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166 Reviews use of French-style miraculous anointing od by the Lancastrians to the famdiar theme of Burgundian-style spectacle in the Yorkist and Tudor period. The limited success of aU this propaganda is a necessary antidote to the pessimism of the lectures as a whole. Indeed, the book leaves one wondering how medieval English government managed to function at aU and how England could possibly have earned a reputation as the best governed state in Europe with the best record system supplying its bureaucrats with an unusually accessible range of data on previous government actions. The realities of bureaucracy and royal power were sombre enough but the Lander view tends to the negative and, sometimes,tothe paradoxical. The misery of the French peasantry in 1500 compared with the position of its counterpart in England, the country-dweUing nobility and gentry of England reluctant to fight in the later years of the Hundred Years War and after 1453 but indulging in the sporadic viciousness of civil war, the declining regularity of Parliamentary summonses in the Yorkist and Tudor period; these are all commented on in passing but they are undeveloped themes which could produce rather different lectures on the same general topic. Taken as essays on certain elements in the problems of governing England, these Goodman lectures are darkly bracing. Used in conjunction with the excellent, and sometimes unfamiliar, bibliography contained within the footnotes, the lectures might lead the thoughtful reader to a broader context in which to place these obiter dicta. R. Ian Jack Department of History University of Sydney Lee, Maurice, jr, Great Britain's Solomon: James VI and I in his three kingdoms, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1990; pp. xviii, 332; R. R. P. US$32.50. If Maurice Lee is correct, then Sir Walter Scott has a lot to answer for. The Fortunes of Nigel followed James' bitterest court critics, indelibly stigmatising 'the Wisest Fool in Christendom' as an unwashed, drooling, pedantic buffoon. Like other 'revisionists' Lee rehabilitates James, although not through a biography or fuU analysis of contemporary politics, but through a collection of thematic essays, distilling forty years' study and four previous books on James into a lucid, vivid interweaving of original research with a critical survey of recent scholarship. The result reassesses judiciously James's canny manoeuvrings in secular and ecclesiastical politics in Scodand and England, his kingship, his relationship with the English Court, Parliament and those other troublesome bodies his favourites, his foreign policy, his religion and his bequest of a basically stable, united kingdom to Charles. Despite the title, Ireland is ignored. In all these areas Lee marks James's performance as above Reviews 167 average within the constraining circumstances. But does the character Lee so accurately delineates constitute the successful king he claims to discover? James's Scottish upbringing provided a mixed education in kingship, instilling both good and bad habits foUowed consistently throughout his Ufe and reigns. O n the plus side he learnt the value of keeping his options open: an avoidance of rash initiatives seen at Hampton Court and in his foreign policy after 1603. Both his preference for consensus and short-term tactical concessions rather than belligerent intransigence and also his patience and tenacity in pursuing goals explain both his Scottish successes in Church and State and his partial success, partial because he failed to adapt his methods to different circumstances, in winning over the English political nation, whether in the locaUties, the Court or the very occasional Parliament. Yet on the negative side the favourite of his adolescence, Esm6 Stuart, instiUed in James a convenient but dangerous inteUectual arrogance, an assumption that being more talented in more ways than others he was able to ignore business and still be successful by working in concentrated bursts. A typical inteUectual therefore, self-indulgent and an habitual idler, James lacked the dihgence to operate the more elaborate English governmental machine at full capacity, a fading which turned great state occasions into confused riots but more importantly explains the failure of the 1621 Partiament because of the king's absence at Newmarket. James's avoidance of the minutiae of governance explains the rise of Buckingham as both the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 166-167
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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