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  • Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Tyacke
  • Johann Sommerville
Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Tyacke. Edited by Kenneth Fincham and Peter Lake. [Studies in Modern British Religious History, Vol. 13.] (Rochester, New York: The Boydell Press. 2006. Pp. xiv, 252. $85.00.)

This is a Festschrift for Nicholas Tyacke, a wide-ranging and meticulous scholar, who was and continues to be one of the most important modern historians of early modern Britain. His main field of interest is the religious and ecclesiastical history of England, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. All the essays in this book are on topics that lie within that field. The contributors are a distinguished team, and the quality of the essays is far higher than is often the case with such collections. In a relatively short review it is possible to pick out only a few highlights.

The book begins with an Introduction by Peter Lake. Titled "Puritanism, Arminianism and Nicholas Tyacke," this clearly and cogently locates Tyacke's work in its historiographical context. It deals especially with his highly influential thesis that religious conflict in early seventeenth-century England resulted more from the rise of Arminianism, and from a Calvinist reaction against it, than from supposedly revolutionary Puritanism. In a later chapter, Lake provides a compelling analysis of anti-Puritanism. An entertaining and informative chapter by Keith Thomas on "Art and Iconoclasm" effectively rebuts the suggestion that the Reformation killed English art, convincingly notes that iconoclasm can be well grounded in religious principle and was practiced by Catholics as well as Protestants, and amusingly moots a link between the hostility to pictures of the Quakers and the high incidence of color blindness among them. Diarmaid MacCulloch's "The Latitude of the Church of England" stresses the importance for the development of English Protestantism of the Zürich reformer Bullinger and of tensions between Bullinger and Calvin. He has interesting things to say about Familists, with whom Queen Elizabeth herself was connected and who perhaps included the adept Tudor trimmer Andrew Perne. MacCulloch castigates scholars who anachronistically use the term Anglican, asserting that "the word was hardly used at all until the nineteenth century" (p. 42). In defense of those who have employed it, it might be observed that the word crops up quite frequently long before the nineteenth century, for instance in mid-seventeenth century writings by such notables as Henry Hammond, Peter Heylyn, and James Howell.

Thomas S. Freeman engagingly traces the history of the myth of Pope Joan, which some Protestants continued to believe long after it had been exploded. Patrick Collinson addresses the interesting question of when and why Puritans developed a fondness for giving their children peculiar names—like Thankful, or Stand-fast-on-high. He suggests that Dudley Fenner had a role in popularizing the practice, but admits that the details are uncertain. In an important chapter,Anthony Milton documents the career of John Overall, a highly influential but neglected figure who stood in the vanguard of the anti-Calvinist wing of the Jacobean church, while skillfully managing to maintain a reputation [End Page 387] as a moderate. Thomas Cogswell's lively chapter tells the story of Thomas Felton, the father of the Duke of Buckingham's assassin, John Felton. Thomas made a career out of harassing Catholics in Elizabeth's reign but proved less successful in James I's reign, when his strong-arm tactics fell out of favor; he was imprisoned in the Fleet for debt and died there. Richard Cust's study of "Charles I and Providence" challenges the notion that providentialist ideas were linked especially to Puritans, showing that the king was a providentialist. Kenneth Fincham deploys painstaking analysis of local records about a struggle to preserve a gallery built across the east end of the chancel in St. George Tombland in Norwich to illuminate the ecclesiastical politics of the diocese in the decades after the Restoration. Other fine contributions are by Brett Usher, Paul Seaver, Susan Hardman Moore, and William Sheils. [End Page 388]

Johann Sommerville
University of Wisconsin, Madison


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