‘A Generation of the MARTIN kind’: The Tracts of Martin Marprelate (Part Two)

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Dr Ariel Hessayon (@ArielHessayon), Reader in early modern History at Goldsmiths, University of London, explores the origins and legacies of the comical, controversial and anti-clerical Martin Marprelate pamphlets across the 16th-17th centuries.

Whereas Part One of this blog post examined the religio-political context of the Martin Marprelate tracts, Part Two explores the tracts themselves. The objective of the Martinists was, in a manner of speaking, to push the Church of England further away from Rome (Popery) and closer to Geneva (Calvinism). The middle way – as they saw it – that had been navigated in the form of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, with its reintroduced Book of Common Prayer (1559) and modified Thirty-Nine Articles (1571), did not go far enough. Rather, the tightly knit and well-organised network of ‘Martinists’ responsible for the tracts wanted a separation of secular from ecclesiastical power, that is distinct spheres of influence for the magistracy and ministry. Moreover, they placed great emphasis on the Bible as the word of God, a divine word which had greater authority than traditions and the pronouncements of bishops. Indeed, it was high ranking ecclesiastical officials and academics – ‘petty popes, and petty antichrists’– that the Martinists initially had in their sights. Among them was a dean of Salisbury called John Bridge, who had written an exceptionally lengthy and tedious defence of the Church of England; the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Bishops of Winchester and London; and the master of a Cambridge College. This was at a time, it must be stressed, when printed works were strictly censored by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of London and those delegated by them for that purpose. And while there was no Inquisition in the manner of Catholic Spain, there was still a Court of High Commission for investigating and punishing those found guilty of committing religious offences. Mercifully, this court could not sanction torture to extract confessions nor could it impose the death penalty. It did, however, operate in tandem with the secular Court of Star Chamber, whose officials investigated and heavily fined some of those suspected of being involved in the Marprelate affair.

Frontispiece, An Admonition to the People of England (London, 1589).
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‘A Generation of the MARTIN kind’: The Tracts of Martin Marprelate (Part One)

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Dr Ariel Hessayon (@ArielHessayon), Reader in early modern History at Goldsmiths, University of London, explores the origins and legacies of the comical, controversial and anti-clerical Martin Marprelate pamphlets across the 16th-17th centuries.

On 6 April 1593 the Cambridge-educated religious separatists Henry Barrow (c.1550–1593) and John Greenwood (c.1560–1593) were hanged for treason at Tyburn – a notorious site of execution outside the city of London. They had been found guilty of writing and publishing seditious literature with malicious intent. Just over a month later another Cambridge-educated religious dissident, the Welsh preacher and pamphleteer John Penry (1562/63–1593), was tried twice: firstly for inciting rebellion and insurrection, and then for attacking the Church of England through the publication of scandalous writings. Penry was found guilty and on 29 May 1593 likewise hanged, this time in Surrey. As for Penry’s co-conspirator, the Warwick MP Job Throckmorton (1545–1601), he too had been put on trial in 1590. In Throckmorton’s case this was a result of the government crackdown on Protestant dissenters suspected of being involved in the writing, publication and circulation of a series of texts issued under the pseudonym ‘Martin Marprelate’ and its subsequent variants.  Throckmorton, however, pleaded innocence: ‘I am not Martin, I knew not Martin’ he claimed.  And because of his relatively high social status and extensive connections, not to mention legal technicalities, Throckmorton escaped the fate that would befall Barrow, Greenwood and Penry. Instead he died in relative obscurity.

Stained glass windows at Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Cambridge depicting Henry Barrow [left] and John Greenwood [right].
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Reading Dissent and Dissenting Readers in the Reformation World, 1500-1800

The 10th Triennial Conference of the International John Bunyan Society

Northumbria University, Newcastle (UK) 7–9 July 2022

REGISTRATION

Registration for the IJBS Triennial Conference is still open. Using the Conference Portal you can select your registration fee and add any optional extras, including accommodation and the Conference Dinner. Please note that both of these options have a limited number of spaces available and will therefore be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

FINAL PROGRAMME

The Final Conference Programme is also now available to view and download. Alongside the conference’s panels, plenaries and public lecture, a series of exciting excursions and activates has also been planned. If you need any further information, particularly regarding accessibility or travel, or have a question about the programme, please contact Dr Robert W. Daniel at IJBSSecretary@outlook.com.

“Caprichio’s and Whimseys”: Hugh Peter in the Pulpit

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Professor Alan Marshall (@johnalan57) examines the dramatic pulpit techniques deployed by the influential Parliamentarian preacher and polemicist, Hugh Peter.

Hugh Peter was a key Parliamentary figure of the 1640s and 1650s, and someone who was often dismissed as: “the grande Canale or common shore of all Phanatical principles.”1 Yet while his career was full of publicity and noise (not always, it must be said, to his actual regret), in the pulpit Peter had an impressive verbal and visual technique, as well as a singular ability to hold an audience.2 This fact raises two questions: what was Peter’s style of pulpit delivery and why did he use humour to make his points?

