Religious Controversy

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This chapter discusses the intersection of history, politics, and religion in three landmarks of Romantic prose, all published at full length in the year of Catholic Emancipation, 1829: William Cobbett’s History of the Protestant ‘Reformation’; Robert Southey’s Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on Society; and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s On the Constitution of the Church and State. In keeping with the larger Catholic Emancipation debate itself, all three texts move between issues of ‘doctrine’ and ‘institution’, and the articulation of incommensurable Catholic and Protestant historiographies. While at a low level of resolution these texts seem to support a ‘secularization’ narrative of religion fading out, with the radical Cobbett and the increasingly conservative Lake Poets converging upon a kind of nostalgic medievalism, I discover more significant divisions over theology, ideas of progress, and the value of institutions, as well as over the nature and value of history itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of British Romantic Prose
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780198834540
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks


  • Catholicism; Constitution; Historicism; Thomas More; Reformation; Sectarianism; Theology; William Cobbett; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Robert Southey


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