Photo of Anthony MiltonProfessor Anthony Milton

B.A., Ph.D. (Cantab.)

Professor of History

Early Modern England, 17th c. Anglo-Dutch relations; royalism; Church of England 1603-1700

+44 (0)114 22 22570 | Jessop West 2.06

Semester One Office Hours: Tuesdays 11:00-12:00 and Thursdays 10:00-11:00



Milton Laudian LargeAnthony Milton grew up in Sheffield but took both his BA and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge, where he was subsequently Stipendiary Research Fellow at Clare Hall for three years before returning to his roots and joining the Sheffield department in 1992. His publications include Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 (Cambridge, 1995, repr. 1996, 2002) and Laudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth-century England: the career and writings of Peter Heylyn (2007, repr. 2013); and a number of articles on political thought, religion, censorship and the public sphere in early Stuart England. He was awarded a 3-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled 'England's Second Reformation: the Battle for the Church of England 1636-66', and is currently revising the monograph deriving from this project. He is also the editor of volume one of The Oxford History of Anglicanism (forthcoming 2015). He is a founding co-editor of a monograph series with Manchester University Press - 'Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain' -- which has now published nearly 50 volumes, and served as an Associate Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, with responsibility for over 170 articles. He is also planning a biography of Sir Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford. As well as his work on the religious, political and intellectual history of early modern England, he has also worked on Dutch history and Anglo-Dutch relations, leading to his publication in 2005 of The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-19), a 170,000-word edition of unpublished documents and commentary relating to British participation in the most important international Protestant gathering before modern times. He is also on the editorial team of a multi-volume edition of the Acts of the Synod of Dort, to be published in time for the quatercentenary in 2018. He still intends to return, when time permits, to his post-doctoral research on religious politics and national identity in modern Indonesia.

Professional Roles

Co-editor of Manchester University Press monograph series - 'Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain’

Member of the international editorial board of a major projected 8-volume edition of the Acts of the Synod of Dort

Member of the editorial board of the Journal for the History of Reformed Pietism

‘International Assessor’ for the Irish Government’s Post-Doctoral Scheme

External assessor of applications for research grants to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Refereeing and Reviewing

Presses: Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Manchester University Press, Ashgate

Journals: English Historical Review, Historical Journal, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Journal of British Studies, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte ,The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library , The Seventeenth Century, Journal of American Studies, Journal of Religious History, Church History and Religious Culture, Journal of Theological Studies.



Anthony Milton's current research is focused on English religious and political history in the period 1636-66. In particular he is studying this period as a 'second reformation' as important as the more famous Tudor reformations, when the identity of the Church of England was fundamentally reshaped in the crucible of civil war, interregnum and the restoration of the monarchy. He is analysing how the identity of the Church of England was discussed and reformulated by a wide range of political activists, religious thinkers and popular commentators over these thirty years, studying the views and actions not just of the so-called 'Anglicans', but also of presbyterians, Independents, Roman Catholics and foreign Protestants. He is also working on a full-length biography of Sir Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford.

Anthony Milton has ongoing research interests in early modern English religious and political thought, Anglo-Dutch and Anglo-Palatine relations, anti-catholicism, and the Synod of Dort. He remains determined to return in due course to his work on politics and religion in modern South-East Asia.

Research Supervision

Professor Milton has supervised postgraduate research students on topics ranging from the secretariat of Sir Thomas Wentworth and the bedchamber of King Charles I to religious thought and ecclesiastical music in the early Stuart period, clerical politics and allegiance in early Stuart Cheshire and Lancashire, Jacobean patristic scholarship, and cultural interactions in the English factory in Japan, 1613-1623. He welcomes postgraduates interested in pursuing any aspect of English religious, political, cultural or intellectual history in the period 1560-1700. The University Library at Sheffield is excellently equipped for the study of the printed literature of this period.

Current Research Students

James Mawdesley - Clerical allegiances during the English civil wars and republic, with special reference to north-western England.

Further information on research opportunities within the department.


Full list of Publications


Laudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth-century England: the career and writings of Peter Heylyn (Manchester, 2007; paperback 2012), xii, 255pp.

Anthony Milton Laudian and Royalist Polemic book coverLaudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth-century England: the career and writings of Peter Heylyn (Manchester, 2007; paperback 2012), xii, 255pp.

