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The Restoration of the Church, 1660

Hugh Trevor-Roper recounts how the “Cromwellian Exiles” returned from abroad to restore the English Church's episcopal structure.

The party politics of a church (especially of an established Church) are not radically different from those of a State. There are the same intrigues and pressure-groups, the same compromises and manoeuvres, the same need of court-favour at the centre and administrative support in the provinces. The English Church has always had its parties, and their history is just as important as the history of English political parties; indeed, before the emergence of organized secular parties, clerical pressure-groups were the political parties. How much, for instance, we owe to that low-church group, “the Marian Exiles,” who, thanks to their internal organization, parliamentary tactics and qualified royal support, provided the Elizabethan Church with its basis, its bishops, and its famous Via Media! That was in 1559. Almost exactly a century later, in 1660, a similar but high-church group of “Cromwellian Exiles,” also returning from abroad, achieved a victory almost as important: they captured the Establishment from Puritans and Presbyterians, and ensured the restoration of its episcopal structure. The significance of “the Marian Exiles” is well known, and the recent work of Professor Neale has emphasized their importance. The work of “the Cromwellian Exiles” is less well known; but thanks to an excellent new work by an American scholar, Dr. Robert S. Bosher, we can now appreciate it better.

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