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This article is a revised and expanded version of my inaugural lecture as Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, delivered on 20 Oct. 2011. It explores how the religious upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reshaped perceptions of the past, stimulated shifts in historical method, and transformed the culture of memory, before turning to the interrelated question of when and why contemporaries began to remember the English Reformation as a decisive juncture and critical turning point in history. Investigating the interaction between personal recollection and social memory, it traces the manner in which remembrance of the events of the 1530s, 1540s, and 1550s evolved and splintered between 1530 and 1700. A further theme is the role of religious and intellectual developments in the early modern period in forging prevailing models of historical periodization and teleological paradigms of interpretation.

Corresponding author
Trinity College, Cambridge CB2
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I am grateful to those who attended the lecture, and to Julian Hoppit and Judith Pollmann, for helpful comments. This is dedicated to the memory of Patrick Collinson, who died on 28 Sept. 2011.

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1 See The National Archives, Kew (TNA), SP 16/86/88; Oxford dictionary of national biography; Mellor, Ronald, ‘Tacitus, academic politics, and regicide in the reign of Charles I: the tragedy of Dr Isaac Dorislaus’, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 11 (2004), pp. 153–93. I thank Richard Serjeantson for this reference.

2 Withington, Phil, Society in early modern England: the vernacular origins of some powerful ideas (Cambridge, 2010), ch. 3 and passim. See also the stimulating discussion in de Grazia, Margreta, ‘The modern divide: from either side’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 37 (2007), pp. 453–67.

3 See Giles Constable, ‘Renewal and reform in religious life: concepts and realities’, in R. L. Benson and Giles Constable, eds., Renaissance and renewal in the twelfth century (Oxford, 1982), pp. 37–67; idem, The Reformation of the twelfth century (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 3, 13–14, and ch. 4 passim; Gerald Strauss, ‘Ideas of reformatio and renovatio from the middle ages to the Reformation’, in Thomas A. Brady et al., eds., Handbook of European history, 1400–1600: late middle ages, Renaissance and Reformation (2 vols., Leiden, 1994–5), ii, 1–30; Julia Barrow, ‘Ideas and applications of reform’, in Thomas X. F. Noble and Julia M. H. Smith, eds., Early medieval Christianities c .600 – c. 1100 (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 345–62.

4 Rosdell, Christopher, A godlie and short discourse, shewing not onely what time the inhabitants of this land first receyved the Christian faith: but also what maner of doctrine was planted in the same. Whereby may appeare, howe the reformation at this day in England is not a bringing in of a newe religion, but a reducing againe of the olde and auncient fayth (London, 1589), sig. A3v.

5 See Kelley, Donald R., Faces of history: historical inquiry from Herodotus to Herder (New Haven, CT, and London, 1998), pp. 130–5.

6 See, e.g., Headley, John M., Luther's view of church history (New Haven, CT, and London, 1963); Dickens, A. J. and Tonkin, J., The Reformation in historical thought (Oxford, 1985), ch. 1; Bruce Gordon, ed., Protestant history and identity in sixteenth-century Europe (2 vols., Aldershot, 1996); Barnett, S. J., ‘Where was your church before Luther? Claims for the antiquity of Protestantism examined’, Church History, 68 (1999), pp. 1441; Backus, Irena, Historical method and confessional identity in the era of the Reformation (1378–1615) (Leiden, 2003); Ditchfield, Simon, Liturgy, sanctity and history in Tridentine Italy: Pietro Maria Campi and the preservation of the particular (Cambridge, 1995); Elliot van Liere, Katherine, Ditchfield, Simon, and Louthan, Howard, eds., Sacred history: uses of the Christian past in the Renaissance world (Oxford, 2012).

7 See ‘Focal point on the Protestant Reformation and the middle ages’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte/Archiv for Reformation History, 101 (2010), esp. Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott, ‘John Bale, John Foxe, and the Reformation of the English past’, pp. 275–87; Felicity Heal, ‘Appropriating history: Catholic and Protestant polemics and the national past’, in Paulina Kewes, ed., The uses of history in early modern England, Huntington Library Quarterly, 68 (2005), pp. 109–32; Rosamund Oates, ‘Elizabethan histories of English Christian origins’, in van Liere, Ditchfield, and Louthan, eds., Sacred history, pp. 165–85.

