The Family of Love in English Society, 1550-1630 (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)

  • Publish Date: 1994-01-28
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Christopher W. Marsh
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This book traces the history of the outlawed mystical fellowship, the 'Family of Love', in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The Familists, devoted followers of a Messianic Dutch mystic named 'H. N.', were passionately denounced by many literate contemporaries, and an association with extremism, subversion and hypocrisy has endured. The author tracks the English Familists into their houses, fields and places of work. Although members of the Family were few in number and highly secretive, identification has proved possible in contexts ranging from the court of Elizabeth I to rural villages in Cambridgeshire. The author also examines the distinctive way of life which was developed by Family members within a wider society that, on the face of it, was hostile to religious dissenters: one surprising conclusion is that most English men and women seem to have possessed an impressive capacity to tolerate known 'heretics' in their midst.