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John Bramhall (1594 - 1663) was Archbishop of Armagh and a noted Anglican theologian, apologist, and controversialist who doggedly defended the English Church from both Puritan and Roman Catholic accusations, as well as the materialism of Thomas Hobbes.
Bramhall was born in Yorkshire and matriculated to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He was ordained around 1616. He went to Ireland in 1633 with the Earl of Stratford and became the bishop of Derry in 1634. In 1642, he returned to England, but in 1644 he left England for Europe, returning to Ireland only briefly in 1648. During the Interregnum, the royalist Bramhall spent his time primarily in Paris, France. He returned to Ireland after the Restoration, and in 1661 he was rewarded for his faithfulness by elevation to the position of Archbishop of Armagh. As archbishop, Bramhall was responsible for ensuring that the Acts of religious conformity were prosecuted with moderation in Ireland.
Bramhall's greatest historical importance lodges in the writing he did while in exile. While without office, he turned his hand to writing replies to all attacks on the Anglican church. In 1643, he wrote Serpent Salve, a defense of episcopacy and monarchy against the attacks of the Puritan presbyterian model and democracy. He followed this with 1649's Fair Warning against the Scottish Discipline, which was an attack on the weaknesses of the presbyterian model and an excoriation of the Puritan religious claims. He also attacked and defended against Hobbes's Leviathan. In 1655, Bramhall wrote Vindication of True Liberty. Hobbes replied to Bramhall with Animadversions, and Bramhall replied to this with Castigation of Hobbes' Animadversions (with an afterpiece called "The Catching of Leviathan, the Great Whale") in 1658. Additionally, Bramhall attempted to defend the English Church from attacks from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1653, he countered T. B. de la Milletière's restatement of the doctrine of transubstantiation with a reply that restated the justifications of the Anglican doctrine of Real Presence. He also attacked the Ultramontanists of France. Bramhall's A Just Vindication of the Church of England from the Unjust Aspersion of Criminal Schism (1654) was answered by the titular Bishop of Chalcedon, and Bramhall replied to this with Replication in 1656, where he prays that he might live to see the day when all Christian churches united again.
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