Takeaway: A strong monarchy does not prevent political complaints about taxes and the economy.
As the saying goes, “so many books, so little time.” Very Short Introduction books can be helpful as a quick guide to a subject. My English history is not that great, so I picked this up on sale to help fill in some gaps.
The Very Short Introduction series is a mixed bag, some have been excellent and some have been horrible. The most common problem is that some of the guides skip the content and spend all of their time talking about the scholarship. That is not a problem here. This is straight narrative history. Starting immediately before the rise of Henry the VII, going to Henry VIII, Mary and eventually Elizabeth.
I was actually better informed about this era than I thought because of my readings in reformation history. But this was a decent overview. There were two short chapters at the end that talked about the influence of the arts (primarily architecture and music) in the era.
This was not one of the best books of the series, but still helpful. The role of succession, war, taxes, and economics are the driving forces of the book. The reformation is talked about, but is not explored beyond necessity.
The surprise for me is that Mary is portrayed as a much better Queen in many areas than Elizabeth. My reformation reading (primarily focusing on religious and not political issues) would not have agreed. But if this presentation is roughly true, Elizabeth’s reputation is more about how she was thought of a generation after her death than how she was thought of during her life and about Elizabeth being on the winning side of the Protestant/Catholic debate of the time.
- African History: A Very Short Introduction by John Parker and Richard Rathbone (not recommended)
- Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Edward Craig (Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to Protestantism by Mark Noll (Highly Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to the Bible by John Riches (not recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to the Reformation (Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to Augustine (Recommended)
- John Knox for Armchair Theologians
- Aquinas for Armchair Theologians
- Calvin for Armchair Theologians