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Ideas make a big difference in history, says Glendon professor


Friends, colleagues and students celebrated the launch of the latest book by York Professor Ian Gentles Wednesday at Glendon’s Senior Common Room.

The English Revolution And the Wars in the Three Kingdoms 1683-1652, Gentles’ second major work on the period, is published by Longmans’ Pearson textbook division, and available at York University Bookstores (see story in the Oct. 18 issue of YFile).

Ian Gentles chats with current students in Glendon's Senior Common Room at the launch of his latest book

In his remarks on why he wrote a book about this well-trodden ground of European history, Gentles said he wanted to emphasize aspects of the conflict that are often overlooked, particularly the role played by Scotland, which led the way to revolution, and Ireland, which suffered the most during the three wars of the period. Gentles said he wanted to again take issue with revisionist historians who dismiss the central importance of idealism – in this case religion – as the leading cause of the dispute between Parliament and King Charles I. “Ideas make a big difference to history,” he said “I am not an economic determinist.”

Several members of Glendon’s History Department joined Gentles for the occasion, including Suzanne Langlois, department Chair; Albert Tucker, professor emeritus and former principal of Glendon, and Michiel Horn, professor emeritus and University historian. Many of Gentles current and former students also attended the launch.

Left: Gentles signs a copy of his book for Glendon history Chair Suzanne Langlois

Gentles thanked Glendon for giving him the time and Canadian taxpayers for the financial backing to research the book, which took him 15 years to complete. He thanked, in particular, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for its financial support.

Gentles has begun work on his next book, tentatively titled, “England’s Laboratory for Empire: Ireland in the 16th and 17th Centuries” for which he received a 2007 SSHRC award (see story in the Aug. 22 issue of YFile). He is also planning a short biography of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland during the decade when England was a republic.

Published on October 26, 2007