British History I (HY381) Class Blog for Fall 2014

Welcome to HY381! This is one of my latest class experiments. History majors go on to many different types of jobs; only a relatively small percentage become professional historians. Therefore, we should get familiar with the types of technologies and genres of writing you may encounter outside the classroom. Hence, this blog exists.

Your assignment this semester is two-fold.

First, you need to listen to at least one (1) of the BBC podcasts posted on Course Connect. These are all from the show In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg ( There are a lot of them posted – you only need to listen to one! Then you need to write a polished blog post for this site on the basis of the podcast. These should be at least 300 words long. This can be a summary of the podcast contents, your response to the podcast, further research you did on the topic, etc. You can write pretty much anything as long as it indicates somehow that you actually listened to the podcast. Note that I will be asking a question about whatever podcast you chose on your mid-term. Be sure to properly cite (in text) any quotations, paraphrases, summaries, or images that you use in your blog post. Your first blog post is due prior to the class held before the mid-term.

Second, you need to write a second blog post too. This can either be some topic somehow related to something in British history between 10,000 BC and 1689 or it can be a second podcast post. You can pick. In either case, your second post also needs to be at least 300 words long and properly cite (in text) any quotations, paraphrases, summaries, or images that you use. Your second blog post is due prior to the class held before the final exam. Some question related to your blog post will appear on your final exam.

If you do more than the two required blog posts, I will give you extra credit (amount depending on the quality of the posts) in the discussion / participation category. Making substantial comments on the posts of your classmates will also earn extra credit.

Have fun! (as a mode of comparison, this post is about 360 words long)

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Student Project: Tudor Doublet

Dear (now former) Class,

One of your classmates sewed a Tudor-style doublet using historical patterns and techniques as part of her final research paper project.  She has generously agreed to let me share some of her work with you.

Here we have the outer fabric for the front of the doublet and the process of sewing in a sleeve:

Outer fabric of Front Doublet     sewing in sleeve

Here we have the shirt with sleeves:

shirt with sleeves     shirt

Finally, here we have the front and back of the doublet:

Front of Doublet, front flaps     Back of Doublet, 1 flap

Jolly good work!

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Shakespeare and Doctor Who

In the BBC series Doctor Who’s season 3 episode 3 the Doctor and his then companion Martha travel to the year 1599. In this episode the pair had to save William Shakespeare. The Doctor and Martha experience the lifestyle of that time as well. The show depicts life without a proper sewage system with people tossing their bodily functions out of windows and the people on the streets dodging out of the way as it came falling. The producers of the show also try to recreate the famous Globe as it would have looked like in its prime. It had a large floor level for the poorer people of the audience to stay and watch. There was seating area in the Globe had two higher levels for people of higher economic standing to sit and enjoy performances. The stage of The Globe was large as well. As the show progressed the Doctor and Martha run into some religious tensions between the people of that time. There was a Puritan man trying to conform some Catholics. The producers, however, portrayed the Puritan man as a modern day soapbox man preaching to conform or burn in hell. This was not the method of how Puritan preached what they believed. It is most likely that they portrayed him that way was so viewers would be able to relate to the culture at that time. Shakespeare’s personality was also very biased. They portrayed him as self-centered and focused on sex. Throughout the show he proceeds to try and seduce Martha into bed with him. Seeing how this is a show that wants high ratings it’s not focused on its historical accuracy of the lifestyle of that time. For me, however, it did spark my interest in Shakespeare and his writings. I have found that I really enjoy his plays. My favorite would be a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is referenced several times throughout the show.

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The Society of King Charles the Martyr.

First off, The Society of King Charles the Martyr was founded 1894 as ‘a Church Defence Union under the banner of the Martyr-King.’ The SKCM is actually the oldest society that is associated with Charles Stuart. As the title of this society states, they view Charles as a martyr, they see him as a savior of the Christian faith too. One of the paintings that they have on their home-page is Charles, he is holding a crown of thorns, he looks very Christ-like in this painting. SKCM honor Charles I as a saint because he “was the last saint to be canonised by the Church of England,” and he died for the church. Dr. Mandell Creighton said that if Charles would have been willing to give up episcopacy (government of a church by bishops), and had wanted to give up the Church he could have saved his throne and life. I personally don’t really know if i agree with that statement. I think he could have maybe, maybe as in a very small percentage, saved his life, but save his throne, I don’t think so. Because Charles was an absolutist, he wouldn’t have been willing to give up either anyways, and even if he did give either one or both of them up he truly believed that it was his right to be king and his right to be in charge and above the law. I feel he would have taken the same paths that he did with Parliament and with the Royalists because that was who he was and what he believe in. This site is full of articles and histories, on Charles I and on their society as well. As I said this website is really interesting, they really hold King Charles high up. While looking through all the different tabs, I really could not find anything bad about Charles, not even one. Because even the best of people have at least something they did wrong. I feel that I might not know enough about Charles I in order to understand where they are coming from. I think it is important to hear both sides of the story to really look into something and be able to understand it.