8 Patrick Collinson, ‘Truth and legend: the veracity of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs’, in A. C. Duke and C. A. Tamse, eds., Clio's mirror: historiography in Britain and the Netherlands (Zutphen, 1985), pp. 31–54, repr. in his Elizabethan essays (London and Rio Grande, 1994), pp. 151–74; Euan Cameron, ‘Medieval heretics as Protestant martyrs’, in Diana Wood, ed., Martyrs and martryologies, Studies in Church History 30 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 185–207. See also the later enterprise to marshal Wyclif as an upstanding member of the established Protestant church: James, Thomas, An apologie for John Wickliffe, shewing his conformitie with the now Church of England (Oxford, 1608).

9 Bruce Gordon, ‘“This worthy witness of Christ”: Protestant uses of Savonarola in the sixteenth century’, in idem, ed., Protestant history and identity, i, pp. 93–107. For an English example, see my discussion of the posthumous printing of Thomas Wimbledon's Paul's Cross sermon: ‘Inventing the Lollard past: the afterlife of a medieval sermon in early modern England’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 58 (2007), pp. 628–55.

10 For biographies that diabolize saints, see Parish, Helen L., Monks, miracles and magic: Reformation representations of the medieval church (London and New York, 2005), ch. 5. For rehabilitations, see Bruhn, Karen, ‘Reforming Saint Peter: Protestant constructions of Saint Peter the apostle in early modern England’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 33 (2002), pp. 3349. For transformations in Germany before and during the early Reformation, see Heming, Carol Piper, Protestants and the cult of saints in German-speaking Europe, 1517–1531 (Kirksville, MO, 2003), and Collins, David J., Reforming saints: saints’ lives and their authors in Germany, 1470–1530 (Oxford, 2008).

11 Williams, Glanmor, ‘Some Protestant views of early British church history’, in idem, Welsh Reformation essays (Cardiff, 1967), pp. 207–19. For Ireland, see Ussher, James, Gravissimae quaestionis de Christianarum ecclesiarum (London, 1613), and A discourse of the religion anciently professed by the Irish and Brittish (London, 1631); Ford, Alan, James Ussher: theology, history and politics in early modern Ireland and England (Oxford, 2007), ch. 6.

12 Heal, Felicity, ‘What can King Lucius do for you? The Reformation and the early British church’, English Historical Review, 120 (2005), pp. 593614; Sarah Scutts, ‘Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century perceptions of Joseph of Arimathea’ (MA thesis, Exeter, 2006).

13 Graham, Timothy and Watson, Andrew G., eds., The recovery of the past in early Elizabethan England: documents by John Bale and John Joscelyn from the circle of Matthew Parker (Cambridge, 1998); Robinson, Benedict Scott, ‘“Darke speech”: Matthew Parker and the reforming of history’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 29 (1998), pp. 1061–83; idem, ‘John Foxe and the Anglo-Saxons’, in Christopher Highley and John N. King, eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 54–72.

14 Matthew Parker and John Joscelyn, eds., A testimonie of antiquitie, shewing the auncient fayth in the Church of England touching the sacrament of the body and bloude of the Lord here publicly preached, and also received in the Saxons tyme, above 600 yeares age (London, [1566?]), sigs. K3r–4r.

15 Foxe, John, ed., The whole workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, three worthy martyrs, and principall teachers of this churche of England, collected and completed in one tome together, beyng before scattered, & now in print here exhibited to the church (London, 1573), sigs. A2r–3v.

16 [Henry Bull and] Coverdale, Miles, eds., Certain most godly, fruitful, and comfortable letters of such true saines and holy martyrs of God, as in the late bloodye persecution here within this realme, gave their lyves for the defence of Christes holy gospel (London, 1564).

17 See Firth, Katharine, The apocalyptic tradition in Reformation Britain, 1530–1645 (Oxford, 1979); Barnes, Robin Bruce, Prophecy and gnosis: apocalypticism in the wake of the Lutheran Reformation (Stanford, CA, 1988), ch. 3, and passim; Cunningham, Andrew and Grell, Ole Peter, The four horsemen of the apocalypse: religion, war, famine and death in Reformation Europe (Cambridge, 2000), ch. 1.

18 Grafton, Richard, An abridgement of the chronicles of England (London, 1563), sig. B2r.

19 For works reflecting this tendency, see Fussner, F. Smith, The historical revolution (London, 1962); Levy, F. J., Tudor historical thought (San Marino, CA, 1967); Burke, Peter, The Renaissance sense of the past (London, 1969). Some of these assumptions are also present in Woolf, D. R., The idea of history in early Stuart England: erudition, ideology, and ‘the light of truth’ from the accession of James I to the Civil War (Toronto, 1990), and Kelley, Faces of history. See the incisive critical analysis by David Womersley, ‘Against the teleology of technique’, in Kewes, ed., The uses of history, pp. 95–108, at p. 98.

