A short tidbit on Puritanism during the Tudor-Stuart Periods

“The Restoration left Puritanism to lick its self-inflicted wounds. Puritans who had believed themselves to be fighting for God’s cause blamed each other for destroying it. Instead of converting and purifying the world, the hope which the civil war had brought them, they now had to concentrate, as in the 1630s, on their survival in it.” – pg. 160, The English Civil Wars

I can definitely say that it was this blurb from Worden’s book that influenced my second paper in the class. Although we talked about the many “causes” of the civil wars and the many interpretations to it, I always found the role of Puritans – and ideology – during this time quite fascinating. They were always the loudest critics of pretty much everything that made England, England. Once the civil wars started and the interregnum took hold, you could find Puritanism somewhere in the middle.

In class, we debated quite a bit as to whether Worden was arguing that the main factor of the Civil Wars was religion or was it more than that. I don’t think we ever truly came to a conclusion, but I think this little part in the Restoration section shows that he believes it is a significant aspect when looking at the Civil Wars. For those Puritan members of Parliament, Puritan laymen scattered throughout England, Puritan (and independent) soldiers of the newly founded Army, the civil wars was about much more than just a bad king who was abusing his – and Parliament’s – rights. It was also about the fear of where Christianity would go in England, and how Puritans could influence a wide array with the “right” way of practicing Christianity. Purifying the world they were living in was more important than ever before because of the new-found power and voice they had at this time. Of course they ended up losing a lot of the traction after the restoration in 1660, but it cannot be denied that some of their wayward thoughts continued to influence English politics even after the civil wars. Although their main focus was to just survive after Charles II came back from his “travels”, their actions before had set a precedent for others.

I have to say after this class I really see and understand Puritans in a whole different light. Even though protestantism was always depicted as the “good guys” in England, I would have to say that I definitely felt like Puritans were big antagonizers during this time period. They seemed much more radical, outspoken, and problematic than I would have ever initially thought. I mean it still boggles my mind that they opposed Arminianism so vehemently when Arminianism had roots in Calvinism! They are just a very interesting group to look at and now I know that their role in Early Modern England is much more significant that I would have ever thought.

Oroonoko: The Perception on Natives

Pg. 57-59

Oh! Here’s our tiguamy, and we shall now know whether those things can speak .”

Really it’s not just this quote that I’m looking at, but the entire scene of interactions between the narrator’s group and the natives between pages 57-59. I just thought this part was really interesting and it was almost like the reactions and views were reversed. We all know that Europeans more than often had a very low opinion of people that are not of their own, but this section seems to show that it also happened with people who were the “others”.

When the narrator and her group went to explore and observe the the natives nearby, the situation ended up reversing. It was the natives who questioned their ability to speak or think intelligently. They were in awe of the foreign attire that the women were wearing – and probably thought they were dumb to wear such heavy materials in the heat that was common there. Throughout the section, the narrator’s expectations were proven false (from the reaction they received, to her image of the warriors) and the natives seemed to have had a much better, more intellectual depiction.

Whether or not this was just a figment of her imagination or an actual experience from the writer, the fact that this portion of the novella is written as such shows that to some degree people of the time understood that the natives of these new colonies were intellectual to a certain extent. I feel like it would impossible otherwise for such depictions to come about, if the consensus was that they were completely uncultured, or incapable of acting as a society. The questions these natives were wondering in this book, were the exact ones the Europeans were thinking, so it is understandable to think that she viewed the natives as someone who had some intellectual capacity. Of course this is very romanticized and still has that sense of European superiority throughout – she did say she expected the native warriors to look like beasts – it is still a different take on natives that I never came upon before.

I definitely think that since the story was so short, I was more focused on the actual storyline when I first read it. However, after our discussions in class I was compelled to look at it differently and try to find the nuances that everyone picked up on. This book is definitely richer than people would think at first glance.

Titus Andronicus: A Shift From Pure Religious Bias to More Biological Discrimination?

Note: This is sooooo late in the game, but November was a little ridiculous (as it usually is) and it’s now time for me to play catch-up. I actually started this one a lot earlier, but left it as a draft for the longest time. Luckily, I have many more posts to make on more recent books we read, and those will be easier for people to comment on.


“Earlier, we noted that in medieval times there were two distinct though overlapping ways of understanding blackness… The difference between these two is underlined in new ways in the early modern period…. Sub-Saharan Africans are increasingly associated with a lack of religion and culture, and painted as low born” pg. 81

I read the section on Titus Andronicus in Loomba’s book regarding Shakespeare and race. Even after reading it a couple of times, it was hard to figure out where exactly Loomba wanted to go with this particular example. I would say that has less to do with her writing style or her deduction, but rather it is just the natural complexity of the topic that somehow brings up more questions than answers when one delves in it.Talking about racism or racial attitude is always difficult when talking about the past. It is not entirely possible to determine how people felt and dealt with such topics, because values, social structure, and even meanings of words change throughout time.

