Professor Wrightson reviews the conflicts which developed within the Church of England in the early seventeenth century and played a role in the growing tensions which led to the English civil wars. Wrightson begins by describing the "Jacobethan consensus" which largely prevailed throughout the reign of James I, characterized by broad-based conformity and adherence to Calvinist doctrine. However, this consensus was strained by the local activism of Puritans in many areas. The success of these Puritan efforts at local reformation was uneven across the country and largely depended on whether Puritan clerics were able to secure the support of secular magistrates in order to enforce godly discipline. He next considers the Arminian movement (anti-Calvinist in doctrine and with strong elements of ritualism and clericalism) which destroyed the Jacobethan consensus. He traces how the rise of Arminianism resulted in the polarization and politicization of religion with Charles I's appointment of Arminian clerics (notably William Laud) to positions of control of the church and their repression of Puritan opponents.
Reading assignment: Cust, The English Civil War, chapter 5 Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, chapter 5
This course is intended to provide an up-to-date introduction to the development of English society between the late fifteenth and the early eighteenth centuries. Particular issues addressed in the lectures will include: the changing social structure; households; local communities; gender roles; economic development; urbanization; religious change from the Reformation to the Act of Toleration; the Tudor and Stuart monarchies; rebellion, popular protest and civil war; witchcraft; education, literacy and print culture; crime and the law; poverty and social welfare; the changing structures and dynamics of political participation and the emergence of parliamentary government.
Course Structure: This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.