20 For older contributions, Southern, R. W., ‘Aspects of the European tradition of historical writing: 4. the sense of the past’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 23 (1973), pp. 243–63; Gransden, Antonia, ‘Antiquarian studies in fifteenth-century England’, in eadem, Legends, traditions and history in medieval England (London and Ronceverte, WV, 1992), pp. 299327. Representative of more recent tendencies are Partner, Nancy F., Serious entertainments: the writing of history in twelfth-century England (Chicago, IL, and London, 1977); Spiegel, Gabrielle, ‘Forging the past: the language of historical truth in the middle ages’, History Teacher, 17 (1984), pp. 267–83; eadem, ‘History, historicism and the social logics of the text in the middle ages’, Speculum, 65 (1990), pp. 5986; Morse, Ruth, Truth and convention in the middle ages: rhetoric, representation, and reality (Cambridge, 1991), esp. ch. 2; Otter, Moniker, ‘Functions of fiction in historical writing’, in Nancy Partner, ed., Writing medieval history (London, 2005), pp. 109–30.

21 Grafton, Anthony, The footnote: a curious history (Cambridge, MA, 1997).

22 A point made by Womersley, ‘Against the teleology of technique’, p. 106.

23 See Visser, Arnoud S. Q., Reading Augustine in the Reformation: the flexibility of intellectual authority in Europe, 1500–1620 (Oxford, 2011), esp. p. 137, and Levitin, Dmitri, ‘From sacred history to the history of religion: paganism, Judaism, and Christianity in European historiography from Reformation to “Enlightenment”’, Historical Journal, 55 (2012), pp. 1117–60. See also Rummel, Erika, The confessionalization of humanism in Reformation Germany (New York, NY, and Oxford, 2000).

24 Woolf, Daniel, Reading history in early modern England (Cambridge, 2000); idem, The social circulation of the past: English historical culture, 1500–1730 (Oxford, 2003).

25 For a broad overview, see Peter Sherlock, ‘The reformation of memory in early modern Europe’, in Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz, eds., Memory: histories, theories and debates (New York, NY, 2010), pp. 30–40.

26 Edward Cardwell, ed., Documentary annals of the Reformed Church of England (2 vols., Oxford, 1844), i, pp. 6–7, 17, 212, 221.

27 Walsham, Alexandra, The Reformation of the landscape: religion, identity and memory in early modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2011), pp. 116–23.

28 Barrow, Henry, A brief discoverie of the false church (Dort, 1590), repr. in Carlson, Leland H., ed., The writings of Henry Barrow 1587–1590, Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts iii (London, 1962), p. 468; Peel, Albert, ed., The notebook of John Penry 1593, Camden Society, 3rd ser., 67 (1944), pp. 8992.

29 See John Dee's supplication to Queen Mary, 1556, in Julian Roberts and Andrew G. Watson, eds., John Dee's library catalogue (London, 1990), pp. 194–5; Bale, John, The laboryouse journey & serche of Johan Leylande for Englandes antiquities (London, 1549), sig. B1r.

30 Bale, John, Illustrium maioris Britanniae scriptorum: hoc est, Angliae, Cambriae, ac Scotiæ summariu[m] (London, 1548 [1549]).

31 Nicholas Pocock, ed., Troubles connected with the Prayer Book of 1549, Camden Society, n.s. (1884), pp. 127–8.

32 For an incisive analysis of these dimensions of Protestant manuscript and book collection, see Summit, Jennifer, Memory's library: medieval books in early modern England (Chicago, IL, and London, 2008). See also James P. Carley, ‘Monastic collections and their dispersal’, in John Barnard and D. F. McKenzie, with the assistance of Maureen Bell, eds., The Cambridge history of the book in Britain, iv:1557–1695 (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 339–49. For an earlier discussion, see Fritze, Ronald Harold, ‘“Truth hath lacked witnesse, tyme wanted light”’: the dispersal of the English monastic libraries and Protestant efforts at preservation, c. 1535–1625’, Journal of Library History, 18 (1983), pp. 274–91.

33 See Walsham, Reformation of the landscape, pp. 147–8.

34 Alexandra Walsham, ‘Skeletons in the cupboard: relics after the English Reformation’, in eadem ed., Relics and remains, Past and Present supplement 5 (Oxford, 2010), pp. 121–43, at p. 142. See also Woolf, Social circulation of the past, pp. 191–7.

35 Nora, Pierre, ‘Between memory and history: les lieux de mémoire’, Representations, 26 (1989), pp. 724.

36 Eire, Carlos, War against the idols: the reformation of worship from Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge, 1987), ch. 6 and p. 312; Muir, Edward, Ritual in early modern Europe (Cambridge, 1997), ch. 5 and p. 181.

