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Making HistoryEdward Augustus Freeman and Victorian Cultural Politics$
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G.A. Bremner and Jonathan Conlin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265871

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265871.001.0001

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From Tractarian to Democrat: The Intellectual Formation of E. A. Freeman

From Tractarian to Democrat: The Intellectual Formation of E. A. Freeman

(p.31) 2 From Tractarian to Democrat: The Intellectual Formation of E. A. Freeman
Making History

James Kirby

British Academy

One of the most striking features of E. A. Freeman’s life and thought is the contrast between the young Tractarian student of architecture and the mature liberal, even radical, historian. This essay explains that the transition from the one to the other was not a process of sudden conversion or rupture, but rather a natural development. To understand the crucial years c.1846–50, when Freeman’s thought was most in ferment, a number of his early, hitherto unidentified, publications have been tracked down, including his earliest published study of the Norman Conquest. From these sources, among others, it has been possible to reconstruct how his early medievalism and anti-Erastianism evolved into a general commitment to liberty, democracy, and republicanism, without repudiating the High Anglicanism of his youth. Though apparently idiosyncratic, this intellectual development was shared to some extent by a number of prominent Victorian liberals, not least Gladstone himself.

Keywords:   Edward Augustus Freeman, historiography, Tractarianism, liberalism, democracy, Anglicanism, W. E. Gladstone, architectural history, Norman Conquest, medievalism

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