Dangerous Positions: Anti-Episcopal Martyrology and the Fashioning of Pietistic Protest in England, c.1520-1560
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This thesis. looks at a group of texts, that it has identified as English Protestant~ antI-epIscopal martyrologies, in their social context. It examines the dIalogue In print and manuscript between Protestant reformers in Tudor England and the bishops who opposed them. I argue that an analysis of the polemlical texts which contributed to this dialogue demonstrates the strongly antI-epIscopal stance adopted by English Protestants from the early sixteenth century to the accession of Elizabeth I. The texts I probe have been little studled eIther by historians or literary critics, and this has resulted in their literary discourses, as well as their importance as contributions to the development of the English Reformation, being overlooked. The reason for this neglect is that commentators have failed to identify the way in which they limned Protestant martyrological stances for their characters. Furthermore the context common to all these texts - a systematic opposition to the judicial, economic and political powers of the bishops in England, which was being carefully developed by Protestant propagandists from as early as 1520 - has not previously been discussed. The thesis makes equal use of historical and literary sources in order to make sense of otherwise oblique references and rhetorical techniques in both well-known and more obscure pieces of Protestant doctrinal writing and ecclesiastical satire produced between 1520 and 1560. By paying attention to episcopal archives and modern research on English bishops of the sixteenth century, the thesis identifies the fundamental importance of English episcopal administration for Henrician, Edwardian, and Marian ecclesiology. It shows that the Tudor ecclesiastical polity created a culture that fostered a martyrological consciousness, which was ultimately the only form of justification for opponents of the established church. Such a consciousness was exploited by anti-episcopal apologists for propaganda purposes. My study identifies the formation of this martyrological consciousness by early writers such as William Tyndale, William Barlow and George Joye, whose writing has hitherto not been discussed in such terms. It then looks at the way in which this early martyrological writing was tailored into more specialised anti-episcopal martyrology, such as those pieces which satirised episcopal visitation and examination or those which analysed the significance of last wills and testaments in the context of an episcopal administration. From this the thesis concludes that anti-episcopal martyrology heavily informed the thinking behind the later debates over the social and political position of the church within the state, such as in the Admonition Crisis of the 1570s and the Marprelate Controversy of the late 1580s and early 1590s. There is also strong evidence to suggest that, rather ironically, the literary creation of a Protestant martyrological posture made between 1520 and 156~ was adopted by Catholic apologists in the 1570~ and 1580s In theIr confrontation with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ellzabetian Settlement. It Iso argues that further work should be done on the borrowIng of notions of martyrology from the early propagandists by later more well-known authors such as John Foxe, Edmund Spenser, John Milton and John Bunyan. I have consulted collections of MSS and early printed sources in The British Library, Cambridge University libraries, Lambeth Palace Library, Dr Williams' Library and Winchester Cathedral library.
- Theses