Religion, Reform and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Secker and the Church of England
The eighteenth century has long divided critical opinion. Some contend that it witnessed the birth of the modern world, while others counter that England remained an ancien regime confessional state. This book takes issue with both positions, arguing that the former overstate the newness of the age and largely misdiagnose the causes of change, while the latter rightly point to the persistence of more traditional modes of thought and behaviour, but downplay the era's fundamental uncertainty and misplace the reasons for and the timeline of its passage. The overwhelming catalyst for change is here seen to be war, rather than long-term social and economic changes. Archbishop Thomas Secker (1693-1768), the Cranmer or Laud of his age, and the hitherto neglected church reforms he spearheaded, form the particular focus of the book; this is the first full archivally-based study of a crucial but frequently ignored figure. ROBERT G. INGRAM is Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Ohio University.
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