Republican learning

John Toland and the crisis of Christian culture, 1696-1722

By Justin Champion

Republican learning

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8049-4
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: April 2009
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / Christianity, RELIGION / Christianity / History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Christianity, History, Early Modern History
  • Series: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain


This book explores the life, thought and political commitments of the free-thinker John Toland (1670-1722). Studying both his private archive and published works, it illustrates how Toland moved in both subversive and elite political circles in England and abroad. It explores the connections between his republican political thought and his irreligious belief about Christian doctrine, the ecclesiastical establishment and divine revelation, arguing that far from being a marginal and insignificant figure, Toland counted queens, princes and government ministers as his friends and political associates.

The book argues that Toland shaped the republican tradition after the Glorious Revolution into a practical and politically viable programme, focused not on destroying the monarchy, but on reforming public religion and the Church of England. It explores the connections between Toland's erudition and print culture, arguing that his intellectual project was aimed at compromising the authority of Christian 'knowledge' as much as the political power of the Church.


Introduction: locating John Toland
Part One: Republics of Learning
1. "The traffick of books": Libraries, friends and conversation
2. Publishing reason: John Toland and print and scribal communities
3. Reading Mystery: the reception of Christianity not mysterious 1696-1702
Part Two: The war against tyranny and prejudice
4. Editing the republic: Milton, Harrington and the Williamite Monarchy, 1698-1714
5. Anglia Libera: Protestant liberties and the Hanoverian succession, 1700-1714
6. Sapere aude: 'Commonwealth' politics under George I, 1714-1722
Part Three: Subversive Learning
7. Respublica Mosaica: impostors, legislators and civil religion
8. De studio theologia: patristic erudition and the attack on scripture
9. "A complete history of priestcraft": the druids and the origins of ancient virtue
Conclusion: writing enlightenment


Justin Champion is Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London

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