Charles W. A. Prior

in A Confusion of Tongues

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698257
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739040 | DOI:

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This chapter offers a summation of the argument of the book, and argues that the civil war was, in a religious sense, driven by a fundamental conflict over the origins, nature, and limits of ecclesiastical sovereignty. The statutes declared the church to be ‘by law established’ contained ambiguities and omissions that subsequent writers attempted—by way of complex forays into legal and sacred history—to clarify and remedy. However, instead of agreement on the constitutionalism of the Church, these investigations produced a number of plausible theories of the relationship of church and realm. In England, this debate was exacerbated by a surrounding political context in which bishops and king were accused of misrule, while in Scotland advocates of a presbyterian reformation defended their own traditions of religion and liberty. The conclusion is that the debates surveyed in the book do not point to the victory of an Erastian constitutionalism, but rather to a chaotic landscape of dispute over religion and polity.

Keywords: sovereignty; common law; Erastianism; Scotland; ecclesiology; wars of religion

Chapter.  3239 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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