37 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (2 vols. in 1, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989), ii, pp. 501–4.

38 See Marshall, Peter, Beliefs and the dead in Reformation England (Oxford, 2002), esp. ch. 7. See also Koslofsky, Craig M., The reformation of the dead: death and ritual in early modern Germany, 1450–1700 (Basingstoke, 2000).

39 Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin, eds., Tudor royal proclamations (3 vols., New Haven, CT, 1964–9), ii, pp. 146–8. Marshall, Beliefs and the dead, p. 278. See also Sherlock, Peter, Monuments and memory in early modern England (Aldershot, 2008).

40 Marshall, Beliefs and the dead, p. 308. On the question of the damnation of popish ancestors, see pp. 205–7. See also Milton, Anthony, Catholic and reformed: the Roman and Protestant churches in English Protestant thought, 1600–1640 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 160–1, 285–9, and for similar issues in the Dutch context, Judith Pollmann, ‘A different road to God: the Protestant experience of conversion in the sixteenth century’, in Peter van der Veer, ed., Conversion to modernities: the globalization of Christianity (New York, NY, and London, 1996), pp. 47–64, at 57–8.

41 See Robert Gilchrist, ‘“Dust to dust”: revealing the Reformation dead’, in David Gaimster and Roberta Gilchrist, eds., The archaeology of Reformation 1480–1580 (Leeds, 2003), p. 408. For Scottish Protestants who rejected traditional monastic burial places, see Andrew Spicer, ‘“Defyle not Christ's kirk with your carion”: burial and the development of burial aisles in post-Reformation Scotland’, in Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall, eds., The place of the dead: death and remembrance in late medieval and early modern Europe (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 149–69, at pp. 155–6.

42 See, e.g., the brasses to Elizabeth and Robert Cheyne cited in Sherlock, Monuments and memory, p. 105. For other subtle transitions, see ch. 4 passim.

43 J. P. Cooper, ed., Wentworth papers, 1597–1628, Camden Society, 4th ser., 12 (1973), pp. 28–9.

44 John Foxe, Actes and monuments (London, 1563), pp. 1502–3. See Susan Wabuda, ‘Henry Bull, Miles Coverdale and the making of Foxe's Book of martyrs’, in Wood, ed., Martyrs and martyrologies, Studies in Church History 30 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 245–58, at p. 257; Thomas Freeman, ‘Dissenters from a dissenting church: the challenge of the Freewillers 1550–1558’, in Peter Marshall and Alec Ryrie, eds., The beginnings of English Protestantism (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 129–56, at 154.

45 Clarke, Samuel, A general martyrologie … whereunto is added the lives of thirty two English divines (London, 1677 edn); Fuller, Thomas, Abel redevivus: or, the dead yet speaking: the lives and deaths of the moderne divines (London, 1651). See Collinson, Patrick, ‘“A magazine of religious patterns”: an Erasmian topic transposed in English Protestantism’, in his Godly people: essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism (London, 1983), pp. 499525.

46 There is a substantial existing literature on these topics: Leverenz, David, The language of Puritan feeling (New Brunswick, NJ, 1980); Delany, Paul, British autobiography in the seventeenth century (London, 1969); Ebner, Dean, Autobiography in seventeenth-century England: theology and the self (The Hague, 1971); Watkins, Owen C., The puritan experience: studies in spiritual autobiography (New York, NY, 1972); Todd, Margo, ‘Puritan self-fashioning: the diary of Samuel Ward’, Journal of British Studies, 31 (1992), pp. 236–64; Webster, Tom, ‘Writing to redundancy: approaches to spiritual journals and early modern spirituality’, Historical Journal, 39 (1996), pp. 3356; Masuch, Michael, Origins of the individualistic self: autobiography and self-identity in England, 1591–1791 (Cambridge, 1997); Bedford, Ronald, Davis, Lloyd, and Kelly, Philippa, eds., Early modern autobiography: theories, genres, practices (Ann Arbor, MI, 2006).

47 Cambers, Andrew, ‘Reading, the godly, and self-writing in England, circa 1580–1720’, Journal of British Studies, 46 (2007), pp. 796825.

48 Smyth, Adam, Autobiography in early modern England (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 1, 14, and passim.

49 John Bale, The vocacyon of Johan Bale to the bishoprick of Ossorie in Irelande his persecutions in the same & finall deliveraunce (Rome [Wesel?], 1553), fos. 5r, 7v, 41v, 48r.