This is the first full-length study of one of the most prolific and controversial polemical authors of the seventeenth century. It provides for the first time a detailed analysis of the ways in which Laudian and royalist polemical literature was created, tracing continuities and changes in a single corpus of writings from 1621 through to 1662. In the process, the author presents important new perspectives on the origins and development of Laudianism and ‘Anglicanism’ and on the tensions within royalist thought.

Anthony Milton’s book is neither a conventional biography nor simply a study of printed works, but instead constructs an integrated account of Peter Heylyn’s career and writings in order to provide the key to understanding a profoundly polemical author. Throughout the book, Heylyn’s shifting views and fortunes prompt an important reassessment of the relative coherence and stability of royalism and Laudianism.

Historians of early modern English politics and religion and literary scholars will find this book essential reading.

The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-19), (Church of England Record Society 13, 2005) (lix + 411pp).

Anthony Milton The British Delegation book coverThe British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-19), (Church of England Record Society 13, 2005) (lix + 411pp).

The Synod of Dort [1618-19] was one of the most remarkable and important gatherings of Protestant divines ever assembled. Summoned to resolve doctrinal disputes in the Netherlands, it involved theologians from a number of other countries, including Britain. The precise role played by delegates of the Church of England at the synod has been the subject of intense disagreement ever since.

Drawing on new sources discovered in English and Dutch archives, this volume provides a wide-ranging collection of edited documents [many previously unpublished] which make it possible for the first time to construct a thorough and fully contextualized account of the role played by the British delegates. Different sections of the book tackle the political and theological background to the synod, the submissions of the British delegation on issues ranging from predestination and episcopacy to catechizing and bible translation, and also the aftermath of the synod and the later defences of it by the British delegates. The primary source material is set in context by a substantial introduction, which argues for a major reassessment of the role of the British divines at the synod, and emphasizes the importance of the event in allowing historians to study the detailed interaction of British and continental thinkers at a vital period in the emergence of an 'Anglican' identity.

Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640, (Cambridge University Press, 1995; reprinted 1996, paperback 2002), xv, 599pp.

Anthony Milton Catholic and Reformed book coverCatholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640, (Cambridge University Press, 1995; reprinted 1996, paperback 2002), xv, 599pp.

Religious controversy was central to political conflict in the years leading up to the outbreak of the English Civil War. Historians have focused on one religious doctrine--predestination, but Catholic and Reformed analyzes the broader preconceptions that lay behind religious debate. It offers an analysis of the nature of the English Church, and how this related to the Roman Catholic and Reformed Churches of the Continent. The book's conclusions explain the nature of English religious culture and its role in provoking the Civil War.

Articles and Chapters

‘Coping with alternatives: religious liberty in royalist thought 1642-7’ in Robert Armstrong and Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin (eds), Catholics and Presbyterians: Alternative Establishments (Manchester, 2013), 149-69

‘Church and state in early modern ecclesiastical historiography’ in The Church on Its Past (Studies in Church History 49: Boydell & Brewer: Woodbridge, 2013), 468-90

‘Sacrilege and compromise: royalist divines and the king’s conscience 1642-9’ in D.L. Smith and M.J. Braddick (eds.), The Experience of Revolution in Stuart Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2011), 135-53.

‘New horizons in the early Jacobean reign’ in J.M. Shami, M.T. Hester and D. Flynn (eds), The Oxford Handbook of John Donne (Oxford, 2011)

‘The Church of England and the Palatinate’ in P. Ha and P. Collinson (eds.), The Reception of Continental Reformation in Britain and Ireland (British Academy, Oxford, 2010), 137-165

‘A distorting mirror: the Hales and Balcanquahall correspondence at the Synod of Dort’ in A. Goudriaan and F. Van Lieburg (eds.), Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (E.J. Brill, Leiden, 2011), 135-161

‘“Vailing the crown”: royalist criticism of Charles I in the 1650s’ in D.L. Smith and J. McElligott (eds.), Royalists and royalism in the 1650s (Cambridge, 2010), 88-105

‘Anglicanism and Royalism in the 1640s’ in J. Adamson (ed.), The Civil Wars. Rebellion and Revolution in the Kingdoms of Charles I (Palgrave, 2009), 61-81, 252-7

‘The Puritans and the continental Reformed churches’ in P. Lim and J. Coffey (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (Cambridge, 2008), 109-26

'Marketing a Massacre: the East India Company, the Amboyna Incident and the Public Sphere in Early Stuart England', in P. Lake and S. Pincus (eds), The Public Sphere in Early Modern England (2007).

