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This article combines prosopographical analysis of the episcopate between 1307 and 1330 with examination of its participation in the politics of the time – baronial unrest, the deposition of Edward II and a regency dominated by his queen and her paramour. Elevation to the episcopate brought status, an opportunity for career clerks. Nobles were not prominent among bishops, nor were regular clergy; curiales were, but more numerous were university men. The differing roles of archbishops Winchelsey, Reynolds, Mepham, and to a marginal extent Stratford, are reviewed. Crucial is the reaction of prelates to the crisis of 1326–7. Diagrams and tables help to quantify the conclusions reached.
During the seventeenth century several attempts were made to change fundamentally the character of the Church of England founded by Elizabeth I. The innovations introduced by Laud in the 1630s precipitated a civil war and brought to power godly governments which restructured the Church on a Presbyterian model. The amateur theologian, Edward Fisher, opposed this new godly establishment, arguing for the continued celebration of Christmas, and against sabbatarianism and sacramental examination and suspension. His tracts in support of ‘Elizabethan Protestantism’ proved popular in the 1650s and helped to cement attachment to a more inclusive vision of the English Church.
The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the SPCK, has been much discussed as the epitome of Anglican evangelistic zeal and is well known for its dedicated work in the distribution of Christian literature. Whereas the fact that continental Protestants were in regular contact with the SPCK has been noted, few attempts have so far been made to examine SPCK relations with continental Protestants. In fact, the SPCK emerges as more and more concerned with its responsibilities towards its persecuted foreign brethren. Thus it is important to place the SPCK in the context of the Europe-wide Protestant Reformation.
Postmodern communitarian theory insists that all knowledge is participant knowledge: who we are is at least if not more foundational to learning than any philosophy of what we can know. These two books, one written by Jesuit priests and professors of systematic theology at the Gregorian University in Rome and the other by non-Catholic professional historians working at the University of Reading, invite us to consider this assertion.