A Confusion of Tongues examines the complex interaction of religion, history, and law in the period before the outbreak of the wars of the Three Kingdoms. It questions interpretations of that conflict that emphasise either the purely doctrinal roots of religious tension, or the processes by which the law gained primacy over the Church, in what amounted to a secular revolution. Instead, religion took its place among a range of constitutional issues that undermined the authority of Charles I in both England and Scotland. Charles Prior offers a careful reconstruction of a number of printed debates on the nature of the relationship of church and realm: the introduction of altars into the Church of England; the Scottish National Covenant; and the legal consequences of the assertion of clerical power in a system of ecclesiastical courts. He reveals that these debates were concerned with the ambiguities of the relationship of civil and ecclesiastical power that were contained in the statutes that carved out the Church 'by law established'. Instead of being clearly separated as part of an 'Erastian' Reformation, religion and law were bound together in complex ways, and debates on the relationship of church and realm emerged as a vital conduit of political and constitutional thought. A Confusion of Tongues offers a synthetic and nuanced portrait of the politics of religion, and recovers the texture of contemporary debate at a vital point in early modern British history.
Prior, C. A Confusion of Tongues: Britain's Wars of Reformation, 1625-1642. The University of Hull