Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Q&A with RHS Whitfield Prize winner Jacqueline Rose

Author Jacqueline Rose has been crowned the winner of the prestigious Royal Historical Society 2012 Whitfield Prize for her book ‘Godly Kingship in Restoration England‘.

The President announced Jacqueline Rose (second from left) as the winner at the Society’s annual reception in London. The Royal Historical Society awards a number of prizes each year to recognise outstanding historical scholarship and achievement and offers the Whitfield prize for a new book on British or Irish history.

To be eligible the book must have been published in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland during the calendar year. It must also be its author’s first solely written book and be an original and scholarly work of historical research. Godly Kingship in Restoration England’ looks at how the position of English monarchs as supreme governors of the Church of England profoundly affected early modern politics and religion.

The judges said: “Godly Kingship is an outstanding book. It is based on deeply impressive research, which establishes the different lines of argument in what are often difficult theological, ecclesiastical, legal and political tracts. This is a book which is already influencing historical discussions. More importantly, it has the breadth, assurance and insight to ensure that it will be a book of substantial and enduring significance.”

The royal supremacy is a very revealing window on the way in which, in the early modern period, political and religious thought and practice are absolutely inseparable.

Shortly after the ceremony, Marketing Executive Danny Bean caught up with her to find out a little more about the writing process behind a prize-winning book.

What is it that particularly interested you about this topic, and inspired you to write the book?

I am intrigued by concepts of monarchy and the Church in the Tudor and Stuart periods. The royal supremacy is a very revealing window on the way in which, in the early modern period, political and religious thought and practice are absolutely inseparable. Today we speak of ‘political history’, ‘religious’ or ‘church’ history, and ‘intellectual history’; those categories just don’t make sense for the 16th and 17th centuries. I approached the Restoration (1660-88) having studied Tudor history and was intrigued by the continuities I saw across the two centuries.

What was the greatest challenge in writing it?

Fitting everything in and doing so in a coherent structure! Actively researching two centuries of history can be a disadvantage; I had not only to explain what the Tudor legacy was, but also to revise previous interpretations of it. It took a long time to work out how to show all the subtle differences of interpretation without the account becoming too fragmented. The best piece of advice came from my doctoral examiners: to wait and let my ideas develop over a couple of years rather than rushing to publish.

Was there any one historian/academic/writer that ignited your interest?

John Guy – his account of the complex and multiple meanings of the royal supremacy under Henry VIII and hints that this had long term implications for the 17th century.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?

A mixture of pen and word processor. Notes certainly get taken by pen (or pencil!). Increasingly, too, drafts are written by hand – my writing used to be extremely dense, and it flows better if handwritten. But I would always redraft several times.

Have you got any recommendations for further reading? Specialised libraries/collections?

As suggested above, John Guy’s essays on the 1530s and the supremacy; from the Restoration point of view, Mark Goldie’s essays. Most of my sources could be found in Cambridge, Oxford, and the British Library, but another wonderful resource is Dr Williams’s Library in London which holds many of the major records for religious Dissent.

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