Popular English iconoclasm of the 16th and 17th centuries, as opposed to the earlier Byzantine waves of iconoclasm, entailed wider involvement of the collective mass exercised by anti-Laudism. Indeed, it was precisely the reaction against Roman Catholic ecclesiasticism and Laudian ritualistic policies contradicting Old Testament teachings that catalyzed widespread church vandalism, especially of altar rails and statues, often in mob form. Most targets of English iconoclasm had intellectual, specifically theological, grounds before devolving into spontaneous attacks. Stained glass windows were, however, something of an anomaly: their high cost and weather protection often shielded the windows from significant puritanical criticism on theological grounds, yet they were still often targeted during incidents of iconoclasm. Centralizing the geographic and demographic focus to eastern English counties, where iconoclastic incidents were most common, and examining the phenomenon in those regions allows for a more nuanced understanding of iconoclasm as the product of local communities, instead of conceiving English iconoclasm as the product of an undifferentiated multitude. Furthermore, court records and quarter sessions records, at least insofar as they are extant, primary source accounts, and contemporary scholarship on the respective regions are utilized to deconstruct the social context of the iconoclastic fervor of the period. Reviewing specific occurrences of stained glass window destruction in individual eastern counties, this study investigates the homogenous as well as distinct cultural and social influences that exacerbated public indignation against icons. To this end, the paper examines the relatively expanded fluidity of religious polity with the advent of the Protestant Reformation and its engenderment in English public empowerment that led to a theological terrain were even anti-Laudian theology was deemed conservative and, thus, became further radicalized.
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