Peter Iver Kaufman
“A fine and timely book . . . Kaufman’s work reminds us that we can confidently claim that the sixteenth-century English reformed tradition had truly popular appeal.”— Lori Anne Ferrell, Claremont Graduate University
Historians are usually more intrigued by what was than by what might have been. It is not surprising, then, that a relatively tame Elizabethan puritanism has been deposited in the mainstream of English Protestantism while some radical schemes, or what Peter Kaufman refers to as the “what might have been,” are more or less overlooked. Thinking of the Laity features fresh evidence that the advocates of broadly participatory parish regimes publicly confronted their critics. It collects shards of the expectations and regrets that survive in a few petitions, in manuscript records of university controversy, and in the recollections of proponents of lay and local control. Kaufman argues that to assemble these fragments is to find forgotten moments in the Elizabethan polity debates and to recover thinking about the laity that gave “revolutionary force” to late Tudor puritanism.
Elizabethan reformers, especially the most “forward,” outspoken puritans, accused English Catholics of “expound[ing] ecclesia to be a state opposite unto, and severed from the laitie.” Kaufman’s study concentrates on the identity and aspirations of these reformers who sought to remedy the “severing” of the church from its people by instituting the extraordinarily controversial solution of broadly participatory parish regimes. Reformers recommended lay involvement in parish elections and in disciplining deliquents. Opponents of the reformers perceived the participatory initiatives as a threat to order and clerical authority, and opposed experiments with laicization, democratization, and local control. By the late 1580s the Puritans had lost their fight, but the debate was both lively and public, and as Kaufman deftly and persuasively reminds us, the roads not taken are still important parts of the historic landscape.
Thinking of the Laity explains why proposals for expanding lay prerogatives failed to shape the Elizabethan religious settlement from the 1560s through the 1580s. It also greatly adds to our understanding of the policy debates that are closely associated with the origins of puritanism, presbyterianism, and congregationalism. This book will be essential reading for people interested in the history of early modern England and in the progress of sixteenth-century religious reform.
“The central value of this book by the distinguished Tudor scholar Peter Iver Kaufman is that it addresses an intriguing and neglected topic: the laity in Tudor ecclesiastical history.” — Anglican and Episcopal History
“What role did the laity play in blueprints for reform of the Church of England? Was Puritanism really an elitist and polarizing movement under clerical control? To answer these questions, Peter Iver Kaufman scrutinizes a large number of tracts (and a sprinkling of parish accounts) from the eve of the Reformation to the 1580s. Throughout, he looks for statements on the extent of lay influence on worship, the election of pastors and the determination of doctrine . . . Kaufman opens an intriguing field of research.” — History
“_Thinking of the Laity_ seeks to examine two features of life in Tudor England that have often been considered separate areas-the theological motivation for reform, and its sociological counterpart . . . This volume is a welcome reminder that reform occurred not only in the universities, but also in village, field and workshop.” — Anglican Theological Review
“This book is important ecclesiastical and social history and needs to be taken into account in delineating the Reformation.” — Bibliotheque d’Humanisme et Renaissance
“In a significant study that sharpens and nuances definitions and categories for historical analysis, Kaufman’s world of English reform is one of ambiguity, ambivalence, contention, and surprise.” — Renaissance Quarterly
“This book is a timely and refreshing contribution to our understanding of Elizabethan ecclesiastical politics and of an often neglected strand within the English reformed tradition. Kaufman has written a thought-provoking book that will fuel the ongoing historiographical debate about the religious history of late Tudor England.” — American Historical Review
“In this book, Peter Iver Kaufman examines the evolution of English reformers’ views of the role of the laity in the developing church. He is especially interested in the rise of a laity-based ethos that would come to be associated with Puritanism. . . Kaufman brings together a remarkable number of sources in this book, and paves the way for a new approach to the English Reformation.” — Sixteenth Century Journal
“Thinking of the Laity. . . examines the hopes and schemes of advocates of greater local and lay control over the Elizabethan Church, and attempts to account for their ultimate failure. This is a line of thought that Kaufman traces from Lollardy and the early Reformation through the activities of ‘stranger’ churches in the Edwardian period, and into and beyond the Marian persecution.” — The Catholic Historical Review