Mary, the queen of heaven and the most powerful intercessor among all the saints, was the focus of intense piety and devotion at the turn of the sixteenth century. She played a central role in the life of Christians, both in private devotions and in public ritual. But not everyone was pleased with the quantity or quality of Marian devotion. Following earlier critics, Martin Luther rejected much of the medieval cult surrounding Mary and transformed Marian devotion, inspiring a shift in her image from that of a powerful, merciful queen to a humble, obedient housewife. Although he maintained a warm, if transformed, devotion to Mary himself, Luther’s understanding of her role as the Mother of God and foremost of saints was dramatically different from the late medieval understanding. His influence on Protestant areas had the long-term effect of reducing Mary’s importance in Christian life and her visibility to Christians.
For Anglicans there has never been a distinct division between public and private, political and personal, when it comes to matters of faith and their application in Christian ethics. This chapter considers Anglicanism’s engagement with politics. It looks at how Anglicans have addressed issues of justice, righteousness, and redemption from the ethics of individual choice through to national and international politics and economics. This chapter analyses the history of Anglican approaches to politics by unpicking scripture. It discusses how Anglicanism has interacted with politics by looking at churches and nations, the evolution of the Anglican Communion’s institutional life, and contemporary culture.