Redefining the clerical man: clerical manhood and masculinity in religious polemical works in Reformation England c.1520-1570

Brown, G.E (2021) Redefining the clerical man: clerical manhood and masculinity in religious polemical works in Reformation England c.1520-1570. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Abstract

During the sixteenth century clerical masculinity underwent a fundamental transformation. The reverberations of the social and cultural change to the status of the clergy was felt not only within the Church, but throughout the rest of society. This thesis provides a case study of how clerical manhood and masculinity was redefined during the period from 1520 to 1570, through the examination of printed polemical works produced to debate clerical marriage and celibacy. A close examination of the marriage versus celibacy debate during this period contributes new knowledge by providing an understanding of the subtle differences which formed during the process and the substance behind them, as well as explaining how positions on both sides became more polarised and well defined over the course of the argument. It also contributes further by seeking to bridge the historiographical divide between the study of theological debates such as clerical marriage, and the study of gender, marriage, and the family.* Clerical marriage was not simply an abstruse theological matter but a profound social and cultural change whose real and imagined practical implications exercised the pens and imaginations of many sixteenth-century authors. This study makes further contributions to scholarship in a number of areas. Specifically, these include, the influence of Europe on the English Reformation, Elizabeth I's religious conservatism, the Marian Counter-Reformation, and ideas of 'commonwealth'. From 1570, the clerical man could choose to be a husband and a father, whose masculinity resembled closely that of his neighbours. No longer perceiving the need to partake in a debate to establish their right to clerical marriage, the clergy turned their attention to articulating the value of the clerical household through conduct literature.** This thesis extends this argument by suggesting this is why the polemical debate on clerical marriage fell from prominence after 1570 in the English context, as the clergy focused their energy on gaining further levels of gentility and civility.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Note:

English Reformation, religion in Europe, 16th century literature, Elizabeth I, clergy, masculinity, marriage, celibacy, theology, social theory

Divisions: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2021 17:35
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 17:37
References: * Marjorie Plummer, From Priest's Whore to Pastor's Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (2012; London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 3-4. ** Lyndal Roper, 'Gender and the Reformation', Archiv fur Reformationsgeschichte, 92 (2001), 290-302, (p. 295).
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)