Henry Parker: Priestcraft, Custom, and Sovereignty

Charles W. A. Prior

in A Confusion of Tongues

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698257
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739040 | DOI:
Henry Parker: Priestcraft, Custom, and Sovereignty

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter examines the ecclesiological writings of Henry Parker (1604–1652), one of the most prolific political pamphleteers of the civil war period. It seeks to recover the complexities of his position on religion and the state by explicating his discussion of the nature of sovereignty in the realm of religion. The context for his writings is shaped by the continuing push for ‘root and branch’ reform of episcopacy, and by the ‘Grand Remonstrance’ which stated the case for the constitutional misrule of bishops and King. Parker argued that history demonstrated that the governance of the church and the power of the clergy was always a matter of custom, and most often a temporary expedient. Instead, Parker argued that sound laws had to reflect the consent of the governed; that sovereignty was corrupted when divided; and that the English reformation stood as a restoration of the balance between natural law and custom as it related to the Church.

Keywords: Henry Parker; sovereignty; custom; law; episcopacy; balanced constitution

Chapter.  15036 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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