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FROM ELIZABETH I TO THE
RESTORATION OF THE MONARCHY

(History of Oxford VI)

 

Renewed Prosperity and the Civil War

New life was injected into the university and town with the political and religious stability enjoyed during the reign of Elizabeth I. There came a renewed demand for an adequate education of the professional classes: clerics, lawyers and teachers. Furthermore, the aristocracy became more aware of the necessity of education in their social formation and to pander to their needs recreational and sports facilities were organised.

There was renewed expansion in building, both academic and urban, during the 17th century. We have the founding of two colleges Wadham (1612) and Pembroke (1624) and in the city the construction of a number of timber-framed buildings such as Kemp Hall (1637).


The Civil War

Redevelopment and economic growth was brought to an end with the outbreak of the Civil War. Oxford, of course, was enthusiastically Royalist and it was here that the king's army had its base. The king stayed at the Deanery in Christ Church and Henrietta Maria stayed at Merton College. The Hall was used for meetings of the Royalist Parliament and the castle was transformed into a prison for unfortunate Parliamentarians. Also, in 1644, a fire destroyed part of the city.

At the end of the War Oxford had to submit to Parliamentarian forces that wrought further destruction on the city including the castle. The University, however, showed great aptitude in adapting to circumstances and even had Oliver Cromwell as its Chancellor. It also maintained its influence after the restoration of Charles II (1660). The university, once again, had a change in fortune, although it was out of favour with the aristocracy.

 

RJW


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latest update: 9/3/03