Legislators, impostors, and the politic origins of religion: English theories of ‘imposture’ from Stubbe to Toland

  • Justin A. I. Champion
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 148)


On the ioth of June 1672 one John Baptista Damascene, ‘an impious and profane and irreligious person’ of the extra-mural London parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields, was arraigned for proclaiming ‘impious, blasphemous and heretical words’. Some six months later Damascene was acquitted ‘Not Guilty’ of the charged utterance. He had been accused of proclaiming that ‘Jesus Christ, Moyses and Mahomet were three greate rogues’.1 The central theme of the supposed impiety, that Moses, Christ, and Mahomet were devious impostors, was to form the basis of one of the most radical eighteenth-century attacks upon organized religion and the priesthood, the French work Le Traité des trois imposteurs, published in 1719 but in circulation on the Continent in the 1690s and 1700s. What then was John Baptista Damascene doing voicing such opinions in the suburbs of London in the early 1670s?


British Library Civil Religion Latin Text French Work French Text 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin A. I. Champion
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Holloway CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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