History, presbyterianism and the confessional state : David Calderwood and his writings in the post-reformation Scotland
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Thanks to recently developed methodologies in history writing, the analysis of relatively lesser known figures in the area of intellectual history, placing them in their historical context has become important in historical studies. The investigation pursued in this thesis explains a seventeenth-century politico-religious context of Scotland, through the writings of a leading Presbyterian minister of the period, David Calderwood. Here Calderwood emerges as an important representative of the expression of a confessional identity. His ideas are interesting enough to refute the claims of some historians that religion began to be excluded from all intellectual debates of this period. His works mainly reflect a radical Presbyterian stance, opposing that of the Episcopalians. The elucidation of the aspects of this radical Presbyterianism illustrates how the early modern Scottish discussion between Presbyterians and Episcopalians had a constitutive role in establishing an identity. History was a useful intellectual tool for Calderwood to offer a solution to this debate. But, historical precedents could provide guidance only in so far as God’s providential plan was perceived in them, as directing the course of all events, and justifying religious and moral commands—in fact, Presbyterianism—now identifiable with the nation’s historical path.