Episcopal Authority and Identity in England, 1546-1688

Marcus Harmes (2010). Episcopal Authority and Identity in England, 1546-1688 PhD Thesis, History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Marcus Harmes
Thesis Title Episcopal Authority and Identity in England, 1546-1688
School, Centre or Institute History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-06
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Marion Diamond
Professor Emeritus Philip Almond
Total pages 308
Total colour pages 6
Total black and white pages 302
Subjects 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies
Abstract/Summary Abstract This thesis examines the arguments about bishops and their authority during the post-Reformation period. While modern scholars are aware of bishops as a source of authority and as incurring Puritan displeasure as a so-called “Popish Dreg”, attempts by defenders of the episcopate to align bishops' authority with reformed doctrines is an under-examined aspect of English ecclesiastical authority. Episcopal authority was publicly manifested, in the House of Lords, in public ritual such as confirmation and ordination services in the public signs of episcopal office, such as the distinctive dress of bishops. This authority was also debated in the public realm and this thesis draws mostly on printed sources, especially tracts and printed sermons, works which disseminated and disputed ideas on ecclesiastical authority. Using these sources, this thesis demonstrates episcopal efforts to neutralise arguments that they an appropriate form of reformed church government and discipline. Throughout, I claim in this thesis that episcopal writers claimed for themselves an identity as a reformed agent of church authority. This identity was contested and complex, bishops appearing as both the champions and victims of Protestantism, as patrons of godly clergy and their persecutors and these different guises permitted bishops to explore the different ways their authority could be regarded as reformed. The full span of nearly 150 years covered in this thesis allows for this identity to be charted as it developed and was consolidated. The introduction examines the recent historiographic approaches to English episcopacy and church authority and interprets the importance which modern historians have given to episcopal attempts to define the origins and authority of the order. The first chapter establishes the course which the English episcopate followed from the 1540s onwards, demonstrating the background to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century thought on reformation of the episcopate and the use of reformed authorities to endorse episcopal rule. Chapter two examines both moderate Puritan and orthodox perspectives on the episcopate of the early seventeenth century; these perspectives could sometimes synchronize and can reveal their similar understanding on the possibility of there being reformed bishops. Chapter three studies the episcopate of the mid-seventeenth century and offers fresh insights to the imperatives which led so-called Laudian clergy to delineate the meaning of reformed episcopacy. Chapter four examines the implications of the Civil Wars and Commonwealth for understandings of episcopal authority. It examines the ways in which episcopal suffering under the Commonwealth entered the Restoration period in narratives of the bishops’ degradation. Episcopal suffering allowing bishops to theorize about ecclesiastical authority and to argue that reformed churches usurped episcopal authority but also complained about it. Chapter five examines the degradation and restoration of later seventeenth-century episcopacy. It argues that the episcopate restored in 1660 used contemporary fears of threats to Protestantism and the security of the English Church provided by episcopal rule to invoke a distinctively reformed identity.
Keyword episcopacy
Additional Notes pp.144-149

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Created: Fri, 12 Nov 2010, 09:47:33 EST by Mr Marcus Harmes on behalf of Library - Information Access Service