The World of Rural Dissenters, 1520-1725

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There has been dispute amongst social historians about whether only the more prosperous in village society were involved in religious practice. In this 1995 book, a group of historians working under Dr Spufford's direction have produced a factual solution to this dispute by examining the taxation records of large groups of dissenters and churchwardens, and have established that both late Lollard and post-Restoration dissenting belief crossed the whole taxable spectrum. We can no longer speak of religion as being the prerogative of either 'weavers and threshers' or, on the other hand, of village elites. In her own substantial chapter Dr Spufford draws together the mosaic constructed by the contributors, adds radical ideas of her own, and disagrees with much of the prevailing wisdom on the function of religion in the late seventeenth century. Professor Patrick Collinson has contributed a critical conclusion to the volume.