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James UssherTheology, History, and Politics in Early-Modern Ireland and England$
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Alan Ford

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274444.001.0001

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Ussher and Irish History: Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates

Ussher and Irish History: Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates

(p.208) 9 Ussher and Irish History: Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates
James Ussher

Alan Ford (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Excluded from the day-to-day running of the Church of Ireland, Ussher in the late 1630s devoted himself to historical research. The result was his 1196-page historical magnum opus of 1639, Britannicarum ecclesiarum antiquitates: quibus inserta est pestiferae adversus Dei gratiam a Pelagio Britanno in ecclesiam inductae haereseos historia. As with Gottschalk, he used his scholarly standing, and the Latin language to launch covert broadsides against the new theological orthodoxy. Though the main purpose of this work was to provide the first detailed critical account of one of the major historical issues confronting church historians at the time — the origins of Christianity in Britain and Ireland — Ussher also included a detailed account of the rise and fall of Pelagianism in England, a direct parallel to the rise of Arminianism. Though, to modern eyes, somewhat credulous in what he included, Ussher's account of Patrick's conversion of Ireland represented considerable progress compared to earlier treatments of the saint's life. Less overtly polemical than his earlier works, Ussher even drew on, and acknowledged the contribution of Catholic scholars.

Keywords:   Pelagianism, Arminianism, St Patrick, origins of Christianity

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