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17th-century Ranter

Who was Abiezer Coppe?

Published: January 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm
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The Ranters were the most radical of all the sects that flourished during the English Civil War. Abiezer Coppe was probably the most extravagant of the Ranters.
A preacher and former army chaplain, he came to believe that conventional morality did not apply to him. “I can if it be my will,” he wrote, “kiss and hug ladies, and love my neighbour’s wife as my self, without sin.” He took to preaching in the nude and haranguing anyone who would listen (and many who wouldn’t) about the need to bring down the ‘Great Ones of the Earth’.
Arrested, Coppe feigned madness at his trial, yelling wildly and flinging fruit about the courtroom, but was nonetheless sent to prison. Released after recanting his heretical views, he retired into obscurity.

Answered by: Nick Rennison


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