Protestant Propaganda in a Cold War of Religion: From the Hartlib Circle to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

in Lithuanian Historical Studies
AutorIn: Sugiko Nishikawa
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This article considers how, impelled by confessional divisions caused by the Reformation, a general sense of pan-Protestant community grew across Europe, and its members launched a long battle against Roman Catholicism far beyond the 16th century. Indeed, it continued into the mid-18th century, the so-called Age of Reason. If it cannot necessarily be described as an open war of religion like the Thirty Years War, it was at least a cold war. From their points of view, the Protestant minorities threatened by the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation, such as the Waldensians in northern Italy and the Lithuanian Calvinists, stood on the front line in this war. Thus, financial support was regularly offered by the Protestant churches in Great Britain and Ireland to their distressed brethren across the continent, university scholarships were set up for students from Catholicdominated areas, and plans were drafted for a Protestant union in Europe, from a military level to an ecclesiastical one. It is in this context that we must understand how apparently strange a phenomenon as British support for the translation of the Bible into Lithuanian developed. The author sees Chylinski’s activities in the tradition of learning and charity exhibited in the 1650s by the three leading members of the Hartlib philosophical circle, namely, Samuel Hartlib (originally from Elbing), Jan Amos Comenius (from Moravia), and John Dury (born in Edinburgh, he spent his early life in various places in northern Europe), who were, in a sense, Protestant refugees to England from north-central Europe. After Chylinski, British support for Lithuanian Protestants did not end. She traces the work of Robert Boyle and the foundation of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1699), which organised relief for Žemaitijan Calvinists in the early 1730s.


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