Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Bibical Rhetoric

Theocracy and Monarchy Under the Early Stuarts (1584-1642)

Dr. Andreas Pečar


My investigation focuses mainly on biblical rhetoric and Biblicism in political discourse in the early Stuart Monarchy. The term Biblicism is used to describe a specific political language, i.e. a form of argument, which focuses mainly on biblical principles and examples and in which the bible is the authority of highest importance within the political discourse.

The following questions are leading my investigation: In which way did the biblical rhetoric have an impact on the outbreak of the civil war in Scotland and England? Are the rhetorical elements of Biblicism which increased the political crisis before the civil war a result of the political crisis, or can we identify the same biblical arguments, principles and examples within the political discourse of the earlier period of the Stuart monarchy as well? In which political contexts can we identify a biblical kind of political language? Only if we compare the use of biblical rhetoric during the Stuart monarchy and during the civil war we can conclude in which way biblical rhetoric might have affected the outbreak of the civil war.

My research project is part of section D of the cluster of excellence which focuses on the cultural dynamics of religion. In my investigation I will try to demonstrate in which way religion provides specific kinds of cultural significance which has great influence on politics as well. Biblical rhetoric leads to a certain extent to a political concept of theocracy. Kings had to act within the bounds of a theocratic concept of policy; otherwise they had to face the criticism against their reign and to risk further consequences, in extreme case the loss of the reign itself. Biblicism could strengthen the reign of kings and the legitimacy of their rule, but it could undermine monarchical power as well.

The civil war in Scotland and England provides an excellent example for the fact that a biblical concept of political order and religious rigour not only between different religions or confessions, but also within the same confession could lead to civil war. If we understand the Civil War on the British Isles as a war of religion it was a war between different interpretations of Protestantism, not between different confessions or religions.