When I found this quote, it really struck me as to why it was hard to follow. Between the medieval period and the early modern period, the concept of biasness towards those with a darker complexion became more and more discriminatory. While it is still relevant to say that the racism of the time was highly linked to the fierce religious tensions of the time (between Christians, Jews, and Muslims), this quote obviously shows that religious difference became less of a factor as Sub-Saharan Africans were being inherently associated with unfavorable traits. Although these traits are technically something you can pick up – a religion or a particular culture – I believe that at this time people would believe that if a society was “religion-less”, part of it could be blamed on who the actual people were. Blackness was no longer the effect of immorality and whatnot, but rather a possible cause of their behavior.

Types of Rights in Envisioning America

“…for god hath given to the tonnes of men a double right to the earth, there is a naturall right & a Civil right…” -pg. 136

This was a quote that really stuck out to me when I first read the Envisioning America book. I know that by this point there was the idea of natural right and civil right – a concept that continues to thrive in modern society. However, it was just very interesting to see a different interpretation of natural right/civil right from what we are usually taught (and how we understand it in today’s context).

In the text, the difference between natural right and civil right was the excuse for why it was fine for the English settlers to take over the land that once belonged to the Native Americans. Although the Native Americans had a natural right to the land – every group was blessed by God with a land they can utilize for their needs – it was the civil right of the English settlers to take over, because the Native Americans were not making full use of their God-given area.

It not only showed that at that time civil right trumped natural right, but it also showed that the settlers believed that they were more civilized then their American counterparts in even the simplest way – making use of the land. The natives were not civilized enough to understand that they were suppose to make the most out of the land they were naturally given. Therefore, the protestant English settlers felt like it was an affront to God to not take advantage of the land, so they had to do what was necessary – based on the ideas of civil right – to right this “wrong” they were seeing.

This was kind of how I interpreted that little tidbit (and the immediate section after). I would love to hear if anyone else was intrigued by the section on natural and civil right. Sadly, I do not remember much about the history of the concept – globalization classes have really turned them into modern political terms for me – so if anyone has any insight, that would be great.

Guide to Fixing The Comment Sections

After a half hour, I have finally figured this comment thing out… I must said it made me really question my ability to use technology now.

For those who may still be confused, here’s a quick guideline to getting it all set up:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Discussion
  3. Under Default Article Settings, check mark “allow people to post comments on new articles”
  4. Change other settings as you would like and save changes

If you had older posts and would like to open up the comments for those, go to the posts section, click “quick edit” and check mark “allow comments” which is right under the tags section.

Hope this helps anyone who hasn’t been able to figure it out yet!

(P.S. Sorry Prof. Rabin for all of emails notifying you of “new posts” from me… it took a bit of trial and error to figure this one out)

Under the Molehill – First Impressions

When I started reading this I wasn’t really sure how the book was structured. Even after 20 pages in, I was still unsure about what I was reading exactly. With a subtitle of An Elizabethan Spy Story, I sort of imagined that it would be like a historical-fiction – taking an interesting part of history and fantasizing it a little bit. It took me awhile to fully comprehend that that was not the case. Instead, it turns out to be following the thought process of the author as he attempts to solve the mystery of who the mole is. For some reason, this was not as obvious to me as I now feel like it should have been…

Maybe it is because I have never read a book structured like this before… maybe it is because the title preconditioned me to think it was something else. Regardless of the reason, it is comical to think that it has taken me close to 60 pages to finally get the gist of it.

I do want to point out a quote though. At the end of Part I Bossy wrote “…we get a snapshot of the scene in Castelnau’s chamber. I imagine he was writing the letter himself; Feron (again probably) was in the room…” This quote struck at me, mainly because it made me feel like I wasn’t completely off track. Bossy is looking at all of these documents with his own interpretation of the events, and is even fantasizing how events took place. So, while this book is not as fictional as I initially thought, there is an element of fiction in it. That does beg the question as to the trustworthiness of the text. Are many parts of exaggerated, a part of Bossy’s wild imagination? Or for the most part this book is just the scientific relaying of a theory with evidence as backup?

The Legitimacy of Henry VII: An Argument for Henry Tudor’s Claim

In my opinion, one of the most interesting parts – and highly contested parts at that – of British history is the rise of Henry Tudor. I felt like the textbook did not do a great job on highlighting the multiple reasons and ways Henry Tudor legitimized his throne – understandably so, since they were for the idea that the War of the Roses was a direct aftermath of Richard II’s deposition and it would be going against that theory if they considered Henry’s win over Richard III as a conquest and not a usurpation. Although we did not spend too much time debating the legitimacy of Tudor’s rise to the throne, I would like to talk more about it here and shed some light onto his claims.

