Parental concern and the baptism of children : representations of children from the late Medieval era to 1640.


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Examining religious literature from late medieval England until 1640, this dissertation explores the effect that the English Reformation had upon the religious perception of children. A survey of medieval English religious literature reveals that a tension existed between the theology of Original Sin, baptism, and salvation, and parental concerns for the spiritual wellbeing and salvation of their children. The introduction of Protestant theology into England addressed many of these concerns, but also caused other issues as the laity were presented with conflicting views about the spiritual status of their children, their place in the church, and their salvation. Initially, this conflict was between Catholics and Protestants, but by the seventeenth century, Protestants fought among themselves as Reformed Protestants and English Baptists debated the nature of baptism, Original Sin, and infant salvation. This dissertation argues that people were concerned about the salvific status of their children and that the introduction of the Reformation into England provided opportunities for individuals to challenge, affirm, and modify existing beliefs about infants on innocence, Original Sin, baptism, salvation, and spiritual vulnerability, and thus securing, at least for themselves and their followers, greater assurance as to the salvation of their children.



English reformation. Children. Medieval England. Early modern England. Catholics. Protestants.