Church and Realm: The Politics of Religion

Charles W. A. Prior

in A Confusion of Tongues

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698257
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739040 | DOI:
Church and Realm: The Politics of Religion

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter explores the politics of religion, by noting how a tension between civil and ecclesiastical law and authority was a major theme in a series of printed debates before 1625. It describes the Reformation as an act of state, and examines how this fuelled disagreement about the constitutionalism of the church. A number of issues arising from the power of ecclesiastical courts are considered, particularly the question of whether these courts exercised powers that were independent of the common law. The discussion then moves to consider how defenders of the Church prized religious uniformity and order above all else, and how their opponents responded by attacking the legality of methods by which this uniformity was preserved. The chapter concludes by looking at how Scottish writers responded to some of these questions, by insisting that political liberty and true religion should complement one another.

Keywords: Reformation; High Commission; common law; non-conformity; William Laud; presbyterianism; clericalism

Chapter.  17732 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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