27 September 2012: Early modernists publish new books

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The field of early modern history at the University of Essex is flexing its muscles. Three of its specialists have had productive summers, each bringing out new books on sixteenth-century society and its subsequent cultural reverberations. Thomas Freeman, Matthew Vester, and Neil Younger, all Lecturers in early modern history, have published volumes on the image of Henry VIII, dynastic politics during the French religious wars, and the Elizabethan military system.

Freeman co-edited (with Thomas Betteridge, of Oxford Brookes University) Henry VIII and History (Asghate Publishing). Henry VIII and History examines how this fascinating ruler, “model Renaissance prince, Defender of the Faith, rapacious plunderer of the Church, obese Bluebeard,” has been represented in various forms of media, from history to literature to propaganda to film, from his own times to the present. Freeman co-wrote the book’s introduction and offered an essay on the image of Henry VIII in Foxe’s 'Book of Martyrs'.

In his Renaissance Dynasticism and Apanage Politics: Jacques de Savoie-Nemours, 1531-1585 (Truman State University Press), Vester analyzes the relationship between two princely cousins, Jacques de Savoie, duke of Genevois-Nemours, and Duke Emanuel Filibert of Savoy, showing how institutional rivalry was balanced by shared dynastic interests in the context of the French wars of religion. Vester shows how this dynamic resulted in the quasi-state structure of the apanage, and underlines the key role of the Sabaudian states in European politics.

Younger published War and Politics in the Elizabethan Counties (Manchester University Press), an account of England’s military system during the years of conflict with Spain (1585-1603). Younger shows the continued vitality of the Elizabethan political system through an examination of records from a variety of sources untapped by previous scholars. He ranges from central repositories to local archives as he explains both how the militia was organized and administered and how it interfaced with English political culture more broadly.

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