Been doing a lot of reading online. So far my first look into America’s heritage from sixteenth-century England tells me that the Tudors, all of them, were pretty much a disaster from the standpoing of separation of church and state. It looks like a particular focus for this phase of the project will have to be on the reigns of Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth.
It’s also interesting to note that until Elizabeth, none of the Tudor rulers of England seemed to have much interest in the New World. Henry VII was too stingy to spend money on what must have seemed like insane gambles to him; Henry VIII was too busy spending money on himself and on his on-again, off-again war with France; Edward VI (well, actually his two Lord Protectors) inherited an economy too crippled to support that sort of thing; and Mary had no need to acquire a network of overseas colonies since she was married to the King of Spain, who already ruled something like one-fifth of the surface of the globe. Even Elizabeth treated the early Virginia colonies as interesting side projects but despite having what seems to have been a pretty healthy Exchequer and a strong economy, she did not put significant resources behind exploration or colonization of the New World. Major English efforts to colonize the Americas didn’t really get underway until the Stuarts came to power in the early 17th century.
I’ll have to consider how the English late start in the colonization game, and the shift away from the Tudor tendency to amalgamate ecclesiastical power in the throne, played together in the minds of Englishmen in general, and the American colonists in particular. I’m also thinking I’ll probably have to devote a whole chapter to Roger Williams.
I’ve not done exhaustive book scholarship yet, and I know I’ll have to in order to the project through to a proper conclusion. But right now I want to get at least a skeleton put down in paper, and use research to flesh it out later. Seems to me the important part of the project is getting a first draft in place — I know much of the material already and I can back-fill in the research once I’ve got a rough outline. All you writers and scholars out there — do you think this is the right approach?