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The Crisis of the 17th Century: Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change

by Hugh Trevor-Roper

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The Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution in England laid the institutional and intellectual foundations of the modern understanding of liberty, of which we are heirs and beneficiaries. The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century uncovers new pathways to understanding this seminal time. Neither Catholic nor Protestant emerges unscathed from the examination to which Trevor-Roper subjects the era in which, from political and religious causes, the identification and extirpation of witches was a central event. Trevor-Roper points out that "In England the most active phase of witch-hunting coincided with times of Puritan pressure -- the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the period of the civil wars -- and some very fanciful theories have been built on this coincidence. But... the persecution of witches in England was trivial compared with the experience of the Continent and of Scotland. Therefore... [one must examine] the craze as a whole, throughout Europe, and [seek] to relate its rise, frequency, and decline to the general intellectual and social movements of the time...".… (more)
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In a series of historical essays, the author speaks of the impact of not only the continuing ripple effects of the Reformation but also the power of religious propaganda resulting in several wars & persecutions of those who had the temerity of choosing the wrong side. It is to be noted that the author begins by questioning whether historians asked the correct questions or understood the societal changes to look at things in a different light as well as how propaganda manipulated the fears, underlying petty grievances, & local prejudices to achieve ruthless goals. This book goes much deeper to answer very basic questions of the hows & whys instead of the whats & wheres. Most impressive. ( )
  walterhistory | Jun 12, 2021 |
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The Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution in England laid the institutional and intellectual foundations of the modern understanding of liberty, of which we are heirs and beneficiaries. The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century uncovers new pathways to understanding this seminal time. Neither Catholic nor Protestant emerges unscathed from the examination to which Trevor-Roper subjects the era in which, from political and religious causes, the identification and extirpation of witches was a central event. Trevor-Roper points out that "In England the most active phase of witch-hunting coincided with times of Puritan pressure -- the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the period of the civil wars -- and some very fanciful theories have been built on this coincidence. But... the persecution of witches in England was trivial compared with the experience of the Continent and of Scotland. Therefore... [one must examine] the craze as a whole, throughout Europe, and [seek] to relate its rise, frequency, and decline to the general intellectual and social movements of the time...".

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