Why and with what effects, did the fear of Roman Catholic Influence…
Why and with what effects, did the fear of Roman Catholic Influence increase under the Stuart Monarchs?
Catholic influence within Charles I's court
Charles I and Catholicism
the policies adopted by Charles I in 'reforming' the Church of England on Arminian lines were tactless and naive and his actions outside the Church often fuelled this fire. no doubt Charles remained a faithful Anglican throughout his life, however certain actions hinted towards otherwise. in 1623 he wrote to the Pope asking for permission to marry the Infanta(a daughter of the ruling monarch of Spain or Portugal) after visiting Spain, after this failed he married the Catholic French Princess Henrietta Maria and allowed her to maintain a retinue of Catholic Clergy to serve at Court
in 1624-25 ,any complaint in London about the confidence of Catholics in Court and it was clear that that Catholic Gentry were residing in the City. The survival of Catholic brief was greatest among those who could afford to employ a priest in residence. some noble families kept hold of their faith and used their wealth+influence to support others of their religion that lacked the same facilities. In pockets of the country(Lancashire and other parts of the North particularly) recusancy laws and restrictions on Catholics meetings were only enforced shortly. in London the existence of foreign Merchants and diplomats added to the catholic presence. his accession to the throne and then the Marriage to the Catholic Henrietta Maria rose this tension.
very few of Charles subjects shared the same sentiments as him. this often caused issues as his suggestions often made him seem unaware of the impact that such sentiments had. Charles didn't prevent Henrietta Maria's influence . she not only worshipped as a Catholic but tried to encourage others to join her and allowed her priests to officiate outside her private chapel. After the Duke of Buckingham in 1628, the marriage became closer and Charles enjoyed his Family life. this led to enforcing his natural tendency to be reserved and his ability to explain his actions was a major political weakness.
the promotion of Arminians in the church and at court ,the increasing role taken by Bishops in the Secular Administration and the exclusion of Puritan nobility from office and Influence and appeared to be part of a pattern direct towards some purpose and Charles did nothing to dispel this impression. his authoritarian behaviour towards Parliament, the crisis over the forced loan and the Petition of Right suggested a Desire for the kind of autocratic powers that were increasingly at Exercised by his wife brother in France.
to this was added a style of court the elevated monarchy to a semi religious mystique using an imagery and approach perfected in Catholic Rome. The Catholic painter Peter Paul Rubens was summonded to provide the decorated ceilings and murals in the new banqueting house at Whitehall,and provided the commentary on the glory of monarchy by placing it at the shoulder of God himself. in 1633 he had himself crowned King of Scotland. Charles left the Scottish nobility and Parliament bemused by the pomp and the ceremony he employed. in the mid 1930s high profile members of the Privy Council ,Francis Windeback and Francis Cottington, had Catholic wives. the Royal children and growing numbers of courtiers worshipped in the Queen's Catholic chapel and the King's closest companion, apart from his Catholic Queen, was the papal ambassador George Con.
Outside the court Puritans were often harassed and Catholics left undisturbed. ( a group of Catholics had a monopoly on soap making lots of Money, while regional nobility and gentry were forced to spend their time in localities. