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The Crisis of the 17th Century

Hugh Trevor-Roper

Publication Year: 2012

The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century collects nine essays by Trevor-Roper on the themes of religion, the Reformation, and social change. As Trevor-Roper explains in his preface, "the crisis in government, society, and ideas which occurred, both in Europe and in England, between the Reformation and the middle of the seventeenth century" constituted the crucible for what "went down in the general social and intellectual revolution of the mid-seventeenth century." The Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution in England laid the institutional and intellectual foundations of the modern understanding of liberty, of which we are heirs and beneficiaries. Trevor-Roper's essays uncover new pathways to understanding this seminal time.

In his longest essay, "The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," Trevor-Roper points out that "In England the most active phase of witch-hunting coincided with times of Puritan pressure—the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the period of the civil wars—and some very fanciful theories have been built on this coincidence. But . . . the persecution of witches in England was trivial compared with the experience of the Continent and of Scotland. Therefore . . . [one must examine] the craze as a whole, throughout Europe, and [seek] to relate its rise, frequency, and decline to the general intellectual and social movements of the time. . . ." Neither Catholic nor Protestant emerges unscathed from the examination to which Trevor-Roper subjects the era in which, from political and religious causes, the identification and extirpation of witches was a central event.

Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre, is retired Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. Among his works are The Last Days of Hitler, The Gentry, 1540–1640, The Rise of Christian Europe, the Plunder of the Arts in the Seventeenth Century, Princes and Artists: Patronage and Ideology at Four Hapsburg Courts, 1517–1633, and The Hermit of Peking.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiv

These essays were written and first published on different occasions between 1956 and 1967. Most of them began as lectures or were written in tributary volumes. They were first published together, as a book bearing the title of the first essay, Religion, the Reformation and Social Change. ...

The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century

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1. Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change

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pp. 1-42

If we look at the 300 years of European history from 1500 to 1800, we can describe it, in general, as a period of progress. It begins with the Renaissance and ends with the Enlightenment; and these two processes are, in many ways, continuous: the latter follows logically upon the former. On the other hand, this progress is far from ...

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2. The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century

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pp. 43-81

The middle of the seventeenth century was a period of revolutions in Europe. These revolutions differed from place to place, and if studied separately, seem to rise out of particular, local causes; but if we look at them together they have so many common features that they appear almost as a general revolution. ...

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3. The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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pp. 83-177

The European witch-craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a perplexing phenomenon: a standing warning to those who would simplify the stages of human progress. Ever since the eighteenth century we have tended to see European history, from the Renaissance onwards, as the history ...

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4. The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment

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pp. 179-218

It is commonly said that the intellectual, no less than the industrial revolution of modern Europe has its origins in the religious Reformation of the sixteenth century: that the Protestant Reformers, either directly, by their theology, or indirectly, by the new social forms which they created, opened the way to the new science and the new philosophy ...

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5. Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution

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pp. 219-271

In November 1640 the Long Parliament met in London. The members who gathered at Westminster were angry, determined men.They had been kept out of Parliament for eleven years, and during those years they had suffered public and private grievances and humiliations. They disapproved of the government’s foreign policy which had ...

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6. The Fast Sermons of the Long Parliament

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pp. 273-316

‘‘It was an observation of that time,’’ wrote Clarendon of the Puritan Revolution, ‘‘that the first publishing of extraordinary news was from the pulpit; and by the preacher’s text, and his manner of discourse upon it, the auditors might judge, and commonly foresaw, what was like to be next done in the Parliament or Council of State.’’ 1 ...

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7. Oliver Cromwell and His Parliaments

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pp. 317-358

Oliver Cromwell and his parliaments—the theme is almost a tragi-comedy. Cromwell was himself a Member of Parliament; he was the appointed general of the armies of Parliament; and the Victorians, in the greatest days of parliamentary government, set up his statue outside the rebuilt Houses of Parliament. But what were Cromwell’s relations with Parliament? ...

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8. Scotland and the Puritan Revolution

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pp. 359-406

Between the union of the crowns in 1603 and the union of the parliaments in 1707, the relations of England and Scotland were thoroughly unhappy. Unequal in strength, different in history, the two countries had enough similarity to force them together and yet enough diversity to make their contact always explosive.Moreover, each feared ...

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9. The Union of Britain in the Seventeenth Century

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pp. 407-426

The seventeenth century was the age of revolution in western Europe. It was also the age of national unification. The facts are not entirely unrelated. The rulers of the new centralized monarchies, threatened by internal opposition in their different States, sought naturally to deepen their power by bringing all those different States under ...


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pp. 427-451

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614878681
E-ISBN-10: 1614878684
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865972780

Page Count: 465
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None