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Response to Review of A Confusion of Tongues: Britain’s Wars of Reformation, 1625-42

I am very grateful to Dr Williams for his thorough and sympathetic review of my book, and will take this opportunity to briefly respond to a pair of substantive issues raised in his review.

The first of these concerns the focus on debates on church and state in England, and Dr Williams notes (correctly) that the Irish dimension has much light to shed on this larger question. However, as I say in my introduction (and as my reviewer acknowledges), there exist studies which deal with these questions already, and I had no desire to either challenge or replicate their arguments. Second, it is not strictly true that the matter of Scotland is confined to one chapter; in fact, contributions by and references to Scottish writers and texts can be found throughout the book. Readers looking for additional background should also consider the sixth chapter of my Defining the Jacobean Church (1), which has just been issued in paperback by the Cambridge University Press.

The second point relates to polemical sources and their putative audiences. Dr Williams wonders if ‘abstractions’ concerning church and state were ‘absorbed’ by wider publics, including those unable to read. As he admits, these are questions about the impact of these debates, and it is only necessary to add on my part that the focus of the book is on a debate within what happens to be a confined circle of writers and readers. That they referred to each other’s texts and ventured to criticise and respond to them is the important point, for it shows that there was a fairly wide debate on the problem of church and state in a period where this issue underpinned the major political issues of the day.

Notes

  1. Charles Prior, Defining the Jacobean Church: The Politics of Religious Controversy, 1603–1625 (Cambridge, 2005).Back to (1)