Protestantism represented every indication of continuing vitality and vigour, a radical disjuncture with the Roman Catholic past and a violent disruption of the settled patterns of a late medieval piety which betrayed no signs of decline or decay. However, the book argues that there was a cluster of assumptions which penetrated every sector of English society, cutting across the boundaries created by status and creed, education and wealth. The book highlights the pivotal role played by providentialism in forging a collective Protestant consciousness, a sense of confessional identity which fused anti-Catholicism and patriotic feeling and which united the elite with their social inferiors. The book also emphasizes the debate on the English Reformation. Providentialism became a dangerously politicized discourse in the decades preceding the outbreak of the Civil War.
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