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Presbyterians, Republicans, and Democracy in Church and State, ca. 1570-1660

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Hammersley


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One of the earliest uses of the term 'democratical' in English print appeared in one of John Whitgift's contributions to the Admonition controversy of the 1570s. Whitgift used the terminology of democracy as a vehicle to attack presbyterian writers such as Thomas Cartwright. This accusation stuck, and the presbyterians continued to be associated in the public mind with democratic tendencies well into the 1640s. By the 1650s, however, something had changed. In the aftermath of the regicide, the number of overtly positive references to democracy in English printed works increased considerably. In this context, republican writers such as Marchamont Nedham and James Harrington attacked the presbyterians from the opposite perspective, criticising their ideas as anti-democratic. This article explores these two moments and traces the path between them. In doing so it reveals the complex and shifting usage of the terminology of democracy during this period, and the close interrelationship between notions of democracy in church and state.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hammersley R

Editor(s): Cuttica, C; Peltonen, M

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Democracy and Anti-democracy in Early Modern England 1603-1689

Year: 2019

Pages: 174-193

Print publication date: 18/07/2019

Acceptance date: 11/07/2018

Publisher: Brill

Place Published: Leiden

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9789004385986


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