State, and the development of Nonconformist identities during the period. It is necessarily interdisciplinary in approach and includes close readings of a large number of literary – particularly poetic – texts. It also contributes to wider historiographical debates concerning the significance of print culture and the relationship of ‘popular’ culture and theology.
Ceri Law, Contested Reformations in the University of Cambridge, c.1535-84
The University of Cambridge has long been heralded as the nursery of the English Reformation: a precociously evangelical and then puritan Tudor institution. Spanning fifty years and four reigns and based on extensive archival research, this book reveals a much more nuanced experience of religious change in this unique community. Instead of Protestant triumph, there were multiple, contested responses to royal religious policy across the sixteenth century. The University’s importance as both a symbol and an agent of religious change meant that successive regimes and politicians worked hard to stamp their visions of religious uniformity onto it. It was also equipped with some of England’s most talented theologians and preachers. Yet in the maze of the collegiate structure, the conformity they sought proved frustratingly elusive. The religious struggles which this book traces reveal not only the persistence of real doctrinal conflict in Cambridge throughout the Reformation period, but also more complex patterns of accommodation, conformity and resistance shaped by social, political and institutional context. As well as an important new perspective on this critical intellectual and religious community, this book also provides broader insights on the conflicted nature of religious change in sixteenth-century England.
Michelle Beer, Queenship at the Renaissance Courts of Britain: Catherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor, 1503-1533
Catherine of Aragon (r.1509-1533) and her sister-in-law Margaret Tudor (r.1503-1513) presided as queens over the glittering sixteenth-century courts of England and Scotland, alongside their husbands Henry VIII of England and James IV of Scotland. Although we know a great deal about these two formidable sixteenth-century kings, yet we understand very little about how their two queens contributed to their reigns. How did these young, foreign women become effective and trusted consorts, and powerful political figures in their own right? This book argues that Catherine and Margaret’s performance of queenship combined medieval queenly virtues with the new opportunities for influence and power offered by Renaissance court culture. Royal rituals such as childbirth and the Royal Maundy, courtly spectacles such as tournaments, banquets, and diplomatic summits, or practices such as arranged marriages and gift-giving, were all moments when Catherine and Margaret could assert their honour, status and identity as queens. Their husbands’ support for their activities at court helped bring them the influence and patronage necessary to pursue their own political goals and obtain favour and rewards for their servants and followers. Situating Catherine and Margaret’s careers within the history of the royal courts of England and Scotland and amongst their queenly peers, this book reveals these two queens as intimately connected agents of political influence and dynastic power
David Parrish, Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic world, 1688–1727
The first half of the Britain’s long eighteenth century was a period fraught with conflicts ranging from civil wars (1688-1691) to a series of Jacobite plots, intrigues and rebellions. It was also a formative period marked by substantial changes including the growth and centralisation of an empire and the maturation of party politics and the public sphere. Covering almost forty years of this colourful history over an expansive geographical range, David Parrish examines the existence and meaning of Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism throughout Britain’s Atlantic empire. Drawing on a diverse source base, Parrish ably captures the essence of the transatlantic, tripartite relationship between politics, religion and the public sphere thus contributing to our understandings of the Anglicization of the British Atlantic world.
Barbara Gribling, The Black Prince in Georgian and Victorian England: negotiating the late medieval past
During the Georgian and Victorian periods, the fourteenth-century hero Edward the Black Prince became an object of cultural fascination and celebration; he and his battles played an important part in a wider reimagining of the British as a martial people, reinforced by an interest in chivalric character and a burgeoning nationalism. Drawing on a wealth of literature, histories, drama, art and material culture, this book explores the uses of Edward’s image in debates about politics, character, war and empire, assessing the contradictory meanings ascribed to the late Middle Ages in Georgian and Victorian culture as a time of heroic virtues, chivalric escapades, royal power and parliamentary development, adding to a growing literature on Georgian uses of the past by exposing an active royal and popular investment in the medieval. It reveals that the Middle Ages was contested terrain in Victorian Britain, disputing frequent modern assumptions that the Victorians saw the medieval period as an idealised and unproblematic past.
Robert Portass, The Village World of Early Medieval Spain
In the early eighth century, the Muslim general Tariq ibn Ziyad led his forces across the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula. Yet alongside the flourishing kingdom of al-Andalus, the small Christian realm of Asturias-León endured in the northern mountains. In this book, Robert Portass charts the social, economic and political development of Asturias-León from the Islamic conquest to 1031. Applying a forensic comparative method, which examines the abundant charter material from two regions of northern Spain – the Liébana valley in Cantabria, and the Celanova region of southern Galicia – this book sheds new light on village society, the workings of government, and the constant swirl of buying, selling and donating that marked the rhythms of daily life. It maps the contact points between rulers and ruled, offering new insights on the motivations and actions of both peasant proprietors and aristocrats. This book is of interest to historians of rural society, economic development, and governing structures across early medieval Europe.