'Religion and community in pre-civil war England' in N. Tyacke (ed), The English Revolution c.1590-1720. Politics, Religion and Communities (2007).

'Anglicanism by Stealth: the Career and Influence of John Overall' in P. Lake and K. Fincham (eds.), Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England (2006).

Articles on Sutan Sjahrir, Mohammad Hatta and Haji Agus Salim in Ooi Keat Gin (ed.), Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia (2004).

Articles on William Laud, John Cosin, Peter Heylyn, Andrew Willet and Edward Martin in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).

‘Canon Fire: Peter Heylyn at Westminster’ in C.S. Knighton and R. Mortimer (eds), Westminster Abbey Reformed 1540-1640 (Ashgate, 2003), 207-31.

'The Creation of Laudianism: a new approach', in T. Cogswell, R. Cust and P. Lake (eds), Politics, Religion and Popularity in Early Stuart Britain (2002), 162-84.

'The Seventeenth Century: An Overview' (5,000 words) in Adrian Hastings (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (OUP, 2000), 656-60 – reprinted as ‘Authority and Reason: the Seventeenth Century’ in A. Hastings, A. Mason and H. Pyper (eds.), Christian Thought. A Brief History (OUP, 2002), 108-22.

'Richard Montagu: Concerning Recusancie of Communion with the Church of England' (with Alexandra Walsham) in S. Taylor (ed), From Cranmer to Davidson: A Miscellany (Boydell & Brewer, 1999), 69-101.

'A Qualified Intolerance: The Limits and Ambiguities of Early Stuart Anti-Catholicism' in A. Marotti (ed), Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism in Early Modern English Texts (Macmillan, 1999), 85-115.

'"That Sacred Oratory": Religion and the Chapel Royal during the Personal Rule of Charles I' in Andrew Ashbee (ed), William Lawes: Essays on His Life, Times and Work (Scolar Press, 1998), 69-96.

'Licensing, Censorship and Religious Orthodoxy in Early Stuart England' (Historical Journal, September 1998), 625-651.

'The public context of the trial and execution of Strafford' (with Terence Kilburn) in J.F. Merritt (ed.), The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, 1621-1641 (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 230-51.

'Thomas Wentworth and the Political Thought of the Personal Rule' in Merritt (ed.), Political World, 133-56.

'The Unchanged Peacemaker? John Dury and the Politics of Irenicism in England 1630-43' in M. Greengrass, M. Leslie and T. Raylor (eds), Samuel Hartlib and universal reformation: studies in intellectual communication (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 95-117.

'The Church of England, Rome and the True Church: The Decline of a Jacobean Consensus' in K. Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church (Macmillans 'Problems-in-Focus' series, 1993), 187-210.

'The Preacher's Choice of Books' (with Revd. N. Cranfield) in J.M. Blatchly, The Town Library of Ipswich. A History and Catalogue (The Boydell Press: Woodbridge, 1989), 75-80.


Module Leader

A Protestant Nation? Politics, religion and culture in England 1558-1640, HST247 (Level 2 Option module)

A Protestant Nation? Politics, religion and culture in England 1558-1640, HST247

e accession of Elizabeth I brought with it a church settlement that ensured that England became an officially Protestant country. Yet this settlement could not guarantee that all English people instantly assumed a uniform set of Protestant beliefs and practices. Furthermore, members of the Church, state and laypeople often disagreed about the very nature of changes needed to accommodate the new religion. This is the 'struggle' which we will be charting throughout this course: a contest over the direction of the Protestant Reformation in England, in an era when politics and culture were permeated with religious significance.

