1st Edition

British Protestant Missions and the Conversion of Europe, 1600–1900

Edited By Simone Maghenzani, Stefano Villani Copyright 2021
    302 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book is the first account of British Protestant conversion initiatives directed towards continental Europe between 1600 and 1900.

    Continental Europe was considered a missionary land—another periphery of the world, whose centre was imperial Britain. British missions to Europe were informed by religious experiments in America, Africa, and Asia, rendering these offensives against Europe a true form of "imaginary colonialism". British Protestant missionaries often understood themselves to be at the forefront of a civilising project directed at Catholics (and sometimes even at other Protestants). Their mission was further reinforced by Britain becoming a land of compassionate refuge for European dissenters and exiles. This book engages with the myth of International Protestantism, questioning its early origins and its narrative of transnational belonging, while also interrogating Britain as an imagined Protestant land of hope and glory.

    In the history of western Christianities, "converting Europe" had a role that has not been adequately investigated. This is the story of the attempted, and ultimately failed, effort to convert a continent.


    Section I. Missionary Models

    1. ‘One World is not enough’: the ‘myth’ of Roman Catholicism as a ‘World Religion’

    Simon Ditchfield

    2. The Jesuits have shed much blood for Christ’: Early Modern Protestants and the Problem of Catholic Overseas Missions

    John Coffey

    Section II. The Origins of Global Protestantism

    3. (Re)making Ireland British: Conversion and Civility in a Neglected 1643 Treatise

    Joan Redmond

    4. Charting the ‘Progress of Truth’: Quaker Missions and the Topography of Dissent in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe

    Sünne Juterczenka

    5. The English and the Italian Bible

    Simone Maghenzani

    Section III. Missions and Church Unifications in the Age of the Enlightenment

    6. "True Catholic Unity": The Church of England and the Project for Gallican Union, 1717-1719

    Catherine Arnold

    7. "Promoting the Common Interest of Christ" H.W. Ludolf’s ‘impartial’ Projects and the Beginnings of the SPCK

    Adelisa Malena

    8. Between Anti-popery and European Missions: The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and its Networks

    Sugiko Nishikawa

    Section IV. A British Missionary Land

    9. The Evangelical Transformation of British Protestantism for Mission

    David Bebbington

    10. The London Jews’ Society and the Roots of Premillenialism, 1809-1829

    Brent S. Sirota

    11. Missions on the Fringes of Europe: British Protestants and the Orthodox Churches, c. 1800-1850

    Gareth Atkins

    Section V. Making Propaganda, Making Nations

    12. Sermons in Stone: Architecture and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts within the Diocese of Gibraltar, c.1842-1882

    G. Alex Bremner

    13. The Land of Calvin and Voltaire: British Missionaries in Nineteenth-century Paris

    Michael Ledger-Lomas


    Simone Maghenzani is Dame Marilyn Strathern Lecturer in History, and a Fellow and Director of Studies at Girton College, University of Cambridge.

    Stefano Villani is Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    ‘The richness of the various essays in this volume underlines the need to revisit the history of missions in a broader and more comprehensive framework than that traditionally offered by the history of religion. Maghenzani and Villani have offered a valuable contribution to the study of a historical problem whose importance goes beyond the sphere of religious history -- in itself very significant -- and stretches to crucial aspects of the making of the modern world.’ - Eugenio F. Biagini, Rivista Storica Italiana, 134/1, 2022.

    ‘With this volume on the history of British Protestant missionary initiatives in continental Europe, Simone Maghenzani and Stefano Villani have made an important contribution to the methodological renewal and expansion of studies in this field of historical research.’ - Massimo Rubboli, Riforma e Movimenti Religiosi, 10, 2021.