Finding Union and Peace within a Dual Monarchy

With his accession to the throne of England in 1603, James VI and I reigned over the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Although he brought much of his experience ruling Scotland to England, he still faced many new challenges. One of these challenges was the way in which James would ensure peace and some degree of unity between two kingdoms that were accustomed to being ruled as separate entities with distinct peoples and needs. As James stated in his accession speech, “…peace be a great blessing, yet is it far inferior to peace within… What God has conjoined then, let no man separate.”[1] Though James VI and I, as king of England, Ireland, and Scotland began by ruling his composite monarchy as separate entities, nevertheless, James’ ultimate goal was unity between and within the different realms. Continue reading

The Influence of Tudor Fashion during the Stuart Period

In Tudor and Stuart Britain, fashionable clothing was highly valued by both men and women and not just by monarchs; the people who comprised the court also took an interest as well.[1] As is the case with today’s generation, outfits, shoes, and accessories were worn to express a specific message to the public and represent some kind of social status. During these periods, the more elaborate and, arguably, over-the-top designs wealthy people wore, the more respect they earned. However, according to David Kuchta, the interest in men’s fashion decreased over time, creating a “masculine renunciation.”[2] Instead of the traditional flashy clothing and jewelry, men’s dress leaned more towards modesty.[3] Kuchta argues that the lack of interest in clothing was due to a number of factors: “… [The] changing political, economic and social orders from 1550 to 1850.”[4] In 1666, King Charles II attributed to this newfound modesty because of different coats and vests he wore that resulted in the popularization of the three-piece suit. While men’s styles certainly varied over the years, the appreciation for male fashions was still highly present throughout the period and was not entirely based on modernity. Similarities in men’s clothing between the Tudor and Stuart periods can be found through many paintings and portraits of this time; this source of documentation allows us to compare and contrast the style from different time periods. Continue reading

Elizabeth’s Age of Exploration

Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, kingdoms throughout Europe sponsored voyages to find new lands and faster trade routes. Spain and Portugal dominated exploration during during much of this period. In England, there was no significant progress in exploration during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary. It was only with the efforts of Elizabeth I that England became a new major player of exploration. While Elizabeth sponsored voyages, it was in fact Henry VIII’s naval reforms that launched the beginning of Elizabethan exploration. Continue reading

Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill and the Rathlin Island Massacre

To fully understand the importance of the role played by Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill in the early English failures of plantation in Ulster, one must appreciate the threat posed to the English crown by his background and lineage. Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill, which translates as Somerled of the yellow hair, son of Donell, more commonly known by his Anglicized name, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, was the son of Cather Maclan and Alexander MacDonald of Dunyvaig and the Glens in Antrim, who in turn were descended from King John of the Isles. During Somhairle’s youth, Alexander established a power base for his family in both Ulster and Scotland.[1] Because of this, Somhairle was seen as a Scottish-Irish fliath, a term used for any person belonging to a powerful family but who is not necessarily, as it often is presumed, a chief. However, Somhairle, his father, and brother each were, in fact, chiefs of the MacDonald clan. This essay will outline the series of events that demonstrate how Somhairle’s connections with both Scottish and Irish clans became to be viewed by the English as a threat to early English attempts at plantation in Ulster. Continue reading

The Consequences of Ottoman Aspirations in Europe for Henry VIII’s England

The early sixteenth century saw the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe. Though the Ottomans remained far away from England to be considered a real threat, the English were still influenced by Ottoman actions. Ottoman technological superiority led to better military tactics, which facilitated raids and invasions in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. The Ottomans’ influence in the Mediterranean Sea also grew with their defeat of Venetians at the Second Battle of Leopanto in 1500.[1] By the time Charles I of Spain became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as Charles V in 1519, Ottoman pirates were raiding the French southern coast and disrupting trade routes.[2] It was with the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent that the Ottoman Empire reached its zenith and began various campaigns that would unequivocally threaten Christian Europe. The growing conflicts against the Ottoman Empire in Central Europe inadvertently aided Henry VIII in his efforts to reform the English church detailing and help to explain why the rest of Europe made little to no real effort to stop Henry. Continue reading

A Comparison of Scientific Advancement in Scottish Universities and the Royal Society

The seventeenth century was a period of exciting scientific growth in Scotland and England. However, the platforms for this progress were different for each kingdom: in Scotland, it was within its universities that new science first took hold, whereas in England, scientific advancement was largely occurring within the Royal Society founded in 1660. The fact that one of these platforms were universities, and the other a private club, led to key differences in the transition and outcomes of scientific growth in the two kingdoms. The universities being a center of scientific inquiry was both a hindrance, due to the ability of church and state to exert control, as well as a benefit to Scotland because it enabled new knowledge to spread to students. While science in the Scottish universities seems to have lagged behind the Royal Society in taking on the new science at first, it accounted for Scotland’s uniquely prominent Enlightenment in the proceeding century, marking a different experience than in England. Continue reading