The James Ford Lectures : Blood and Trees

The James Ford Lectures in British History, 2018

Lecture Three: Blood and Trees

This lecture focuses on the themes of ancestry and genealogy. While the fascination of the Tudor and Stuart elite with questions of lineage, birth and descent has received much attention, its connection with the religious impulses and upheavals of the era has been comparatively neglected. It will be argued here that the biological and spiritual, dynastic and confessional dimensions of this enterprise must be assessed in tandem. The lecture investigates the interweaving of biblical, secular and polemical genealogy and suggests thatgenealogical thinking stretched far more deeply and further downwards into English society than has hitherto been recognised. In the process, it hopes to shed light on contemporary assumptions about sex and original sin, pregnancy and childbirth, and race and heredity. A further aim is to underscore the value of writing a social and cultural history of religion with the theology put back.

 

The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry, and Memory in England c. 1500-1700

This series of lectures seeks to inject fresh energy into debates about England’s plural and protracted Reformations by adopting the concept of generation as its analytical framework. Its aim is to investigate how the tumultuous religious developments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries not merely transformed the generations that experienced it, but also reconfigured the nexus between memory, history, and time. The lectures examine how age and ancestry were implicated in the theological and cultural upheavals of the era and explore how the Reformation shaped the horizontal relationships that early modern people formed with their siblings, kin, and peers, as well as the vertical ones that tied them to their dead ancestors and their future heirs. They highlight the important part that the family has played in shaping our knowledge of the Reformation past and in the making of its archive. They contend that religious revolution had both biological and social dimensions.

   

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