Rethinking Iconoclasm in Early Modern England: the Case of Cheapside Cross

in Journal of Early Modern History
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Abstract

Protestant iconoclasm has generally been understood as an assault on the beliefs and practices of traditional religion. This article challenges that understanding through a detailed study of Cheapside Cross, a large monument that was repeatedly attacked by iconoclasts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It draws on contemporary pamphlets and the manuscripts records of the City of London to reveal the complex variety of associations that Cheapside Cross acquired before and during the Reformation era. It argues that perceptions of the monument were shaped not only by its iconography but also by its involvement in ceremonies and rituals, including royal coronation processions. The iconoclastic attacks on Cheapside Cross should be interpreted not merely as a challenge to traditional beliefs but as attempts to restructure the monument's associations. The paper concludes that attacks on other images may be understood in a similar manner.

Rethinking Iconoclasm in Early Modern England: the Case of Cheapside Cross

in Journal of Early Modern History

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