The Family of Love in English Society, 1550-1630

Overview

This book traces the history of the outlawed mystical fellowship, the 'Family of Love', in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The Familists, devoted followers of a Messianic Dutch mystic named 'H. N.', were passionately denounced by many literate contemporaries, and an association with extremism, subversion and hypocrisy has endured. The author tracks the English Familists into their houses, fields and places of work. Although members of the Family were few in number and highly secretive, identification ...

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Overview

This book traces the history of the outlawed mystical fellowship, the 'Family of Love', in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The Familists, devoted followers of a Messianic Dutch mystic named 'H. N.', were passionately denounced by many literate contemporaries, and an association with extremism, subversion and hypocrisy has endured. The author tracks the English Familists into their houses, fields and places of work. Although members of the Family were few in number and highly secretive, identification has proved possible in contexts ranging from the court of Elizabeth I to rural villages in Cambridgeshire. The author also examines the distinctive way of life which was developed by Family members within a wider society that, on the face of it, was hostile to religious dissenters: one surprising conclusion is that most English men and women seem to have possessed an impressive capacity to tolerate known 'heretics' in their midst.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… this is a fascinating exercise in detective work - the book which gave me most enjoyment in a twelve month of reading.' Diarmaid MacCulloch, History Today
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; List of tables; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; 1. Introduction; 2. Familist belief: the quest for perfection; 3. Seedbeds and first shoots (1550–1579); 4. Development and consolidation (1565–1579); 5. Crisis (1576–1582); 6. Resolution: the pursuit of internal cohesion (1582–1603); 7. Resolution: the pursuit of external integration (1582–1603); 8. Crisis renewed (1603–1610); 9. After the first generation (1610–1700); 10. Conclusion; Appendix: the membership of the Family of Love; Bibliography; Index.

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