- 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
This article considers a Christian view of conscience starting with St. Augustine’s personal crisis in his Confessions. Augustine’s conscience sits at the margins of the self, balanced between interior and exterior. A new emphasis emerges in Protestant views of conscience, including Martin Luther’s emphasis on conscientia mea in his writings and his understanding of conscience. A Reformation view of personal conscience is illustrated in Henry VIII’s frequent references to “my conscience,” and other instances. The clash of personal and collective views of conscience underlies the views of sixteenth-century judge James Hales and Marian chancellor Stephen Gardiner. The evangelically leaning Hales sees conscience as a private matter, a personal secret, unknowable to any other person. In contrast, Gardiner, a Catholic, insists that conscience is a recognizable and unproblematic entity with evident properties that make it easily identifiable.
Paul Strohm is series editor of the Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature series. He teaches medieval literature and humanities at Columbia University. His most recent book is Politique: Languages of Statecraft between Chaucer and Shakespeare. He is currently thinking and writing about the vicissitudes of 'conscience', across the medieval-early modern divide.
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