by Christopher Hill

Finished on

Eric Hobsbawm, in his The Age of Revolution, which summarises the French and Industrial revolutions and their effects, talks about the way that bourgeois revolutions established support for domestic capitalism as the primary role of the state. He makes a sort-of off-hand comment about how the English revolution (or civil wars if you don’t like the R-word) had established that position here 150 years before France.

Hill’s book shows you how and why that happened. I’d recommend it.

Some snippets felt a bit alien as I had relatively little knowledge of the period — presumably a difference between being an adult in 1960 and 2019 — but it’s very readable and understandable.

Hill covers “the long 17th century” — 1603–1714 — and it can be quite detailed in parts. Verso have recently reissued his Reformation to Industrial Revolution, which covers a longer sweep (1530–1780) in fewer pages so presumably focuses on the core trends and events. I have a copy but have yet to read it. A quick glance suggests it doesn’t dig into the how or why of the Reformation, so you’ll want to look elsewhere if that’s something you’re interested in.