Making Toleration

Making Toleration

Scott Sowerby
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Making Toleration
    Book Description:

    Though James II is often depicted as a Catholic despot who imposed his faith, Scott Sowerby reveals a king ahead of his time who pressed for religious toleration at the expense of his throne. The Glorious Revolution was in fact a conservative counter-revolution against the movement for enlightened reform that James himself encouraged and sustained.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07591-7
    Subjects: History, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Note to Readers
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Why do revolutions happen? Theories of revolution are as various as the sociologists, historians, political scientists, and philosophers who produce them. Most of these theories revolve around the idea of popular grievances, whether those grievances are seen as fundamentally social, economic, religious, or political in nature. When governments respond unsympathetically to grievances, it is often said that a feedback loop develops as the people are inflamed to a greater extent. this loop forms the basis of a model that can be described as the “thermodynamic” model of revolutions. The “thermal” part of the model stems from the observation that grievances...

  5. 1 Forming a Movement: James and the Repealers
    (pp. 23-56)

    King James II has not generally been seen as a populist. In most histories of his reign, he is depicted either as defying English opinion or as being oblivious to it. Historians have often suggested that James failed to understand that the English government was weak and that it depended on the support of local elites. As a consequence he foolishly thought he could rule in a top-down fashion. The king’s high-handedness, according to this argument, alienated the English nation, especially the gentry. James’s policies never had much chance of success, in this view, because he failed to appreciate the...

  6. 2 Writing a New Magna Carta: The Ideology of Repeal
    (pp. 57-78)

    John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration, though celebrated by posterity, narrowly missed its moment. It was published at Gouda in late April 1689 by Locke’s friend Philippus van Limborch. Gouda, a Dutch city, was far enough from London that Locke’s book could have had little influence on the debate on toleration in the House of Commons on 17 May. Locke himself, who was in London at the time, received a copy of the book only in early June; by then, the Act of Toleration had received royal assent. The Letter was republished in English in the autumn, with a preface contributed...

  7. 3 Fearing the Unknown: Anti-Popery and Its Limits
    (pp. 79-96)

    “My imagination grew stronger as the glass went about faster.” It was an autumn evening in the year 1678, and John Potenger, an Anglican gentleman, had been invited to the home of a Catholic family, the Tichbornes, for dinner. He had a bit too much to drink, and the alcohol heightened his suspicions that something about his dinner companions was not quite right. Only a few days before, the Anglican justice of the peace Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey had gone missing in London. He was later found in a ditch with a sword protruding through his back, his death a...

  8. 4 Taking Sides: The Three Questions Survey
    (pp. 97-116)

    The repealer movement had no membership rolls, no bureaucratic structure, no formal meetings, and no elected leadership. Its political ideology can be discerned from its published tracts and its newspapers, but these sources tell us little about the size and geographic range of the movement. Although these writings were numerous and the range of authors producing them was diverse, the audiences they attracted might in theory have been minimal. To place the repealer movement more fully in its social context, we must delve into a wider range of sources.

    One of the most valuable of these sources is the political...

  9. 5 Seizing Control: The Repealers in the Towns
    (pp. 117-152)

    From November 1687 to September 1688, King James II directed a series of purges that ejected a substantial number of officeholders, 2,342 in all, from English borough councils. He mandated the appointment of some two thousand new officials as their replacements.¹ These sweeping purges went considerably beyond any previous attempts to control the boroughs, many of which sent members to parliament. The king and his agents regulated over half of the English parliamentary boroughs; these 107 boroughs had the right to elect 212 members of parliament, or just over 41 percent of the total membership of the House of commons.²...

  10. 6 Countering a Movement: The Seven Bishops Trial
    (pp. 153-192)

    Popular movements often provoke countermovements, and the repealer movement was no exception. countermovements are typically the work of vested interests opposing change. But they need not be entirely reactionary; often, in the service of stopping radical change, they offer palliative concessions.¹ This was the case with the repealers and their opponents. The Anglicans who opposed repeal indicated that they were prepared to offer concessions under which many nonconformists would gain some form of toleration, although the precise terms of that toleration remained to be negotiated. If Anglicans could succeed in persuading nonconformists that they had turned over a new leaf...

  11. 7 Dividing a Nation: The Geography of Repeal
    (pp. 193-218)

    Given the debacle of the trial of the seven bishops, some observers wondered whether the king would delay or cancel his planned autumn parliament. But James was determined to press ahead.¹ As a result, two electoral coalitions faced off in the late summer of 1688 in anticipation of the coming battle. One coalition opposed the king’s campaign for repeal and drew its support largely from Anglicans and Presbyterians. The other supported repeal and gained the backing of many Baptists, Quakers, Congregationalists, Catholics, and high tories. Both groups included people who were not accustomed to working with each other. Each was...

  12. 8 Dancing in a Ditch: Anti-Popery and the Revolution
    (pp. 219-246)

    The Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689 has occasionally been presented as a dynastic coup orchestrated by William of Orange and a few English notables without much reliance on popular support in England. A series of historians ranging from Lucile Pinkham in the 1950s to Jonathan Israel in the 1990s advanced this interpretation, which tended to suggest that the Glorious Revolution was not a genuinely popular revolution.¹ This view, which was never universally accepted, has receded from favor in recent years, with historians now highlighting the popular elements of the Revolution.² The case for the Revolution as an elite coup has...

  13. 9 Enacting Toleration: The Repealers and the Enlightenment
    (pp. 247-266)

    This book is an exercise in historical reconstruction. It has started with the premise that much of what is found in the archives is misleading. An archive is not neutral for a historian, in the way that a bed of sediment is for a geologist. Apart from the usual difficulties involved in interpreting ambiguous evidence, the historian faces the additional complication that the archive has been pre-sifted. Only certain documents were preserved by the people who created them, only a subset of these were conserved by their heirs, and only a selection of the remaining documents were collected by archivists....

  14. Appendix: A List of Repealer Publications
    (pp. 267-270)
  15. Abbreviations
    (pp. 271-272)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 273-362)
  17. Manuscripts Consulted
    (pp. 363-392)
  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 393-396)
  19. Index
    (pp. 397-404)