This course has concessions available

Stuart London

When James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, he travelled south to London to live in what was still essentially a medieval city. A century later London had been transformed into one of the key centres of the Enlightenment. In the interim it had experienced the hardship of civil war, the ravages of the Great Plague, and the devastation of the Great Fire. In the second half of the Stuart age, much of London was rebuilt by luminaries such as Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and Nicholas Hawksmoor. At the same time startling intellectual and cultural developments included the founding of the Royal Society, the appearance of coffee houses and Molly Houses, and the expansion of the press and the book trade. Contemporaries were well aware that they were living through a time of radical change: some people embraced this, others had misgivings. This course wil examine many of the defining political, social, religious, cultural, and demographic aspects of seventeenth-century London, locating the metropolis at the heart of Stuart history. We will assess lots of primary sources, including printed texts and images.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary, but a good grasp of English is essential. Students who wish to do some background reading before the course starts could consider:
Roy Porter, London: A Social History (1994), ch 4
London, 1500-1700: The Making of the Metropolis (1986), ed A. L. Beier and Roger Finlay
Londinopolis: Essays in the Cultural and Social History of Early Modern London (2000), ed Paul Griffiths and Mark Jenner
Liza Pickard, Restoration London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London (2004)
Peter Earle, A City Full of People: Men and Women in London, 1650-1750 (1994)

What does this course cover

This course is structured around eleven key themes and case studies. These could include:

' Demographics, maps, urban expansion
' Shakespeare's London: theatres, taverns, the royal court
' Parliament's citadel: London during the Civil War
' London devastated: plague
' London devastated: fire
' The Enlightenment city: rebuilding
' The Enlightenment city: coffee houses, Molly Houses, print
' The city of science
' Leisure in Restoration London:
' Crime and punishment in seventeenth-century London
' Foreign visitors to seventeenth-century London

By the end of this course you should be able to

' Contribute to discussions of how and why the population of Stuart London increased
' Discuss the impact of political, religious and social change on London
' Discuss the key social and cultural issues relating to the emergence of the Enlightenment in London
' Contribute to discussions of how London fitted into a broader national and European context

What will it be like

This is an interactive course. Each week we will have essential reading to read before meeting. This will usually comprise an article or chapter from a book, and a text or image from the period being studied. The tutor will set questions for you to think about whilst you are reading. We will then meet to talk about the reading and the set questions, and to decide what they tell us about the subject we are studying that week. Different points of view will be examined, with students encouraged to make up their own minds as to which they find the most convincing. Each student's progress will be assessed by their contributions to seminars, and by any one-to-one conversations with the tutor. This is not a stressful process.

What else do you need to buy or do

You do not need to buy anything to study this course. You are expected to read and to prepare for seminars in your own time. Internet access will greatly help.

What this course could lead to

The next course in the series will be Georgian London. You could also consider further courses at the Mary Ward Centre, to study history, history of art, philosophy or the history of ideas.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’