This article argues for an ideologically neutral understanding of the early Enlightenment, the Enlightenment public, and later Stuart religious politics. It approaches these topics from the perspective of the book trade. Thomas Hobbes's publisher and man of business in the 1670s, William Crooke, set up his London bookshop as a public forum on ‘Hobbism’ that showcased the confrontation between the Anglican clergy and their most formidable foe. In his shop, Crooke set scribal copies of illicit Hobbes tracts alongside the works of his second prized author, an Enlightened Anglican apologist named Lancelot Addison. The stationer's projects included two separate schemes to publish a controversial Hobbes tract and a bishop's response to it in a single volume. The shop was frequented not only by some of the period's foremost republicans, tolerationists, and freethinkers, but also by powerful members of the political and religious establishment, many of whom condoned and actively supported Crooke's schemes. This case-study shows from the ground up why the early Enlightenment is most profitably understood as a site of struggle between competing schemes for making internecine bloodshed a thing of the past.
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