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New Left Review I/207, September-October 1994


John Morrill

Conflict Probable or Inevitable?

Tudor and Stuart historians have got back into the habit of writing very big books. Thus in the past two years, Kevin Sharpe’s The Personal Rule of Charles I took a thousand pages to present an apologia for Charles I’s Personal Rule, Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars took over six hundred pages to lament the overthrow of mediaeval English piety, and Conrad Russell almost six hundred pages to chronicle The Fall of the British Monarchies 1637–1642. Now Robert Brenner has joined in with his 734 pages on Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders 1550–1653. It is, for the most part, an enjoyable and challenging read. It is a book which explicitly seeks to challenge the ‘revisionist’ historiography of the past twenty years. I am identified throughout the book as a leading revisionist and it was generous of the editor of this journal to invite me to offer my response to a book which politely and fairly seeks to undermine much of what I have published. Readers should be aware that I am parti pris.

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