The Enlightenment, considered an age of rationalism, is not normally associated with miracles. In this intriguing book, however, Jane Shaw presents accounts of inscrutable miracles that occurred to ordinary worshippers in early modern England. She considers the reactions of intellectuals, scientists, and physicians to these miraculous events and through them explores the relations between popular and elite culture of the time.
Miraculous events in England between the 1650s and the 1750s were experienced mainly not by Catholics, but by Protestants. The book looks at the political and social context of these events as well as interpretations and explanations of them by scientists, the Court, and the Church, as well as by preachers, pamphleteers, friends, and neighbors. Shaw links the lived religion of the time to intellectual history and amends the hitherto received view. The religious practice of ordinary people was as crucial to the development of Enlightenment thought as the philosophical and theological writings of the elite.