REBELLION by Peter Ackroyd
Kirkus Star


The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution
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Biographer, historian and novelist Ackroyd (Three Brothers, 2014, etc.) continues his History of England series with the third of six proposed volumes.

What makes the author so special is that he relates history as it once was told by the bards. Ackroyd tells us not just the history, but the story behind it and the story as it might have been viewed at the time. This was a violent period of religious struggle, with countless groups vying to eliminate each other and all of them hating the Catholics. King James was so impressed by the wealth of England that he immediately set about spending just about every penny in the treasury. He relied mostly on the help of his favorites at court, particularly the Duke of Buckingham, who scoffed at Parliament’s impeachment. The premature death of Henry, James’ eldest and most Protestant son, left inept Charles to inherit the throne and continue the Stuart traditions of divine right and treating Parliament as his piggy bank. They just couldn’t accept that the king might be subject to English common law. All this led up to the civil war, the beheading of Charles and the rise of Oliver Cromwell, who was a man with more power than any king and who ruled as an absolute military dictator. His death quickly brought Parliament together to reinstitute the House of Lords and the office of king in the person of Charles II. He and his brother, James II, clung to the Catholic religion, generally poor attitude toward Parliament and lots of devious plots, which inevitably led up to the Glorious Revolution. Oddly enough, during the reigns of the early Stuart kings, trade increased, shipbuilding peaked, coal production doubled, and the agricultural revolution laid the basis for the 18th-century’s Industrial Revolution.

Appropriately detailed, beautifully written story of the Stuarts’ rise and fall—will leave readers clamoring for the further adventures awaiting England in the 18th century.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1250003638
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014


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