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Princely Education in Early Modern Britain

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History

  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107039520

$ 142.00 (C)

Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
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About the Authors
  • In the sixteenth century, Erasmus of Rotterdam led a humanist campaign to deter European princes from vainglorious warfare by giving them liberal educations. His prescriptions for the study of classical authors and scripture transformed the upbringing of Tudor and Stuart royal children. Rather than emphasising the sword, the educations of Henry VIII, James VI and I, and their successors prioritised the pen. In a period of succession crises, female sovereignty, and minority rulers, liberal education played a hitherto unappreciated role in reshaping the political and religious thought and culture of early modern Britain. This book explores how a humanist curriculum gave princes the rhetorical skills, biblical knowledge, and political impetus to assert the royal supremacy over their subjects' souls. Liberal education was meant to prevent over-mighty monarchy but in practice it taught kings and queens how to extend their authority over church and state.

    • Explores the dynamic relationship between political and religious thought and culture, and the real impact of ideas on early modern social practices and confessional life
    • Uses hitherto neglected printed and archival sources, marginalia, and school exercises to reveal the intellectual and political formation of Tudor and Stuart monarchs
    • Offers readers a fresh perspective on the impact of monarchs' own confessional identities on the doctrine and government of English and Scottish churches
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    • Winner of the 2016 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This highly original and beautifully written book explores the liberal education received by royal children in Tudor and Stuart Britain … It succeeds admirably in demonstrating the wider significance of princes' education by drawing connections between childhood learning and royal policies in later life during a stormy and eventful period. This rich and deeply textured book is certain to provoke interest and debate for many years to come."
    Judges, 2016 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107039520
    • length: 460 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Thys boke is myne': how humanism changed the English royal schoolroom, 1422–1509
    2. Chivalry, ambition, and bonae litterae, 1509–33
    3. Erasmus' Christian prince and Henry VIII's royal supremacy
    4. Educating Edward VI: from Erasmus and godly kingship to Machiavelli
    5. Fortune's wheel and the education of early modern British queens
    6. Education and royal resistance: George Buchanan and James VI and I
    7. Britain's lost Renaissance? The Stuart princes

  • Author

    Aysha Pollnitz, Rice University, Houston
    Aysha Pollnitz was educated at the University of Sydney and Trinity College, Cambridge, where she was subsequently elected a Junior Research Fellow in Renaissance History. She has taught at Georgetown University, Washington DC and Grinnell College, Iowa. In 2016 she became an Assistant Professor of History at Rice University, Houston. Pollnitz has published essays on humanism, liberal education, Tudor and Stuart court culture, Shakespeare, and religious translation.


    • Winner of the 2016 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

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