There are 3 main areas of legitimacy I will focus on in this blog: the bloodline, the conquest, and the marriage. Of course there were other factors that Henry Tudor used before and throughout his reign, but since we did get a chance to discuss most of those in class, I won’t touch on those too much.

I. The Bloodline

One of the reasons why it is difficult to understand the messy successions between Richard II to Henry Tudor is because one must understand the Plantagenet family tree first. So to clear that up first, let’s figure out where the Lancaster and the York branches come from first and how that adds credibility to Tudor’s claim. The Lancaster and York branches started from the third and fourth son of Edward III. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, was the third son of Edward III, while Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, was the fourth son.

From there you can start to see some people we’ve mentioned in class before. Richard II, the famous child-king, came to the throne because he was the son of Edward III’s eldest son (his father, Edward the Black passed away before Edward III did so through primogeniture Richard II became heir). Henry of Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt (aka: a Lancaster), was the one usurped Richard II. The main thing to get from understanding this family tree, is that based on the order of Edward III’s children, the Lancaster branch would be considered senior to the York branch.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 2.39.24 PM

The Plantagenet Family Tree

Now going back to Henry Tudor and how he fits into all of this. Henry Tudor’s main blood claim was through his mother, Margaret Beaufort – heiress of the house of Beaufort. Although many claim that Henry was not of royal descent, that is technically not correct. The house (and children) of Beaufort werr legitimized as a sub-branch of the Lancaster by Richard II and Pope Boniface IX on separate occasions, after John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford got married. This meant that John Beaufort, Henry Tudor’s maternal grandfather, was in line for the the throne after John of Gaunt’s legitimate children from his two previous marriages.

Now going past a generation, Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry Tudor) became the head of the Beaufort house after her uncles and brothers passed away without any legitimate heirs. This is important to Henry’s claim, because after all the male Lancasters died out supporters of the branch saw the Beaufort as the successors. Therefore, in the eyes of the supporters for the Beauforts, it made sense for Henry Tudor to have a claim for the throne.

II. The Conquest

Henry Tudor supported his bloodline claim by defeating Richard III in the the Battle of Bosworth and declaring his legitimacy through right by conquest. At the time, right by conquest was still widely accepted, with the most famous example being William the Conqueror and his conquest 400 years earlier. In fact, this was a major conparison that Tudor would use to legitimize his use of force.

Some may contest to this argument by comparing it to the usurpation of Richard II by Henry of Bolingbroke. While there are many similarities to the two occurances, there are significant differences that would distinguish what is a usurpation (which is seen as unfavorable, because it would be going against the will of God) and conquest (which was been accepted centuries before).

Henry of Bolingbroke, a Lancaster, who becomes Henry IV after the deposition of Richard II

Henry Tudor, a Lancaster, who becomes Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth

When Henry of Bolingbroke began his campaign to reclaim his father’s land (and ultimately the throne), he started with a small army that quickly grew with the support of the other barons and nobles who felt threatened by Richard II’s recent actions. When Richard II returned from Ireland, he was surprised by the Earl of Northumberland and the Archbishop of Canterbury who subsequentally imprisoned him and later deposed of him for acts against the realm. This could be considered an act of usurpation for multiple reasons. First off, many of Henry of Bolingbroke’s supporter were people of the realm. Their support and actions to help Bolingbroke would be considered treason for they were going against the king. Bolingbroke waited until Richard II was imprisoned – which happened through his supporters – to make a claim that he was next in line for the throne.The act of usurpation is the illegal taking of a position in power, so according to that definition Bolingbroke came into power through the illegal actions of his comrades that he most likely knew about – if not planned.

Secondly, there are some key elements that were missing with Henry of Bolingbroke’s campaign that would discredit it as a conquest (and showcase Henry Tudor’s success as a conquest). Although current definition may consider Bolingbroke’s action as a conquest since he did use some military force to gain control, it is unlikely this was the same definition that the people of the time were using for the word “conquest”. Looking at the most famous example of a conquest that occurred in England – the Norman Conquest – we can pick out what makes a conquest a conquest, how Henry of Bolingbroke did not conquer England (therefore making his actions and act of usurpation), and how Henry Tudor did conquer England.

The Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings

In the fall of 1066, William of Normandy (aka: William the Conqueror) landed in southern England with his army, which largely consisted of soldier from all over France. He believed that the throne of England was rightfully his after Edward the Confessor promised it to him. On October 14, 1066, William’s army and King Harold’s army were in combat. The Battle of Hastings would be the battle that complete William’s conquest.Now comparing Bolingbroke’s and Tudor’s campaign to William the Conqueror’s there are two main things that makes Bolingbroke’s stand out.

