Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Historical and Political Writings > Peter Heylyn
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IX. Historical and Political Writings.

§ 6. Peter Heylyn.


One historian of note remains to be mentioned, before we pass from England to Scotland and Ireland. Peter Heylyn loved learning from his youth; but his belief in the value of discipline can hardly have exceeded his craving for publicity. He began his career as a historical writer in 1621 with the publication of his Geography, a subject on which, as connected with history, he had lectured at Oxford in his eighteenth year, and which, with the aid of some experience of travel, he afterwards developed into that of his Cosmography. He had been king’s chaplain for many years, as well as a prebendary of Westminster, when his personal troubles began with the downfall of Laud, whose ecclesiastical policy he had supported; and he was brought up before the Commons as having helped to get up the case against the author of Histriomastix. After the civil war broke out, he was commissioned to keep a record of public occurrences in Mercurius Aulicus; but he speedily lost his benefice (Alresford) with his house and library; nor was it till 1656 that he could again venture to come to the front. In 1659, he published his Examen Criticum, the first part of which adversely criticised Fuller’s Church History, but the pair managed to make friends. His next controversy was with Baxter.   11
  When the restoration came, Heylyn returned into residence at Westminster, and the brief remainder of his life was spent in tranquillity. His pen continued active to the end. In 1661, he brought out his chief work, Ecclesia Restaurata, or The History of the Reformation, which passed through several editions. This book, which carries on the history of the church of England from the accession of Edward VI to the Elizabethan settlement (1566), is notable as an attempt to view the changes effected by the reformation with as much of impartiality as was to be expected from a prelatist opposed to reunion with Rome. Among Heylyn’s writings published posthumously are Cyprianus Anglicus, or The History of the Life and Death of Archbishop Laud (1668), defending him against Prynne’s elaborate invective, and described by Creighton as “the chief authority for Laud’s personal character and private life”; and Aerius Redivivus, or The History of Presbyterianism (1670), which traces back to Calvin the origin of puritanism, here described as the source of England’s internal troubles. This remarkable man was no bigot, and was capable of looking on things as a historian rather than as a professional apologist; but controversy was irresistible to him, and apt to expand and multiply in his hands like a river plant in its favourite waters.   12

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