“ABOUT S.CHARLES.” SKCM. Society of King Charles the Martyr, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

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On This Day in History: September 3rd

In the second to final lecture, a familiar date seemed to be popping up quite a bit: September 3rd. I found it interesting that within a 45 minute lecture covering the Glorious Revolution, September 3rd appeared at least three times. With my curiosity heightened, I decided to delve into the history of September 3rd in British history as a whole.

In 1189 on September 3rd, Richard the Lionhearted was crowned in Westminster.

On September 3rd, 1650, the Battle of Dunbar was fought during the Third Civil War between England and Scotland. This battle was the meeting of the Scottish Convenanters under David Leslie, and the English Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell. Leading up to the battle, Cromwell was leading an exhausted English military back to their supply camp located at Dunbar. The Scottish leader Leslie thought that they were retreating, and decided to follow them back to their supply base, effectively blocking any path back that Cromwell could take. Cromwell was stuck, but he was also sneaky. Under the cover of night, Cromwell enlisted and relaunched a large deployment of troops set up on the Scottish right flank while their enemies slept. Then as dawn broke on September 3rd, Oliver Cromwell led a frontal charge of the Scottish camp with his forces, and as anticipated when the Scottish tried to flee, Cromwell’s placed troops were able to seize and destroy the retreating Scots. The battle is considered a decisive victory for the English Parliamentarians, and Cromwell’s forward thinking and strategy is most likely the reason.

September 3rd, 1651: Oliver Cromwell returns with the Battle of Worcester in order to crush the English royalists. In this battle, the English Civil War comes to an end. This final battle pins church versus state in one final meeting between Cromwell and King Charles II’s forces.  King Charles II was counting on royalist support from Scotland to help him secure the throne his father had been forcibly removed from. David Leslie, Scottish commander at Dunbar, agreed to support King Charles II with any fighting in Scotland, but then the King chose to bring the battle back to England. Cromwell and the Parliamentarians secured a decisive victory over King Charles II and his supporters with the implementation of the “New Model Army”. Cromwell boasted numbers of over 28,000 troops on his side, while King Charles II had less than 16,000. The numbers were devastating for King Charles II. He is thought to have lost over 10,000 troops, while Cromwell’s side is believed to have lost closer to 200 men. As can be inferred, Charles’ forces were dismembered. Cromwell took many people prisoner, but the elusive King Charles II escaped with his life, and finding an oak tree to hide out in, which gave birth to a national holiday, and provided the namesake for many modern English pubs.

September 3rd, 1658: The trilogy of Cromwell’s and September 3rd’s in British history is complete on this day that Richard Cromwell succeeded his father as Lord Protector of the commonwealth. Richard Cromwell was given enormously big shoes to fill, and unfortunately, he was unable to handle the office with the same power and finesse as his father. Richard had hardly any military experience, leaving him with the question of controlling the New Model Army, and he was unaware of how to approach the financial regime. This led to him being unable to assert his control and drive the army and people forward.

The correlation between Oliver Cromwell’s achievements and life events and the 3rd of September is interesting to say the least. One of his first major military campaigns in Dunbar showed him for the master of strategy that he was. And then a year later, this was confirmed again as he drew on his forces, and newly implemented New Model Army in order to overthrow King Charles II and become Lord Protector of England. Then finally, Oliver Cromwell’s impact on Britain ended with his death on September 3rd, 1658.


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Who is the Current Monarch of the United Kingdom?

Who is the current Monarch of the United Kingdom?  I mean, besides myself, obviously.  If you (like 99.9% of the population) accept the legitimacy of the Glorious Revolution and the current Hanoverian/Windsor Dynasty, then the answer is Queen Elizabeth II.  But if you think the Glorious Revolution was illegitimate and James II remained the true king after William III usurped the throne, then the answer is this guy:

This is King Francis II of the United Kingdom.  See

Also check out the website of the Royal Stuart Society (at and the website of the Jacobite Studies Trust (at


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The Leviathan is Hefty

This summer, I had the privilege of holding a first edition copy of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. It was downright terrifying; there were no gloves, no preservation measures, just me and the book (and its caretakers, watching intently off to the side). Asides from the fact that this book was valued at many times my annual income, and that the oil from my hands was likely aiding in its rapid deterioration, the experience of encountering this (both literally and figuratively) massive work was truly incredible.

