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Catholic Culture in Early Modern England

Edited by Ronald Corthell, Frances E. Dolan, Christopher Highley, and Arthur F. Marotti

Publication Year: 2007

This collection of essays explores the survival of Catholic culture in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England—a time of Protestant domination and sometimes persecution. Contributors examine not only devotional, political, autobiographical, and other written texts, but also material objects such as church vestments, architecture, and symbolic spaces. Among the topics discussed in this volume are the influence of Latin culture on Catholic women, Marian devotion, the activities of Catholics in continental seminaries and convents, the international context of English Catholicism, and the influential role of women as maintainers of Catholic culture in a hostile religious and political environment. Catholic Culture in Early Modern England makes an important contribution to the ongoing project of historians and literary scholars to rewrite the cultural history of post-Reformation English Catholicism.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-18

In the early modern period, many kinds of cultural and political struggles that would be articulated later in a more clearly secular vocabulary were couched in religious language and perceived as religious conflicts. After Henry VIII’s break with Rome, the more radical Protestant reign of Edward VI, and the accession of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, who succeeded her Catholic half-sister, Queen Mary, ...

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1. Recusant Catholic Spaces in Early Modern England

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pp. 19-51

The Catholic spaces that I would like to consider here are not restricted to priest holes or secret chapels, although these, of course, survive as moving and eloquent spaces in their own right. (One of the most beautiful of these is the little porch room at Grange Farm, Abbey Dore, Herefordshire, with its repeated “IHS” in the plasterwork, belief woven into the fabric of the house.)1 I am not attempting to describe Townley Hall ...

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2. Women Catholics and Latin Culture

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pp. 52-72

The focus of this essay is on English Catholic culture, but it should not be forgotten that a number of significant Catholic women writers in other parts of Europe, some of whom were in religious orders, also used Latin. They include the humanist nun and Latin poet Suor Lorenza Strozzi1 and Sóror Violante do Céu, who published her Rhythmas varias in Rouen in 1646 and “cultivated the sacred Latin muses.”2 ...

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3. "Rich Embrodered Churchstuffe": The Vestments of Helena Wintour

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pp. 73-116

In November 1668 Jesuit Father George Grey wrote to his provincial to say that he had been to see Helena Wintour, daughter of Gunpowder Plotter Robert, at her home at Badgecourt on the family’s Worcestershire estates. The primary purpose of his visit had been to establish the extent of the bequests Wintour intended to make to the Jesuits in her will, but Grey also made particular mention of the way ...

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4. A Cosmopolitan Court in a Confessional Age: Henrietta Maria Revisited

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pp. 117-134

Queen Henrietta Maria’s life and its impact on English politics provide a striking example of the international dimensions of early modern English Catholic culture, illustrating how difficult it is to discuss this culture in a purely English context. Arguably, her career served to emphasize and even exaggerate the “foreignness” of Catholicism, reopening the latent debate about Catholic loyalty and ...

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5. Gender and Recusant Melancholia in Robert Southwell's Mary Magdalene's Funeral Tears

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pp. 135-157

In her 1994 work The Renaissance Bible, Debora Shuger demonstrates that the Renaissance tradition of Mary Magdalene narratives exemplifies the extent to which “the specter of female desire structures religious (and male) subjectivity.”1 What this provocative formulation really means is that Renaissance Magdalene narratives operate according to a conjunction of Ovidian eroticism, with its emphasis on abandoned, ...

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6. Dame Barbara Constable: Catholic Antiquarian, Advisor, and Closet Missionary

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pp. 158-188

In her forty-six years as an English Benedictine nun, Dame Barbara Constable (1617 ‒ 84) wrote and compiled at least eleven original works and collections (average length, six hundred pages), transcribed twenty-five spiritual works, maintained her community’s register of letters and instructions, and emended scribal copies of contemplative treatises after comparing them to the exemplars at her monastery, Our Lady of Consolation, Cambrai ...

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7. "Now I ame a Catholique": William Alabaster and the Early Modern Catholic Conversion Narrative

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pp. 188-215

Despite recent efforts to restore Catholic writing to the early modern canon, the conversion narrative continues to be understood as a predominantly Protestant genre.1 The scholarly consensus has long held that the earliest forms of English life-writing arose from the Reformation’s emphasis on individual self scrutiny, given an extra push in the mid-seventeenth century by radical Protestant sects who encouraged their members ...

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8. Father John Gerard's Object Lessons: Relics and Devotional Objects in Autobiography of a Hunted Priest

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pp. 216-235

In his Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, probably written in 1609‒10, Father John Gerard documents the difficult and often dangerous existence of Catholics in late Elizabethan England. Recording his experience as a Jesuit missionary, Gerard attends not only to the threats he and his Catholic friends faced but also to the specific practices by which they maintained the traditions of Catholic worship despite their precarious situation. ...

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9. The English Colleges and the English Nation: Allen, Persons, Verstegan, and Diasporic Nationalism

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pp. 235-260

Discussing English Catholic culture in the context of English nationhood would seem to bring together diametrically opposed categories, a perception that has only been reinforced by recent critical work on the early modern English nation. Richard Helgerson’s Forms of Nationhood, for instance, analyzes English Catholic culture solely in terms of the Elizabethan period’s memory of Marian Catholicism, ...

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10. The Lives of Women Saints of Our Contrie of England: Gender and Nationalism in Recusant Hagiography

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pp. 261-280

The advent of English nationalism is often attributed to a specifically Protestant understanding of self and state, as the almost inevitable consequence of the country’s liberation from the homogenizing influence of Rome. But several of the discourses associated with an emerging national identity have antecedents in late medieval traditions as well as adherents among early modern Catholic writers, who ...

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11. Anthony Munday's Translations of Iberian Chivalric Romances: Palmerin of England, Part 1 as Exemplar

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pp. 281-303

As early as 1580, in the midst of Elizabeth’s negotiations with the Duke of Anjou and before the reaction to Edmund Campion’s arrival was full-blown, Anthony Munday announced in the dedication of Zelauto to the Earl of Oxford that his translation of Palmerin of England was under way.1 This initial activity turned into a commitment and enterprise that lasted nearly forty years ...


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pp. 304-306


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pp. 307-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780268076825
E-ISBN-10: 0268076820
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022945
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022941

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 679311690
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Catholic Culture in Early Modern England

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Subject Headings

  • England -- Church history -- 17th century.
  • Catholic Church -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • Catholic Church -- England -- History -- 16th century.
  • Catholic Church -- Customs and practices.
  • England -- Church history -- 16th century.
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