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Book Report

posted by awelborn

Time for my own.

Last week, I read God’s Agents (still linked over there on the right, as well), which is an excellent account of the Jesuits in England through the reign of Elizabeth up to the Gunpowder Plot.

So you see, it’s not  a general history of Catholics in England during Elizabeth’s reign, nor is it simply focused on Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators. Alice Hogge’s approach is borne of the fact that you can’t really understand the Gunpowder Plot or its consequences for Catholics, and particularly the Jesuits, unless you’ve unpacked the Jesuit mission in England, with a particular eye to the conflict between loyalty to the Queen and loyalty to the Pope that they were forced to confront and which nurtured the suspicion of them over decades. What was interesting to me in the book, among other points, was her elucidation of the conflicts between the Jesuits and other English priests, and the entire, layered complexity of the determination to blame the Plot on the Jesuits.

(Hogge is the descendant of a recusant family, so while she is certainly an objective historian, the understanding of the Catholic position comes through loud and clear).

(You may remember that I asked a couple of weeks ago about fiction rooted in this era. We didn’t come up with many titles, did we? Does anyone else find that odd? You’d think that the high drama of the period – which includes disguises, cunning,ingenious hides (constructed by Nicholas Owen, of course), loyalty oaths, an evil priest-catcher, women crushed under boards, escapes from prison and a dried-up virgin Queen would be the stuff of marvelous fiction. I’d read it. Hey – maybe I’ll write it!)

What was odd, of course, was reading this book about fringe, radical members of a religious minority in England ready and willing to commit a violent act against the people and government, a religious minority whose leader, early on, had, indeed supported the military efforts of other nations to depose the monarch – yes, reading this in the weeks after the London terrorist bombing. Hogge herself addresses the issue in a page or two at the very end- not in relation to the bombings of course, but in relation to the issue of Muslims and violent Islamists in Europe and England in general. Her point? That it is quite possibly for minority resentments to grow to the point of violence, but that the majority walks a fine line in attempting to protect itself, as well.

This is the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot (an interesting nexus for those in London right now) – no coincidental publication of this book, then, I assume!

Here’s a page on the Parliament site on the Plot

And Here’s a list of events commemorating the Plot this year. Interesting.



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Jonathan Carpenter

posted July 31, 2005 at 11:32 pm


What do you think would happen if they talked about “Symbolically” burning Homosexuals or Muslims in Effigy? As in the way they do today in some English towns of Guy Fawkes and his Popish plotters. There would be condemnations from everyone who was anyone. The same does not apply for Catholics. What else can you expect from an country that still prohibits its Royalty from marrying Catholics? Prince William could marry some Moonie, Scientologist or Buddhist and there would be no problem! However, let him marry a Papist and he kisses his throne goodbye. I guess some of this also comes from Catholics who would totally ignore the problem of Anti-Catholicism in our society. That is, until someone burns a cross on their parish lawn. We should do more!



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Rich Leonardi

posted August 1, 2005 at 7:13 am


And in this case the oppressed minority — Catholics — wasn’t really a minority at all. Geoffrey Moorhouse’s book Pilgrimage of Grace documents the counter-revolution in the northern counties of England that nearly toppled Henry VIII. But for his cunning (he duped the revolution’s leader into meeting him face-to-face to establish a truce to buy himself some time), Moorhouse asserts the Pilgrimage’s army could have headed south and toppled the regime. All of which goes to show that Henry’s new religion was imposed from above, a detail which adds color to any consideration of the Gunpowder Plot or Moslem terrorists.



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Sandra Miesel

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:13 am


And if good ole St. Pius V hadn’t issued a papal bull both excommunicating and “deposing” Elizabeth, the worst anti-Catholic laws wouldn’t have been passed. Idiots fomenting “popish plots” certainly made the situation worse.
Yes, the English Reformation was imposed–in stages–from above against the wishes of the majority.



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Julia

posted August 1, 2005 at 10:41 am


“Faith and Treason” by Lady Antonia Fraser isn’t fiction, but it is surely exciting to read.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385471904/qid=1122910777/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-2152522-1995111?v=glance&s=books



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Der Tommissar

posted August 1, 2005 at 10:45 am


(You may remember that I asked a couple of weeks ago about fiction rooted in this era. We didn’t come up with many titles, did we? Does anyone else find that odd? You’d think that the high drama of the period – which includes disguises, cunning,ingenious hides (constructed by Nicholas Owen, of course), loyalty oaths, an evil priest-catcher, women crushed under boards, escapes from prison and a dried-up virgin Queen would be the stuff of marvelous fiction. I’d read it. Hey – maybe I’ll write it!)
That would require someone well versed in English History (Robin Hood, Cromwell, Jack the Ripper), and who could conceive of portraying a Catholic as the hero of the piece.
What’s Derbyshire doing?



