- Cultural Reformations
- List of Illustrations
- List of Abbreviations
- List of Contributors
- National Histories
- Literary Histories
- Enclosed Spaces
- The Eucharist
- The Saints
- Vernacular Theology
- When English Became Latin
- Heresy and Treason
- Naughty Printed Books
- Utopian Pleasure
- Poetic Fame
- London Books and London Readers
- The Reformation of the Household
- Active and Contemplative Lives
- Autobiography and the History of Reading
Abstract and Keywords
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an acute religious crisis occurred in England due to the troublesome specter of heresies proliferating at the time. During the 1520s and 1530s, Thomas More, Lord Chancellor, played a major role in the escalating polemical warfare against Lutheran and evangelical heresy. And in the 1640s and 1650s, the fragmentation of Protestantism provoked powerful new fears of unbridled heresies and the rise of anti-heretical writings. This article examines the cultural fears sparked by the hysterical religious imagination and how they generated enormous anxieties, savagery, and bitter religious contention and polarization. It also looks at the anti-heresy literature of the English Civil War and Interregnum in the context of new legislation enacted by Parliament to control the proliferation of religious error. In addition, it considers the remarkable continuities between the late Middle Ages and early modern period with regard to heresy, treason, fears, and the feverish religious imagination, along with what was distinctive about the imaginings of heretics and heresies during those unstable decades.
David Loewenstein is Helen C. White Professor of English and the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison. His publications include Representing Revolution in Milton and his Contemporaries: Religion, Politics, and Polemics in Radical Puritanism (2001), winner of the Milton Society of America's James Holly Hanford Award for Distinguished Book. He is co‐editor of The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature (2002) and The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley (2009). He is an Honored Scholar of the Milton Society of America.
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