The text under consideration is extracted from the book ?The Oxford Illustrated' by Tudor and Stuart Britain, published in 1996. It is an excerpt from an essay called "The Search for Religious Liberty, 1640-1690", written by Mark Goldie, a Lecturer at the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. This essay deals with the birth of the concept of toleration and its consequences, referring to the Presbyterian experiment of the 1640s and the 1650s in England. To better understand the issues at stake here, one must first recollect the background of the History of Christianity in England. During the 16th century, the break with Rome led to the creation of the Church of England. Nevertheless, England's Protestant Identity was never a single clear one, as several religious strands struggled to dominate the established Church. Charles I, who reigned from 1625, attempted to tackle the thorny issue of multiple Kingdoms by trying to make England, Scotland and Ireland share the same faith and unite them in a single uniform kingdom, though each of these kingdoms had a different religious set-up.
[...] The book Gangraena, published in 1646 by a fervent Presbyterian called Thomas Edwards sums up well the increasing number of religious designations. He enumerates “sixteen heads or sorts of sectaries”. At the time, Presbyterians were shocked by this proliferation, as the pejorative nouns in the subtitle of this book demonstrate: “Catalogue and discovery of many of the Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies and pernicious Practices”. This is mainly why the Presbyterian experiment of reformation failed: in a divided country without any strong central government, libertarianism aroused and the Westminster Assembly failed to reform the Church. [...]
[...] Bibliography Text studied Goldie M., ‘The Search for Religious Liberty, 1640–1690' in J. Morrill, The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, (Oxford, 1996), p Primary Sources Morgan K.O. The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, (Oxford University Press, 1984) Durston C., Princes, Pastors and People: The Church and Religion in England, 1529-1689 (Routledge, 1991) Morrill J. S., The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, (Oxford University Press, 2001) D. Rosman, The Evolution of the English Churches, 1500-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2003) Secondary sources Aughterson K., The English Renaissance: An anthology of Sources and Documents (Routledge, 1998) Cressy D., Ferrell L.-A., Religion & Society in Early Modern England: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2005) Farrell C., The uses of the Old and New Testaments during the debate over Liberty of Conscience, 1644-1649 (History Papers, 2006) Durston C., Princes, Pastors and People : The Church and Religion in England, 1529-1689 (Routledge, 1991), p Cressy D., Ferrell L.-A., Religion & Society in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2005), p Edwards T., Gangraena p. [...]
[...] Indeed, lost in a political and religious disorder, the Puritans had trouble finding their own way and “spent the rest of the century trying to find firm ground on which to stand”. Goldie's text also shows how the History of politics is deeply interlinked with the social and religious context. If, according to the expression of Morrill this “Puritan experiment was stillborn”, the Civil Wars represented the dawn of a new era. Indeed, after the Glorious revolution, the Toleration Act was passed in 1689. [...]
[...] Thus, the 1640s symbolize the explosive acme of the religious tension in England. While the King and the Parliament were fighting for supremacy, the climate of political instability led to anarchy in the religious life of England. This was the trigger for the First English Civil War, which began in 1642. This is what Goldie refers to in his essay by alluding to “those who went to war against Charles I in 1642”. This “Puritan revolution” mainly consisted of Independents and Presbyterians, which were “Moderate Puritans” strongly established in Scotland. [...]
[...] Britain After the Glorious Revolution, (London, 1984), p Farrell C., The uses of the Old and New Testaments, (History Papers, 2006) Morgan K.O. The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, (Oxford, 1984), p Morrill J. S., The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, p They are two sea monsters representing two unattractive choices. Durston C., p Morgan K.O, p. [...]
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