This book, the first volume to appear of the New Oxford History of England, offers the most authoritative, comprehensive general history of England between the accession of George II and the loss of America. Though conventionally seen as static and politically stable, the eighteenth century was an age of extraordinary vitality and variety, of contrasts and change. Beneath the serene surface of aristocratic government, stately manners, and Georgian elegance, lay a less orderly world of treasonable plots, riotous mobs, and Hogarthian vulgarity. While rapid commercial growth and burgeoning bourgeois pretensions gave rise to the positive achievements of military success and imperial expansion, cultural confidence and polite manners, tensions and contradictions simmered and threatened. Evangelical enthusiasm jostled with scientific rationalism, oligarchical politics with popular insubordination, entrepreneurial opulence with plebian poverty, sentimentality with utilitarian reform. Using the most up-to-date research, Paul Langford reveals the true character of the age, and demonstrates that eighteenth-century society was both strengthened and stretched by the changes to which it was subjected. THE NEW OXFORD HISTORY OF ENGLAND series (General Editor: J. M. Roberts) The first volume of Sir George Clark's Oxford History of England was published in 1934. Over the following fifty years that series established itself as a standard work of reference, and a repertoire of scholarship for hundreds of thousands of readers. The New Oxford History of England, of which this is the first volume, is its successor. Each volume will set out an authoritative view of the present state of scholarship, presenting a distillation of the new knowledge built up by a half-century's research and publication of new sources, and incorporating the perspectives and judgements of a new generation of scholars. It is the intention of the General Editor and the Publisher that shall worthily take the place of its predecessor as the standard authoritative account of the national history and achieve a similar classic standing.