50 Thomas Freeman, ‘Publish and perish: the scribal culture of the Marian martyrs’, in Julia Crick and Alexandra Walsham, eds., The uses of script and print, 1300–1700 (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 235–54.

51 John Gough Nichols, ed., Narratives of the days of the Reformation, chiefly from the manuscripts of John Foxe the martyrologist, Camden Society, o.s., 77 (1859), pp. 348–51.

52 Ibid., pp. 177–217, at pp. 213 and 216.

53 Ibid. , pp. 132–76, at pp. 159 and 149 respectively.

54 See the acrimonious exchanges between Thomas Thackham and Thomas Purye regarding the former's conduct during the reign of Mary, in ibid., pp. 87 and 83–131.

55 Letter to Anne Locke, 9 Dec. 1556, in The works of John Knox, ed. D. Laing (6 vols., Edinburgh, 1846–64), iv, p. 240.

56 Maria Dowling and Joy Shakespeare, eds., ‘Religion and politics in mid-Tudor England through the eyes of an English Protestant woman: the recollections of Rose Hickman’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 55 (1982), pp. 94–102.

57 Shagan, Ethan H., Popular politics and the English Reformation (Cambridge, 2003), p. 309.

58 See Mary Fulbrook's sensitive discussion of these processes in Dissonant lives: generations and violence through the German dictatorships (Oxford, 2011), pp. 2–3 and passim.

59 Ulinka Rublack, ‘Grapho-relics: Lutheranism and the materialization of the word’, in Walsham, ed., Relics and remains, pp. 144–66.

60 Hickman's memoir survives in three copies in the British Library: two preserved in Additional MS 43827 (one of which is a writing exercise by Elizabeth Hickman dating from 1667) and a third in Additional MS 45027. Both works were presented by Sir Hickman Becket Bacon, a descendant.

61 See Stephen Bradwell, ‘Mary Glovers late woeful case, together with her joyfull deliverance’, in Michael MacDonald, ed., Witchcraft and hysteria: Edward Jorden and the Mary Glover case (London, 1991), p. 115, and the introductory notes pp. xxxvii–ix; Swan, John, A true and breife report, of Mary Glovers vexation, and of her deliverance by the meanes of fastinge and prayer (London, 1603), p. 47. For Foxe's account of her grandfather's death and her great uncle's troubles, see Actes and monuments (London, 1583 edn), pp. 1709–15.

62 This will be a major theme of Alec Ryrie's Being Protestant in early modern Britain (Oxford, forthcoming). See also Stachniewski, John, The persecutory imagination: English puritanism and the literature of religious despair (Oxford, 1991).

63 Duffy, Eamon, The voices of Morebath: Reformation and rebellion in an English village (New Haven, CT, and London, 2001). See also Will Coster, ‘Popular religion and the parish register 1538–1603’, in Katherine L. French, Gary C. Gibbs, and Beat A Kümin, eds., The parish in English life, 1400–1600 (Manchester and New York, NY, 1997), pp. 94–111.

64 See Smyth, Autobiography, ch. 4, esp. pp. 191–9, and the comments of Clive Burgess, ed., Pre-Reformation records of All Saints Bristol, part i (Bristol, 1995), pp. xi–xliv, esp. xxxviii, xli.

65 This now survives only in the form of printed extracts in Hartshorne, C. H., ‘Extracts from the register of Sir Thomas Butler, vicar of Much Wenlock in Shropshire’, Cambrian Journal, 4 (1861), pp. 8198, and others made by James Bowen of Shrewsbury in 1756, which are among the Gough MSS in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Both are printed in Leighton, W. A., ‘The register of Sir Thomas Butler, vicar of Much Wenlock’, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 6 (1883), pp. 93132.

66 MacCulloch, Diarmaid and Hughes, Pat, ‘A bailiff's list and chronicle from Worcester’, Antiquaries Journal, 75 (1995), pp. 235–53. On the blurred generic boundaries between diaries and chronicles, see also Mortimer, Ian, ‘Tudor chronicler or sixteenth-century diarist? Henry Machyn and the nature of his manuscript’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 33 (2002), pp. 981–98.

67 Margaret Aston, ‘English ruins and English history: the dissolution and the sense of the past’, repr. in eadem, Lollards and reformers: images and literacy in late medieval religion (London, 1984), pp. 313–37, at p. 337. For other dimensions of this nostalgia, see Keith Thomas, The perception of the past in early modern England, The Creighton Trust Lecture (London, 1984), pp. 11–23.

