The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents

The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents

The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents

The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents

Synopsis

This comprehensive anthology collects in one volume primary texts and documents relevant to literature, culture and intellectual life in England from 1550 to 1660. Through both well-known and forgotten texts that were influential at the time, the volume introduces controversies, ideas, and views on all areas of cultural interest in early modern England. Sections include: * religion and theology * politics and economics * society * education and humanism * literary and cultural theories * science and magic * exploration and traffic. Each section provides historical breadth, showing change and continuity. The English Renaissance enables students to compare the ideology, content and rhetorical strategies of 'literary' and 'aesthetic' texts with 'historical' or 'political' events and texts.

Excerpt

In 1559, and in many subsequent years, the Queen issued a set of Injunctions, which accompanied in that year the Act of Uniformity, and in subsequent years, Visitations made by her Archbishops to inspect local Churches. This document is a comprehensive and fascinating social and political text: in a short space it encompasses, delineates and sets up ways of controlling all social, religious, political, intellectual and educational life. It demonstrates in what way both the local and national Church and its theology informed and structured all aspects of people’s lives. Thus it sets out the Homilies (and their contents) which must be read to all people and requires regular recitation of the articles of faith. It provides for poor relief; local taxation; and the provision of reading the Bible in English for parishioners. It introduces regular parish record-keeping; ethical rules for the behaviour of priests; the regulation of who can and cannot preach in public; and of who can and cannot teach children. It orders the erasure of old Church monuments and icons, ‘so that there remain no memory’ of past catholicism. It establishes funds for poor scholars and a system of local administration of the morals of the community. It provides the mechanism for the censorship of all publications, for the suppression of religious dissent, for teaching grammar, for controlling the sale of goods, and for suppressing witchcraft.

Thus, just as the old icons and practices of the Roman Church were erased, so past systems of Church administration, function and belief had to be razed and reborn. The Injunctions are therefore one of the most central texts of the period: marking, as they do, the birth of the modern State and its ability to oversee and regulate our lives, through standardisation, taxation and accountable administrative systems. They thus actively dominated and affected all the different fields represented in this book, and demonstrate the centrality of Church and State, and their concomitant theology and ideology, in all areas of life. For that reason, they are set out here as the most appropriate introduction to the book’s contents.

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