UNC Pembroke historian Dr. Charles Beem’s second book on English monarchs will be published in October 2008 by Palgrave McMillan Ltd.
“The Royal Minorities of Medieval and Early Modern England,” edited and co-authored by Dr. Beem, surveys the history of the six boy kings whose reigns constituted these“royal minorities.” The UNCP scholar wrote the introduction, conclusion, and the chapter on King Edward VI (1547-1553) who became king at the age of nine.
“My area of specialty is 16th century England, and the scholars I invited to write for this project are also experts in particular areas of history,” Dr. Beem said. “For this particular project, the other contributors refocused their scholarship to explore what relationship these reigns had with each other, as well as what their collective impact was on the history of medieval England.”
When a child inherited the throne, it created “an extraordinary set of circumstances that, through time, offered a periodic test to the strength and durability of the English system of government.”
His first book, “The Lioness Roared: The Problems of Female Rule in English History,” (Palgrave McMillan, 2006) focused on female monarchs. English history is a well-trodden path, and Dr. Beem is forging new trails.
“I am someone who takes a big view of history, while most scholars work in specialized disciplines,” he said. “If I buck the trend, it is because I enjoy stepping back to look for long term comparisons and continuities.”
It has paid off handsomely for Dr. Beem, who is producing readable and interesting scholarship. Reviews of his first book were unanimously positive.
- The American Historical Review called it “highly readable, engaging, and enlightening. One might even consider reading this book purely for pleasure.”
- The Journal of British Studies said “this study helpfully puts the spotlight on queenship over the longue duree, providing welcome new avenues for research by transcending the boundaries of individual reigns.”
- The Medieval Feminist Forum called it “thoughtful and thorough. Beem admirably situates his study both within the fields of women’s studies and political history, exploring these women’s reigns for what they contribute to our understanding of women’s positions and the political situation of the time.”
“The Royal Minorities” promises to do the same for England’s boy kings.
“Having a minor on the throne required the nation to put away partisan differences and pull together and remain sound during this period,” Dr. Beem said. “One of the more obvious results of royal minorities was the increasing role of Parliament and councils in managing the nation, then giving it back which created precedents for collective responsibility.”
Yet minorities sometimes resulted in crisis situations that created factions and revealed instabilities,” he said. “Some did not survive like Edward V whose reign only lasted two-and-a-half months before he was deposed.”
Dr. Beem has proved a productive scholar in just five years at UNCP. It has only been two and a half years since the publication of his last book, and he has numerous additional ongoing projects.
“This project stemmed from my master’s thesis at Northern Arizona University,” he said. “The day I handed in that manuscript for my first book, I knew I would return to this subject.”
“Less than three years is not a long time,” he said. “I wrote and edited at the same time, so I had to crack the whip on myself and my contributors.”
A summer fellowship program for UNCP’s junior scholars was also beneficial.
“I was able to do a lot quickly due to the support of the University and (Provost) Dr. Charles Harrington,” Dr. Beem said. “I feel valued here, and I am very thankful.”
A move to the Triangle area to be closer to larger libraries also contributed to the success of the project. Dr. Beem has also written several book reviews and was invited to join the selection committee for the John Ben Snow Prize for British Historians.
He is also working with colleague Dr. Carole Levin of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a series of books for Palgrave McMillan on “Queenship and Power.” Three books are expected to be published this fall with more to follow.
Dr. Beem launched a Web site, www.tudorhistory.com, in 2008.
Early reviews of “The Royal Minorities” are good. Chris Given-Wilson of the University of St. Andrews said, “Charles Beem has assembled an impressive line-up of historians well-acquainted with their subjects to illuminate the history and significance of royal minorities over three centuries. This is a well-conceived and well-organized book dealing with an important topic that has not been covered in this kind of detail before.”
“The Royal Minorities” is organized into six chapters on the boy kings: Henry III by Christian Hillen and Frank Wiswall, Edward III by J.S. Bothwell, Richard II by Gwilym Dodd, Henry VI by R. A. Griffiths, Edward V by Michael Hicks and Edward Vi by Dr. Beem.
Dr. Beem joined UNCP’s faculty in 2003 after earning a doctorate from the University of Arizona. He teaches world civilization, medieval history and the history of the British Empire. In 2006, he won an Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2008, he won the Adolph L. Dial Award for Scholarship.
For more information about Dr. Beem, his book or UNCP’s History Department, please contact 910.521.6229.