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Title: Conflicts of conscience : English and Scottish political thought, 1637-1653
Author: Wright, Calum Summerill
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 9113
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available