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Catholicism, Citizenship, and Identity: Imprisoned Priests in Elizabethan England

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title
Catholicism, Citizenship, and Identity: Imprisoned Priests in Elizabethan England
author
Wright, Elise Vivian
abstract
A well-founded fear of subversion, usurpation, and rebellion prompted the Elizabethan regime to pass and enforce increasingly stringent laws against expressions of Catholicism. Catholics who adhered to the doctrine of papal supremacy in speech, writing, or action, risked their lives and livelihoods, as well as the lives of their kin and acquaintances. Knowing and embracing the risk of imprisonment, torture, and execution, young Englishmen educated for the priesthood in Catholic seminaries in Douai and Rome returned to their hostile homeland determined to convert their countrymen back to a Catholic faith in the final two decades of the sixteenth century. John Nichols, John Hart, and John Gerard travelled between the Catholic seminaries in Douai and Rome, and the symbolic center of Elizabethan suppression of Catholicism: the Tower of London. The first-person accounts of these three men reveal the content and appeal of the Catholic movement taught in Douai and Rome and influenced by the Society of Jesus. Nichols, Hart, and Gerard understood that their efforts contributed to a multipronged, transnational project to re-Catholicize England by any means necessary, but they considered their efforts the duty of true Englishmen, despite accusations of treason. Lastly, the accounts of these three men provide insight to their struggle and reluctance to live out the ideals of this movement, when the consequences were dire. The Protestant regime in Elizabethan England stifled the ministry of seminary priests by forcing men like Nichols, Hart, and Gerard to adopt self-limiting methods—false personae in person and in print—to evade punishment for treason. However, persecution did not inspire lasting conversions to Protestantism. In some cases, persecution inspired Protestants, even guards, to convert to the religion of their prisoners, ensuring that England would not become a nation of entirely composed of Protestants.
subject
Catholicism
Counter reformation
Elizabethan
England
John Gerard
Seminary Priests
contributor
O'Connell, Monique (advisor)
Epps, Kerri (committee member)
Koscak, Stephanie (committee member)
date
2023-07-25T17:48:38Z (accessioned)
2023-07-25T17:48:38Z (available)
2023 (issued)
degree
Liberal Arts Studies (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/102253 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
type
Thesis

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