First off, while Bolingbroke did initially come from France, after he was exiled by Richard II, many of his supporters (therefore his army) were from England. It was known that many of the English nobles at the time were fearful of Richard II after seeing what he had done to Bolingbroke. This is a significant difference in my opinion, because in any other context, this would be seen as a rebellion (and not a conquest) since the people of the realm were against against the current person in power, rather than an invasion by a foreign group.

Henry Tudor on the other hand, was technically not from England – he was born in Wales – and was exiled to France for a majority of his life before becoming king. Although Wales had been “fully integrated” into the domain of England by that time, the Welsh still considered themselves Celtic – therefore separate from England- in many ways. When Henry Tudor invaded England, his army consisted of French mercenaries and Welsh warriors – which could be considered a largely foreign group.

Then, there is the lack of a battle in Bolingbroke’s case. As mentioned before, Bolingbroke started moved into England when Richard II was away in Ireland. He used that time to build up his local support – and to take down any opposition – and when Richard II returned, he waited for the King to be imprisoned to make any claims. Richard II was never killed in battle. However, in the case of Henry Tudor, Tudor confronted Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard III would be killed and Tudor would claim the throne through conquest.

While some may compare Henry Tudor’s rise to the throne to Bolingbroke’s rise, there are major differences that would distinguish the two. These differences define what is usurpation and what is conquest.

III. Marriage

Even after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, Henry Tudor’s reign was questioned. The Lancaster and York claims have been muddled for years and Tudor’s blood claim was considered dubious, because it was through his mother. After taking the throne, Tudor solidified his rule by marrying Elizabeth of York. This effectively ended the War of the Roses for now the most senior of the Lancaster and the York lines were a part have converged through Henry and Elizabeth’s children.

Portrait of Elizabeth of York holding the white rose of York

How did Elizabeth of York become the most senior person of the York branch? Well, after the Battle of Bosworth the Plantagenet were in the same situation that the Lancaster branch had to deal with before, there were no living male descendants except for the Earl of Warwick who was just a child (and who would soon be imprisoned by Henry Tudor). So  as the eldest daughter of Edward IV (the elder brother of Richard III) with no surviving brothers, Elizabeth was at the top of the Yorkist line.

Although Henry Tudor did not claim the right to rule through his wife, it was important that he was married to Elizabeth of York. One reason is that it severely weakened the claims of any remaining Yorkists, for there is no longer a possibility of someone using the argument of right to rule through marriage to Elizabeth of York (as some may remember from class, it was assumed that Richard III was planning to marry Elizabeth of York to solidify his own reign). Claiming right through the female line would have been possible, since that was what Richard of York unsuccessfully attempted to do, but did work for Edward IV. This, of course, also resonates with Henry Tudor’s own blood claims. Another, and probably most important, reason for the union of the two branches is to secure his children’s future. His children would now have the biggest claim to the English throne, having a connection from both sides of the family.

Creation of the Tudor Rose which was used through the Tudor period

It was obvious that after the marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, there was very little for his opponents to go off of. Very few had a better claim than Henry Tudor. Two major threats of pro-Yorkist rebellions were based off of some unknown pretending to be the Earl of Warwick (who was imprisoned) or as the younger brother of Elizabeth of York (one of the boys from the Tower of London myth). Therefore, it could be said that by this point, Henry Tudor was there to stay.

Henry Tudor’s Coat of Arms: (left) the mythical Welsh dragon and (right) the white greyhound of Richmond


After the Deposition of Richard II, the Plantagenet line of succession became harder and harder to understand. However, when Henry Tudor made his claim and rose to the throne, he made sure he was the rightful ruler in every way he could. In fact, when he got married to Elizabeth of York in January of 1486, the Bull of Pope Innocent VIII officially recognized the marriage between the two families, Henry Tudor’s right to rule England, and the line of succession continuing with his children. And all of those who opposed would then be excommunicated from The Church. The religious and international implications of the papal bull had put the metaphorical nail on the coffin to the dispute started years before. Henry Tudor successfully took over England, and his children would continue to rule for many years to come.

Well after 2 days and many drafts later, that is all I have to say on this topic. If anyone would like to discuss more about it, please do comment. It was very interesting to write this all out, so I would love to hear what your thoughts are on the topic!

My first post… ever!


Although I like to consider myself as someone who is pretty technologically savvy, blogging is one thing I never got into…so this will be interesting. This will definitely be a work-in-progress and I will be making changes to the layout of this every now and then (I’m pretty big on aesthetics), but it should be a lot of fun.

On a different note, I am excited to discuss about the different things we will read and learn about in this class. Already, I feel like this class has been a great experience for me, and although Prof. Rabin may not be big on the monarchy (which makes the class all the more exciting), I do thoroughly enjoy conversing with so many intellects on this topic… You definitely do not debate about Henry VII’s legitimacy in the Business Instructional Facility!

I can’t wait to see how the rest of this semester goes! Until then…


keep calm