The Druids and the origins of ancient virtue

This chapter explores in detail John Toland's intellectual transactions with Lord Robert Molesworth, one of the commonwealth politicians in his circle, in order to allow a more reflective appreciation of the function of his learning and ideas. The first result of Toland's relationship with Molesworth was the analysis of the Druidical past as a Complete History of Priestcraft. The chapter also discusses Toland's idea, contained in his Clidophorus, that the tyranny of priestcraft meant that the truth could rarely be spoken in public.

in Republican learning

This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the republican political thought of free-thinker John Toland, which has shown that the challenges which he posed to religious commonplaces were not simply philosophical issues, but were fundamentally linked to the power of contemporary civic and ecclesiastical institutions. His cultural significance was determined not simply by the intelligence and acuity of his ideas, but by the fact that they were circulated in concert amongst the political elite and a wider public audience. Toland's affinity with people in power illustrates the role his ideas played in the elite circles of early eighteenth-century European politics, and indicates how receptive political and intellectual culture in the period was to the cultural intent of such ideas.

in Republican learning