Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640

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Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought,1600-1640. By Anthony Milton. [Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History.] (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1995. Pp. xvi, 599. $79.95.)

Some thirty volumes have appeared as part of this series to 1995. About onefourth concern topics on Tudor England. This chronological imbalance may reflect the influence of John Morrill, one of three series' editors and a Stuart specialist, who has been instrumental in identifying outstanding dissertations and overseeing them into print. Anthony Milton, since 1995 lecturer in history in the University of Sheffield, completed his dissertation under Morrill's supervision in 1989 and reformulated it for this book. Milton is a gifted young historian with other works to his credit and a work in progress about the British delegation at the Synod of Dort (1619), which will be published under the auspices of the Church of England Record Society, founded in 1991.

Milton's is on all accounts a triumphal achievement. He has written a convincing study characterized by clarity of thought, literary grace, exhaustive archival research, and a close reading of contemporary printed sources. He describes and assesses how divines strove to identify the nature of the English Church in relation to alternative churches existing abroad. He examines the divisions within the Church of England, whose doctrinal and ideological identity was still far from certain even by 1640. Different groups within the church debated just how the English Church should be understood as being both "Catholic and Reformed." In their quest for answers, they considered what the church's precise relationship was with the Reformed Churches on the continent, and to what degree the church had truly separated herself from the Roman Catholic Church. Milton's method is to analyze the ways in which the Roman Catholic and the Reformed Churches were understood by English Protestant divines in the period.

Apart from his concise characterization of Protestantism in England ca. 1600 at the outset, and his so-called "select" bibliography (at thirty-one pages not the briefest I have seen), Milton has divided his study into two parts. In Part I, which includes seven of the nine chapters and about two-thirds of the book, he offers a tightly controlled, meticulously documented, and only occasionally verbose narrative and analysis of the often conflicting reactions of English Protestants to the tradition, doctrine, and current status of the Roman Catholic Church in England and to some extent abroad. …