Religion

The Answer to Archbishop Bramhall
Mark Goldie

Thomas Hobbes was a theologian. The scholarship of the past generation has established that fact, wresting him from the presumption that his Leviathan was atheistic and marked a radical secular break with the Christian religion. But what kind of theologian was he? This chapter takes a late work for its case study, An Answer to Dr Bramhall (1668), in which Hobbes positions himself within the tradition of Reformed and magisterial Protestantism and attacks an eminent Arminian and Laudian bishop. Hobbes wrote his treatise in the midst of a crisis in Restoration England in which the newly re-established Church of England, and its regime of uncompromising conformity in worship and doctrine, were coming under scrutiny and attack. Theology therefore abutted upon ecclesiastical politics. The chapter explores Bramhall’s charges against Hobbes and the latter’s rebuttals; Restoration critiques of the episcopate; Hobbes’s substantive theology and his efforts to provide historical credentials for his heterodox positions; and his ‘sociology’ of the priestly perversion of religion. Finally, the chapter assesses the extent to which Hobbes’s claims to Protestant orthodoxy were plausible.

in Reformed identity and conformity in England, 1559–1714
Jonathan C. Harris

This chapter argues that historians have misinterpreted the context and ramifications of Sir Francis Hastings’s Privy Council punishment after the celebrated 1605 Northamptonshire petition to King and Council which requested a moderation in the ‘extremitie’ of the 1604 decrees for subscription and conformity. The nature and significance of Hastings’s leadership of the puritan parliamentary cause 1604–10 are re-examined, contributing to Nicholas Tyacke’s call for a more realistic appreciation of the ‘puritan paradigm’ in parliamentary politics. Revealing that Sir Francis Hastings’s puritan parliamentary politics constituted deliberate nonconformity to the attempted Jacobean Religious Settlement, the chapter argues for a reassessment of alleged moderate lay puritan conformity in Jacobean Britain. Historiographical analyses of ecclesiastical politics 1603–10 have been too clerically focused (with emphasis upon clerical subscription and ceremonial conformity), falling into the trap of accepting King James’s definition of his Royal Supremacy in Religion: that it was his prerogative to determine policy, and then delegate implementation through his episcopal bench. This chapter draws attention to the consistent parliamentary challenge to this attempted Religious Settlement, as Hastings co-ordinated a sustained campaign of House of Commons Petitions demanding religious reform. Through a detailed analysis of parliamentary speeches, procedures, and petitions, this chapter not only exposes the extraordinary and overlooked puritan majority in the House of Commons but also highlights that they were no mere mouthpiece for puritan clerical dissent. They in fact articulated a philosophy of temporal and spiritual governance at variance to King James’s own philosophy of monarchical rule.

in Reformed identity and conformity in England, 1559–1714
Elliot Vernon

This chapter addresses one of the most pressing dilemmas for the godly after the re-establishment of the Book of Common Prayer at the Restoration: the question of the proper approach to take to the parochial worship of the Restoration Church. The chapter uses a little noticed 1662–63 printed debate initiated by the ejected presbyterian Zachary Crofton, as well as government intelligence reports of presbyterian ‘conventicles’ contained in the State Papers. The debate concerned the extent to which both godly laity and recently ejected ministers were obliged to attend and conform to parish services in the Church of England. The chapter therefore addresses the issues of conformity, nonconformity, and partial conformity among those who had, in the previous two decades, been committed to a national church but who found themselves disaffected with the Restoration settlement. Drawing on recent work by scholars such as Michael Winship, Mark Goldie, Ann Hughes, and Neil Keeble, the chapter will seek to complicate the historiographical picture of presbyterian nonconformists developing a potentially ‘separatist’ position late in the 1660s and early 1670s. Some presbyterians developed principles of partial conformity and even ‘situational separatism’ almost immediately after the ‘Great Ejection’ of August 1662. The result of such partial conformity was an internal debate which questioned the boundaries and legitimacy of such partial conformity. This debate drew on potentially contradictory sources such as the pre-Civil War traditions of nonconformity and anti-separatism, the casuistry surrounding the Solemn League and Covenant and the presbyterian ecclesiology developed during the 1640s and 1650s.

in Reformed identity and conformity in England, 1559–1714
Laura L. Gathagan

The abbey of Holy Trinity, Caen, was founded by Mathilda of Flanders, Duchess of Normandy and Queen of England, in June 1066. The abbesses of Holy Trinity are the focus of this study, especially their judicial role and their power to imprison. These rarely discussed aspects of women’s authority are revealed in Manchester, John Rylands Library, GB 133 BMC/66. Produced in 1292 at the meeting of the Exchequer at Rouen, the modest parchment reveals the existence of a prison in Ouistreham, France, under the authority of the abbesses of Holy Trinity. This article engages heretofore unexamined elements of female abbatial authority, jurisdiction and the mechanisms of justice. The preservation of BMC/66 also reflects the documentary imperatives of the women who governed Holy Trinity and fits into a broader context of memory and documentary culture.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Kinga Lis
and
Jerzy Wójcik

