Patrick Collinson

Patrick Collinson, who died in 2011, was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and the author of many books on the English Reformation, including The Elizabethan Puritan Movement and The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society, 1559-1625.

It is said that when representatives of the Society of Friends came to Buckingham Palace in 1945 to present a loyal address at the end of World War Two, the king asked who these people were. ‘Some call them Quakers, Your Majesty.’ ‘Oh,’ the king said. ‘I didn’t know that there were any of them left.’ According to the protocols of sociologists of...

Not Biographable: The Faithful Thomas Cromwell

Patrick Collinson, 29 November 2007

After the elimination of Beria from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia it was necessary to insert a section devoted to the Bering Straits. In the dozen or so years since the death of Geoffrey Elton, the Tudor statesman Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s prime minister and plenipotentiary, has been similarly airbrushed out of history. Elton, as anyone who did the Tudors for A Levels or read...

Grisly Creed: John Wyclif

Patrick Collinson, 22 February 2007

In about 1950, A.L. Rowse persuaded K.B. McFarlane to contribute to his biographical series ‘Teach Yourself History’ a short book on John Wyclif, an Oxford intellectual dead for six hundred years and the only arch-heretic bred in Catholic England before the Tudors and the Reformation. In one way this wasn’t surprising, since Rowse and McFarlane were friends. But in another...

A Very Active Captain: Henricentrism

Patrick Collinson, 22 June 2006

Henry VIII is the most immediately recognisable of all English monarchs, present company excepted. He has been declared a national icon, and we are told that he vies with Adolf Hitler for the exclusive attention of any secondary school pupil unwise enough to pursue the study of history beyond the age of 14.

On my way to lecture on him in Cambridge once, I left my bike for repair at Ben...



5 January 2006

Frank Kermode’s review of Glenn Most’s Doubting Thomas (LRB, 5 January) reminded me, perhaps a little inconsequentially, of some curious circumstances relating to The Book of Mormon, and specifically to its validation. Every edition of this sacred text bears the statements of two sets of witnesses, a group of three followed by one of eight (making the surely significant number of eleven), that...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Henry VIII’s jurisidictional quarrel with the Papacy was not resolved, and its consequences are with us still. In Henry’s eyes the dispute was one of authority, not doctrine, but...

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Puritan Neuroses

Blair Worden, 19 April 1984

If the directions taken by historical research are indicative of a nation’s broader preoccupations, then we may have to prepare ourselves for a religious revival of some magnitude....

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Rescuing the bishops

Blair Worden, 21 April 1983

The publication of Patrick Collinson’s The Religion of Protestants is a stirring event in the rediscovery of Early Modern England. Unmistakably the work of a historian who has reflected on...

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