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Der Tommissar

posted August 1, 2005 at 10:47 am


(You may remember that I asked a couple of weeks ago about fiction rooted in this era. We didn’t come up with many titles, did we? Does anyone else find that odd? You’d think that the high drama of the period – which includes disguises, cunning,ingenious hides (constructed by Nicholas Owen, of course), loyalty oaths, an evil priest-catcher, women crushed under boards, escapes from prison and a dried-up virgin Queen would be the stuff of marvelous fiction. I’d read it. Hey – maybe I’ll write it!)
That would require someone well versed in English History (Robin Hood, Cromwell, Jack the Ripper), and who could conceive of portraying a Catholic as the hero of the piece.
What’s Derbyshire doing?



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James Kabala

posted August 1, 2005 at 11:06 am


Geoffrey: In 1535, Catholics were not a minority, but by 1605, they were.
Re historical fiction: Norman Davies, in his book THE ISLES,* observes that in general the English have not produced very much good historical fiction – almost none at all, since Sir Walter Scott was not an Englishman but a Scot.
* A book which I do not otherwise recommend – it’s full of errors.



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James Englert

posted August 1, 2005 at 11:46 am


It is surprising nonethless that there are no historical novels about this period. Even though the great 19th century English novels don’t belong to the historical genre, plenty of novelists, mostly though not all minor, tried their hand at it — besides Scott, there is George Eliot’s Romola; Newman’s Callista; Charles Reade’s Cloister and the Hearth, about Erasmus; Charles Kingsley; James Anthony Froude; Marryat, Ainsworth, etc. There’s also the whole gothic novel genre (The Monk, Mysteries of Udolpho, etc) which generally takes place in medieval period, and are often anti-Catholic. Given the Catholic-Protestant controverises of mid-19th c. Britain, the 16th century conflicts would seem to have offered a good setting to argue those things out, but I can’t really think of any. In non-fiction literature, on the other hand, the conflicts were addressed more directly in histories by Froude, Macauley, Carlyle, etc., which had great popular audiences.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 1, 2005 at 5:58 pm


Well, there’s always Kidnapped.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 1, 2005 at 9:25 pm


“And if good ole St. Pius V hadn’t issued a papal bull both excommunicating and “deposing” Elizabeth, the worst anti-Catholic laws wouldn’t have been passed.”
Perhaps not under Elizabeth, but passed they would have been eventually as Puritan strength waxed in Parliament. As Catholic strength waned throughout the seventeenth century in England, and any possible Catholic “threat” was only a fantasy of Protestant paranoia, the Puritans and other Protestant extremists could always be relied upon to press fanatically for ever more draconian measures against English Catholics.



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St. Joe's Dog

posted August 2, 2005 at 9:23 pm


Try Come Rack! Come Rope! by Robert Hugh Benson
http://www.blackmask.com/thatway/books180c/rackdex.htm
or download at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/15992



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PMC

posted August 2, 2005 at 10:03 pm


I second Julia’s recommendation of Fraser’s fine and readable history.



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Stephanie

posted August 29, 2005 at 7:06 pm


There are several historical novels set in the Reformation period:
Robert Hugh Benson’s Come Rack, Come Rope and By What Authority are set in the Elizabethan era; his The King’s Achievement recounts the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as does H.F.M. Prescott’s great Man on A Donkey.
Ignatius Press publishes The Time Before You Die by Lucy Beckett.
A wonderful novel Image published years ago is Superstition Corner by Sheila Kaye-Smith.
There are a few others, but this list is a start.



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Stephanie

posted September 10, 2005 at 10:10 am


One more historical novel, recommended by Joseph Pearse: Robert Peckham by Maurice Baring
Baring was a convert and friend of Chesterton and Belloc. He wrote this novel based on the very poignant grave marker in a church in Rome: Robert Peckham had to leave England because he could not live there without the Faith; he died in Rome because he could not live without England.



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