Thompson traces English politics from the time when they mainly involved the relationships between the king and his magnates and politics were dominated by wars with France, to the Reformation, which introduced new ideologies but relegated England to the fringe of Europe outside the main area of European conflict in Italy. It is a work of synthesis containing 41 short chapters and also has a useful compendium of information and several maps. Its chapters are grouped into in five major units: economy, society, politics, government, and the church. These five topics are only connected in the book's prologue and epilogue, and only one section, on politics, is a chronological narrative. The book has no central theme but it synthesises large amounts of material and explores its various topics in depth and detail.
The sections on politics and on economic and social history are clearly written and conclude that population changes were vital in economic development and that economic issues rather than dissatisfaction with the social system caused popular risings. Thomson concludes that sound government finances depended on controlling expenditure, which was only possible with the ending of the Hundred Years War in 1453. The section on the church, including discussions of Lollardy and Anglo-Papal relations is a good short account. Thompson seems well able to make broad and valid historical judgements in these areas. The sections on government and politics can be slightly confusing as elements of the same event can occur in different sections, however the book is a good general introduction to the period.