This volume traces the complex contribution which Protestantism made to national identity in the British Isles between the Stuart and the Victorian ages. Often challenging existing work, the essays both question whether nationalism was a secular and 'modern' phenomenon, and ask whether Protestantism could support any simple vision of a united, imperial and 'elect' Britain. Covering a wide variety of subjects, the authors show that whilst the reformed faith was always central to 'British' self-awareness, it could also divide the peoples of Britain and Ireland, could cast doubt on their greatness, and could dissolve any insistence on the uniqueness of these nations. The collection thus takes the study of religion's contribution to nationality beyond simple acknowledgement of its importance, and suggests ways to understand British and Irish development during the 'long eighteenth century'.
• 'Nationalism' is a hot topic in history and politics • Argues against view put forward by Linda Colley in her best-selling Britons • Includes discussion of fundamental issue in Irish history
List of contributors; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Part I. Introduction: 1. The trials of the chosen peoples: recent interpretations of Protestantism and national identity in Britain and Ireland Tony Claydon and Ian McBride; Part II. England: 2. 'I love my King and my Country, but a Roman Catholic I hate': anti-catholicism, xenophobia and national identity in eighteenth-century England Colin Haydon; 3. Confessional state or elect nation? Religion and identity in eighteenth-century England Jeremy Black; 4. 'To protect English liberties': the English nationalist revolution of 1688–1689 Steven Pincus; 5. A history of variations: the identity of the eighteenth-century church of England Brian Young; Part III. Britain and Ireland: 6. The British dimension, religion and the shaping of political identities during the reign of Charles II Tim Harris; 7. The bible and national identity in the British Isles, c.1650–c.1750 Scott Mandelbrote; 8. Protestantism, Presbyterianism and national identity in eighteenth-century Scottish history David Allan; 9. Protestantism, ethnicity and Irish identities, 1660–1760 Toby Barnard; 10. 'The common name of Irishman': Protestantism and patriotism in eighteenth-century Ireland Ian McBride; Part IV. Britain, Ireland and the World: 11. The island race: Captain Cook, Protestant evangelicalism and the construction of English national identity, 1760–1800 Kathleen Wilson; 12. A transatlantic perspective: Protestantism and national identities in mid-nineteenth-century Britain and the United States John Wolffe; Index.
'The book … is both wide-ranging and thematically consistent: its analyses of the ambiguities which attend religious as well as national identities, and of the subtle and highly flexible definitions to which those identities are susceptable, make it essential reading for students of the period.' British Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies
'This is an indispensable collection, learned and sharply focused.' History of Political Thought