Hobbes first published the Leviathan in 1651, in the period between the English Civil War and the Restoration. Therein, he argued that the ideal government is to be formed by social contract–yes–but that such contractual agreements should and will eventually lead to an absolutist ruler. It was indeed a stark contrast to the rampant republican parliamentarianism and decentralized congregationalism that was infectious during the Civil War, and it would serve as a philosophical support for absolute rule under Charles II and James II. Moreover, it is also interesting to contextualize the Leviathan against other roughly contemporary political theorists. John Locke wrote his major works following the Glorious Revolution, an event that lent English and Scottish politics a more republican, less absolutist tone. Likewise, his writings reflected the social contract of Hobbes, but in a form more palatable to the more parliamentary political climate of his time.

In any case, seeing such a book in its physical form–as it would have been read in the latter half of the seventeenth century–really solidified the concept that such events and ideas were at one time tangible. They reside forever in the distant past, affecting people and societies that have long since passed on in the currents of time, and yet this book remains as a hefty reminder that ideas have consequences.


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The Royal Menagerie

Well before the London Zoo was created the reigning royal houses kept a menagerie at the Tower of London for their entertainment since the at least the thirteenth century. Throughout the ages the Tower of London had house eagles, lions, bears of all sorts, tigers, and even one African elephant. Of this extensive collection of creatures was a “white bear”, perhaps a polar bear, given to King Henry III by the King of Norway in 1252 for his enjoyment. This bear was allowed to fish in the River Thames, so long as it was restrained with a muzzle and chain around its leg to keep onlookers relatively safe from harm. King Henry III also received a magnificently exotic African Elephant as a gift from King IX of France. This elephant was extremely wondrous to all who viewed it. A large wooden house was built to house this fantastic beast, but it died shortly after. Later, the house was used to imprison humans rather than animals. As one might expect, the upkeep for large carnivorous beasts (or even those who were vegetarians) was quite costly for the keepers and the sheriffs who were made to pay for the meat.

After many long years of housing the dangerous predators in the Tower of London it all became too much in 1832. After the death of King George IV the menagerie was closed down and the animals given to the London Zoo or sold off. Some were still displayed at the tower for another three years, but a woman had been bitten by a monkey in 1835. This incident led to King William IV closing down the attraction for good. The animal housing and the royal keeper’s house were demolished some years later, and that would be the last of the Royal Menagerie.


All accessed December 11, 2014.

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Harold Godwinson

The clash of 1066 between William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson had widespread ramifications. In the book, The English Heritage, it states that it is almost a certainty that Edward the Confessor had promised, or at the very least mentioned, England’s crown to Duke William of Normandy. However what is not certain is whether Harold was actually sent to Normandy to confirm the promise Edward the Confessor made to William, or another reason entirely. Possibly the most famous primary source from that time is the Bayeux Tapestry. The book 1066, by Andrew Bridgeford, lays down a new reason for Harold Godwinson to go the Normandy, and the evidence Bridgeford states is found within the Bayeux Tapestry.

Andrew Bridgeford tells a tale of Harold Godwinson going to Edward the Confessor asking him for permission to travel to Normandy. He also explains that other sources from that time period, pro William sources, explain that Edward sent Harold Godwinson to Normandy to seal the deal with William and reaffirm Edwards promise. However Bridgeford shows through the Bayeux Tapestry that Harold went to ask permission to retrieve his brothers held by William the Conqueror. Bridgeford stated that the Bayeux Tapestry was designed in such a way as to not be definitive on either story.

The Bayeux Tapestry then tells the story of Harold Godwinson getting blown off course across the English Channel and then Bridgeford explains that William ends up saving Harold from a hostile Lord. Bridgeford explains that the depiction of Harold in front of William is clear in showing what really happen. Bridgeford shows that in the Tapestry Harold points to another man, with an English Haircut instead of the tradition Norman style. This seems to point toward a story that coincides with Harold Godwinson’s version events overtly on the Tapestry. That William had saved Harold and that William held Harold’s Brothers is Bridgeford’s reason why Harold was forced to make a vow that William would be King after Edward. Bridgeford explains that one brother returned to England, but the other stayed behind.

While the wording, and visuals, in the Tapestry are vague, and some points may point to one story or the other, it may not be possible to ever tell which version is true. The importance of still looking into this event however, is that it is one of the main events that created the difficult relationship, full of conflict, France and England shared.

Bridgeford, Andrew. 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry. New York: Walker Publishing Company, 2006.

