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5. From Majority to Minority: The Catholic Experience


Seminar Overview:

In this seminar we return to the theme of Catholics and Catholicism, with a particular focus on the emergence of a distinct Catholic ‘community’ in the years after 1570. We will review debates about ‘continuity’ versus ‘discontinuity’ in the history of Catholicism, about the role of gender, and about the nature and scale of ‘recusancy’ and so-called ‘church papistry’. The question of why many historians now see Catholics as a central rather than marginal topic for the religious and political history of Elizabeth’s reign will be a central point of discussion.

Questions for discussion:

- How important was the role played by women in the survival of Catholicism in England after 1570?

- Is ‘Catholic loyalism’ a contradiction in terms?


Seminar Reading:

*Binczewski, Jennifer, Power in vulnerability: widows and priest holes in the early modern English Catholic community', British Catholic History, 35 (2020)

*Bossy, John, ‘The Character of Elizabethan Catholicism’, in Trevor Aston, ed., Crisis in Europe 1560-1660 (London, 1965)

Bossy, John, The English Catholic Community 1570-1850 (London, 1975)

Carafiello, Michael, ‘English Catholicism and the Jesuit Mission of 1580-81’, Historical Journal, 37 (1994)

Dillon, Anne, The Construction of Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community 1535-1603 (Aldershot, 2002)

Duffy, Eamon, Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants and the Conversion of England (London, 2017), chs. 5-7

*Haigh, Christopher, ‘From Monopoly to Minority: Catholicism in Early Modern England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser. 31 (1981)

Haigh, Christopher, ‘Revisionism, the Reformation, and the History of English Catholicism’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 36 (1985)

Haigh, Christopher, The Plain Man’s Pathways to Heaven: Kinds of Christianity in Post-Reformation England (Oxford, 2007), chap.9 [E]

Highley, Christopher, Catholics Writing the Nation in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2008)

Houliston, Victor, Catholic Resistance in Elizabethan England: Robert Persons’s Jesuit Polemic, 1580-1610 (Aldershot, 2007)

*Kaushik, Sandeep, ‘Resistance, Loyalty and Recusant Politics: Sir Thomas Tresham and the Elizabethan State’, Midland History, 21 (1996)

Peter Lake, ‘The King (the Queen) and the Jesuit: James Stuart’s True Law of Free Monarchies in Context/s’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser., 14 (2004)

Lake Peter, Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Oxford, 2016)

Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, ‘Agency, Appropriation and Rhetoric under the Gallows: Puritans, Romanists and the State in Early Modern England’, Past and Present, 153 (1996)

Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, ‘Prisons, Priests and People’, in Nicholas Tyacke, ed., England’s Long Reformation 1500-1800 (London, 1998)

*Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, ‘Margaret Clitherow, Catholic nonconformity, martyrology and the politics of religious change in Elizabethan England’, Past and Present, 185 (2004)

Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, The Trials of Margaret Clitherow: Persecution, Martyrdom and the Politics of Sanctity in Elizabethan England (London, 2011)

*McClain, Lisa, Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829 (New York, 2018), esp. ch. 2

Marshall, Peter, ‘Confessionalization and Community in the Burial of English Catholics, c.1570–1700’, in Nadine Lewicky and Adam Morton, eds., Getting Along? Religious Identities and Confessional Relations in Early Modern England (Farnham, 2012)

Marshall, Peter, Faith and Identity in a Warwickshire Family: The Throckmortons and the Reformation, Dugdale Society Occasional Paper, 49 (2010)

Marshall, Peter, ‘John Calvin and the English Catholics, c. 1565-1640’, Historical Journal , 53 (2010).

Marshall, Peter, and Scott, Geoffrey, eds., Catholic Gentry in English Society: The Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation in Emancipation (Farnham, 2009)

McCoog, Thomas, The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England 1541-1588 (Leiden, 1996)

McGrath, Patrick, ‘Elizabethan Catholicism: a Reconsideration’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 35 (1984)

McGrath, Patrick and Rowe, Joy, ‘The Marian Priests under Elizabeth I’, Recusant History, 17 (1984-5)

McGrath, Patrick, ‘The Imprisonment of Catholics for Religion under Elizabeth I’, Recusant History, 20 (1991)

Mullett, Michael, Catholics in Britain and Ireland 1558-1829 (Basingstoke, 1998)

Pritchard, Arnold, Catholic Loyalism in Elizabethan England (London, 1979)

Questier, Michael, Conversion, Politics and Religion in England, 1580-1625 (Cambridge, 1996)

Questier, Michael, ‘Elizabeth and the Catholics’, in Ethan Shagan, ed), Catholics and the `Protestant Nation’: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England (Manchester, 2005)

Questier, Michael, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England: Politics, Aristocratic Patronage and Religion, c. 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 2006)

*Rowlands, Marie, ‘Recusant Women 1560-1640’, in Mary Prior, ed., Women in English Society 1500-1800 (London, 1985)

Rowlands, Marie, ‘Hidden People: Catholic Commoners, 1558-1625’, in Rowlands, ed., English Catholics of Parish and Town 1558-1778 (Catholic Record Society, 1999)

Sheils, W. J., ‘Catholics and their Neighbours in a Rural Community: Egton Chapelry 1590-1780’, Northern History, 25 (1998)

*Sheils, W. J., ‘The Catholic Community’, in Susan Doran and Norman Jones, eds., The Elizabethan World (London, 2011)

Shell, Alison, Oral Culture and Catholicism in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2007)

*Walsham, Alexandra, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge, 1993)

Walsham, Alexandra, ‘“Domme Preachers”? Post-Reformation English Catholicism and the Culture of Print’, Past and Present, 168 (2000)

Walsham, Alexandra, ‘Unclasping the Book? Post-Reformation English Catholicism and the Vernacular Bible’, Journal of British Studies, 42 (2003)

Walsham, Alexandra, ‘Translating Trent? English Catholicism and the Counter Reformation’, Historical Research, 78 (2005)

Walsham, Alexandra, Catholic Reformation in Protestant Britain (Farnham, 2014), esp. ch. 1

*Younger, Neil, ‘How Protestant was the Elizabethan Regime?’’ English Historical Review, 133 (2018), 1060-92.



‘Alban Langdale’s defence of Conformity, 1580’, Robert S. Miola, ed., Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Oxford, 2007), pp. 71-5 (for ebook see the Reading list)

‘Extracts from Robert Persons’ Brief Discourse... why Catholiques refuse to goe to church’ (Douai [i.e. East Ham], 1580): See HERE

‘Extracts from Burghley’s Execution of Justice and William Allen’s response’, EHD, pp. 809-18: See HERELink opens in a new window and HERELink opens in a new window

‘John Mush’s True Report of Margaret Clitherow’, Robert S. Miola, ed., Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Oxford, 2007), pp. 138-45 (for ebook see the Reading list)

‘Certificate of Recusancy in Warwickshire, 1593’, EHD, pp. 1152-4 [2]. See HERELink opens in a new window