Religion

From an early date London developed a rich and varied religious culture. The presence of 112 parish churches within the City and another nine in nearby suburbs provided a dense framework for worship. Since these parishes tended to be relatively well endowed, they attracted a clergy of above average quality, who in turn provided a regular diet of sermons. A number of endowed lectureships further contributed to the supply of religious instruction, as did the public sermons preached at Paul's Cross, an open air pulpit in the yard of the Cathedral. Since literacy was also higher in London than most places -- probably two thirds of male inhabitants could read by the early seventeenth century -- the city's residents were also better equipped to participate in a Protestant culture focused on the Bible and a sermon literature printed on London presses and sold by London stationers. All this helps explain why London became an early center of Protestantism and Puritanism.  Some parishes, like that of Coleman Street in the northern precincts of the City, became centers of religious radicalism. Not all Londoners were Puritans or even Protestants, however; there was also a Catholic religious geography.  The religious diversity of the London population was a key element in lively and contentious political culture that developed in the metropolis, with its sharp partisan divisions and volatile crowds.

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