We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Publication details for Professor Andy Wood

Wood, Andy (2014). The deep roots of Albion’s fatal tree: the Tudor state and the monopoly of violence. History 99(336): 403-417.

Author(s) from Durham


Building upon some classical debates in historical materialism, this essay proceeds to a critical appreciation of the coercive capacities of the Tudor state. Balancing evidence for coercion against that for more subtle processes of negotiation and persuasion, it shows that when faced with substantial opposition, the Tudor state was capable of exercising massive organized violence. From this flow two key points: first, that the extreme violence of which the Tudor state was capable needs to be read alongside tentative evidence suggesting that in the mid- and late sixteenth century very high levels of capital punishment were quite normal; and second, that in its reaction to popular rebellion, the Tudor state fell back upon extra-legal, informal but nonetheless tightly focused repression. In all these ways, then, there is a profound need for English historians to consider the Tudor state as not only the institutional focus of class power, but also to appreciate it as labouring at its worst: within the theatre of Ireland, the English state worked in the late sixteenth century as a repressive monster, gaining the potential to crush the interests, livelihoods and lives of people of Ireland into the bloody earth. Not for the last time, then, the repressive habits of the English ruling class found their most brutal expression in the things they did to Irish people. There are lessons here, Wood implies, for the present. Studies of the internal repressive capacities of the English state need – historically – always to be tied to its conduct within the island of Ireland.