Providence in Early Modern England

Paperback | February 1, 2001

byAlexandra Walsham

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Providence in Early Modern England is the most extensive study to date of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century belief that God actively intervened in human affairs to punish, reward, warn, try, and chastise. Providentialism has often been seen as a distinctive hallmark of puritan piety.However, Dr Walsham argues that it was a cluster of assumptions which penetrated every sector of English society, cutting across the boundaries created by status and creed, education and wealth. She explores a range of dramatic events and puzzling phenomena in which contemporaries detected thedivine finger at work: tragic accidents and sudden deaths, strange sights and mysterious portents, monstrous births and popular prophets, terrible disasters and raging epidemics. She shows how providence helped forge a powerful myth of Protestant nationhood and a lively sense of confessionalidentity and how, simultaneously, it exacerbated the political and ecclesiastical tensions which culminated in the outbreak of the civil wars in 1642. Framed as a contribution to the continuing debate about the impact, character, and broader repercussions of the English Reformation, this book seeks to deflect attention away from the negative and iconoclastic aspects of the advent of Protestantism towards the undercurrents of continuity that easedthe enormous upheavals of the era. It highlights some of the ways in which people adjusted to the religious and cultural revolution as a permanent fact. Based on a detailed analysis of sermons and tracts published by Protestant ministers, and ballads and pamphlets reporting 'true and wonderfulnewes', it also sheds light on the role of literacy and print in a society in which oral and visual modes of communication continued to thrive.

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Providence in Early Modern England is the most extensive study to date of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century belief that God actively intervened in human affairs to punish, reward, warn, try, and chastise. Providentialism has often been seen as a distinctive hallmark of puritan piety.However, Dr Walsham argues that it was a cluster...

Alexandra Walsham is at University of Exeter.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:406 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:February 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198208871

ISBN - 13:9780198208877

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Providence, Print, and the Religion of Protestants2. 'The Theatre of Gods Judgements': Sudden Deaths and Providential Punishments3. 'Visible Sermons': Divine Providence and Public Calamities4. 'Tongues of Heaven': Prodigies, Portents, and Prophets5. 'Miracles of this Latter Age': Providence, Confessional Politics, and Patriotism6. 'Englands Warning by Israel': Paul's Cross ProphecyConclusionBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`Waltham has written a religious and cultural history of Early Modern England that is inclusive and alternative at the same time. It's an extraordinarily ambitious work, with a humanity, wisdom, and balance.'Janet L. Nelson, History Today, May 2000.