The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, Volume 1A
by David Hume
'The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, Volume 1A' Summary
The work can perhaps be best discussed as four separate histories in the order in which he wrote them.
The History of Great Britain Part 1
The book begins auspiciously with James VI of Scotland peacefully assuming the title of first King of Great Britain. He immediately began a series of attempts to promote a Union between his two kingdoms, and found for this a staunch ally in Francis Bacon. These came to nothing, curiously more because of opposition in the English Parliament than in the Scottish one. On the whole, Hume portrays this complex king, who had grown up with the same predicament as Orestes, as a beneficent ruler keeping Britain at peace, notably by staying out of the Thirty Years' War.
However an epic of unintended consequences was unravelling. As the King was dying, his son's wooing of the Spanish Infanta turned into a jilting, and the two countries drifted into a war, spurred on by Protestant extremists in the House of Commons. Charles I's attempt following the Petition of Right (1628) to rule without a Parliament in England collapsed after he provoked the revolution of the National Covenant in Scotland (1638). Irish Catholics led by Felim O'Neill seized the opportunity to rebel (1641). Civil War broke out in England. The king was defeated, tried, and executed (1649). Thus Hume's first volume ends at the start of England's short-lived experiment with republicanism.
Of the book's reception, Hume wrote:
I was assailed by one cry of reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation; English, Scotch, and Irish, Whig and Tory, churchman and sectary, freethinker and religionist, patriot and courtier, united in their rage against the man, who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I, and the Earl of Strafford.
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