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Title: Politics and religion in later Stuart Cornwall and south-west Wales
Author: Harris, James
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis adopts a comparative approach to provide the first full-length study of Cornwall and south-west Wales during the later Stuart period. It explores the extent to which these isolated regions possessed unique religious and political cultures during these tumultuous decades, but also how they faced challenges and responded to developments which were common to the entire kingdom. Recent local studies have tended to downplay the distinctiveness of regions in England and Wales - preferring to use them as case studies to assess broader national trends, rather than delineating unique regional experiences. Furthermore, our understanding of the later Stuart period has been skewed by a propensity for modern studies to focus on London or other major urban centres. This thesis seeks to redress the balance by revealing the unique characteristics of two rural regions, whilst also placing them within a broader contextual framework. In doing so, it offers a re-appreciation of the multiplicity of religious and political experiences within the British Isles. While the gentry of Cornwall and south-west Wales were far from insular, this thesis argues that their locality nonetheless continued to shape their lives and relationships. In terms of religious life, unique structural challenges in these regions posed considerable problems for the Church of England and affected its ability to carry out pastoral care - but also inhibited the growth of nonconformity. In the aftermath of the Toleration Act of 1689, each region experienced a contrasting 'Anglican revival': Cornwall's conservative approach kept dissent at bay, whilst a low-church revival in the diocese of St. Davids could not compensate for worsening structural challenges, and dissent flourished. With regards to political culture, Cornwall's electoral importance imbued the region with political influence. Both regions were traditionally royalist, but, following James II's attacks on Anglican hegemony, this loyalty was redeployed in defence of the Church and parliamentary authority. However, this thesis argues that proclamations of unanimous loyalty were used tactically, to mask growing partisan divisions. After the Glorious Revolution, the 'rage of party' came to dominate political life in both regions, but was conditioned by kinship, Jacobitism, and the inability of the lower orders to participate routinely in the political process.
Supervisor: Tapsell, Grant Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History