This article examines the Family of Love in sixteenth-century England, especially the period of intense hostility it engendered from 1578 to 1581. During these years, foesattacked this minor sect as a significant threat to the English church and state. The decline in the assault upon the Family has been attributed by many historians to a concurrent decline in the sect. However, recent research has demonstrated that the Family survived even after 1581, requiring a new explanation for the end of the attacks. The outburst of hostility was an element in a wider struggle for political influence which began with the fall of Archbishop Grindal in 1577. Puritans sought to magnify the threat posed by the apparently Catholic Family to indirectly assail their conservative enemies. The attacks ended not because of the elimination of the Family, but due to a political shift which allowed conservatives to silence their puritan foes.
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