The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII (OUP, January 2018)
Henry VIII fought many wars, against the French and Scots, against rebels in England and the Gaelic lords of Ireland, even against his traditional allies in the Low Countries. But how much did these wars really affect his subjects? And what role did Henry's reign play in the long-term transformation of England's military capabilities?
The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII searches for the answers to these questions in parish and borough account books, wills and memoirs, buildings and paintings, letters from Henry's captains, and the notes readers wrote in their printed history books. It looks back from Henry's reign to that of his grandfather, Edward IV, who in 1475 invaded France in the afterglow of the Hundred Years War, and forwards to that of Henry's daughter Elizabeth, who was trying by the 1570s to shape a trained militia and a powerful navy to defend England in a Europe increasingly polarised by religion. War, it shows, marked Henry's England at every turn: in the news and prophecies people discussed, in the money towns and villages spent on armour, guns, fortifications, and warning beacons, in the way noblemen used their power. War disturbed economic life, made men buy weapons and learn how to use them, and shaped people's attitudes to the king and to national history. War mobilised a high proportion of the English population and conditioned their relationships with the French and Scots, the Welsh and the Irish. War should be recognised as one of the defining features of life in the England of Henry VIII.