The spiritual reformation in Elizabethan books of public and private devotion
Mulvey, Thomas Patrick
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This dissertation argues that the Elizabethan settlement was a deliberate, self-conscious spiritual reformation, inaugurated and nurtured from above by Elizabeth I in public and private devotional works put forth by royal authority, and taken up and advanced from below in influential books of public prayer published by long-term English evangelicals. This spiritual reformation offered a balance of continuity and change, of tradition and reform, intentionally designed to provide for the devotional needs of English Christians of divergent spiritual identities and confessional commitments. Responding to longstanding historiographical debates over the English Reformation as either a political reformation “from above” or a popular reformation “from below,” and to recent expositions both of the vitality of late medieval Catholic devotion and the dissemination of sixteenth-century Evangelical piety, the dissertation explores the English Reformation as a spiritual phenomenon, using Elizabethan prayer literature, both public and private, as its central sources. It argues that the foundations and contours of Elizabeth Tudor’s evangelically ecumenist style of piety and spirituality were established in her childhood in the mid 1540s through the influence of her stepmother, Katherine Parr. After her accession to the throne, Elizabeth’s piety and spirituality were reflected in her Act of Supremacy, her Act of Uniformity, and her Book of Common Prayer (1559), and were modeled and transmitted from above by her official primer of 1559. Elizabeth’s model of piety was consciously and deliberately taken up and advanced in the works of printers John and Richard Daye, and Henry Bull; and, authors Elizabeth Tyrwhit and Anne Wheathill. These printers and authors were long-term, committed evangelicals of a hotter temper than their queen. Bull advanced Elizabeth’s spiritual reformation by publishing traditional and evangelical prayers side-by-side. The two Daye prayer books followed Bull’s lead. The 1569 Daye prayer book also published a series of foreign language prayers authored by Elizabeth. Tyrwhit and Wheathill advanced the queen’s spiritual reformation not only by offering traditional and evangelical prayers, but also by constantly echoing the language of her Book of Common Prayer. The dual movement of these two matrices created the broadly based spiritual reformation that was the Elizabethan Settlement.