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Rescuing the bishops

Blair Worden, 21 April 1983

The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559-1625 
by Patrick Collinson.
Oxford, 297 pp., £17.50, January 1983, 0 19 822685 3
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Reactions to the English Civil War 1642-1649 
by John Morrill.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £14, November 1982, 0 333 27565 9
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The World of the Muggletonians 
by Christopher Hill, Barry Reay and William Lamont.
Temple Smith, 195 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 85117 226 1
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The Life of John Milton 
by A.N. Wilson.
Oxford, 278 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 211776 9
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Complete Prose Works of John Milton. Vol. 8: 1666-1682 
edited by Maurice Kelley.
Yale, 625 pp., £55, January 1983, 0 300 02561 0
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The Poet’s Time: Politics and Religion in the Works of Andrew Marvell 
by Warren Chernaik.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 9780521247733
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... The publication of Patrick Collinson’s The Religion of Protestants is a stirring event in the rediscovery of Early Modern England. Unmistakably the work of a historian who has reflected on his subject for the better part of a working lifetime, the book consists of six wide-ranging essays which were originally delivered as the Ford Lectures when Professor Collinson visited Oxford in 1979, and which have now been revised, expanded and tightened – although the speculative tone of the lecture-hall has been appropriately retained ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... with Rome. Only one did so outspokenly – and he was rewarded by a martyr’s death. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was executed in June 1535 for refusing (like Thomas More) to take the oath of succession. He was prepared to swear to the succession itself, which he believed that King and nobles were entitled to change, but was unwilling to swear to the ...

Living and Dying in Ireland

Sean O’Faolain, 6 August 1981

... legends about Irish saints fasting against God, including one about the chief of them all, St Patrick, which presents him as refusing to descend from his now-famous mountain, Croagh Patrick, until God had agreed to all his admirable demands on behalf of his beloved Irish converts. After that, one fasted for God, and ...

Getting on

Paul Addison, 9 October 1986

On Living in an Old Country 
by Patrick Wright.
Verso, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1985, 0 86091 833 5
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Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Vol. II: Assaults 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 25959 2
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... Here are two books about the relationship of the English to their past. According to Patrick Wright, England is a reactionary society burdened by a false mystique of national identity. To dissolve that mystique must be one of the first priorities of democratic socialists in establishing an alternative society with a renewed faith in its capacity for progress ...

On my way to the Couch

E.S. Turner, 30 March 1989

On my way to the Club 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 429 pp., £15, January 1989, 0 00 217617 3
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... ease of posture and conversational initiative, Mr Kennedy might just as well have been a bishop testing a candidate for ordination.’ Clearly here is a man with all the confidence and aplomb in the world. As the recent chairman of Did you see? he smoothly concealed any distaste he may have felt for the more freakish performers on his viewing ...

Cross Words

Neal Ascherson, 17 November 1983

The Story of the ‘Times’ 
by Oliver Woods and James Bishop.
Joseph, 392 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 7181 1462 0
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Good Times, Bad Times 
by Harold Evans.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £11.95, October 1983, 0 297 78295 9
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... much redder than the other, and contemplates his next meal. The quotations are from the Woods and Bishop Story of the ‘Times’, which, though commissioned by Sir Denis Hamilton, is not an ‘official’ history. With such an apologia for the status quo, who needs one? And, in a way, one sees what they mean. As an organism, a collective entity, the Times ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... Carlos Williams’s Rutherford home (where the famous icebox was, they point out); Elizabeth Bishop’s last residence on Boston Harbor; the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, which reassembled Marianne Moore’s Brooklyn living space on its own third floor. I’m pretty sure I can tell which poets the authors are really keen on ...

Rome’s New Mission

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Early Christianity, 2 June 2011

Christians and Pagans: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede 
by Malcolm Lambert.
Yale, 329 pp., £30, September 2010, 978 0 300 11908 4
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... and children. The most charismatic name to survive this ill-documented period is that of Saint Patrick, who left texts, no less precious for being written in imperfect Latin, that cast some brilliant shafts of light on a turbulent but expanding Church. He tells us the name of his home town, ‘Bannavemtaberniae’, the identity of which has provoked much ...

Blame it on Darwin

Jonathan Rée, 5 October 2017

Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker 
by A.N. Wilson.
John Murray, 438 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4447 9488 5
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... it had been applied to the human race by W.C. Wells in 1813, and extended to other species by Patrick Matthew in 1831. Darwin hoped, however, to do some service to science by bringing these elements together in a single arc of argument, supported by masses of detailed observations. In the event he never completed the ‘big book’, but in 1859 he ...

Everlasting Stone

Patrick Wormald, 21 May 1981

The Enigma of Stonehenge 
by John Fowles and Barry Brukoff.
Cape, 126 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 224 01618 0
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British Cathedrals 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77828 5
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... His criterion of selection is simply that a building must have been, or become, the seat of a bishop. Thus St Albans and Peterborough, Norman abbeys ‘episcopalised’ respectively in 1877 and 1541, get in, but Fountains and even Hexham do not; Manchester, Derby and Blackburn are admitted, but St Mary Redcliffe or Lavenham are not. Such a criterion may ...

A Journey through Ruins

Patrick Wright, 18 September 1986

The Infant and the Pearl 
by Douglas Oliver.
Ferry Press, 28 pp., £2, December 1985
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... to be a camera shaped like St Paul’s. The City congregation is gathered and the Bishop (from ‘the Diocese of Deference’), having already ‘been round with the wafer course’, is now proffering a chalice filled with the ‘sweet syrup’ of ‘class sentiment’ while conformity coos overhead. Soon enough the dreamer finds himself in ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen, 6 July 2000

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... Catholic. Starkey finds himself in defensive contention with Elizabeth’s Victorian biographer, Bishop Mandell Creighton, who tut-tutted his disapproval of these pretences. The implication is that Creighton was fortunate not to have had to live in the 16th century. There were also lessons in personal aggrandisement, as Elizabeth exploited the rare ...

Through Trychay’s Eyes

Patrick Collinson: Reformation and rebellion, 25 April 2002

The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 232 pp., £16.95, August 2001, 0 300 09185 0
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... as unpleasant as that. But he could have been the target of Robert Browning’s jibe (in ‘Bishop Blougram’s Apology’) about ‘that dear middle-age these noodles praise’, when, ‘you’ll say, once all believed,’ from Henry VIII to the ploughman with his paternoster. So it was not a book above and beyond criticism. How ‘traditional’ was ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... would tell them that this William is probably the one who held two hides of Tarvin from the Bishop of Chester (which were ‘laid waste’, so that the land was worth barely half what it had been in 1066); that he also held from Chester Cathedral, Middle Aston and Clifton in the next-door hundred; and that what may be the same man held lands from the ...

Part of the Fun of being an English Protestant

Patrick Collinson: Recovering the Reformation, 22 July 2004

Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7139 9370 7
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... people thought that they were living in the Last Days, expecting the imminent end of the world. Bishop Hugh Latimer, preaching before Edward VI, told him: ‘We know by scripture and all learned men affirm the same, that the world was made to endure six thousand years,’ of which 5552 had already passed. As our guide, MacCulloch is in the optimum position ...

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