Providing the first systematic comparative study of the religious culture of early-modern London's livery companies, this book focuses on two leading guilds - the Grocers and the Drapers - to better understand how religious identities were constructed and expressed in Reformation England. London's livery companies always had a strong religious element to their corporate identity, but their reaction to religious change has to date been only lightly explored, appearing either in the context of broad institutional histories or general surveys of religious change. This major study explores three key research questions by looking at both the institutions of the liveries and the individuals they comprised. Firstly, it provides a better understanding of how the transition from a Catholic to a Protestant society was mediated and negotiated by elite groups through a focus on two of London's largest, most ancient and archivally-intact companies. It illuminates how merchants reconciled potentially competing loyalties to Church, Crown and Company. In particular, it sheds light upon the responses of merchants, and thereby civic elites, to religious change, demonstrating how institutions whose membership comprised a spectrum of religious identities managed to live, trade and work alongside one another whilst maintaining a culture based upon Christian doctrine.Supported by a substantial prosopographical study that tracked approximately 1000 members of the livery of the Grocers and Drapers across different aspects of public and private life - through company court minutes and accounts, churchwardens' accounts, vestry minutes, wills, trade records and letters - this book offers a fascinating insight into the intersection of religious belief, trade, and networks in sixteenth-century England.
Faith and Fraternity