Inner Temples: History, Ritual, and Law, 1630–1637

Charles W. A. Prior

in A Confusion of Tongues

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698257
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739040 | DOI:
Inner Temples: History, Ritual, and Law, 1630–1637

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter examines how writers used history as a means to develop arguments either for or against the use of certain religious rituals. It begins with a brief discussion of the use of ancient Christian and Hebrew history as a source of reference, and argues that disputes about how this history was to be interpreted and understood were, in reality, discussions of authority and thus of politics. The major sections of the chapter deal with debates on two controversial elements introduced into the Church of England by Charles I and his loyal bishops: bowing at the name of Jesus, and the use of altars. Some writers maintained that altars were illegal because they were not used in the ancient church and were subsequently prohibited by English law, while others replied that altars were a key feature of the history of all Christian churches, and should therefore be maintained. These debates sharpened the terms of political disagreement over religion.

Keywords: historiography; ecclesiology; ceremonies; altars; Hebraism; liberty; William Prynne; Peter Heylyn

Chapter.  16276 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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