The history of the 16th and 17th century Dutch heresy hated by both Protestants and Catholics, but influenced by both. The mystery which surrounded the heterodox sect known as the Family of Love has been a source of endless fascination to scholars. On the one hand some of the greatest humanists of the late 16th century were associated with it : the printer Christophe Plantin, the cartographer Abraham Ortelius, the philosopher and philologist Justus Lipsius and the Spanish biblical scholar Benito Arias Montano. On the other it acquired a sinister reputation for antinomianism, particularly in England where it survived into the 17th century and, as a spiritual movement, took its place amongst the non-conformist movements under the Commonwealth.
Professor Hamilton's is the first comprehensive study to connect the Family of Love in England with the sect on the continent. Working from extensive primary sources in Holland, Belgium, Great Britain and the United States, he provides a detailed study of the careers and thought of the two main ideologists of the sect, the founder Hendrik Niclaes and his schismatic follower Hendrik Jansen van Barrefet (Hiel). He gives a lucid account of the various humanists connected with the movement, and analyses in depth the ramifications of the Family of Love not only in the Low Countries but also in France, Germany and England.
The Family of Love is at once, a readable, and a definitive history of a neglected but significant sect in Europe.
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Alastair Hamilton was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. Formerly Professor of English at the University of Urbino, he is now Professor of Radical Reformation History at the University of Amsterdam and The C.L. Thijsen-Schoute Professor of the History of Ideas at the University of Leiden. His numerous published works in Britain and abroad include articles on Spanish, English and Dutch ecclesiastical history as well as several major books on a diversity of historical subjects.
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