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7. Conformity and Popular Religious Culture


Seminar Overview:

In this seminar and the subsequent document session, we move away from the activist or dissident groups of Catholics and Puritans in order to discuss the larger and quieter group of ‘conformists’ within church and society – those who broadly obeyed the law and met the religious and political requirements of authority. Methodological and evidential questions will be to the fore – how can we know what ‘ordinary’ people, who were not being disciplined or punished, felt or believed? We will also tackle terminological and definitional questions – what did it mean to be ‘Protestant’ in Elizabethan England? – and evaluate the scholarly debate around these issues.

Questions for discussion:

- Was conformist religion necessarily lukewarm religion?

- ‘Protestant in name only.’ Discuss this assessment of Elizabethan England’s conformist majority.

- Can we identify such a thing as a ‘popular religious culture’?


Seminar Reading:

Boulton, J. P. , ‘The Limits of Formal Religion: The Administration of Holy Communion in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart London’, London Journal, 10 (1984)

Carlson, Eric, ‘The Origins, Function and Status of the Office of Churchwarden, with Particular Reference to the Diocese of Ely’, in Margaret Spufford, ed., The World of Rural Dissenters (Cambridge, 1995)

Carlson, Eric, ‘Good Pastors or Careless Shepherds? Parish Ministers and the English Reformation’, History, 291 (2003)

Collinson, Patrick, ‘The Elizabethan Church and the New Religion’ in Christopher Haigh, ed., The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke, 1984).

Collinson, Patrick, ‘Shepherds, Sheepdogs, and Hirelings: The Pastoral Ministry in Post-Reformation England’, Studies in Church History, 26 (1989), and in Collinson, From Cranmer to Sancroft (London, 2006)

Collinson, Patrick, The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559-1625 (Oxford, 1982), esp. chap 5

*Collinson, Patrick, ‘William Shakespeare’s Religious Inheritance and Environment’, in Collinson, Elizabethan Essays (London, 1994)

Craig, John, ‘Psalms, groans and dogwhippers: the soundscape of worship in the English parish church, 1547-1642’, in Will Coster and Andrew Spicer, eds., Sacred Space in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2005)

Craig, John, Reformation, Politics and Polemics: The Growth of Protestantism in East Anglian Market Towns, 1500-1610 (Aldershot, 2001), chaps 1-2

*Craig, John, ‘Parish Religion’, in Susan Doran and Norman Jones, eds., The Elizabethan World (London, 2011), pp. 222-37

Crawford, Julie, Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England (Baltimore and London, 2005)

Cressy, David, Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (1989)

Foster, Andrew, ‘Churchwardens’ Accounts of Early Modern England and Wales’, in Katherine French, Gary Gibbs, and Beat Kümin, eds., The Parish in English Life 1400-1600 (Manchester, 1997)

*Green, Ian, ‘“For Children in Yeeres and Children in Understanding”: The Emergence of the English Catechism under Elizabeth and the Early Stuarts’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 37 (1986)

Green, Ian, The Christian’s ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England, c. 1530-1740 (Oxford, 1996)

Green, Ian, Print and Protestantism in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2000)

Green, Ian, ‘“All People that on Earth do Dwell, Sing to the Lord with Cheerful Voice”: Protestantism and Music in Early Modern England’, in Simon Ditchfield, ed., Christianity and Community in the West: Essays for John Bossy (Aldershot, 2001)

Haigh, Christopher, ‘Anticlericalism and Clericalism, 1580-1640’, in Nigel Aston and Mathew Cragoe, eds, Anticlericalism in Britain, c. 1500-1914 (Stroud, 2000)

*Haigh, Christopher, ‘The Taming of Reformation: Preachers, Pastors and Parishioners in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England’, History, 85 (2000)

Haigh, Christopher, ‘Communion and Community: Exclusion from Communion in Post-Reformation England’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 51 (2000)

*Haigh, Christopher, ‘Success and Failure in the English Reformation’, Past and Present, 173 (2001)

Haigh, Christopher, The Plain Man’s Pathways to Heaven: Kinds of Christianity in Post-Reformation England (Oxford, 2007), esp chaps 1-2 [E]