Lectures will trace the development of England's contested reformation over the period 1560-1640, whilst seminars consider in more detail how the English people experienced and interpreted these contests. Seminars deploy both secondary reading (generally available electronically) and sources to be made available on the MOLE courseware. We begin by considering the impact of the Reformation in a variety of contexts, considering the power of iconoclasm, changing relations between the laity and the clergy, and the extent to which Protestantism reshaped the culture and beliefs of English people. We examine popular literature and beliefs about the activities of God and the Devil in this world. The second half of the course moves on to consider changing religious identities in post-Reformation England. How did English Catholics refashion their identities now that they belonged to a minority sect, and how do their experiences compare to Protestant separatists who also rejected the mainstream Church of England? How far did anti-Catholicism and anti-separatism define the identity of the Church of England (and indeed the English nation)? What was the nature of Puritanism? And did the Church of England itself ever possess a stable or essential religious identity in this period? We conclude by considering the conflicts within the Church in the decades leading up to the outbreak of the English Civil War.

The Road to Civil War: England, 1621-1642, HST348/349 (Level 3 Special Subject module)

The Road to Civil War: England, 1621-1642, HST348/349

The nature of the origins of the English Civil War has been a matter of fervent historical debate for the last 350 years, and continues to lie at the heart of early Stuart political and intellectual history. Was there a 'high road' or a 'low road' to Civil War? If, like many recent historians, we take the 'low road', and choose to present early Stuart England as politically and ideologically stable, with a 'consensual' political culture, how can we explain the crisis of the 1640s? How effectively did centre and provinces work together in this period? What was the perceived role of parliament and how far was it fulfilled? How far was there a political and cultural division between 'court' and 'country'? What role, if any, did 'public opinion' have to play in the political events of the period? To answer these questions, we need to recreate the political and ideological world which early modern English people inhabited.

In this special subject, students will enter this world partly through the thoughts, actions, and most of all the voluminous correspondence of a single man - one of the foremost and most tragic political figures of the early Stuart period, Sir Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford. Wentworth rose from obscurity during the 1620s through a series of major parliamentary speeches against government policies, only to become the most vigorous minister of Charles I during his Personal Rule. Strafford's public trial in 1641 was one of the great showpieces of English political history, and his subsequent execution for treason arguably marked a decisive turning point in the sequence of events that led to civil war. Thomas Wentworth's enormous collection of some 4,000 letters is housed in Sheffield City Archives, and this voluminous and mostly unstudied correspondence will form one important resource for the investigation of the political world of early Stuart England. But a wide range of other sources will also be studied, from sermons, parliamentary debates and state trials to newsletters, popular pamphlets, ballads and wood-cuts. Most of all, the module will examine contemporary letters, both governmental and personal, to tease out the private and public thoughts of both the major political actors and the 'man in the street'.

Designing a Doctoral Research Project, HST6027 (Postgraduate module)

Designing a Doctoral Research Project, HST6027

This module is designed primarily for students who intend to go on beyond the MA to study for a research degree and hope to apply for external funding. It introduces students to the essential skills of devising, contextualising and organising a research project, including the identification of appropriate source material. Students are given advice on how to present the originality, intellectual purpose and research context of their project and shown how to present their ideas to best effect by writing proposals in the formats required by the major UK funding bodies for the humanities.

Early Modernities, HST6602 (Postgraduate module)

Early Modernities, HST6602

This core module involves a critical analysis of the many ways in which assumptions about the characteristics of `pre-modern´ and `modern´ cultures and societies have shaped historians´ approaches to the early modern period. A series of seminars will introduce students to themes and topics in early modern history, focusing on issues of `individuality´ and `self-hood´ in the early modern period. The sources for writing early modern history will be a complementary focus of the module, which will also introduce students to the technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of a range of pre-modern sources.

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

I have spoken on my current research at an early modern history Subject Day for history school-teachers run by the Prince’s Teaching Institute, and to the Sheffield branch of the Historical Association.

In The Media

When an international conference – with invited delegates from seven countries – was held in Dordrecht (Holland) in April 2006 to celebrate the publication of my second book, The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort, I was interviewed separately by journalists from three Dutch newspapers – Reformatorisch Dagblad, De Dordtenaar, and the Friesch Dagblad – each of which published their interview as a full-page article with photographs. The book and conference were also discussed in Drechtsteden and the Nederlands Dagblad. A copy of the book was also formally presented to an alderman of the city.

My paper at a Leuven conference in 2013 made headline news in the newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad (20 April) under the heading ‘Heidelbergse catechismus populair in Anglicaanse Kerk’

I appeared on the US TV version of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ with the Hollywood actress Ashley Judd.

Administrative Duties

Current Administrative Duties

To follow