68 Sir Parker, William, The history of Long Melford (London, 1873), pp. 70–4.

69 Thomas Habington, A survey of Worcestershire, ed. John Amphlett, Worcestershire Historical Society (2 vols., Oxford, 1895–9), ii, pp. 17–18.

70 Walsham, Reformation of the landscape, pp. 273–81.

71 Quotation from Bates, E. H., ed., The particular description of the county of Somerset: drawn up by Thomas Gerard of Trent, 1633, Somerset Record Society, 15 (1900), p. 89.

72 Dodsworth, Roger and Dugdale, William, Monasticon Anglicanum sive Pandectæ Cœnobiorum, Benedictinorum Cluniacensium, Cisterciensium, Carthusianorum; a primordiis ad eorum usque dissolutionem (3 vols., London, 1655–73).

73 See n. 3 above.

74 Marshall, Peter, ‘The naming of Protestant England’, Past and Present, 214 (2012), pp. 87128 at p. 91. OED dates the first vernacular use of the term to describe the reform movement of the sixteenth century to 1531, but closer inspection suggests many of these instances utilize the word in a manner continuous with medieval concepts of reformatio.

75 Barlow, William, A dyaloge descrybyng the orygynall ground of these Lutheran faccyons, and many of theyr abusys ([London, 1531]), sig. d4v.

76 Rastell, John, The third booke, declaring by examples out of auncient councels, fathers, and later writers, that it is time to beware of M. Jewel (Antwerp, 1566), fo. 58v; Ninian Winzet, Certain tractates together with the book of four score three questions and a translation of Vincentius Livinensis, ed. James King Hewison, Scottish Text Society (2 vols., 1888), i, p. 67; D.B. P. [William Bishop], A reformation of a Catholike deformed … wherein the chiefe controversies in religion, are methodically and learnedly handled ([English secret press], 1604), sig. *4r.

77 Collinson, Patrick, The birthpangs of Protestant England (Basingstoke, 1988), p. 143.

78 Nicholas Sander, De origine ac progressu schismatis Anglicani (1585), translated as Rise and growth of the Anglican schism published A. D. 1585, with a continuation of the history, by the Rev. Edward Rishton, B. A. of Brasenose College, Oxford, trans. David Lewis (London, 1877), p. 233.

79 Christopher Highley, ‘“A pestilent and seditious book”: Nicholas Sander's Schismatis anglicani and Catholic histories of the Reformation’, in Kewes, ed., The uses of history, pp. 151–71. See also his Catholics writing the nation in early modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2008).

80 See Marshall, Peter, ‘John Calvin and the English Catholics, c. 1565–1640’, Historical Journal, 53 (2010), pp. 849–70. For the continental tradition, see Backus, Irena, Life writing in Reformation Europe: lives of reformers by friends, disciples and foes (Aldershot, 2007).

81 John Bale, An expostulation or complaynte agaynste the blasphemyes of a franticke papyst of Hampshyre (London, [c.1550]), sig. A3r.

82 Frere, W. H. and Douglas, C. E., eds., Puritan manifestoes: a study of the origin of the puritan revolt with a reprint of the admonition to parliament and kindred documents, 1572 (London, 1954), p. 19; Udall, John, A parte of a register, contayninge sundrie memorable matters, written by divers godly and learned in our time, which stande for, and desire the reformation of our Church, in discipoline and ceremonies, accordinge to the pure word of God, and the lawe of our lande ([Middelburg], 1593).

83 Thomas S. Freeman, ‘Providence and prescription: the account of Elizabeth in Foxe's “Book of Martyrs”, in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, eds., The myth of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke and New York, NY, 2003), pp. 27–55.

84 Knox, John, The first booke of the historie of the reformation of religion within the realme of Scotland (London, 1587). The book was seized before the completion of the printing by order of Whitgift, and extant copies do not include the first seventeen pages. The copy on EEBO (from the Huntington Library) includes a transcription of the missing section in a contemporary hand.

85 See, e.g., Dering, Edward, A collection of speeches made … in matter of religion (London, 1642), pp. 50, 74, 136.

86 Burgess, Cornelius, The first sermon, preached to the honourable house of commons now assembled in parliament at their publique fast. Novemb.17.1640 (London, 1641), p. 40.

87 See Fuller, Thomas, A sermon of reformation: preached at the church of the Savoy, last fast day, July 27, 1643 (London, 1643).

88 Dell, William, Right Reformation: or the Reformation of the Church of the New Testament, represented in gospell-light (London, 1646), pp. 2, 6 and passim.

