The later Stuart Church, 1660–1714

Editor: Grant Tapsell

The later Stuart church inherited many of the problems that had been faced by its antecedents at institutional, social, and intellectual levels, but was also rocked by several new and profound challenges. It is important, therefore, to locate the established church within a long-term framework of gradual developments and sharp disjunctures. This book offers an account of how clerics and laymen experienced the events of the period between the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the Hanoverian succession of 1714. Politics and religion under the later Stuarts were powerfully intermingled, rather than sharply differentiated categories. Some clerics exercised considerable secular power, whilst many laymen dictated the terms of the church's position at local and national levels. Indeed it could hardly have been otherwise when religious beliefs were made into a shibboleth for holding public office and clerics expounded political maxims from pulpits across the land. Having sketched in the basic framework of relevant events in the later Stuart period, and their historical and geographical contexts, it remains to conclude by drawing them together. Three themes emerge as paramount because of their capacity to ignite contemporary discussion in the light of past experience. These include: the conflicting sources of authority for the Church of England, the relations between clergy and laymen, and the question of how successfully the church exercised its pastoral function.

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