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If Herbert Butterfield was right to argue, in 1931, that the outlook of English historians had been largely that of the Protestant gentleman (he might better have said of the Protestant Dissenter), it may be that these attitudes have since been secularized rather than superseded.. . . Academics lament the fate of the marginalized and excluded, but make fashionable the Protestant Dissenters rather than the Catholic ones. Gabrielle Spiegel, a recent President of the American Historical Association, correctly points to the burgeoning field of diaspora studies; but secular historians foreground Protestant groups like the Huguenots, overlooking that larger and longer Catholic diaspora from the British Isles between the 1530s and the 1790s which created a lasting cultural and political network across Europe. Historians of literacy generally celebrate the spread of the printing press in the same breath as Protestantism andgunpowder, but (before Eamon Duffy) said less about the old religion and its international literature. Feminist historians honour their adoptive precursors who maintained themselves by their pens, but until recently passed over the much larger number who arguably achieved an independent voice, and insulation from patriarchy, as nuns.

In these secularized scenarios, English Catholics were airbrushed out or appeared as stage villains, paying a historiographical as well as a political price for backing a series of losing horses: the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Gunpowder Plot, Charles I, successive Jacobite conspiracies. — Jonathan Clarke


A contemporary picture of No Popery protests. [Click for larger image]

Movements, Parties and Groups in the Church


Historical Events Concerning Victorian Catholicism in the U. K.

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Clark, Jonathan. "Did Butterfield write in vain?" Times Literary Supplement (15 January 2010): 11-12. Clark reviews Gabriel Glckman's The English Catholic Community, 1688-1745 and Steve Pincus's 1688: The Firdst Modern Revolution.

Last modified 11 October 2022