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Parish Communities and Religious Conflict in the Vale of Gloucester, 1590–1690

Parish Communities and Religious Conflict in the Vale of Gloucester, 1590–1690

Daniel C. Beaver

ISBN 9780674758452

Publication date: 11/25/1998

Many historians have attempted to understand the violent religious conflicts of the seventeenth century from viewpoints dominated by concepts of class, gender, and demography. But few studies have explored the cultural process whereby religious symbolism created social cohesion and political allegiance. This book examines religious conflict in the parish communities of early modern England using an interdisciplinary approach that includes all these perspectives.

Daniel Beaver studies the urban parish of Tewkesbury and six rural parishes in its hinterland over a period of one hundred years, drawing on local ecclesiastical court records, sermons, parish records, corporate minutes and charity books, and probate documents. He discusses the centrality of religious symbols and ceremonies in the ordering of local societies, particularly in local conceptions of place, personal identity, and the life cycle. Four phases in the transformation of parish communities emerge and are examined in this book.

This exploration of the interrelationship of religion, politics, and society, and the transformation of local communities in civil war, has a value beyond the particular history of early modern England, contributing to a broader understanding of religious revivals, fundamentalisms, and the persistent link between religion, nationalism, and ethnic identity in the modern world.


  • In an intriguing argument, Beaver suggests that the reception of the Reformation into the Vale of Gloucester, where it lacked broad support, enabled dissenting religious groups to reject the territorial parish, in favour of the 'imagined communities' of the like-minded...His work is an important one. It translates the conflict of the seventeenth century into a local study that has a wider theoretical application...Beaver has written a perceptive and incisive study of religious and communal conflict in Stuart England, and one that is central to our understanding of seventeenth century society.

    —William Gibson, Albion


  • Daniel C. Beaver is Assistant Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University.

Book Details

  • 476 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press