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John Locke and the Two Treatises of Government.

John Locke was a political scientist writing in the late 17th century whose works would become very influential indeed. Locke’s primary writings emerge from a curious point in history. The Two Treatises of Government were written sometime before the deposing of James II and the ascent of William of Orange and published in 1689. The Two Treatises of Government were written as a refutation of absolutism and to showcase Locke’s beliefs on the role of government.[1] Unlike Thomas Hobbes, Locke does not consider man to be inherently self-interested, fickle or brutish, but instead we are inherently “good”. Society has instead warped us to act this way. If it is a problem of nurture, rather than nature, it may be corrected.

The basis of Locke’s arguments stem from Biblical law and theory. The first such law being that God gave the world to Adam and his descendants for their use. The key point of this phrase being that God did not give the world to only a select few of Adam’s children (divine right monarchists) but to all. We all have a common claim to the Earth and its fruits. The most natural and important claim however, is that in Man’s claim to property in one’s own self. As Locke states “…every Man has a property in his own person. This no body has any right to but himself. The labor of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.”[2]    Man then has the option of investing his labor into a natural resource, creating personal property.

Similar to Hobbes, Locke believes in the formation of government through a social contract. The difference lies in that in the Lockean model, collective relinquishing of power of the community is done so to form a civil government, one that is accountable, rather than a divine right monarch. The primary role of this civil government is to protect life, liberty, and property, from those who are unwilling to live by the confines of reason.[3] This creates an impartial arbiter to mete out justice, a limited government built on reason and reciprocity.

[1] [1] Roger B. Manning, E.A Reitan, Henry L. Snyder, Frederic A. Youngs, Jr. The English Heritage, Volume I: to 1714, 3rd edition (Wheeling: Harlan Davidson Inc. 1978), 156.

[2] Locke, John, “Two Treatises of Government”, Student edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 138-140.

[3] Ibid, 272.

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Crusader Kings 2 and What it Taught Me about British History

It was some time back in October when I purchased the computer game Crusader Kings 2. The game is set in Medieval Europe and starts in the year 1066 which is one thanks to playing so much I will now Always remember for William the Conqueror.  The game puts the player in the shoes a land holding dynasty during the difficult Middle Ages.  It explores different aspects  of Medieval England which came up in class such as feudalism, vassals, marriage alliances, and role of religion. Though their is no clear way to win this game the main way that people go about playing is trying to acquire more land. Your character can have a series of positive or negative traits that affect the game making things interesting such as being, possessed, insane, inbred or a drunkard on the negative side and being brave, diligent, gregarious or a genius on the positive end.

This can be done in a number of ways such as by marrying into a dynasty with more land or gaining more through war. The catch is war cannot be declared unless there is a valid claim on the land.  Claims can be fabricated but this takes quite a bit of time and is not usually effective. Of course gaining more land is all well and good but there has to be an heir to pass the land on to. There are several different kind of succession laws such as gavel-kind where titles are split among all the children and Primogeniture, where the oldest child inherits everything. Inheritance can also be based on gender but illegitimate children cannot get anything unless they are legitimized.

Of  course whoever is not included in line for succession will get be pretty mad and this can be a for rebellion, as can high taxes, keeping your vassals military levies raised too long or pretty much upsetting them in anyway.  Personally I resort to bribery to keep all vassals in line usually but it is not always easy to get a lot of money. If the pope likes you enough he can give you money or approve of divorce if it is needed (usually for purposes of finding a spouse that can provide an heir such as in the case of Henry VIII).  If he does not like you that can result in an excommunication which can cause further problems. Trying to create free investiture of Bishops like Henry I did that can also cause the pope to get mad too because he wants to pick the bishops.

The game can be started as figure of your own design  or as number of historic figures such as Harold  Godwinson, who I played as during my first game. Though the real point of the political alliances and backstabbing being able to run the military is an important aspect as well. This was something I had not yet learned my first game and I was sounded defeated when Harald Hardrada invaded from Norway. he then became Harald “the conqueror” because for some reason William of Normandy never mobilized.  This is a game that is difficult to learn and harder to master but I have since improved and ran some Irish dynasties that got so powerful they took over Scotland and like a third of England. In the future I’m considering starting a file as William where in I will attempt to play as close to actual history as possible which will be quite a challenge. I totally would have done this specifically to write about it for the blog but this game takes forever to play! I even have an expansion that would let the game start earlier and I could play as Ethelred the Unready. Anyway for anyone interested in the History of the Middle Ages in England or Europe in general I highly recommend this game. To learn more, wiki it!

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