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English Essays | Free Essays on English

- College Essays" border="0" height="29" width="66">The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ('Roundheads') and Royalists ('Cavaliers') in the Kingdom of England over, principally, the manner of its government.

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In an engaging essay that has hitherto often been overlooked, Collinson reinvestigates what he calls the ‘Elizabethan exclusion crisis’. Here, he argues that the sustained attempt of much of the political nation to prevent the ascension of Mary Queen of Scots to the English throne bears a striking resemblance to the better known Restoration events of the same name. Highlighting the 1584 Bond of Association and an association discovered in the Earl of Shaftesbury’s possessions in 1681, he claims that the two exclusion crises had five common characteristics. These were a popular fear of Catholicism, the attempt to exclude a Catholic successor from the throne, the fear of arbitrary government, the divergence of the interests of the political nation from those of the monarch, and the presence of a Sidney (Sir Philip Sydney in the 16th century, and in the following century, his grand-nephew, Algernon Sidney). Moreover, Collinson notes that those living through the crisis of the 1680s themselves looked back on Elizabethan politics to explain and justify their own situation. The republication of this piece urges scholars, once again, to reconsider the nature and longstanding importance of the debates surrounding Mary Queen of Scots and her captivity. This is a worthy endeavour, but many will agree that historians should proceed with caution on this difficult terrain. There is a danger in attempting to draw too close parallels because of that major historical schism that stands between the two crises: the civil wars and interregnum. By the 1680s, two decades disruption had taught people to fear Protestant dissenters as much as they feared Catholics. Equally important, although Collinson convincingly argues for independent capacity among the political nation during the 16th century, one cannot deny that after the Restoration, the size of that political nation and the way in which political action was organized had changed dramatically.

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English Essay Writing

This volume collects and revises a series of articles by Patrick Collinson, which were first published between 1994 and 2009. It therefore systematically assembles a number of previously independent arguments, in order to provide a coherent vision of the way 16th-century Englishmen – and most of Collinson’s subjects are men – imagined their nation. Although the germs of these ideas were initially delivered together as a lecture series given at the University of Richmond, Virginia, this book represents the first time that his mature thoughts appear together in print. This England examines parliamentary outbursts, personal correspondence, religious texts and histories, highlighting the importance of patriotism, language, religion, and history along the way. After reading the book, one is left with the sense that Elizabethans were indeed constantly defining themselves as active, Protestant, and specifically English, citizens. The problem was that this act of self-definition could induce compromise through gruelling but constructive exchanges, or divide the nation as competing visions of Protestantism and polity clashed in multiple forums.

It is also worth noting that This England is less about post-Reformation religious culture – the work Collinson is most famous for – and more about his recent interest in early modern English politics and self-fashioning. Collectively, the essays therefore present a history of England, not the British Isles as a whole. Collinson himself admits this, very pointedly stating that despite the utility of what is generally referred to as the ’New British History’ for answering certain questions, his questions are about the nation, and ‘there has never been a British nation’ (p. 3). Although scholars like Linda Colley might take issue with such a statement, it is nonetheless refreshing to see an author stake his claim, for better or for worse. Moreover, Collinson does not deny England’s place within a larger system. He merely seeks to investigate, more specifically, how England viewed itself as a participant in that system and in the world at large.

Essays on England: Common Topics for Discussion

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Overall, the collection gives the sense that Elizabethans succeeded in constructing a nation and not just a kingdom, despite Benedict Anderson’s famous assertion that nationalism is a modern phenomenon. Collinson demonstrates that the political community was active and engaged, and that certain ideas, texts, and moments in history served as rallying points around which an English national identity could form. The problem, though, was that this identity was an unstable one, and Collinson illuminates the fissures in Protestant discourses about the nation, and in the ways in which histories might reflect religious and political fault lines. For him, this explains why the nation eventually collapsed into civil war. But this ignores the problem of whether such constructions are ever entirely coherent and stable. Contradictions abound in any identity – individual or social, past, present and dare I say future – so what made the inconsistencies in the 16th-century English identity so problematic? To be fair, this is not a question that Collinson set out to answer, and it is the mark of a good book that it raises as many questions as it poses.

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Example English Language Essays - UK Essays | UKEssays

The book is not divided into sections, but the essays do fall into three broadly based themes: Elizabethan high-political debates about what the nation should be, the link between Protestantism and English identity, and the nation as constructed through history. The first thematic section includes chapters one through five, and although Collinson’s classic essay on the Elizabethan monarchical republic does not appear, readers are asked to engage with arguments that rely on the assumption of an active political community composed of citizens and not subjects. Consistently, then, Collinson argues that while Sir John Neale made too much of political divisions, Sir Geoffrey Elton underplayed them. Unsurprisingly, these contests are said to have taken place in a world where religion and politics were inextricably intertwined. However, religious differences did not translate simply into court factionalism, and Collinson reminds historians that religious pluralism and occasional conformity were designed to mask religious diversity and facilitate political cooperation. At other times religious differences translated more clearly into political confrontations – as during the 1578 progress – or political pragmatism divided otherwise unified religious impulses – as with the question of sending aid to Dutch rebels. These complex divisions existed throughout the politically engaged community, and continued to manifest after Elizabeth’s death through the histories produced about her reign.

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Chapters six through eight function as a discussion of Protestantism and the nation, dedicating considerable space to John Foxe and his Acts and Monuments, after examining the nature of prophetic preaching. Chapter six thus reminds scholars of Collinson’s classic argument; that prophetic preaching, by its very nature, brought the nation together as a type of new Israel, but also provided the framework used by the godly when distinguishing themselves from the community at large. The prophetic mode, he claims, was thus ‘corrosive and divisive’ (p. 183). Several times throughout the collection Collinson suggests that this fundamental division in the nation was of central importance to the upheavals of the next century, returning to a more longue durée approach to the causes of the civil wars. This is part of a general attempt, already noted above, to link the histories of the 16th and 17th centuries after revisionism’s insistence on contingency and the importance of short-term causation had effectively severed the tie between them. Such comments remind us that a balance does indeed need to be established between too wide and too narrow a historical lens. Most would agree, however, that finding this balance is painstaking work, and this speaks to the one failing of This England. As each chapter has previously had to stand alone, none of the essays were composed with the luxury of the numerous pages required to explain the complex relationship between events separated by decades, leaving the proposed connections unrefined.

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