chapter
Introduction
Pages 10

During the first third of the seventeenth century, as most of Western Europe suffered the ravages of war, England, Scotland, and Ireland experienced one of the most peaceful and prosperous periods in their histories. The Stuarts had successfully ruled these three kingdoms and Wales since 1603. For the first time in history, Britain had no internal hostile borders, and the coasts of the Irish Sea were controlled by a common power. This peace and tranquility was disturbed in the 1620s as England fought briefly in the Thirty Years War and engaged in largely maritime wars against Spain and France. While these military endeavors failed, Ireland and Britain were spared the direct impact of war because of their insularity. Charles I restored peace to his domains by 1630 and then attempted to carry out programs of administrative and religious reform that came to be called ‘thorough’.