Religious disorder in the archives: the historiography of religious authority in seventeenth-century England

Harmes, Marcus (2009) Religious disorder in the archives: the historiography of religious authority in seventeenth-century England. In: 2009 Australian Historical Association Conference: Constructing the Past, 30 June - 3 July 2009, Sunshine Coast, Australia.

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This paper uses theoretical insights from Pierre Nora and Peter Burke to examine the construction of an historical vision of the Reformation. It argues that the hitherto under-explored historical literature of the seventeenth century, which stressed the order and completion of reform, throws into relief the disorderly afterlife of the sources for English Reformation history. The clergy of the Church of England worked assiduously to preserve the historically tangible records of their Church, yet also struggled to contain to body of knowledge which in the seventeenth century could be used to subvert that institution. The Reformation remained a subject for active investigation during the seventeenth century. Historians attempted to outdo each other in discoveries of rare documents, a competition especially entered into by Gilbert Burnet, Thomas Tenison and Anthony Harmer. Yet while the archives were plundered for new discoveries, it is striking that the historical texts which embodied the results of this research became increasingly uniform in their import and emphasis, so much so that by the end of the seventeenth century historians and editors were assembling seamless narratives of reform from different historians. This paper makes sense of how the uniformity and order found in seventeenth-century historical literature contrasts with ecclesiastical controversies surrounding the acquisition and editing of historical sources.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department
Date Deposited: 26 May 2014 04:57
Last Modified: 26 May 2014 04:57
Uncontrolled Keywords: English reformation; historiography; episcopacy, english;
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220315 Philosophy of Religion
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210305 British History
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology

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