Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Dr. Samuel Smith


The English Christianity George Herbert embraced in 1633 differed drastically from today's western Christian consciousness. The English Reformation had occurred only a century earlier, splitting the Church of England from Rome and creating ample strife and bloodshed. Queen Elizabeth I, who died exactly thirty years before Herbert's poetry appeared, had established the newborn Anglican Church as the via media, or the middle ground between Catholicism and radical Protestantism, with worship resembling the familiar Roman rites and a system of beliefs based on the writings of Calvin and Luther. The Thirty-Nine Articles outlined these beliefs and combined with the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds to form the Church of England's official theology. Conformity to the Church's immovable stance on matters such as the Trinity, salvation, and the authority of Scripture became the duty of all English people: deviant academics or clergymen faced certain death by order of the law1.