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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Marvell’s hostility to the Church of England was a matter of faith for his clerical antagonists during his lifetime, and soon became a central component of his posthumous reputation. The present chapter re-examines this aspect of Marvell’s writings, which are contextualized with reference to the poet’s family background and the broader fortunes of the established Church in the early and mid-seventeenth century. Marvell’s complex and shifting political allegiances during the 1640s and 1650s had significant implications for his views on ecclesiastical settlement, but throughout the interregnal period he remained broadly in favour of a reformed national church establishment, in tacit opposition to the views of godly republicans such as John Milton and Henry Vane. This commitment survived, mutatis mutandis, into the Restoration period, and coloured Marvell’s support for a policy of ecclesiastical comprehension. Only with the king’s abandonment of that policy, and apparent surrender to the forces of intolerance, did Marvell come to identify the corruptions of the Church of England with the threat of arbitrary government on the part of the Stuart court.

Keywords: anti-clericalism, Church of England, comprehension, episcopacy, Indulgence, nonconformity, Protectorate, Restoration

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