The period from around 1500 to 1750 saw enormous change. The population of England and Wales nearly doubled, leading to inflation and poverty as well as commercial expansion. Urbanization increased, spectacularly so in the case of London, which grew to become by 1700 the largest capital in Europe. At the same time literacy and education developed and a print culture rapidly expanded. This was a period of religious reformation, which affected not only the lives of individuals but the culture of governance and the fabric of local communities.
By the end of the period, England had emerged from being a backwater state to a rising world power, which brought about a new set of cultural and social challenges. Hierarchies of gender and status, however, remained pervasive throughout, and in some ways became even more pronounced. The module examines these central themes during a very important and formative period in English history.