The battle of the books
The Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer at the Restoration
in From Republic to Restoration
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This chapter examines the theme of disruption and continuity in English religious life at the Restoration with reference to the differing fortunes of those twin pillars of the Anglican establishment, the Authorized Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. The AV had commanded broad acceptance under the Commonwealth and its re-authorization in 1660 was unproblematic. The BCP, by contrast, had long been reviled by hotter Protestants for its conservatism, especially in Archbishop William Laud’s 1637 version which had helped trigger civil war. Its re-introduction in 1662 occasioned the resignation of one-fifth of the clergy. This chapter challenges the characterization of the 1662 Prayer Book (in contrast with the AV) as solely divisive, however. It argues that universal acceptance of the book was impossible under the circumstances but that, by rejecting the most offensive Laudian innovations, Convocation successfully minimized the inevitable backlash and avoided any larger-scale secession or civil unrest.

From Republic to Restoration

Legacies and departures

Editor: Janet Clare

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