Hickman, David, ‘From Catholic to Protestant: The Changing Meaning of Testamentary Provisions in Elizabethan London’, in Nicholas Tyacke, ed, England’s Long Reformation 1500-1800 (London, 1998)

Hindle, Steve, ‘Beating the Bounds of the Parish: Order, Memory and Identity in the English Local Community, c. 1500-1700’, in Michael Halvorson and Karen Spierling, eds., Defining Community in Early Modern Europe (Aldershot, 2009)

Hutton, Ronald, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (Oxford, 1993), esp. chaps 3-5

Hutton, Ronald, ‘The English Reformation and the Evidence of Folklore’, Past and Present, 148 (1995)

Ingram, Martin, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987)

*Ingram, Martin, ‘From Reformation to Toleration: Popular Religious Cultures in England, 1540-1690’, in Tim Harris, ed., Popular Culture in England, c.1580-1850 (Basingstoke, 1995)

*Maltby, Judith, ‘Parishioners, the Prayer Book and the Established Church’ in Kenneth Fincham, ed. The Early Stuart Church (Basingstoke,1993) and in Peter Marshall,ed, The Impact of the English Reformation (London, 1997)

Maltby, Judith, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Cambridge, 1998)

Ronald Marchant, The Church under the Law: Justice, Administration and Discipline in the Diocese of York, 1560-1640 (Cambridge, 1969)

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

Marsh, Christopher, ‘“Departing Well and Christianly”: Will-Making and Popular Religion in Early Modern England’, in Eric Carlson, ed., Religion and the English People 1500-1640 (Kirksville, MO, 1998)

Marsh, Christopher, ‘Common Prayer in England 1560-1640: The View from the Pew’, Past and Present, 71 (2001)

*Marsh, Christopher, ‘Sacred Space in England, 1560-1640: The View from the Pew’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 53 (2002), pp. 286-311 HERE or HERE

Marsh, Christopher, ‘Order and Place in England, 1580-1640: The View from the Pew’, Journal of British Studies, 44 (2005)

Marshall, Peter, Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England (Oxford, 2002), chaps 4-7

*Marshall, Peter, Reformation England 1480-1642 (London, 2012), chap. 6

Merritt, J. F., ‘Religion and the Parish Church’, in in Milton, Anthony, ed., The Oxford History of Anglicanism: Vol I (Oxford, 2017)

*Milton, Anthony, ‘Religion and community in pre-civil war England’ in Nicholas Tyacke, ed, The English Revolution c.1590-1720. Politics, Religion and Communities (Manchester, 2007)

Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London, 1971)

*Walsham, Alexandra, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1999)

Walsham, Alexandra, The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2011)

Watt, Tessa, Cheap Print and Popular Piety 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991)

Watt, Tessa, ‘Piety in the Pedlar’s pack: Continuity and change, 1578-1630’, in Margaret Spufford, ed, The World of Rural Dissenters (Cambridge, 1995) and in Peter Marshall, ed., The Impact of the English Reformation (London, 1997)

Willis, Jonathan ,Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England: Discourses, Sites and Identities (Farnham, 2010)

Wrightson, Keith, English Society 1580-1680 (London, 1982), chap 7



‘Parish Life in Bedfordshire: churchwardens’ presentments at archdeacon’s visitation, 1578’, Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, vol. 69 (1990), pp. 175-83

‘Extracts from George Gifford’s Country Divinity, 1582’, David Cressy and Lori Anne Ferrell, eds, Religion and Society in Early Modern England: A Sourcebook (London, 1996), pp. 99-105; OR 2nd ed. (ebook, 2005), Chapter III, pp. 114-19.

‘Puritan Survey of the Ministry in Warwickshire, 1596’, EHD, pp. 768-72

Churchwardens’ Accounts of St Peter’s, St Albans, 1588-98’, Antony Palmer, ed., Tudor Churchwardens’ Accounts, Hertfordshire Record Publications, vol. 1(1985), pp. 135-65. For pp. 135-156 see Reading list; for pp. 157-165 click HERE.

‘The true discripcion of a Childe with Ruffes borne in the parish of Micheham in the Countie of Surrey’, one-page broadsheet (London, 1566). For the original document, see Reading List; for a transcription, see HERE