416. God’s is the Quarrel: the English Reformation

Posted on 11 March 2023

The historical context of English philosophy in the sixteenth century, with particular focus on Thomas Cranmer, and the role of religion in personal conscience and social cohesion.

Further Reading

• J. Dean (ed.), God Truly Worshipped: Thomas Cranmer and his Writings (Norwich: 2012).


• P. Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London: 1967).

• P. Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? Presbyterianism and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker (London: 1988).

• D. MacCullough, Thomas Cranmer (New Haven: 1996).

• B. R. White, The English Separatist Tradition (Oxford: 1971).

R.S. Werrell, The Roots of William Tyndale’s Theology (Cambridge: 2013).

• A. Wood, Faith, Hope and Charity: English Neighborhoods 1500-1640 (Cambridge: 2020).

• D.F. Wright, Martin Bucer: Reforming Church and Community (Cambridge: 1994).


Thanks! I like that one too but it isn't even my favorite in this episode: the one at the start about the candles really made me laugh when I thought of it. 

Bear 19 March 2023

This episode dealt with the ideas in a very balanced way. However, there were several major events which were not mentioned - the Dissolution of the Monasteries being a significant upheaval in England, and one which was done with magnificent cruelty. 


After Elizabeth Tudor usurped the throne, she instituted a police state the likes of which would only be seen again under Josef Vissarionovich Stalin and later. One has to question her claimed tolerance when she had a henchman like Richard Topcliffe as her chief enforcer and head of the secret service. A very good source for the political climate is found in: R. J. Stove, The Unsleeping Eye: Secret Police and Their Victims (Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2003).


There were penal laws for not attending church services, and priests being hung, drawn and quartered for being found. These sorts of thing put a damper on Philosophical debates. The tensions in society caused by the suppression of debate would eventually explode in the English Civil War half a century after Elizabeth's death.

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