89 Seaver, Paul S., Wallington's world: a puritan artisan in seventeenth-century London (London, 1985), p. 151.

90 See Culmer, Richard, Cathedrall newes from Canterbury (London, 1644), p. 24; D'Ewes, Simonds, The primitive practise for preserving truth (London, [1645]), sig. A3r.

91 For mocking uses of this phrase, see Balcanquall, Walter, A large declaration concerning the late tumults in Scotland, from their first originals together with a particular deduction of the seditious practices of the prime leaders of the Covenanters (London, 1639), p. 31; A new ballad, called a review of the rebellion in three parts (London, 1647); Dugdale, William, A short view of the late troubles in England … (London, 1681), pp. 44, 241, 574.

92 See the sentiments expressed in An act of the commons of England assembled in parliament for the keeping a day of humiliation upon Thursday the 19 day of April, 1649 (London, 1648).

93 See Shakespeare, Joy, ‘Plague and punishment’, in Peter Lake and Maria Dowling, eds., Protestantism and the national church in sixteenth-century England (London, 1987), pp. 103–23, esp. p. 115; and Scott Lucas, ‘Coping with providentialism: trauma, identity, and the failure of the English Reformation’, in Yvonne Bruce, ed., Images of matter: essays on British literature of the middle ages and Renaissance (Newark, DE, 2005), pp. 255–73.

94 Thomas Becon, A comfortable epistle to Goddes faythful people in Englande (Strasbourg [Wesel?], 1554), sig. A5r.

95 Betteridge, Tom, Tudor histories of the English Reformations, 1530–1583 (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 120–60.

96 See Davies, Catherine, ‘“Poor persecuted little flock” or “commonwealth of Christians”: Edwardian Protestant concepts of the church’, in Lake and Dowling, eds., Protestantism and the national church, pp. 78102.

97 King, John, Lectures upon Jonas delivered at Yorke in the yeare of our Lord 1594 (Oxford, 1600), pp. 442–3.

98 See Walsham, Alexandra, Providence in early modern England (Oxford, 1999), ch. 6, esp. pp. 299304.

99 Carleton, George, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy. In an historicall collection of the great and mercifull deliverances of the church and state of England, since the Gospell began here to flourish, from the beginning of Queene Elizabeth (London, 1624), p. 147.

100 Lever, Christopher, The historie of the defenders of the Catholique faith. Wheareunto are added observations divine, politique, morrall (London, 1627), quotations at pp. 35, 61, 254–5.

101 See, among others, Sharpe, Kevin, Criticism and compliment: the politics of literature in the England of Charles I (Cambridge, 1987).

102 Cressy, David, Bonfires and bells: national memory and the Protestant calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (London, 1989). See also Alexandra Walsham, ‘“A very Deborah”? The myth of Elizabeth I as a providential monarch’, in Doran and Freeman, eds., Myth of Elizabeth I, pp. 143–68. On the ambiguous legacies of Henry VIII, see Rankin, Mark, Highley, Christopher, and King, John N., eds., Henry VIII and his afterlives: literature, politics and art (Cambridge, 2009).

103 Michael Sparke, Thankfull remembrances of Gods wonderfull deliverances of this land, bound with Crumms of comfort (London, 1627 edn).

104 British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings (BMDP&D), Satires 11.

105 Damian Nussbaum, ‘Appropriating martyrdom: fears of renewed persecution and the 1632 edition of Acts and Monuments’, in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 178–91.

106 See, e.g., A collection of sundry petitions presented to the kings most excellent majestie (London, 1642), p. 4; Judith Maltby, ed., ‘Petitions for episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer on the eve of the Civil War, 1641–1642’, in Stephen Taylor, ed., From Cranmer to Davidson: a Church of England miscellany, Church of England Record Society 7 (1999), pp. 119, 158, 162.

107 2 Esdras xxiv: 25. Hugh Latimer reputedly comforted Nicholas Ridley with the same words as he was about to be burnt at the stake in 1555: ‘We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out’ (Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1583 edn), p. 1770). See BMDP&D, British xviic Mounted Roy. For a brief discussion, see O'Connell, Sheila, The popular print in England, 1550–1850 (London, 1999), pp. 129–31. For German and Dutch variations, see Hoffmann, Werner, Luther und die folgen für die kunst (Munich, 1984), pp. 157, 320; Wolfgang Harms and Michael Schilling, Deutsche illustrierte flugblätter des 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (4 vols., Tubingen and Munich), ii, p. 123 (c. 1620–56, ‘after the version from London’).

