History 367 Society and Ideas in Shakespeare’s England



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Rejection of clerical celibacy.

  • Rejection of transubstantiation (and, except by Lutherans, of consubstantiation).

  • Rejection of Purgatory, the Treasury of Merits, and indulgences.

  • Protestants differed on forms of church government:

  • Some argued for the autonomy of individual congregations; these were Congregationalists or Independents (1604-); more radical still were Brownists/ Separatists (1580-)

    Protestantism: conformity and dissent 03

    • Some wanted church government locally to be run by presbyters (pastors or ministers; elected for life), and elders (elected for short terms); pastors and elders were in turn to elect members of a regional council or synod; and the regional synod was to elect members of a national synod;

    • This system was Presbyterianism;

    • It would have taken power over the church away from the state.

    A rare example of an international Synod: the Synod of Dort, 1618-19; it condemned Arminianism

    Protestantism: conformity and dissent 04

    • Elizabeth and later monarchs ruled the church through bishops, as in Catholic times (though pope and monarch had then shared power).

    • Elizabeth approved vestments and ceremonies reminiscent of Catholic times, including kneeling to receive holy communion, bowing at the name of Jesus, and the sign of the cross in baptism.

    • Puritans objected to the vestments and ceremonies; some puritans were Presbyterians/ Independents.

    The best known of the vestments to which puritans objected was the Surplice

    Protestantism: conformity and dissent 05

    • Under Elizabeth, Presbyterians tried to replace episcopacy (rule by bishops) with a Prebsyterian system; the Queen defeated them.

    • Presbyterianism revived after 1642; many Presbyterians joined parliament in the Civil War of 1642-6.

    • In the 1640s the established episcopal (Anglican) church collapsed.

    Protestantism: conformity and dissent 06

    • In the 1640s/ 50s the Independents defeated attempts by Presbyterians to introduce an intolerant Presbyterian system.

    • Presbyterians joined with Anglicans to bring about the Restoration 1660;

    • But in 1662 Anglican secured a monopoly of power over the church; Dissenters/ Non-conformists (Presbyterians; Independents; Baptists; Quakers) were subjected to legal penalties/ disabilities.

    • Protestant Dissenters gained (limited) toleration 1689.

    The Church and Puritanism 01

    • Elizabeth defeated the Presbyterian wing of Puritanism; it did not revive at the Hampton Court conference 1604; perhaps mutated into Sabbatarianism; Nicholas Bownde 1595.

    • But moderate Puritanism survived; Puritans criticized ceremonies and vestments, and called for moral reforms, attacking swearing, profanity; the drinking of healths, lovelocks, cosmetics, dancing, card-playing, Sunday sports, and the theater.

    The Church and Puritanism 02

    • Under James I, Puritanism mostly did not pose a very serious threat to the established church; George Abbot (Archbishop of Canterbury 1611-33);

    • But under Charles I, divisions within the church became more bitter through controversy between Calvinists and Arminians;

    • Great Migration 1630s; Laudianism.

    Calvinism and Arminianism: TULIP

    • Total Depravity.

    • Unconditional Election.

    • Limited Atonement.

    • Irresistible Grace.

    • Perseverance of the Saints.

    • (Robert Burns; Holy Willie’s Prayer)

    • (Antinomianism)

    The Church and Puritanism 03

    • The “Puritan Triumvirate”; John Bastwick; Henry Burton; William Prynne; Star Chamber 1637;

    • Prynne: Histrio-mastix 1633;

    • SL : Seditious Libeller / the Stigma of Laud;

    • Execution of Laud 1645; Prynne, Canterburies Doom 1646.

    Prynne, Histrio-Mastix, 1633

    Hollar: Prynne

    Prynne in the Pillory 1637

    Religion, heresy, and treason 01

    • Mary burned nearly 300 people as heretics 1555-58.

    • Elizabeth executed around 150 Catholics as traitors, mostly when England was at war with Spain after 1585.

    • In 1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated and deposed Elizabeth.

    • Catholics were subjected to fines, but after Peace with Spain in 1604 they were rarely executed (except during the Popish Plot scare of 1678-81).

    The burning of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, March 1556.

    Religion, heresy, and treason 02

    • Executions for heresy were rare after the death of Mary, but they did sometimes happen under Elizabeth and there were two final executions under James I (Legatt and Wightman; 1612).

    • Anti-Trinitarians were especially likely to suffer as heretics; in 1655 Cromwell sent the Socinian John Biddle into exile to save him from execution by parliament.

    Religion, heresy, and treason 03

    • In 1666, the philosopher and political thinker Thomas Hobbes was threatened by parliament with punishment for heresy (Great Fire of London 1666; the number of the Beast – in Revelation – is 666); he held unorthodox views on the Trinity and was thought to be an atheist (/Deist).

    • John Locke (philosopher) and Sir Isaac Newton (scientist) also held unorthodox views on the Trinity.

    • Overt atheism was dangerous; Christopher Marlowe was accused of it.

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