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Confessionalisation and Erudition in Early Modern EuropeAn Episode in the History of the Humanities$
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Nicholas Hardy and Dmitri Levitin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266601

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266601.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

Confessional History and the Authority of Erudition

Confessional History and the Authority of Erudition

Bossuet, Burnet, and the English Reformation

(p.264) 8 Confessional History and the Authority of Erudition
Confessionalisation and Erudition in Early Modern Europe

Jean-Louis Quantin

British Academy

In his History of the variations of the Protestant Churches, his major work of confessional controversy, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) made a genuine effort to use various primary sources. In the case of England, however, he chose to rely on a single authority, Gilbert Burnet’s (1643-1715) History of the Reformation of the Church of England, which was available to him in a recent French translation. This reflected Bossuet’s tactical determination to employ only authors whom his Protestant adversaries could not object to, but also his paradoxical affinities with Burnet, whose very political reading of the English Reformation fitted well with his own interpretation. Burnet, however, had included in his History a rich collection of records, which Bossuet studied and occasionally used to challenge Burnet’s main text. Although Bossuet’s interests remained those of a polemical divine, he spoke the language of historical erudition to assert his trustworthiness.

Keywords:   Reformation historiography, confessional controversy, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Gilbert Burnet, archives, images of Luther, Latitudinarianism, Nonjurors, Gallicanism, Translation

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