December 3, 2020 at 11:26 am #15588witenbergParticipant
The Trial of Doctor Sacheverell
by Geoffrey S. Holmes
- Release date: February 15, 1973
- ISBN: 9780413277503 (041327750X)
- Publisher: Eyre Methuen
- Language: english
- Format: hardcover, 338 pages
- Author: Geoffrey S. Holmes
About The Book
The Sacheverell Affair, one of the causes célèbres of English history, began at the height of the Whig supremacy of Queen Anne’s reign. At St Paul’s Cathedral on Guy Fawkes’s Day, 1709, Dr Henry Sacheverell, a high Tory parson and Oxford don, preached a seditious sermon on the text, ‘In peril among False Brethren’. The sermon sold a hundred thousand copies, and ‘the Doctor’ was impeached and brought t trial in Westminster Hall before the House of Lords in March 1710.
The dramatic atmosphere of the trial — charged with religious emotion, political fanaticism and public hysteria — and its unexpected outcome, had far-reaching consequences for the political parties, the Church and Dissent, for the people at large, and even for Europe. As a political trial it made possible Robert Harley’s coup d’état of 1710, which brought down the Whigs, together with the Duke of Marlborough and Lord Godolphin, and set up the last truly Tory ministry Britain was to see for a hundred years.
But the trial not only illuminates a great political crisis. It is the centrepiece of the bizarre story of Sacheverell himself, and also of the history of the Church of England in its gravely troubled years between the 1688 Revolution and the heyday of Walpole (who had been one of Sacheverell’s prosecutors). The clergy’s feverish search for political solutions to their problems, of which the Sacheverell Affair was the culmination, ended amid frustrated hopes and the spiritual inertia associated with the Age of Reason.
Geoffrey Holmes, who, as the author of British Politics in the Age of Anne, is one of the leading historians of the period, has drawn on important new evidence for this study. A notable feature is his vindication of the Whigs from the charge that the impeachment of Sacheverell was reckless act of folly. His whole account is unfolded with authority and panache; it includes a vivid description of the riots in London during the trial, and of the extraordinary seven-week ‘Progress’ in the summer of 1710 of the High Church’s unlikely champion, Dr Sacheverell himself.
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