Lecture One: Youth and Age

This lecture investigates the role played by people at different stages in the life cycle in the making of England’s long Reformation. It tests suggestions that the successive phases of religious upheaval precipitated by the ecclesiastical upheavals of the 1530s, 40s and 50s entailed forms of youthful rebellion and analyses the reversals of the age hierarchy to which these revolutionary events appeared to give rise. It examines age as a stage of spiritual growth as well as a biological phase and explores the role of education and conversion in the Reformation. It also considers some of the paradoxes of youth and age in a society that distrusted novelty and revered antiquity and engages critically with the idea that the authority of the old was steadily eroded in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.