The value of Trevelyan’s ENGLAND UNDER THE STUARTS is not in its accuracy and its wealth of detail. Its special quality is its art. From the outset of his career Trevelyan wished to write history that was also literature, and he achieved his goal especially in this book.
He became a historian at a time when the claims of “scientific” history were ascendant. He says in his autobiography that he tried to be a traditional kind of historian, relating history to literature, against a current in the other direction. Indeed, he has a style that is a delight to read. He can combine and condense without losing touch with details. He is pleased to pause to give full treatment to the social scene, the landscape, and the character of the persons of his historical period. He informs his reader of purpose, motive, conclusion, and evaluation. These qualities spring from his commitment to liberal democracy, and the reader feels Trevelyan’s constant pleasure in watching the development of English Parliamentary government, humane law, and accomplishment in the arts that grace a civilization. It seems undoubtedly true that he played an important part in inspiring historians to write readable history without losing sight of factual accuracy.
The theme of ENGLAND UNDER THE STUARTS is the exploration of England’s unique contribution to the history of the world, which came about through her dealings with the House of Stuart. For in a line...
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