An Age of Wonders: Prodigies, Politics and Providence in England 1657-1727

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Monstrous births, rains of blood, apparitions of battles in the sky - people in early modern England found all of these events to carry important religious and political meanings. In An age of wonders, available in paperback for the first time, William E. Burns explores the process by which these events became religiously and politically insignificant in the Restoration period. The story involves the establishment of early modern science, the shift from 'enthusiastic' to reasonable religion, and the fierce political combat between the Whigs and the Tories. This historical study is based on close readings of a variety of primary sources, both print and manuscript. Burns claims that prodigies lost their religious meaning and became subjects of scientific enquiry as a result of political struggles, first by the supporters of the restored monarchy and the Church of England against Protestant dissenters, and then by the Whig defenders of the Revolution of 1688 against the Tories and the Jacobites. By integrating religious and political history with the history of science, An age of wonders will be of great use to those working in the field of early modern history.