Revolutionary England and the National Covenant

March 2005
2 black and white illustrations
272 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843831181
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

Revolutionary England and the National Covenant

State Oaths, Protestantism and the Political Nation, 1553-1682

Edward Vallance

An assessment of the importance of oaths, and the taking of, and the idea of national covenants during a turbulent time in English history.
This book studies the oaths and covenants taken during the late sixteenth to the late seventeenth century, a time of great religious and political upheaval, assessing their effect and importance. From the reign of Mary I to the Exclusion crisis, Protestant writers argued that England was a nation in covenant with God and urged that the country should renew its contract with the Lord through taking solemn oaths. In so doing, they radically modified understandings of monarchy, political allegiance and the royal succession. During the civil war, the tendering of oaths of allegiance, the Protestation of 1641 and the Vow and Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 (all described as embodiments of England's national covenant) also extended the boundaries of the political nation. The poor and illiterate, women as well as men, all subscribed to these tests of loyalty, which were presented as social contracts between the Parliament and the people. The Solemn League and Covenant in particular continued to provoke political controversy after 1649 and even into the 1690s many English Presbyterians still viewed themselves as bound by its terms; the author argues that these covenants had a significant, and until now unrecognised, influence on 'politics-out-of-doors' in the eighteenth century.

EDWARD VALLANCE is Lecturer in Early Modern British History, University of Liverpool.


The book's principal strength lies in the way in which it demonstrates the continuity of the link between religion and political ideas in early modern England. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT
An important study which reveals the neglected climate of moral enthusiasm and religious ambiguity that shaped Civil War and Restoration thought and practice. H-NET REVIEWS
Important [and] highly engaging. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
An ambitious and thoroughly researched monograph that is a comprehensive treatment of the idea of the covenant. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

Author Bio

Professor of early modern British political culture at the University of Roehampton

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