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Published in 1983, Alan Dures’s textbook for A Level and undergraduate students English Catholicism, 1558-1642, is something of a minor classic; long out of print, it remains the only textbook on English Catholicism ever written at this level, as an introduction to the field for students just setting out on the academic study of History. Alan Dures and I have just signed a contract with Routledge to bring out a thoroughly revised second edition of this important textbook in Routledge’s Seminar Studies in History series. The second edition will be thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the seismic changes in the historiography of English Catholicism in the last 40 years, and it will (we hope) become a key resource for students developing an interest in the phenomenon of English Catholicism at an early stage in their studies.
The Elizabethan religious settlement of 1559 made English people who continued to adhere to Catholic beliefs and practices a marginalised and legally proscribed minority. The ancestral religion of medieval England became a banned faith. Both Catholic rebellions and papal pronouncements resulted in the enactment of harsh laws against Catholics, and especially against Catholic priests, who adopted a number of inventive ways of surviving the persecution of their faith. In addition to those who refused to attend Protestant worship (recusants) and those who moved overseas in order to practise their faith, some Catholics outwardly conformed to the established church while privately practising their faith. The Catholic church was faced with the very difficult task of ministering to Catholics in secret, supplying priests, and setting up a clandestine ecclesiastical structure under harsh conditions of persecution. Government attitudes towards Catholics varied across the reigns of Elizabeth, James and Charles I, but against all odds, English Catholicism survived in the heart of a Protestant nation. English Catholicism 1558–1642 introduces and makes accessible the complexities of the history of English Catholicism and the Catholic community in the later English Reformation period, presenting a range of primary source documents to support the discussion in the main text.
This is a particularly special project for me because Alan Dures was, in fact, my own History teacher at A Level, and it is thanks to him that I became interested in English Catholicism in the first place.