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Nationwide Fast and Thanksgiving Days in England, 1640-1660

BATES, LUCY-ANN (2012) Nationwide Fast and Thanksgiving Days in England, 1640-1660. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis seeks to show that nationwide fast and thanksgiving days were not the handmaidens of a puritan parliamentarian cause, but synonymous with monarchy, custom, and traditional English worship. It investigates the question of what happened to nationwide prayer days, which were ordered on royal authority, when Charles’s authority was challenged in the 1640s and two rival authorities began to order occasions. It then analyses their continuities and changes through the 1650s and re-emergence in the traditional model at the Restoration.

It is argued that belief in providence was a central motivation in the ordering and observance of special worship. This is in contrast to the predominant historiographical view, which focuses almost exclusively on the relationship between these occasions and their political contexts. This is not to say that politics did not play a significant role; it did. Rather that this should not overshadow recognition that these were primarily religious events. Indeed, these occasions are worthy of investigation precisely because of their politico-religious nature. Examination of the frequency of prayer days demonstrates key turning points in this period, changes in ordering processes reveals the shifting nature of authority, while close analysis of prayer day orders and forms of prayer highlights how the civil war threw theological debates concerning providence, prayer and fasting into sharper relief.

Uniquely, this thesis examines the distribution of printed texts used for prayer days, highlighting the practical difficulties of distribution, particularly for the royalists. Similarly, it contributes to scholarly debate by demonstrating the popularity of the concept of nationwide fast and thanksgiving days, thus challenging current assumptions. The work closes by reflecting on what these occasions can tell us about contemporary debates concerning the royal supremacy, the religious settlements of 1559 and 1662, and the nature of the national church in the early modern period.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:nationwide, national, fast, fast day, thanksgiving, thanksgiving day, civil war, puritan, parliamentarian, royalist, form, prayer, prayer day, providence, distribution, post, restoration, 1640s, 1650s, authority, power.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Dec 2012 15:40

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