Lecture Three: Blood and Trees

This lecture focuses on the themes of ancestry and genealogy. While the fascination of the Tudor and Stuart elite with questions of lineage, birth and descent has received much attention, its connection with the religious impulses and upheavals of the era has been comparatively neglected. It will be argued here that the biological and spiritual, dynastic and confessional dimensions of this enterprise must be assessed in tandem. The lecture investigates the interweaving of biblical, secular and polemical genealogy and suggests thatgenealogical thinking stretched far more deeply and further downwards into English society than has hitherto been recognised. In the process, it hopes to shed light on contemporary assumptions about sex and original sin, pregnancy and childbirth, and race and heredity. A further aim is to underscore the value of writing a social and cultural history of religion with the theology put back.