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On a visit to Malta in 1838, Queen Adelaide expressed severe disappointment that the British colony did not possess a purpose-built Anglican place of worship. She determined to fund the building of one at her personal expense and within six years the grandiose neoclassical church of St Paul's, Valletta, was completed. This imposing structure occupied an ambiguous position in a colony where the British government was pledged to maintain Roman Catholicism. St Paul's was ostensibly intended for the existing Anglican population in Malta. However, the church was perceived by both evangelicals and Roman Catholics as a potential instrument of propagating Protestantism. In examining the basis for these perceptions, this article suggests that St Paul's was part of a larger effort, driven by high church clergy connected with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), to influence the Maltese towards greater sympathy with the Anglican tradition, while avoiding overt proselytizing. The concomitant establishment of the diocese of Gibraltar in 1842 was, it is argued, key to this enterprise. The analysis advanced here has important implications for our understanding of Anglicanism in an imperial context, the contribution of royal patronage to this process and the conflict between religious and governmental imperatives.
This article examines the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) and its missions in the Highlands and Britain's American colonies. Constituted in 1709 and operating as an auxiliary arm of the Church of Scotland, the SSPCK aimed to extend Christianity in ‘Popish and Infidel parts of the world’. It founded numerous Highland charity schools, and from 1729 sponsored missions to Native Americans in New England and Georgia. Missions were increasingly important in British overseas expansion; consequently, historians have viewed the society as a civilizing agency, which deployed religious instruction to assimilate ‘savage’ heathens into the fold of Britain's empire. This article suggests that the SSPCK was equally concerned with Christianization: missionaries focused on spiritual edification for the salvation of souls, indicating a disjuncture between the society's objectives and the priorities of imperial expansion. It also challenges the parity assumed by historians between the SSPCK's domestic and foreign missions, arguing that the society increasingly prioritized colonial endeavours in an attempt to recover providential favour. In doing so, it sheds new light on Scottish ideas of mission during the first half of the eighteenth century, and reassesses the Scottish Church's role in Britain's emerging empire.
This article focuses on the doctrine of divine favour and instrumentality as viewed from the emperor's own perspective, in relation to the early development of the ‘Arian controversy’ as far as the Council of Nicaea. While modern writers have focused on explicit statements by Constantine to suggest that unity was the emperor's highest priority, this article reveals a pattern by which he sought to manage divine favour and argues that doing so effectively was of primary importance to him. Such a shift in understanding the emperor's priorities adds to the range of explanations for his later apparent inconsistencies as the actual achievement of unity continually eluded him.
The theme of this fifty-fourth volume of Studies in Church History is ‘The Church and Empire’, and the twenty-three articles included here explore the complex and ever-evolving relationship of ecclesiastical and imperial power within a range of historical contexts. The articles represent plenary addresses and a selection of the communications presented at two highly successful Ecclesiastical History Society conferences during my presidential year – a Summer Conference held at the University of Edinburgh in July 2016 and a Winter Meeting held at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in January 2017. Both conferences attracted a large number of speakers and participants from across the world, and reflected the considerable scholarly interest in questions concerning the relations of Church and empire. These questions include the extent to which Christianity in the Western world became linked to the political power of large imperial states, the nature and extent of the connection of Christianity to the expansion of Western imperialism in the early modern and modern periods, and the manner in which the Church often came into conflict with imperial power, especially when Christians insisted on the spiritual independence of the Church and on maintaining an independent Christian moral witness against the wars of conquest, cruelty, racism, oppression and arrogance of power that too often have been associated with imperial rule.
Papal relations with monarchs in the later eleventh and twelfth centuries have often been characterized as ‘feudal’, as indicative of some sort of papal dominium mundi, or as an effort to advance papal ‘empire’ over the kingdoms of Christendom. More recent scholarship has drawn a distinction between ‘protection’ and ‘feudal’ relationships with kings. However, the supposed distinction between the papacy's temporal overlordship of rulers and its spiritual protection may have obscured more than it has revealed. It was only after the disputes over lay investiture of bishops in the period 1078–1122 that a distinctive protective relationship began to emerge. Previously, rulers had been willing to ‘accept their kingdom from the pope's hand’ or to participate in ceremonies of investiture. In the twelfth century these relationships became more codified and any suggestion that the papacy actually gave kingdoms to kings faded. Thus, the nature of papal ‘empire’ – or, at least, temporal authority over kings – changed markedly during this period.
