War and politics in the Elizabethan counties

Author: Neil Younger

This book assesses the English national war effort during the Anglo-Spanish war (1585–1603), examining wartime government in a wide-ranging set of contexts. It looks first at political problems: the structure of the wartime state, popular attitudes to the war and the government’s efforts to influence them, resistance to demands, and the problems of governing a country divided in religion and a regime deeply fearful of the future. It then assesses the machinery in practice, looking at the work of the central regime under the Queen herself alongside the local government machinery of lord lieutenancies which carried the demands of the centre into the counties, towns and parishes of England. These mechanisms of rule were crucial to the success of the war effort, by providing troops to fight overseas, running the militia which defended against the Spanish Armada (1588) and other invasion attempts and paying for them both through local taxes. The book draws evidence and case studies from across the country and from politics and government at all levels, from the court and Privy Council to the counties and parishes, but it seeks to examine England as a single polity. In this way it ranges much more widely than the war alone and provides a new assessment of the effectiveness of the Elizabethan state as a whole. It challenges many existing assumptions about the weakness of the state in the face of military change, finding a political system in much better health than has previously been thought.

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‘This book certainly adds to the richness of our understanding of the Tudor state and the important role that war played in the lives of Elizabethan men and women. Younger is to be congratulated on a book that is ambitious and wide-ranging, and based on an impressive amount of archival research. It makes a significant contribution to an expanding field of enquiry.'
David Grummitt, Canterbury Christ Church University
War in History Book Reviews 23 (2)
April 2016

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