Outrages in the church: religious violence in English and Welsh parishes after the Civil Wars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In previous centuries, the parish church was not necessarily the tranquil place we find today. Instead, it often became a cockpit for conflicts over religious belief and practice, as well as disputes over issues of status, finance and control. During the Civil Wars of the 1640s the parish church became a space that was fought over, the scene of public arguments, controversy and much documented brutality. This was followed by an attempt to establish a Godly Protestant religious regime in place of the existing hierarchy and forms of the Church of England, with new clergy often brought into parishes to carry this out. The restoration of the established forms of religion in 1662 suggests the ultimate failure of this project but the extent to which this was due to continuing discord in the parish is unclear. This chapter seeks to shed light on the types of disturbances which took place within English and Welsh parishes during the 1640s and 1650s, using records of the secular authorities who took the lead in implementing church policy locally, quarter and borough sessions, and assizes records, supplemented by loyalist memories, newsbook reports and other sources. It considers the extent to which recorded disturbances merely reflect pre-existing types and levels of discord, or whether they were the anomalous product of a society newly accustomed to violence by the military conflicts of the time. It explores whether patterns of violence moving into the 1650s suggest a society accommodating itself to religious and social change, or remaining antagonistic or divided towards Godly imperatives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion and Conflict in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds: Identities, Communities and Authorities
EditorsNatasha Hodgson, John MacCallum, Nicholas Morton, Amy Fuller
ISBN (Print)9781138323797, 9781138323803
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameThemes in Medieval and Early Modern History


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