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Heresy, Toleration and Dissent in England, 1553-1660 (HI931)

Module Leader

Professor Bernard Capp

Context of Module
Module Aims
Intended Learning Outcomes
Outline Syllabus
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module

This module may be taken by students on the MA in Social and Religious History, the MA in History, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.

Module Aims

The module introduces students to issues of religious plurality in post-Reformation England, from Mary to the Restoration. It will explore how successive governments redefined orthodoxy and sought to suppress or contain dissenting movements and beliefs, and how proscribed groups responded, by defiance, accommodation, or subterfuge. The module concludes by exploring the unprecedented religious flux of the 1640s and 1650s, with its multiplicity of religious groupings, demands for total freedom, and the implications of the state's policy of limited toleration. It will use primary sources to give an insight into the mentalities of the period, and a wide range of modern works to familiarize students with current approaches and debates.

Intended Learning Outcomes
  • The development of seminar participation skills, including presentations;
  • A greater familiarity with the recent historiography of the period, and an ability to engage critically with it in the light of familiarity with relevant primary source materials.
  • The ability to develop, research and write a 5000 word assessed essay, in an area related to the module, demonstrating critical engagement with recent scholarship and effective use of primary sources where appropriate, and providing an extensive and specialist bibliography, and a scholarly apparatus;
  • The ability to build on themes related to this module to develop a Dissertation later in the course.
Outline Syllabus

Seminars for 09-10 to take place in H346

Seminar 1: Introduction and Overview

Seminar 2: Royal Policies under Mary and Elizabeth

Seminar 3: The ‘Long Reformation’: Protestantism and the People

Seminar 4: Puritans, Church and Crown, under Elizabeth and James

Seminar 5: Catholic Responses 1559-1640: assimilation, recusancy, church papism

Seminar 6: Laudianism/Arminianism and Anti-Catholicism

Seminar 7: Toleration and the English Revolution 1640-60

Seminar 8: The Quakers

Seminar 9: Popery, Nonconformity and the Revolution of 1688

Illustrative Bibliography

C Haigh, English Reformations (1993)

C Marsh, Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England (1998)

P Collinson, The Religion of Protestants (1982)

D MacCulloch, The Later Reformation in England (1990)

N Tyacke, England's Long Reformation, 1500-1800 (1998)

C Durston and J Eales, eds., The Culture of English Puritanism (1996)

J Bossy, The English Catholic Community 1570-1850 (1978)

C Marsh, The Family of Love in English Society (1994)

J F MacGregor and B Reay, eds., Radical Religion in the English Revolution (1985)


1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars



Prof. Bernard Capp

Term Spring
Tutorial Day Wednesdays
Time 10.00 - 12.00
Tutor Room   
Bernard Capp H318