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The Intellectual Origins of English Puritanism, ca. 1525-1572

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This dissertation examines the nature and development of Protestant ideology in Tudor England. Historians have traditionally seen Tudor Protestants as classic "magisterial" reformers. Unlike "radical reformers," who formed separated sects and rejected the union of church and state, English Protestants are seen as deeply committed to royal authority and the creation of a comprehensive state church. Through research in manuscript and printed sources, however, this dissertation considers a wide range of English Protestants whose view of reformation and the church blurs the traditional dichotomy between "magisterial" and "radical" reformations. While these Protestants were committed to the national church, they did not equate the church with the nation as a whole, but rather sought to co-opt it in the mission of forming the "godly community." This view of the church tended towards the exclusion of "the ungodly," with remarkable consequences for those deemed outside the godly community. This was a potentially subversive ideology, not because it necessarily opposed "the godly" to the establishment, but because it made the division between "the godly" and "the ungodly" the defining feature of social reality. This division redefined basic social responsibilities and obligations, overriding traditional conceptions of unity and order and replacing them with radically different accounts of what those concepts meant in a godly church and commonwealth. These views of authority, the church, and the duties of "the godly" would stand at the heart of the Puritan worldview, and by tracing their development from the reign of Henry VIII through the first decade of Elizabeth's reign, I argue that Puritanism had been part of the English Reformation from the very start.

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  • 06/05/2018
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