108 See, e.g., the frontispiece to The plots of Jesuites (London, 1653), BMDP&D, Satires 785.

109 Now in the Society of Antiquaries of London.

110 J. S., Ecclesiastical history epitomized (London, 1682), frontispiece to Part ii. Copies of this in print collections include National Portrait Gallery D23051. BMDP&D Satires, British Supplementary 1720 Unmounted Roy does not include the title.

111 This print is now known only from a photograph in the Warburg Library.

112 A true account of the rise and growth of the Reformation, or the progress of the Protestant religion (London, 1680).

113 The fireback is now in the Sussex Archaeological Society collections held in Anne of Cleves House, Lewes. There is a possibility that it is a copy commissioned for Brighton Museum by the Piltdown forger Charles Dawson. A fireback corresponding to this object is recorded at Brick House, Burwash in 1871. I owe my knowledge of this to Professor Mark Greengrass.

114 BMDP&D, registration number 1891, 0224.3.

115 Morrall, Andrew, ‘Protestant pots: morality and social ritual in the early modern home’, Journal of Design History, 15 (2002), pp. 263–73.

116 See, e.g., Hay, Peter, A vision of Balaams asse. Wherein hee did perfectly see the present estate of the Church of Rome (London, 1616), pp. 145–6.

117 See Milton, Catholic and reformed, ch. 6.

118 Heylyn, Peter, Ecclesia restaurata, or, the history of the Reformation of the Church of England (London, 1661), sig. a2v, pp. 172, 139, 167. Heylyn's distinctive historical outlook also emerges in his response to Thomas Fuller's Church history of Britain (London, 1655) entitled Examen historicum (London, 1659). Aerius redivivus: or, the history of the presbyterians (London, 1670).

119 See Milton, Anthony, ‘Licensing, censorship and religious orthodoxy in early Stuart England’, Historical Journal, 41 (1998), pp. 625–51, at p. 647. See idem, Laudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth-century England: the career and writings of Peter Heylyn (Manchester and New York, NY, 2007), see esp. pp. 83–7, 197–213.

120 Quantin, Jean-Louis, The Church of England and Christian antiquity: the construction of a confessional identity in the seventeenth century (Oxford, 2009).

121 See MacCulloch, Diarmaid, ‘The myth of the English Reformation’, Journal of British Studies, 30 (1991), pp. 119.

122 Notable recent interpretations of Burnet include Claydon, Tony, ‘Latitudinarianism and apocalyptic history in the worldview of Gilbert Burnet, 1643–1715’, Historical Journal, 51 (2008), pp. 577–97; Andrew Starkie, ‘Contested histories of the English church: Gilbert Burnet and Jeremy Collier’, in Kewes ed., The uses of history, pp. 335–51; idem, ‘Gilbert Burnet's Reformation and the semantics of popery’, in Jason McElliglott, ed., Fear, exclusion and revolution: Roger Morrice and Britain in the 1680s (Ashgate, 2006), pp. 138–53, at p. 153. See also Drabble, John E., ‘Gilbert Burnet and the history of the English Reformation: the historian and his milieu’, Journal of Religious History, 12 (1983), pp. 351–63.

123 See Woolf, Social circulation of the past, ch. 10; Walsham, Reformation of the landscape, ch. 7.

124 Geoffrey Cubitt, History and memory (Manchester, 2007), p. 39.

125 Herbert Butterfield, The whig interpretation of history (Harmondsworth, 1973 edn), p. 29.

126 ‘Focal point: post-confessional Reformation history’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte/Archive for Reformation History, 97 (2006), pp. 277–306.

127 See Blundeville, Thomas, The true order and methode of writing and reading histories (London, 1574); Foxe, John, Actes and monuments (London, 1570 edn), ‘To the true Christian reader, what utilitie is to be taken by readyng of these Historyes’; Stow, John, The chronicles of England, from Brute unto this present yeare of Christ, 1580 (London, 1580), sig. ¶3r; Stow, John, A summarie of ur Englysh chronicles … (London, 1587), dedicatory epistle.

128 Sharpe, Kevin, ‘The foundation of the chairs of history at Oxford and Cambridge: an episode in Jacobean Politics’, History of Universities, 2 (1982), pp. 127–52, repr. in his Politics and ideas in early Stuart England: essays and studies (London and New York, NY, 1989), p. 220. See also Wheare, Degory, The method and order of reading both civil and ecclesiastical histories (London, 1694).

129 Butterfield, Herbert, The study of modern history: an inaugural lecture delivered at Cambridge on 14 November 1944 (London, 1944), p. 34.

* I am grateful to those who attended the lecture, and to Julian Hoppit and Judith Pollmann, for helpful comments. This is dedicated to the memory of Patrick Collinson, who died on 28 Sept. 2011.

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