Lawrence Stone (1919–1999) was an English historian. He taught British history at Oxford and Princeton.

The Revolution Over the Revolution

One may well ask why we should care about what happened in England 350 years ago. For Americans it matters a great deal, since if the events were indeed no more than an accidental civil war caused by factional disputes among disaffected noblemen, then the ideology behind the American Revolution …

England’s Financial Revolution

Fourteen years ago, Professor John Brewer published a book that destroyed the prevailing interpretation of English political culture in the eighteenth century, constructed forty years before by Sir Lewis Namier.[^1] According to Namier, Hanoverian politics, at any rate in the 1760s, were largely devoid of ideology, and were confined to …

The Road to Polygamy

If the rates of divorce remain fairly steady, as they have done throughout the 1980s, a half of all marriages in America today, and over a third in England, will end in the divorce court rather than the funeral parlor. Apart perhaps from Scandinavia, these two countries have the highest …

Resisting the New

The important subject of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s passionately written and intelligent book is the transformation of the methods, objectives, and content of much of current historical writing over the past forty years. Professor Himmelfarb, a distinguished historian of political ideas in Victorian England, is shocked by the alleged dominance of what …

The Century of Revolution

The seventeenth century in England has been called “The Century of Revolution.” It is the last period when there occurred on English soil physical violence on a large scale, involving up to 10 percent of the adult males, and a large if ephemeral eruption of radical ideologies. The patterns that …

Only Women

Before beginning a discussion of the books under review, I must first set out the ten commandments which should, in my opinion, govern the writing of women’s history at any time and in any place: Thou shalt not write about women except in relation to men and children. Women are …

The New Eighteenth Century

The “long eighteenth century” from 1660 to 1800 has always been something of an enigma in English history. Before it, there came world exploration, the first settlements in North America, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and demographic growth, the Reformation, the rise of Puritanism, the formation of the Tudor state, and its …

Madness

During the last fifteen years, a series of semi-independent intellectual trends have come together to transform the history of what society has thought about madness and how it has treated those it considers mad. Once upon a time, the history of medicine was regarded, like that of pure science, as …

Original Sins

In the last thirty years American colonial history has been dominated by two broad concepts. The first is that of the core and the periphery, meaning that before the Revolution the colonies were satellites revolving around the civilization centered on London; and indeed that as the eighteenth century progressed they …

Plebes and Patricians

About a quarter of a century ago many historians decided that it was high time to study rather more of the population than the top 2 or 3 percent, from whom were drawn the political and social elite: the kings, generals, nobles, judges, bishops, politicians, and local magnates whose (mostly …

In the Alleys of Mentalité

There cannot be much serious doubt that in the last twenty years Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie has been one of the most—if not the most—original, versatile, and imaginative historians in the world. He has also been one of the most productive; books, articles, and reviews by him have poured forth …

Goodbye to Nearly All That

It is not often that a book appears which challenges the whole corpus of conventional wisdom about the evolution of the modern world; which sets out to show that not just one but a whole pride of emperors have no clothes. Nor are the emperors obscure princelings: Marx and Weber …

Death in New England

In a previous article I examined the survey of death in Europe over the past thousand years by Philippe Ariès in his new book L’Homme devant la mort, and I pointed out the problems involved in applying a unified model to so many national cultures across so many centuries. [^1] …

Death and Its History

To judge by the archaeological evidence, it seems clear that, in one respect at least, Freud was wrong. The discontents of civilization seem to have been focused not on the suppression of the id but rather on apprehensions about the prospects and nature of life after death. Some of the …

The Worst of Times?

Mrs. Tuchman has written four books about twentieth-century diplomatic and military history, and has won a Pulitzer Prize for two of them, which is a remarkable achievement. The criteria used for the award of these prizes would seem to be stylistic elegance, vivid descriptive narrative, accurate scholarship, a clear point …

Walking Over Grandma

It is a truism that historians tend to ask questions about the past that are of direct concern to the societies in which they live. In the nineteenth century, the central issues were nation-building and constitutional law; in the early twentieth century, they were economic development and class relationships; today …

The True History of the Catholics in England

The English Catholic community has not hitherto been well served by its historians or publicists. In this century, the reality of a fascinating story has been hopelessly blurred by the romantic pseudo-medievalism of Belloc and Chesterton and, more recently, by the equally misleading nostalgic snobbery of Waugh in Brideshead Revisited.

Whigs, Marxists, and Poachers

Twelve years ago, in 1963, Mr. E. P. Thompson exploded upon the historical scene with a book of erudition, imagination, and moral passion, The Making of the English Working Class. It is one of those books that inspire generations of scholars and students to either emulation or debunking, and it …

The Massacre of the Innocents

In the year 1974 one does not have to be a historian to sense that things are getting worse. Indeed, for the first time it is possible to see the face of Doomsday peering out just around the next corner, whether it takes the form of World Government by Universal …

How Nasty Was Thomas Cromwell?

It is a textbook cliché that during the upheaval of the Reformation, after a period of great uncertainty, the religious configuration of Europe was eventually somehow made to correspond to the political. In the end, the boundaries of nation-states dictated the religious faith to which the great majority of their …