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Chapter One: 'The Holy Company of Heaven': Angels in Late Medieval England c. 1480-1530

This chapter is a survey of angels in late medieval religious cultures. It explores the relationship between men and angels and their perceived roles in the life of the church. The importance of material culture in shaping and informing religious belief is an important theme.

Chapter Two: 'Causes further off': The Impact of Reform c. 1530-1580

An investigation of the dramatic upheaveal of the sixteenth century, and the impact that reformed theology had upon belief about angels. It explores how far, if at all, the reformers were forced to compromise their theological principles to accommodate them to the laity's expecations and needs, in the process identifying areas of continuity or change.

Chapter Three: The Public and Political Role of Angels c.1580-1645

Investigates the problematic legacy of the angels from the last decades of the Elizabethan reign through the Jacobean and Caroline eras. This chapter considers the alternative confessional stances that competed with the 'authorised', Church of England understanding of an angel, including Catholicism.

Chapter Four: 'Walking in untrodden places': Angels in mid-seventeenth Century England c.1645-1660

Given the exceptionally complex nature of political and religious developments during the this period, chapter four deals with a shorter time-span. This was a time of immense and profound social and political upheaval, but it was also an extremely fertile moment for English angelology, seeing the production of several important treatises. Innovations in puritan angelology, the utilisation of angels in debates about the structure and governance of the church, and the use of angels to explore the ordering and operation of the world are considered.

Chapter Five: 'The Atheistical and degenerate Age': Restoration and Beyond c. 1660-1700

Considers new intellectual shifts that were to have enormous implications for angelology. The threat posed by the rise of mechanical philosophy, and the reaction to this will be explored. The ‘new thinking’ provoked great anxiety amongst the clergy which prompted them to defend the existence of the spiritual world, and this chapter will probe the strategies that they adopted to do this. The continuing importance of the angelic motif in bolstering specific political positions and their utilisation for very traditional purposes is also traced throughout the period.

Angels assist around the deathbed, from a book published in 1507 



St Michaels Mount, a centre for pilgrimage in medieval England



Annunciation angel, Little Witchingham, Norfolk