Enlightenment and Empire

  • Murray G. H. Pittock
Part of the British Studies Series book series (BRSS)


Despite assertions of a unified Protestant identity, one feature which repeatedly recurs in the documentation of regional disturbances in England and Wales in the eighteenth century is the presence of religious tension, usually between Anglicans and Dissenters. Far from being settled in their hegemony, the Anglican Church’s supporters continued to exhibit a degree of insecurity which could border on paranoia:

The Church of England … almost always felt itself in danger. In the early eighteenth century it feared the rising threat from Dissent. In the 1720s and 30s it was alarmed by the growth of the many-headed hydra of heterodoxy: Socinianism, Arianism, Deism, Freemasonry and even atheism. The mid-eighteenth century saw the Anglican clergy worried by the Methodist revival, while in the later eighteenth century they feared the activities of the Rational Dissenters, they found the Evangelicals uncomfortable bed-fellows and they saw an increasing percentage of the urban poor failing to attend their churches … In religious terms, eighteenth-century Britain was already a pluralist society.


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Copyright information

© Murray G. H. Pittock 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray G. H. Pittock
    • 1
  1. 1.EdinburghUK

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