The Personal Rule of Charles I 1629-40

Classic Pamphlet

By G.E. Aylmer, published 31st August 2010

Analysis and Interpretation

Historians are often accused of viewing the past with hindsight, or of being wise after the event. Not being prophets or soothsayers, we have to look backwards in time because we cannot look forwards. The real question is from what vantage point or perspective we view a particular part of the past, and whether we distort its reality by an anachronistic application of ideas or parallels which mislead more that they illuminate. We cannot pretend to ourselves that the subsequent history of England, from the 1640's on, has not happened; we cannot force ourselves to forget about the Civil War, the regicide, the Republic, the Restoration, the Revolution of 1688-9 and so on. Yet we have to guard against misunderstanding what was happening before 1640-42, through seeing the preceding years exclusively from a later standpoint.

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