Conflicts of conscience : English and Scottish political thought, 1637-1653

Wright,, Calum Summerill (2018) Conflicts of conscience : English and Scottish political thought, 1637-1653. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

It has long been recognised that the concept of conscience was an important element of seventeenth-century English political and religious culture. However, the use of the concept in Scottish political texts has largely been overlooked. This thesis extends an analysis of the language of conscience to Scottish sources and provides a comparative study of English and Scottish political thought in the period 1637-53. It examines the controversies generated by the claims made for individual and collective conscience during a period in which political and ecclesiastical authorities were subject to challenge in both countries. It focuses on arguments for and against armed resistance; the promulgation and subscription of the Solemn League and Covenant; key ecclesiological debates at the Westminster Assembly; and the imposition of the Engagement Oath. It shows that institutional and ecclesiological differences, and the interactions between Scottish and English ideas, played a central role in the development of political thought and that the relationship between belief and action was a key element of many of these debates. Earlier work has either used Scottish examples to supplement an English narrative or, by overemphasising a shared protestant culture, has stripped important ideas and arguments of the distinctive contexts from which they emerged and in which they were publicised. This thesis provides fresh perspectives on the key religious and political debates of the period by offering a sustained comparative analysis of Scottish and English thought. It demonstrates that though there was widespread agreement about the nature of conscience, the conflicts of the period challenged the belief in a public conscience and generated new claims for individual conscience. Scottish and English political thought did not follow the same trajectory, and this finding challenges assumptions about the relationship between conscience, individualism and toleration.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2018 13:14
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2018 13:14
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/317

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