Mercurius Politicus

Imagine that it’s the very end of 1640. You are in your late twenties, and have lived in London since your late teens after starting an apprenticeship in 1629. You have been exposed to the social and intellectual ferment of the capital’s puritan lectureships, and possibly even to some of the more controversial ideas in circulation in the city’s godly underground. Your master’s stall is a stone’s throw from the heart of the London book trade around St Paul’s, from where you will acquire a critique of Catholicism published in the same year as you are made free from your apprenticeship. There have been running battles over the position of the altar table in your parish church of St Giles Cripplegate, and the vicar and vestry (one of whom had daubed a crucifix on the church wall) are at daggers drawn with other more godly members of the congregation. You’ve just come back to London after a year spent studying theology at Cambridge, and…

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