Marilyn A. Lewis on “‘Christ’s College and the Latitude-Men’ Revisited: A Seminary of Heretics?”

Marjorie Nicolson’s 1929 article, ‘Christ’s College and the Latitude-Men’ characterized the quarrel between Ralph Widdrington and the Cambridge Platonists Henry More and Ralph Cudworth as ‘the enmity of the fundamentalist for the liberal’. Widdrington called More and Cudworth ‘latitude-men’ and described the college as ‘a seminary of Heretics’. This article revisits the dispute by presenting a group biography of the Christ’s College fellowship between 1644 and 1669, showing More as an academic networker attracting students to his version of Platonism and Cudworth in action as a college head managing fellowship elections to build up support against Widdrington. The argument will be advanced that Widdrington’s opposition revealed the reality of a group of Platonic philosophical theologians at Christ’s College, as opposed to their mere reification by later admiring historians, thus challenging the doubts concerning the existence of Cambridge Platonism which have been asserted in recent historiography.

Marilyn A. Lewis, “‘Christ’s College and the Latitude-Men’ Revisited: A Seminary of Heretics?,” Mordechai Feingold, ed., History of Universities Volume XXXIII/1. Oxford University Press, 2020. ISBN: 9780198865421.

Clare Jackson, “Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)”

Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)Clare Jackson, “Latitudinarianism, secular theology and Sir Thomas Browne’s influence in George Mackenzie’s Religio Stoici (1663)” The Seventeenth Century 29:1 (2014), 73-94. DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2013.877848

Abstract:

This article revisits George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh’s Religio Stoici (1663) which is often acclaimed as the first in a venerable series of imitations of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1642) as well as a possible influence for John Dryden’s Religio Laici (1682). By contrast, this articles returns to the charged contemporary atmosphere that prevailed in Scotland in 1663, following the controversial re-establishment of Episcopalianism the previous year. Combining an instinctive epistemological scepticism with an audacious and polemical anticlericalism, Mackenzie’s tract attacked dogmatic intolerance and denominational exclusivity and instead advanced a courageous, solitary and very public plea for peaceful religious practice.