Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688
This dazzling, original and hugely engaging book tells the story of a nation in a state of near continual crisis. To many foreigner observers, seventeenth-century England was 'Devil-Land': a country riven by political faction, religious difference, financial ruin and royal collapse.
As an unmarried heretic with no heir, Elizabeth I was regarded with horror by Catholic Europe, while her Stuart successors, James I and VI of Scotland and Charles I, were seen as impecunious and incompetent, unable to manage their three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. The traumatic civil wars, regicide and a republican Commonwealth were followed by the floundering, foreign-leaning rule of Charles II and his brother, James II and VII of Scotland, before William of Orange invaded England with a Dutch army and a new order was imposed.
Devil-Land reveals England as, in many ways, a 'failed state': endemically unstable and constantly rocked by devastating events from the Gunpowder Plot to the Great Fire of London. Catastrophe nevertheless bred creativity, and Jackson makes brilliant use of eyewitness accounts - many penned by stupefied foreigners - to dramatize her great story. Starting on the eve of the Spanish Armada's descent in 1588 and concluding with a not-so 'Glorious Revolution' a hundred years later, Devil-Land is a spectacular reinterpretation of England's vexed and enthralling past.