In the 1840s the Church of England, through the agency of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), established an official chaplaincy to emigrants leaving from British ports. The chaplaincy lasted throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. It was revitalized in the 1880s under the direction of the SPCK in response to a surge in emigration from Britain to the colonies. This article examines the imperial attitudes of Anglicans involved in this chaplaincy network, focusing on those of the 1880s and 1890s, the period of high imperialism in Britain. It compares these late nineteenth-century outlooks with those of Anglicans in the emigrant chaplaincy of the 1840s, in order to discern changes and continuities in Anglican imperialism in nineteenth-century Britain. It finds that, in contrast to the imperialist attitudes prevalent in Britain during the late nineteenth century, Anglicans in this chaplaincy network focused more on the ecclesiastical and pastoral dimensions of their work. Indeed, pro-imperial attitudes, though present, were remarkably scarce. It was the Church much more than the empire which mattered to these Anglicans, notwithstanding their direct involvement with the British empire.
This article looks at the ways in which the Panacea Society – a heterodox, millenarian group based in Bedford during the inter-war years – spread its ideas: through personal, familial and shared belief networks across the British empire; by building new modes of attracting adherents, in particular a global healing ministry; and by shipping its publications widely. It then examines how the society appealed to its (white) members in the empire in three ways: through its theology, which put Britain at the centre of the world; by presuming the necessity and existence of a ‘Greater Britain’ and the British empire, while in so many other quarters these entities were being questioned in the wake of World War I; and by a deliberately cultivated and nostalgic notion of ‘Englishness’. The Panacea Society continued and developed the idea of the British empire as providential at a time when the idea no longer held currency in most circles. The article draws on the rich resource of letters in the Panacea Society archive to contribute to an emerging area of scholarship on migrants’ experience in the early twentieth-century British empire (especially the dominions) and their sense of identity, in this case both religious and British.
This article focuses on the exegetical interpretation of Luke's narrative of the census (or registration) carried out at the time of Jesus's birth (Luke 2: 1–5). After some brief remarks on the juridical institution of the census (the so-called professio census) in ancient Rome, a selection of the exegetical interpretations of this pericope developed by various ancient and medieval authors is presented. Origen, Ambrose, Orosius, Bede and Bonaventure are discussed, among others. A number of medieval authors, including Dante Alighieri and Bartolus of Saxoferrato, are also considered. The analysis argues, on the one hand, that a spiritualization of the institution of the census occurred and led to the spiritual empire of Christ being seen as replacing the temporal empire of Augustus; on the other, that reference to this institution was used to legitimize political authority in the eyes of believers. This interpretative tradition is thus shown to offer a vivid example of the close intertwining of theological and juridical concepts and practices which has characterized the relationship between the Church and empire from the former's very beginning.
This article explores the links between the assertion of British imperial identities and the anti-Catholic discourse and practices of a network of evangelical societies which existed and flourished in Britain and in the dominions from the halcyon days of the empire to the late 1920s. These bodies shared a broad evangelical definition of Protestantism and defended the notion that religious beliefs and their political implications formed the basis of a common British heritage and identity. Those who identified themselves as Britons in Britain and in the dominions brought forward arguments combining a mixture of pessimistic interpretations of British history since the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act with anxieties about ongoing Irish Catholic immigration and an alleged global papist plot. They were convinced that Protestantism was key to all civil liberties enjoyed by Britons. Inspired by John Wolffe's pioneering work, the article examines constitutional, theologico-political and socio-national anti-Catholicism across Britain and its dominions.