The Laws of Oléron are a compilation of regulations concerning sea conduct drawn up in the thirteenth century in French. Copies of the text appeared in varieties of French in England and on the Continent, but it was only in the sixteenth century that the code was translated into English. Multiple issues concerning this English text are still vague. An attempt at settling some of them, such as the relationship between different exemplars and determining their French source text, has been undertaken in two recent studies. This article tries to verify whether the conclusions reached there can be corroborated with the use of mathematical methods of analysis, and to measure the correlations between the extant copies of the English translation and a group of French texts named by different researchers as the source texts for the rendition. The analysis is conducted by means of text similarity measurements using cosine similarity.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Chris Schabel

This is part II of a two-part article on the questions on the Sentences of the Servite Lorenzo Opimo of Bologna. This part focuses on the doctrine and sources of the work, which would become the theological guide for the Order by the end of the Middle Ages. An appendix offers a catalogue of the theses Lorenzo defended: conservative but also up to date at a time when radical ideas were spreading. His explicit citations suggest that he was well versed in fourteenth-century theology, citing ten theologians of the era by name as opposed to just five for the more famous thirteenth century. He also favoured Austin Friars over Franciscans and he completely ignored Dominicans, except for Thomas Aquinas. Upon closer inspection, however, and in common with some of his contemporaries, Lorenzo’s knowledge of some of these fifteen theologians was indirect via passages borrowed from the Augustinians Gregory of Rimini and Hugolino of Orvieto from the 1340s and the Franciscan Francis of Perugia, the Minorite regent master during the year in which Lorenzo lectured.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Alexander Lee

In March 1506, Machiavelli was in the Casentino when he received a letter from Agostino Vespucci in Florence. A few weeks earlier, Machiavelli had arranged for his Decennale primo – a verse history of Florence between 1494 and 1504 – to be printed by Bartolomeo de’ Libri, with Vespucci bearing the costs. It was the first of his works in print and had already met with some success. Much to Vespucci’s alarm, however, a rival printer, Andrea Ghirlandi da Pistoia, was now selling a pirated version, festooned with mistakes. This article explores how Vespucci tried to protect Machiavelli’s interests and his own investment. It shows how Vespucci successfully circumvented the lack of copyright protection by casting the pirated version as a form of defamation and exploiting both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. In doing so, it casts fresh light on the legal and commercial challenges of printing in sixteenth-century Florence.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Molly Lewis

Rylands MS French 5 is a thirteenth-century Bible picture book consisting of a single pictorial cycle depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The manuscript is remarkable for the predominance of its imagery and the erasures that selectively mar its otherwise unspoiled folios. The sites of these erasures can be categorised as evil, obscene, and divine subjects. Examining each in turn, I hope to demonstrate the importance of both the Bible picture book tradition and manuscript erasure for considerations of later medieval visuality. Where the Bible picture book encapsulates thirteenth-century confidence in the visual sense, the erasures signal the boundaries of this confidence, revealing a paradoxical mode of sight in which ocular passions merge and clash. In turn, these findings problematise attempts to theorise a homogenous thirteenth-century visuality, as different understandings of vision surfaced in the decades after the production of MS French 5 and played out in impassioned and contradictory ways on the manuscript page.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Swedish local sermons and the social order, 1790–1820
Joonas Tammela

This chapter places the religio-political messages conveyed from Swedish pulpits at the centre of attention. By means of a close analysis of sermons delivered in seven different kinds of local parishes in the Swedish realm at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, it demonstrates the impact of and the remarkable continuity in discourses defending the idea of a corporate state system. Instead of the individual benefit, the common good was seen as the fundamental idea for maintaining obedience. The writer argues for the continued strength of a traditional, Lutheran orthodox definition of the social order, but also for its adaptability at a time when new ways of life increasingly came to influence local societies.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries
The Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen, 1738–1770
Jesper Jakobsen
and
Lars Cyril Nørgaard

This chapter questions the received view of the Press Act of 1770 in Denmark–Norway as a clean break with previous practices of censorship. By way of examination of the institutional practices at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen from 1738 until 1770, the chapter demonstrates how both confessional and commercial rationales transformed the practice of censorship long before pre-publication censorship was removed. These changes were not imposed upon the religious system but rather developed inside it. Consequently, the chapter stresses that mitigations of confessional policies should be studied with changes within religious culture taken into account, besides rationales related to Enlightenment ideas.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries