Selected Papers from the IAUPE Malta Conference in 2010
Paul’s Cross: Context, Occasion, Significance: Mary Morrissey
Paul’s Cross: Context, Occasion, Significance Mary Morrissey University of Reading The Paul’s Cross sermons form part (perhaps a rather vague part) of the ‘back- ground’ to Renaissance literature familiar to most scholars, because of the calibre of the preachers (Hugh Latimer, John Foxe, John Jewel, John Donne), and the fame of the sermons delivered there (John Jewel’s ‘Challenge’ sermon of 1559, Richard Bancroft’s anti-Puritan sermon of 1589, or John Donne’s 1622 sermon on the Directions for Preachers). But Paul’s Cross is often described in a static and rather nostalgic way, both by early modern writers like John Stow and John Strype, as well as by modern historians of the subject. Millar MacLure described the sermon series as a ‘ritual, as old as a folkmoot’.1 What follows is an attempt to create a brief narrative history of the Paul’s Cross sermons, to show the ways in which this crucial aspect of early modern London’s religious life changed in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. To do this, we must consider the renovations made to the pulpit and its attendant buildings, the development of arrangements for funding the sermons, and the variations in patterns of atten- dance by members of the London community. Paul’s Cross served several func- tions for its many auditors: it was a place from which ‘godly’ preaching was heard, from which important announcements were made, and where news and gossip circulated. In the late 1630s, Paul’s Cross stopped serving these purposes, and so no-one thought to object when...
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