This article explores the degree to which the rule and style of the bishops of Rome after the deposition of the last Roman emperor in the West in 476 had any imperial elements, in the light of the evidence contained within the Liber pontificalis. Papal rule in Rome was cast as a replacement of imperial rule in religious matters, an opportunity for the bishop to assume political responsibility and also a deliberate emulation of imperial behaviour. This is manifest above all in the textual record in the Liber pontificalis of the papal embellishment of Rome, and in the physical evidence of the extant basilicas of the city. The deliberately imperial elements of papal self-presentation and the importance of Rome's primacy, apostolic succession and orthodoxy, all articulated so emphatically within the Liber pontificalis, indicate the multitude of strands by which the papacy wove the fabric of its own imperium or power.
The attempts of Pope Pius IX to restrict the ecclesiastical rights of the Armenian Catholics with his bull Reversurus (1867) led to the Armenian schism in 1871. A factor which was decisive for the development of the relationship between the Armenian Catholic Church and the Ottoman empire, under whose rule the Church existed, was the influence of other powers. This article analyses the background of this relationship and its significance for the Armenian schism. For this purpose, first, the ecclesiastical rights of the Armenian Catholic Church during the period before the publication of Reversurus and their relation to the internal policy of the Ottoman empire are outlined. Second, the influence of the domestic and foreign policy of the Ottoman state on its relationship with its Armenian Catholic subjects is elucidated. In this way, it is shown that the historical background of the Armenian Catholic Church and the internal political circumstances of the Ottoman empire were intertwined and shaped the relationship between the Armenian Catholics and the Ottoman state. Despite this, relations between the Ottoman empire, the Holy See and other European empires came to exercise a predominant influence, leading by the end of the 1870s to the Armenian Catholic Church's enforced acquiescence in ecclesiastical change.
Charles Freer Andrews (1871–1940) was a close friend of Mohandas K. Gandhi and played a celebrated role in the Indian struggle for independence within the British empire. This article makes the case for understanding Andrews as a pioneering example of the evolution from nineteenth-century Christian Socialism to twentieth-century global ‘social Anglicanism’, as Andrews's career fits a form better recognized in later campaigners. The article draws attention to three beliefs or principles discernible in Andrews's life as a Christian Socialist in the 1890s: the incarnation as a doctrine revealing the brotherhood of humanity; the Church's need to recognize and minister to the poor; and the Church's call to send out its adherents to end ‘social abuses’ and achieve ‘moral victories’. These three core Christian Socialist beliefs were applied in Andrews's thought and achievements during the second half of his life, in the colonial contexts of India, South Africa and Fiji. By comparing his thought and activity with perceptions of empire traceable among contemporary Anglican Christian Socialists, Andrews's colonial career is found to have enabled Anglican social thought to take on a global frame of reference, presaging proponents of an Anglican global social conscience later in the century.
Across the British empire, public worship was important for sustaining a sense of community and connectedness. This was most evident in special acts of worship, when the peoples of imperial territories, and sometimes of the whole empire, were asked at times of crisis and celebration to join together in special days or prayers of petition or thanksgiving to God. These occasions, ordered by a variety of civil and ecclesiastical authorities, were an enduring feature of all colonial societies from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Although these special acts of worship have considerable potential for deepening our understanding of various themes in the history of the British empire, they have yet to receive sustained analysis from scholars. This article is concerned with the fundamental task of considering why and how special prayers and days of fasting, humiliation, intercession and thanksgiving were appointed across the empire. By focusing on the causes of, and orders for, these occasions, it indicates reasons for the longevity of this practice, as well as its varied and changing purposes.
This article examines the late-seventeenth-century Church of England's understanding of rulers’ ecclesiastical imperium through analysing a pamphlet debate about Julian the Apostate and Church-state relations in the fourth-century Roman empire. In 1682 an Anglican cleric, Samuel Johnson, printed an account of Julian's reign that argued that the primitive Christians had resisted the emperor's persecutory policies and that Johnson's contemporaries should adopt the same stance towards the Catholic heir presumptive, James, duke of York. Surveying the reaction to Johnson, this article probes the ability of Anglican royalists to map fourth-century Roman onto seventeenth-century English imperium, their assertions about how Christians should respond to an apostate monarch, and whether these authors fulfilled such claims when James came to the throne. It also considers their negotiation of the question of whether miracles existed in the fourth-century imperial Church. It concludes that, despite Rome's territorial dimensions, imperium remained a fundamentally legal-constitutional concept in this period, and that the debate over Julian highlights the fundamentally tense and ambivalent relationship between Church and empire.
