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Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI)

Unveiling the Secrets of Tudor History: 'Tudor Networks of Power' - A Pioneering Collaboration

New book from Queen Mary academic Professor Ruth Ahnert, an early modern book historian, and Dr. Sebastian E. Ahnert, a physicist specialising in complex networks, brings to light the complex power dynamics, the spy-craft, and the intrigues that defined the Tudor era (1509-1603).


In a remarkable fusion of historical expertise and cutting-edge scientific analysis, 'Tudor Networks of Power' is set to rewrite the narrative of a century of Tudor history. The new book, authored by the dynamic duo of Professor Ruth Ahnert, an early modern book historian and digital humanist, and Dr. Sebastian E. Ahnert, a physicist specializing in complex networks, brings to light a captivating tapestry of scandals, intrigue, and power that defined the Tudor era (1509-1603).

What makes this project truly groundbreaking is its unique blend of humanities and data-driven science. It unravels the secrets of the Tudor dynasty by reconstructing and computationally analysing the networks of intelligence, diplomacy, and political influence, all based on the British State Papers.

Accompanying the book is the 'Tudor Networks' data visualization website, a tool that allows users to explore nearly a century of history from a macro perspective. Just as Google Maps reveals uncharted streets, this platform uncovers hidden histories and previously unknown network connections.

Commenting on the publication of the new book Ruth Ahnert, Professor of Literary History & Digital Humanities, School of English and Drama, and The Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI), Queen Mary University of London said: "Our research transcends disciplinary boundaries, showcasing how the marriage of science and the humanities can shed new light on centuries-old enigmas. 'Tudor Networks of Power' is a testament to the dynamic interplay of history and data science."

Dr. Sebastian E. Ahnert, University of Cambridge added: "We believe in the power of open collaboration and transparency. By sharing our code and data, we're inviting others to join us on this journey through the annals of history, contributing to the ongoing exploration of Tudor-era networks."

Key Highlights of 'Tudor Networks of Power':

  1. Unprecedented Network Analysis: Professor Ruth Ahnert and Dr. Sebastian E. Ahnert employ advanced network analytics to painstakingly reconstruct the communication networks of over 20,000 individuals, unveiling the intricacies of their relationships.
  2. Diverse Correspondent Profiles: The research scrutinizes the network profiles of a wide array of correspondents, from monarchs and their secretaries of state to diplomats, spies, conspirators, and adversaries of the state, shedding light on the complex interplay of power and influence during this tumultuous period.
  3. Spatial Dimension of Communication: The book investigates the spatial dimension of communication, revealing the journeys and itineraries of correspondents and how these intersected with other letter writers. This innovative approach offers a unique perspective on the geographic foundations of Tudor-era power networks.
  4. Intermediary Role of Women: The research showcases the pivotal intermediary role played by women in and around the royal court, offering a fresh perspective on the often-overlooked contributions of women to Tudor politics and power dynamics.
  5. Advocating Computational Approaches: Professor Ruth Ahnert and Dr. Sebastian E. Ahnert make a compelling case for employing computational approaches in historical research and humanities. Their interdisciplinary approach provides a more holistic understanding of history and humanistic inquiry.
  6. Open Access to Code and Data: In a move towards greater collaboration and transparency, the researchers provide published code and data, allowing other scholars and users to build upon their work and contribute to the ongoing exploration of Tudor-era networks.

'Tudor Networks of Power' stands as a testament to the fusion of knowledge and technology, offering a fresh perspective on the Tudor era, its power structures, and the intricate web of communications that defined it. This work is poised to become an invaluable resource for scholars and enthusiasts of history, literature, and network science, inviting all to embark on a journey through the heart of Tudor intrigue and influence. 

'Tudor Networks of Power' is now available to purchase in Hardback or as eBook from the publisher Oxford University Press.




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