The University of Cambridge has long been heralded as the nursery of the English Reformation: a precociously evangelical and then Puritan Tudor institution. Spanning fifty years and four reigns and based on extensive archival research, this book reveals a much more nuanced experience of religious change in this unique community. Instead of Protestant triumph, there were multiple, contested responses to royal religious policy across the sixteenth century. The University's importance as both a symbol and an agent of religious change meant that successive regimes and politicians worked hard to stamp their visions of religious uniformity onto it. It was also equipped with some of England's most talented theologians and preachers. Yet in the maze of the collegiate structure, the conformity they sought proved frustratingly elusive. The religious struggles which this book traces reveal not only the persistence of real doctrinal conflict in Cambridge throughout the Reformation period, but also more complex patterns of accommodation, conformity and resistance shaped by social, political and institutional context.
CERI LAW is a research associate at the University of Cambridge.