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The Rule of Moderation
Violence, Religion and the Politics of Restraint in Early Modern England

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  • Date Published: November 2011
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521135566

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About the Authors
  • Why was it that whenever the Tudor-Stuart regime most loudly trumpeted its moderation, the regime was at its most vicious? With the answer to this fundamental question at its heart, The Rule of Moderation comprehensively rewrites the history of early modern England, showing that many of its key developments—the via media of Anglicanism, the rise of the 'middle sort', the idea of political liberty, the development of empire, the rise of religious toleration—were defined and defended as instances of coercive and aggressive moderation, producing the 'middle way' through the forcible restraint of apparently dangerous excesses in Church, state and society. Ethan Shagan draws on literary and historical sources to illuminate the subtle violence of English history and explain how, paradoxically, England came to represent reason, civility and moderation to a world it slowly conquered. The quintessentially English quality of moderation was, at heart, an ideology of control.

    • Engages with topics and texts of interest to literary critics and religion scholars as well as a wide range of historians
    • Places the key issues of early modern England within a wide chronological context, from 1500 to 1700
    • Proposes a controversial new understanding of the origin and development of the Church of England's via media
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    • Winner of the 2012 NACBS John Ben Snow Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This is a lively and provocative, but also deeply illuminating and richly suggestive work from one of the most original and stimulating historians currently working in the early modern period. Professor Shagan scores many a palpable hit in this wonderfully sustained critique of early modern historians' sloppy tendency to essentialize 'moderation' and 'moderate', and to misread these terms' relative, polemical function in the sources of the period. It should be required reading for all those working on early modern British history." - Anthony Milton, University of Sheffield

    "Discussion of England's religious moderation has over the centuries been attended by much woolly thinking and some downright intellectual and historical dishonesty. There can be few people better able than Ethan Shagan to take a scalpel to this body of material, given the sophistication and detachment of his historical analysis and his ability to look at old problems in new ways." -Diarmaid MacCulloch, University of Oxford

    "A profound and important book, which deserves to be widely discussed and debated. Shagan issues a provocative challenge to complacent acceptance of claims about the intrinsic or relative 'moderation' of England's church, system of government, and empire, from pre-modern into modern times." -Peter Marshall, University of Warwick

    "Recommended." -Choice

    "It is impossible in a short review such as this to do justice to the scope and extent of this volume. It simply has to be read, and is well worth the effort." -Michael Questier, Recusant History

    "This book is an important contribution to our understanding of the ways in which early modern English thinkers constructed the limits of the state and of conscience. Its historiographic critique needs to be considered by anyone reading early modern history." -Norman Jones, The Journal of British Studies

    "This study is richly stimulating, accessible, and refreshingly self-critical." -Conal Condren, Renaissance Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521135566
    • length: 396 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Moderate Foundations: Introduction
    1. The bridle of moderation
    Part II. Moderate Churches:
    2. Violence and the via media in the reign of Henry VIII
    3. Conformist moderation
    4. Puritan moderation
    Part III. Moderate Rule:
    5. English expansion and the empire of moderation
    6. Social moderation and the governance of the middle sort
    7. Moderate freedom in the English Revolution
    8. Toleration became moderate in seventeenth-century England

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • European Wars of Religion
  • Author

    Ethan H. Shagan, University of California, Berkeley
    Ethan H. Shagan is Associate Professor of History and Director for the Center for British Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Popular Politics and the English Reformation (Cambridge University Press, 2002) which won numerous prizes including the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize and the American Historical Association's Morris Forkosch Prize, and is editor of Catholics and the 'Protestant Nation': Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England (2005).


    • Winner of the 2012 NACBS John Ben Snow Prize

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