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774book reviews Robert Parsons and English Catholicism, 1580-1610. By Michael L. Carrafiello. (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press; London:Associated University Press. 1998. Pp. 186. $34.50.) The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of scholarly interest in Robert Parsons. Victor Houliston's preparation of a critical edition of Parsons's most influential work, best known as The Christian Directory but initially published as Thefirst booke of the Christian exercise (n.p. [Rouen], 1582), has generated a few articles. John Bossy has re-examined the source of much of Parsons's subsequent notoriety: his political activities in the early 1580's (e.g., their articles in The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, SJ. [Woodbridge, 1996]). Two full-scale biographies have finally appeared: Robert Persons 'el architraidor': Su vida y su obra (1546-1610) (Madrid, 1990) by Federico Eguiluz and Robert Persons: The Biography ofan Elizabethanfesuit (St. Louis, 1995) by Francis Edwards. Parsons also played a not insignificant role in my The Society ofJesus in Ireland, Scotland , and England, 1541-1588: "Our Way ofProceeding?" (Leiden, 1996, reviewed by Dr. Carrafiello in this journal ante, LXXXIII [October, 1997], 805-806). Unfortunately, this renaissance has passed generally unnoticed by Dr. Carrafiello.With the exception of Edwards' biography and my history,which are acknowledged in one footnote with the curt comment, "Jesuit historians like McCoog and Edwards have downplayed the political activism of their clerical predecessors" (p. 149, n. 3), Carrafiello discusses none of the above works. Indeed , only five works published since the completion of his doctoral thesis in 1987 are listed in the bibliography. Instead of building his position on a critical examination of the above-mentioned works and observing the new directions in recusant historiography charted by recent research of Alexandra Walsham, Michael Questier, Peter Lake, and others, the author situates his discussion of Parsons in the context of the Christopher Haigh and Patrick McGrath debate over revisionism in the mid-1980's and discusses anachronistic issues, e.g., why a "political biography of Parsons has not surfaced" (p. 1 1). The author's sins of omission, unfortunately, are not restricted to secondary literature. In an "Appendix on Sources," Carrafiello says nothing about the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, the single most important archives for a study of Parsons. Thus he ignores many important letters from Parsons to Claudio Acquaviva, the Jesuit Father General, from the early 1580's—letters discovered since Leo Hicks's edition of Parsons's pre-1589 correspondence in 1942—and from the 1590's. The archives at Stonyhurst College, although mentioned in the appendix, were not consulted. Instead he relied on photocopies at the Jesuit Provincial Archives in London because "the original collection at Stonyhurst is not open to the lay public or to the academic community at large"—an allegation easily refuted by many scholars who have ventured into the Lancashire countryside to peruse its manuscripts. Given these limitations, it is not surprising that "the prevailing view of Parsons" (p. 14) challenged by the author is no longer prevalent. Only uninformed"Current opinion on Parsons de- BOOK REVIEWS775 clares that he was an ardent and monolithic supporter of Spain from the moment of his arrival in England in the 1 580s" (p. 13); the better informed would have read A. Lynn Martin's seminal treatment of Parsons's "Scottish strategy" and subsequent involvement with the Catholic League in France (Henry III and the fesuit Politicans [Geneva, 1973])· Useful summaries ofA conference about the next succession to the crowne oflngland (n.p., 1594), uncritically attributed to Parsons despite scholarly disagreement, and the "Memorial for the Reformation of England" are vitiated by unsubstantiated assertions: e.g., the top priority of theJesuit mission to England was "toppling" the Elizabethan regime (p. 23), and reliance on misdated documents (see my reply, ante [April, 1998] , 302-304). Thomas M. McCoog, SJ. fesuitArchives, London Landmarking: City, Church &fesuit Urban Strategy. By Thomas M. Lucas, SJ. (Chicago: Loyola Press. 1997. Pp. xvi, 244. $34.95.) Two distinct areas of inquiry—the history of the Society ofJesus and the history of Roman urbanism—meet in Thomas M. Lucas's Landmarking in a rare co-operative venture. On the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 774-775
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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