Preaching, Print and Politics: The Sermons of the Royalist and Episcopalian Clergy, 1642-1662
Supervisor: Grant Tapsell
My thesis explores the interrelation between royalist preaching, print, and politics during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum. It examines how clergymen loyal to both the king and the Church of England used sermons as a way of responding to the radical political and ecclesiastical changes witnessed over the course of these two tumultuous decades. While contemporaries and historians have long ascribed a central role to parliamentarian preachers in fomenting rebellion, the loyalist clergy have often been presented as comparatively passive and inactive, mournfully withdrawing from public life and patiently awaiting a restoration in scholarly retreat.
By contrast, my thesis depicts these clergymen as far more strident and assertive, consistently seeking to intervene in politico-religious debates and to sustain the waning causes of monarchy and episcopacy at every turn. Sermons - both in pulpit and in print - were integral to these endeavours, offering a platform from which king, parliament, and people might at different times be influenced and the radical upheavals of the 1640s and 1650s resisted.
My first article, forthcoming in the Historical Journal, reconsiders the political writings of the early Stuart MP Sir John Eliot.