Religious Freedom and Religious Exhaustion

Historians debate what caused the interest in religious toleration in late 17th-Century Britain. Did writers like Locke reflect an older Christian ethic, a new Enlightenment worldview, or simply the exhaustion that had resulted from a century and more of religious debate and violence? A forthcoming book from Manchester University Press, Reformation without End, by Robert Ingram (Ohio University) no doubt addresses these issues. The publisher’s description suggests the author believes the final factor was the most important:

This study provides a radical reassessment of the English Reformation. No one in eighteenth-century England thought that they were living during ‘the Enlightenment’; instead, they saw themselves as facing the religious, intellectual and political problems unleashed by the Reformation, which began in the sixteenth century. Moreover, they faced those problems in the aftermath of two bloody seventeenth-century political and religious revolutions. Reformation without end examines how the eighteenth-century English debated the causes and consequences of those revolutions and the thing they thought had caused them, the Reformation. It draws on a wide array of manuscript sources to show how authors crafted and pitched their works.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: