The tension between public duty and private conscience is a central theme of English history in the seventeenth century, when established authorities were questioned and violently disrupted. It has also been an important theme in the work of one of the foremost historians of the period, G. E. Aylmer. It makes, therefore, an especially appropriate subject for this volume. The contributors are leading historians, whose topics range from
contemporary writings on conscience and duty to the particular problems faced by individuals and groups, both Puritan and Royalist, at the centre and in the localities. These scholarly and original studies throw new light on the innumerable dilemmas of conscience of seventeenth-century men and women, and
together make a distinguished contribution to seventeenth-century history.Contributors: Christopher Hill, Gordon Leff, Austin Wollrych, Keith Thomas, Patricia Crawford, Kevin Sharpe, Conrad Russell, Neil Cuddy, Paul Slack, John Morrill, Claire Cross, P. R. Newman, Daniel Woolf, John Ferris, Richard S. Dunn, and William Sheils.
`The theme chosen by the editors was broad enough to allow of many different interests and yet sufficiently precise to provide some common ground between them ... the research put into some of these essays has been prodigious.
EHR Oct 1993
`Most (if not all) of the essays address the book's theme directly, giving it s satisfying coherence. It would be surprising if such a bold thesis were to receive universal agreement. But even if it does not, its great value is that it provides a framework that helps to make intelligible the case-studies in the rest of the book.
Times Literary Supplement
`Conscience, duty and loyalties, kings, earls, and godly types - there is so much in this volume ... Woolrych quotes Aylmer: "The first question to ask about any period is what matters most in it and why" (p.23). The contributors have fulfilled that expectation.
W.J. Jones, University of Alberta, Canadian Journal of History, XXVIII, December 1993
`interesting and rewarding collection. The whole collection is prefaced by three graceful tributes to the scholar to whom it is presented, by Christopher Hill, Austin Woolrych and Gordon Leff; and it concludes with a bibliography of his writings compiled by William Sheils. It is further adorned by an admirably characterful photograph of Dr Aylmer. This is a handsome volume, which all students of politics, government, and religion in seventeenth-century
England will wish to consult.'