In the following two quotations, Tudor historian John Guy and Stuart historian John Morrill (respectively the authors of chapters five and six in The Oxford History of Britain), address the question of who was ultimately responsible for creating the circumstances that led to the outbreak of the English Civil War of the 1640s. John Guy blames Elizabeth I; John Morrill blames Charles I. Which argument is stronger, or are they both right?

These are the two quotations
“Elizabeth I … has attained a posthumous reputation far in excess of her actual achievements. It is plain that her
own propaganda, the cult of Gloriana, her sheer longevity, the coincidence of the Shakespearean moment, and
the lucky defeat of the … Armada have beguiled us into joining a crescendo of adulation that ignores the simple
fact … that she quietly allowed England to become ungovernable.”
“Throughout Elizabeth’s reign there was a triple threat of civil war…. [This] had disappeared … by the 1620s
…. The Stuarts were securely on the throne …. The fact that few contemporaries expected a civil war may only
mean that major structural problems went unrecognized. England may have been becoming ungovernable. Thus,
the fact that neither crew nor passengers of an aircraft anticipate a crash does not prevent the crash. But while
planes sometimes crash because of … mechanical failure, they also sometimes crash because of pilot error. The
causes … are … complex …, but it does seem that the English Civil War was … the consequence of pilot
error…. When … contemporaries looked back at the causes … they very rarely went back before the accession
of Charles I in 1625. They were probably right.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>