‘Devil-Land’ examines England’s most turbulent century

A new book by Trinity Hall’s Senior Tutor, Dr Clare Jackson, was published last week, revisiting ‘English history’s most turbulent and radical era’: the 100 years from 1588 to 1688.

Dr Clare Jackson in her Trinity Hall office. Photo by Caroline Mardon

Entitled Devil-Land – England Under Siege 1588-1688, Dr Jackson depicts a country in a state of near-continual crisis, plagued by crises including the Gunpowder Plot, decade-long civil war and the Great Fire of London.

As Dr Jackson explained: “In this book, I wanted to emphasise how, to its Continental neighbours, 17th-century England was often a byword for instability, radicalism and sudden regime change. At the same time, many English subjects found their Stuart rulers suspiciously ‘foreign’ and not necessarily inclined to act in England’s interests”.

According to the book’s publisher, Penguin: “Clare Jackson’s dazzling, original account of English history’s most turbulent and radical era tells the story of a nation in a state of near continual crisis.

“Devil-Land reveals England as, in many ways, a ‘failed state’: endemically unstable and rocked by devastating events from the Gunpowder Plot to the Great Fire of London. Catastrophe nevertheless bred creativity, and Jackson makes brilliant use of eyewitness accounts – many penned by stupefied foreigners – to dramatize her great story. Starting on the eve of the Spanish Armada’s descent in 1588 and concluding with a not-so ‘Glorious Revolution’ a hundred years later, Devil-Land is a spectacular reinterpretation of England’s vexed and enthralling past.”

Devil-Land book cover
Devil-Land book cover

Dr Jackson will be discussing Devil-Land with Trinity Hall alumnus and Honorary Fellow, Andrew Marr (1977), on Radio 4’s Start the Week on Monday 11 October. The current (November) issue of BBC History Magazine also features an interview with Dr Jackson about her new book.

Read The Times book review.

Buy Devil-Land


Main image: Dr Clare Jackson. Photo by Caroline Mardon.