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Title: Faith and fraternity : the London Livery Companies and the Reformation c.1510-c.1600
Author: Branch, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 9041
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis considers how religious identities were constructed and expressed in Reformation England by focussing on two London livery companies: the Grocers and the Drapers. Livery companies had strong religious elements to their corporate identity; they had their origins in parish fraternities, maintained clergy and celebrated the feast of their patron saint. Whilst merchants have long been characterised as zealous early Protestants, existing research has simultaneously contended that the companies to which they belonged, and civic institutions more generally, adapted to the Reformation by secularizing their activities and ethos in order to retain stability – a notion that this thesis rejects. An examination of company records reveals that the rhetoric of Christianity, particularly appeals to peace, charity and brotherly love, punctuated the language of corporate governance throughout the century, and played a central role in the ability of the liveries to retain both a vibrant spiritual culture and fraternal stability. London's merchant elite were also London's civic governors and in their capacity as churchwardens and hospital officers we see that here too the language of peace and charity aced as a unifying and moderating force. Individual mercantile religious identities are also considered. By examining nearly 400 wills, a cache of almost 1000 letters and other trading records, it is clear that merchants can no longer be characterised as being unusually susceptible to Protestantism, and that their responses to the Reformation were more diverse than has been recognised. Until at least the late sixteenth century, the religious identities of London's citizens represent growing religious plurality rather than stark confessional polarisation. Moreover, ties of company membership, friendship and kinship had the power to transcend religious difference. Nor were 'zealous' and 'moderate' mutually exclusive traits. Those with a strong faith could moderate their behaviour in certain contexts, and such restraint could be as pious as it was pragmatic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; University of London. Institute of Historical Research ; Newberry Library
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BR Christianity ; DA Great Britain