Calvinist Absolutism: Archbishop James Ussher and Royal Power

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    Archbishop James Ussher's manuscript notebooks allow us to observe the making of a Calvinist absolutist and to orientate the archbishop's beliefs about royal power within European Reformed thought as a whole. By 1643, Ussher was preaching a polished and complete theory of absolute royal power, and it is possible to track the development of this political theory forward from his undergraduate days in the 1590s. Throughout his life Ussher engaged anxiously with Reformed theologians abroad, who generally favored limited rather than absolute monarchy. Nevertheless, Ussher shared with these Reformed colleagues both an antipathy to aspects of Aristotelian politics and a commitment to the divine institution of royal power. Finally, despite Ussher's hostility to Laudian innovations in the Irish Church, his heartfelt political beliefs made him a firm supporter of Stuart absolutism throughout the Three Kingdoms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)588-610
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of British Studies
    Issue number03
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


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