Ripon Minster was St Wilfrid’s church, and its vast parish at the edge of the Yorkshire dales was his domain, his memory living on among the people of his parish centuries after his death. Wilfrid was a saint for all seasons: his three feast days punctuated the cycle of the agricultural year and an annual procession sought his blessings on the growing crops each May. This procession brought together many of the parish’s earthly lords – the clergy and the gentry – as they carried the relics of their celestial patron. In death they hoped that they too would be remembered, and so remain a part of parish society for as long as their tombs survived or prayers were said for them in the church of Ripon.This book charts the developments in the practice of religion, and in particular the commemoration of the deceased, from the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries in this important parish. In particular, it shows how the twin necessities of honouring the minster’s patron saint and remembering the parish dead had a profound effect on the practice of religion in late medieval Ripon, shaping everything from the ritual calendar to weekly and daily religious routines. It provides, moreover, insights into the state of English religion on the eve of the Reformation.
Benjamin Dabby, Women as public moralists in Britain: from the Bluestockings to Virginia Woolf
This book explores the ways in which a tradition of women moralists in Britain shaped public debates about the nation’s moral health, and men’s and women’s responsibility to ensure it. It focusses on the role played by eight of the most significant of these women moralists whose writing on history, literature, and visual art changed contemporaries’ understanding of the lessons to be drawn from each field at the same time as they contested and redefined contemporary understandings of masculinity and femininity. In chapters which examine the critical interventions made by Anna Jameson, Hannah Lawrance, Margaret Oliphant, Marian Evans (‘George Eliot’), Eliza Lynn Linton, Beatrice Hastings, Rebecca West, and Virginia Woolf, Benjamin Dabby recovers these writers’ understanding of themselves as part of a tradition of women of letters stretching from eighteenth-century bluestockings to their own time, and the growing consensus in this period across the political range of periodicals that women’s intellectual potential was equal to men’s, and not determined by their sex. Women as public moralists in Britain represents an important new direction in debates about modern British cultural history, and sheds new light on the bluestocking legacy, the place of women in the public sphere and the development of feminism in Britain’s ‘long nineteenth century’.
The electoral reforms of 1883–5 created a mass electorate and transformed English political culture. A new breed of professional organisers emerged in the constituencies in the form of full-time party agents, who handled registration, electioneering and the day-to-day political, social and educational work of local parties. This book examines the agents not only as political figures, but also as men (and occasionally women) determined to establish their status as professionals. Studying this previously neglected group provides a fresh perspective on the evolution of the modern British political system, shedding new light on debates about how effectively the Liberal and Conservative parties adapted to the challenges of mass politics after 1885. Professional agents performed a vital role as intermediaries between ‘high’ politics at Westminster and ‘low’ politics in the localities. This ground-breaking study addresses key questions about the nationalisation of electoral politics in this period, demonstrating the importance of understanding the interactions between the centre and the constituencies. It shows that while the agents’ professional networks contributed to a growing uniformity in certain aspects of party organisation, local forces continued to play a vital role in British political life. Overall, the focus on this previously neglected group provides a fresh perspective on the evolution of the modern British political system, shedding new light on debates about how effectively the Liberal and Conservative parties adapted to the challenges of mass politics after 1885.
Stephen Brogan, The royal touch in early modern England: politics, medicine and sin
The royal touch was the religious healing ceremony at which the monarch stroked the sores on the face and necks of people who had scrofula in order to heal them in imitation of Christ. The rite was practised by all the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns apart from William iii, reaching its zenith during the Restoration when some 100,000 people were touched by Charles II and James II. This ground-breaking book, the first devoted to the royal touch for almost a century, integrates political, religious, medical and intellectual history. The practice is analysed from above and below: the royal touch projected monarchical authority, but at the same time the great demand for it created numerous problems for those organising the ceremony. The healing rite is situated in the context of a number of early modern debates, including the cessation of miracles and the nature of the body politic. The book also assesses contemporary attitudes towards the royal touch, from belief through ambivalence to scepticism. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources including images, coins, medals, and playing cards, as well as manuscripts and printed texts, it provides an important new perspective on the evolving relationship between politics, medicine and sin in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England.
Elma Brenner, Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen
Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, Rouen was one of the greatest cities in western Europe. The effective capital of the ‘Angevin Empire’ between 1154 and 1204 and thereafter a leading city in the realm of the Capetian kings of France, medieval Rouen experienced periods of growth and stagnation, the emergence of communal government, and the ravages of plague and the Hundred Years’ War. In this book, Elma Brenner examines the impact of leprosy upon Rouen during this period, and the key role played by charity in the society and religious culture of the city and its hinterland. Based upon very extensive archival research, the book offers a new understanding of responses to disease and disability in medieval Europe. It explores the relationship between leprosy, charity and practices of piety, and considers how leprosy featured in growing concerns about public health. This work will be of great interest to historians of urban society, medicine, religious culture and gender in the Middle Ages, as well as those studying medieval France.