: David Cressy
Oxford University Press on Demand
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In Travesties and Transgressions, David Cressy examines how the orderly, Protestant, and hierarchical society of post-Reformation England coped with the cultural challenges posed by beliefs and events outside the social norm. He uses a series of linked stories and close readings of local texts and narratives to investigate unorthodox happenings such as bestiality and monstrous births, seduction and abortion, excommunication and irregular burial, nakedness and cross-dressing. Each story, and the reaction it generated,exposes the strains and stresses of its local time and circumstances. The reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles I were witness to endless religious disputes, tussles for power within the aristocracy, and arguments galore about the behaviour and beliefs of common people. Questions raised by'unnatural' episodes were debated throughout society at local and national levels, and engaged the attention of the magistrates, the bishops, the crown, and the court. The resolution of such questions was not taken lightly in a world in which God and the devil still fought for people's souls.