Peter’s use of his pulpit techniques began with an already well-developed neo-apocalyptic style at St Sepulchre in Holborn in the 1620s. Whatever his other character faults he proved a capable, successful, energetic and popular preacher thereafter. Of course, his expressed opinions on many contemporary political and religious matters also drew upon him the wrong sort of attention.

Peter’s skills as a preacher were learned at Cambridge University, with training in the scholastic and Ramist methodology in logic that was mostly commonly to be found in his sermons, in his analysis of scripture, and in his published works. He further developed these skills whilst living in the Low Countries and New England. His Royalist critics would later deride Peter as intellectually limited, and subject to base emotional urges, yet he was far from being the ignorant buffoon they sought to portray.3

Scurrilous portrait of Hugh Peter from the broadside, Don Pedro de Quixot, or in English the right reverend Hugh Peters (London, 1660). Held at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
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Cry Havoc or Sing: Battle Songs of the British Civil Wars (Part Two)

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Dr Robert W. Daniel (@BunyanSociety), General Secretary of the IJBS and Managing Editor of Bunyan Studies, explores the occasions and motivations for psalm-singing on the battlefield during the British Civil Wars.

While Part One of this blog post explored the printed examples of battlefield psalm singing by the ‘Roundheads’, Part Two focuses on manuscript accounts and the Royalist reaction to these songs. Several diaries – penned by parliamentarian preachers, supporters and soldiers – recorded the use of psalm chanting during military combat in the 1640s and 1650s. Taken together, these accounts show how the opening of Psalm 68 was a popular choice to boom out during the internecine fighting. The Bradford clothier Joseph Lister (1627–1709) reported that foot soldiers under Sir Thomas Fairfax during the Battle of Leeds (23 January 1643) had ‘sung the 1 verse of the 68 Psalm, Let God arise, and then his enemies shall be scattered’. Finding it suitably inspiring, Lister relays that ‘they sung another like verse’ and ‘the enemy fled into the houses’. [1]

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Cry Havoc or Sing: Battle Songs of the British Civil Wars (Part One)

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Dr Robert W. Daniel (@BunyanSociety), General Secretary of the IJBS and Managing Editor of Bunyan Studies, explores the occasions of and motivations for psalm singing on the battlefield during the British Civil Wars.

Despite the fact that the singing of psalms during combat had been a royal practice, with their first recorded use during the reign of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt (1415), its employment by soldiers was argued to be widespread within, if not idiosyncratic to, the parliamentarian army during the British Civil Wars.[1] But how did this come to be? This two part blog post explores the battles (where psalms were sung) and texts (that inspired or recorded this activity) of the 1640s and early 1650s.[2]

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Meet The Howes: A Family of Puritan Booksellers

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Joe Saunders (@joe_saunders1), PhD candidate at the University of York, uncovers a new network of Puritan booksellers in seventeenth-century England. Joe’s research is part of a larger article to be published in the Society’s next issue of Bunyan Studies: A Journal of Reformation and Nonconformist Culture (forthcoming Autumn 2021).

In the spring of 1638, the Stationer William Howes died, leaving few tangible marks of his young life. He had been a member of the Company of Stationers, the London guild which theoretically controlled most of the printing and bookselling in England. However, he is one of many who barely surface in the records of the Company. Nor does he appear to have been involved in the publication of any surviving texts. Despite this absence, William left a last will and testament in which he bequeathed to his brother Thomas (fl. 1617-1638) three books; ‘Armeniasme Dixon on ye Hebrews Aynswer’, ‘the Comunion of Saintes’ and the ‘Lamentacons of Germany’.[1] William’s membership of the print trade meant he would have acquired them directly through his work or indirectly through his knowledge and contacts within the trade network. However, they were seemingly personal texts, intended for someone William believed would appreciate them as he had done.

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The Very Picture of (Non-)Conformity(?)

As part of the IJBS Blog Series, Drew Nathaniel Keane (@dkeaneGSU) Senior Lecturer at Georgia Southern University examines, through religious iconography, the complex realities of administering the Lord’s Supper in early modern England.

This woodcut, likely familiar to any student of early modern English religion, illustrates the difficulty of sorting out the boundaries of religious conformity (see Figure 1). It first appears in Lewis Du Moulin’s The Understanding Christians Duty (1660), and then again some fourteen years later in the second edition of Eniautos (1674).[1] Although both were published after the Restoration, the woodcut appears Jacobean,[2] but regardless of when it was cut, it raises an interesting question: should the service depicted be labeled as conformist or non-conformist?

Figure 1. Anon, Eniautos. Or, A Course of Catechizing (London, 1674), p. 276. Part of a series of woodcuts illustrating the various rites and rituals of the Established Church in seventeenth-century England.      
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