In this path-breaking study, Jonathan Scott argues that seventeenth-century English history was shaped by three processes. The first was destructive: that experience of political instability which contemporaries called 'our troubles'. The second was creative: its spectacular intellectual consequence in the English revolution. The third was reconstructive: the long restoration voyage toward safe haven from these terrifying storms. Driving the troubles were fears and passions animated by European religious and political developments. The result registered the impact upon fragile institutions of powerful beliefs. One feature of this analysis is its relationship of the history of events to that of ideas. Another is its consideration of these processes across the century as a whole. The most important is its restoration of this extraordinary English experience to its European context.