The English Catholic issue, 1640-1662: factionalism, perceptions and exploitation
This thesis explores the responses of different groups within the English Catholic community to the civil war, interregnum and restoration, with close attention to Catholic political theory. The English Catholic community were not mere observers of the constitutional and religious changes made during this period but manoeuvred within shifting political frameworks, continually adjusting their politics to meet new requirements. After the defeat and the execution of Charles I, members of the community made a series of compromises with political parties to secure toleration. Until the Restoration these were almost all to the exclusion of the Stuarts. Catholic political theorists engaged with the pro-sectarian, tolerationist principles of the parliamentary Independents during the first part of the Interregnum, but after the failure of the Cromwellian Church settlement in 1655 began to interact with anti-sectarian proepiscopal groups during the decline of the Protectorate. Further, the community’s membership of an international church, their ideological assumptions and patronage from, and allegiances to, European courts meant that English Catholics had to be an integral part of Cromwellian foreign policy. The 1650s did not signify a break in the politics and ambition of the community but instead saw a continuation of the divisions, back-biting and intolerance that Catholics had shown during the 1620s and 1630s. Due to the factional nature of both the politics of the interregnum and the community itself however, English Catholics stood to gain more from the Protectorate than they did from the Stuart monarchy. This thesis therefore reintegrates English Catholicism into the existing historiography of mid-seventeenth century British history.
AuthorsTompkins, Alexandra Kate
- Theses