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Paul’s Cross and the Dramatic Echoes of Early-Elizabethan Print

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Chapter Summary

Before the Elizabethan period, the Paul's Cross pulpit was at times used for dramatic and even volatile church events that fell outside the strictures of the sanctuary. It had been the site of book burnings, emotionally charged trials for heretics, and public attacks on heresy. A fiery sermon from Paul's Cross could incite a riot and, if we are to believe John Foxe and others, even an impromptu demonstration in the art of knife throwing. During the Elizabethan period the drama intensified as the standing hostilities between Rome and reform remained, and new and intractable interfaith conflicts emerged and were addressed from the pulpit. These sermons took on a new dramatic flare, presented as they were to large, often unruly audiences within a populace that was growing more literate and that had more immediate access to the religious print material that flowed around and through these events.

Keywords: Elizabethan period; John Foxe; Paul's Cross pulpit; public attacks; Rome



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