The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, Volume I: 1588-1688; Volume II: 1688-1833; Volume III: 1833-1998

By McCarthy, John R. | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2000 | Go to article overview

The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, Volume I: 1588-1688; Volume II: 1688-1833; Volume III: 1833-1998


McCarthy, John R., The Catholic Historical Review


The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, Volume I: 1588-1688; Volume II: 1688-1833; Volume III: 1833-1998. By Kenneth Hylson-Smith. (London: SCM Press Ltd. 1996, 1996, 1998. Pp. xviii, 348; xviii, 398; xiv, 383. L19.95;L19.95;L19.95 paperback.)

While it is unusual to list the individual volumes of a set, in this case it is justified by the fact that each volume is designed to stand as an independent work. This obviously creates some repetition, but on such a vast canvas it is hardly noticed. The author explains his opening date with the proposition, "It was only during the Elizabethan era that England was truly converted to Protestantism.' With such a beginning the author is provided with almost equal time periods marked by the "Glorious Revolution" and the opening shot of the Oxford Movement. The narration of events runs easily and pleasantly (James II "had numerous mistresses who, although fewer than Charles', were reportedly uglier," while the Duke of Monmouth was "Good-looking, athletic, dashing and brainless"). There is considerable attention given to historiography in each segment. There is minimal attention given to civil history and Parliamentary action beyond what is specifically religious, but a great deal of attention is given to the more recent studies of local sources. One issue that might be of special interest here is Roman Catholic continuity, i.e., unbroken loyalty from before Henry VIII to the Emancipation of 1829. Throughout, the author reflects on the distinction between "Catholic" and "Papist" in much the way many modern writers divided "German" from "Nazi." The reader of American history will reflect on the question of Catholic loyalty in local elections and on the antiquated rhetoric of Bob Jones University. The Catholic continuity is further confused by the Puritans who forced Anglicans to live like recusants in the homes of backwoods gentry. "Orders were issued for the reversal of recent radical changes in church furnishing, which included most notably an abandonment of the railing of altars." The Interregnum ended, Charles II became king, and on his deathbed a Catholic. "As the Anglican clergy were ushered out of the bedchamber, a toothless, shabby old man, John Huddleston, carrying a stole and an oil-bottle, was humid in through a side-door from the ante-chamber in which he had long been kept waiting. …

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The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, Volume I: 1588-1688; Volume II: 1688-1833; Volume III: 1833-1998
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