Martyrs Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England

Paperback | July 15, 2014

byAdrian Chastain Weimer

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Martyrs' Mirror examines the folklore of martyrdom among seventeenth-century New England Protestants, exploring how they imagined themselves within biblical and historical narratives of persecution. Memories of martyrdom, especially stories of the Protestants killed during the reign of QueenMary in the mid-sixteenth century, were central to a model of holiness and political legitimacy. The colonists of early New England drew on this historical imagination in order to strengthen their authority in matters of religion during times of distress. By examining how the notions of persecutionand martyrdom move in and out of the writing of the period, Adrian Chastain Weimer finds that the idea of the true church as a persecuted church infused colonial identity. Though contested, the martyrs formed a shared heritage, and fear of being labeled a persecutor, or even admiration for a cheerful sufferer, could serve to inspire religious tolerance. The sense of being persecuted also allowed colonists to avoid responsibility for aggression against Algonquiantribes. Surprisingly, those wishing to defend maltreated Christian Algonquians wrote their history as a continuation of the persecutions of the true church. This examination of the historical imagination of martyrdom contributes to our understanding of the meaning of suffering and holiness inEnglish Protestant culture, of the significance of religious models to debates over political legitimacy, and of the cultural history of persecution and tolerance.

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Martyrs' Mirror examines the folklore of martyrdom among seventeenth-century New England Protestants, exploring how they imagined themselves within biblical and historical narratives of persecution. Memories of martyrdom, especially stories of the Protestants killed during the reign of QueenMary in the mid-sixteenth century, were centr...

Adrian Chastain Weimer is Assistant Professor of History at Providence College.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:July 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199390959

ISBN - 13:9780199390953

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Pure Persecuted Church1. Martyrs and their Books2. The Lineage of Separatist Suffering3. Performances of Martyrdom in the Antinomian Controversy4. Baptists and the Identity of Persecution5. Quaker Suffering6. ''Devilish Enemies of Religion'' in King Philip's WarConclusion: Pain, Power, and the Martyr Ideal

Editorial Reviews

"A wonderfully insightful work...Martyrs' Mirror should be read not just by historians and literary critics but by anyone interested in religious persecution and the struggles among various groups to claim the title 'martyr.' A real tour de force." --Carla Gardina Pestana, author of Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World