Modern historians have long argued that the early medieval Franks thought themselves to be the chosen people or new Israel, especially as they gained a great empire under the Carolingian dynasty in the late eighth century. The Opus Caroli of Bishop Theodulf of Orléans has often been cited as one of the clearest expressions of this self-conception as God's elect. A massive work attacking the legitimacy of the Byzantine empire in the context of the iconoclasm dispute during the early 790s, it does indeed contest the Byzantine claim to be the Christian empire. But Theodulf's repeated statement that ‘We are the spiritual Israel’ is best understood not as an assertion of ethnic election, but as a reference to the Christian tradition of Scripture exegesis which should (he argues) underpin both the Frankish and the Byzantine understanding of images. The Carolingian claim to empire rested on the Frankish championing of the universal Church, and its traditions of orthodoxy and correct biblical interpretation.
The Reformation in Ireland has traditionally been seen as an unmitigated failure. This article contributes to current scholarship that is challenging this perception by conceiving the sixteenth-century Irish Church as part of the English Church. It does so by examining the episcopal career of John Bale, bishop of Ossory, County Kilkenny, 1552–3. Bale wrote an account of his Irish experience, known as the Vocacyon, soon after fleeing his diocese upon the accession of Queen Mary to the English throne and the subsequent restoration of Roman Catholicism. The article considers Bale's episcopal career as an expression of the relationship between Church and state in mid-Tudor England and Ireland. It will be shown that ecclesiastical reform in Ireland was complemented by political subjugation, and vice versa. Having been appointed by Edward VI, Bale upheld the royal supremacy as justification for implementing ecclesiastical reform. The combination of preaching the gospel and enforcing the 1552 Prayer Book was, for Bale, the best method of evangelism. The double effect was to win converts and align the Irish Church with the English form of worship. Hence English reformers exploited the political dominance of England to export their evangelical faith into Ireland.
British Anglo-Catholic and high church Anglicans promoted a new set of foreign missionary initiatives in the Pacific and South and East Africa in the 1860s. Theorizing new indigenizing models for mission inspired by Tractarian medievalism, the initiatives envisioned a different and better engagement with ‘native’ cultures. Despite setbacks, the continued use of Anglican sisters in Hawai‘i and brothers in Melanesia, Africa and India created a potent new imaginative space for missionary endeavour, but one problematized by the uneven reach of empire: from contested, as in the Pacific, to normal and pervasive, as in India. Of particular relevance was the Sandwich Islands mission, invited by the Hawaiian crown, where Bishop T. N. Staley arrived in 1862, followed by Anglican missionary sisters in 1864. Immensely controversial in Britain and America, where among evangelicals in particular suspicion of ‘popish’ religious practice ran high, Anglo-Catholic methods and religious communities mobilized discussion, denunciation and reaction. Particularly in the contested imperial space of an independent indigenous monarchy, Anglo-Catholics criticized what they styled the cruel austerities of evangelical American ‘puritanism’ and the ambitions of American imperialists; in the process they catalyzed a reconceptualized imperial reformism with important implications for the shape of the late Victorian British empire.
This study discusses relations between the Church and the emperor in the last two centuries of the Byzantine empire's existence, in the Palaiologan period (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries). It questions the accepted view that the Church rose in importance and status as imperial power and authority declined. According to this view, expressed by Steven Runciman and accepted by historians since, a strong Church was the legacy of the Byzantine empire to the Ottomans. In this article the ceremonies of the late Byzantine court, as represented by the mid-fourteenth-century text of Pseudo-Kodinos, are examined for indications of continuity in the emperor's dominant role in the Church in this later period. Gilbert Dagron's contrary perspective is considered. It is then argued that the writings of two late Byzantine churchmen, Symeon of Thessalonike and Makarios of Antioch, who insist on a lesser role for the emperor in the selection and the making of a patriarch, provide evidence for the contemporary performance of the promotion of a patriarch as described by Pseudo-Kodinos. While the two churchmen tried to show that the emperor was subject to the Church, practice shows something different.