Before Queen Anne’s reign had even begun, rival factions in both Church and State were jostling for position in her court. Attempting to follow a moderate course, the new monarch and her advisors had to be constantly wary of the attempts of extremists on both sides to gain the upper hand. The result was a see-saw period of alternating influence that has fascinated historians and political commentators.
In this engaging new study, Barry Levis shows that although both parties claimed to be in support of the Church, their real aim was advancing their respective political positions. Uniting close analysis of Queen Anne’s changing policies towards dissenters, occasional conformity and church appointments with studies of the careers of several prominent churchmen and politicians, Levis paints a gripping picture of competing religious values and political ambitions. Most significantly, he shows that, far from being restricted to the church and political elites, these conflicts were to have a cascading influence on the division of the country long after the Queen’s reign ended.