Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)


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Jackson, F. Ferguson and K. Paul L. Hughes and James F.

William D. Hamilton, vol. I, Camden Society new series 11 The place of publication for all works is London unless otherwise noted. The ostensible purpose of the letter was to complain about his parishioners and neighbours, who had responded with open hostility to the reformist Gospel which he was preaching.

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He was an aspiring playwright, and had been using the stage as a propaganda tool. At least one of his plays had already been performed. His story could be retold almost endlessly from the state papers of the late s, and scholars of the English Reformation since the mids have done just that. This is a story of evangelical reformers, the forerunners of English Protestantism, struggling to make themselves heard in a country where loyalty to traditional religion ran deep, and where the new Gospel which they preached met with widespread hostility — not least because of its very novelty.

The woman on the rock presumably represents the true Church, the bride of Christ. Wylley seems to be drawing on the symbolism of the Book of Revelation, in which the woman with child who symbolises either the Virgin Mary or the Church is persecuted by the devil, and carried away to safety. Here we have, apparently, the classic Protestant tale of the true Church under persecution.

Foxe maintained that the division between papist and Protestant was no chance alignment, the result of the contingencies of religious politics. There is no neutrality, nor mediation of peace, nor exhortation to agrement that will serue betwene these two contrary doctrines, but either the Popes errors must geue place to Gods word, or els the veritye of God must geue place vnto them. Catholics merely reversed the colours. AM, The terminological problems arising from the realisation that this is untenable have not yet been resolved satisfactorily.

The religious divide which Foxe celebrated, and which he did so much to perpetuate, need not have taken the shape which it eventually did. There was both mediation of peace and exhortation to agreement, nor did the two doctrines always appear so contrary. Partisan Catholic and Protestant historians have long shared an interest in maintaining it, and some recent scholarship emphasising the vitality of traditional religion has also reinforced it. Some other recent work has argued that the opposing religious parties were less sharply separated from one another and from mass culture than they would have liked to believe.

It traces the more important strands of reformist thought and behaviour, and connects them to their broader political and social context. In this early period of the Reformation, evangelicals hoped that that tension could be resolved. The divisions of which Foxe later wrote were far from watertight. The woman on the rock may be a symbol of Protestantism under persecution, but the description of her suffering is lifted from traditional Catholic theology. We may be sure that the play was polemical, but its polemic borrowed from the vocabulary of 5 6 See above, pp.

There was no room for the traditional doctrine of purgatory in the kind of evangelicalism which Wylley preached.

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Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State

Purgatory was not mentioned in Scripture. Most religious polemic of the Reformation era was a dialogue of the deaf, with polemicists more concerned to shore up the faith of the converted than to persuade their opponents. Moreover, this is more than a canny technique of proselytisation. His use of purgatory as an image unavoidably implies that traditional religion might have something to contribute towards the right understanding of the faith.

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There was a true purgatory even if purgatory as his audience understood it was false. Many were like Thomas Wylley, whose opposition to traditional religion was not so absolute that he would not borrow ideas from it.

They were ready to dress their reformism in conservative clothes. For others, it was because religious identities were as yet unformed. Most importantly, like the Suffolk playwright, almost all English evangelicals had their hopes centred on the regime, and in particular on the person of Henry VIII. Reformers became increasingly alienated from the state, Introduction 5 not least because of the regular bouts of persecution which they faced.

In particular, a political crisis in the spring of left many previously moderate reformers thoroughly alienated from the regime. Partly because of the vivid account of her interrogations which she wrote, Askew became the most memorable reformist martyr of the s. Despite intense pressure to recant, she maintained her radical doctrines and refused to betray her associates. So, notoriously and in gross violation of the law, she was stretched on the rack so severely that by the time she was burned she could no longer stand. She could not have been more different from Thomas Wylley. It obscures the mass of the people who left their traditional religion only with great reluctance.

Early evangelicals, like all minorities, remain of intrinsic interest and it is appropriate that they should attract historiographical attention disproportionate to their numbers. Haigh Cambridge, , ix.

Moreover, to the extent that this minority had its political and religious identity formed at an early stage, its history is of vital importance for understanding the English Protestant identity which was to have such a profound impact on the centuries which followed. Granted that the early development of English evangelicalism is a subject of lasting importance, the historiographical advances of the past two decades have nevertheless profoundly changed our view of this subject.

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Those very advances, however, require that our understanding of evangelicalism should be reassessed. Just as an overemphasis on Protestantism can distort our view of other parts of the religious landscape, so the new attention which traditional religion has received has implications for our view of reformist movements.

This question is at its sharpest in the reign of Edward VI, when changes which transformed parish religion more profoundly than anything which Henry VIII had done were forced through by unstable regency regimes in six years, and when serious resistance was limited to one rising in two English counties. In the s A. Dickens, The English Reformation , Introduction 7 divided and politically vulnerable. Nevertheless, it remained a small minority.

Where did the Edwardian Reformation come from, and how did it succeed? A major purpose of this book is to explore how English evangelicalism changed during this period, both socially and theologically. The results of the exploration will, I hope, shed some light on the later evangelicalism that emerged from these years, and the Reformations which it drove. This may seem perverse. I would suggest, however, that the golden age of the local study in English Reformation history is passing. Rather, these studies at their best have not simply been attempts to complete a jigsaw puzzle, but have raised questions and introduced methodologies which have had far-reaching implications.

Peter Marshall and Alec Ryrie Cambridge, In a state as powerfully centralised as Tudor England, the role of the central government cannot be ignored.

This is particularly so when dealing with early evangelicals. They themselves were highly mobile and maintained informal networks of communication across the country. Local studies of evangelicalism stumble over the fact that many evangelicals refused to stay put in one locality. They looked for earthly authority not to the justice of the peace, the local magnate or the bishop, but to the king. They saw themselves in a national or international context; and it is in that context that they demand to be studied. Part I of this book, therefore, examines the national political situation and the evangelical responses to it.

It contests the common view of this period as one of conservative reaction, arguing that this interpretation derives largely from a later, partisan historiography. Chapter 2 examines the ways in which evangelicals dealt with this confused political situation. It surveys the faltering development of evangelical political thought, arguing that the majority of reformers in these years went out of their way to avoid or defuse confrontations with the regime, and continued to exalt royal authority.

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The test of such theoretical positions came, of course, when the regime chose to enforce the heresy laws or otherwise place individual evangelicals under pressure. I argue that under such circumstances, most reformers were more inclined to dissimulation, 14 15 G.

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Part II considers the range of faces which evangelicalism presented under these circumstances. These exiles included some very prominent evangelical publicists, most of whom held decidedly radical views. I argue, however, that their impact on events and attitudes in England at the time was extremely limited, and that they cannot be taken as representative of the broader evangelical movement.

Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)
Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)
Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)
Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)
Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)

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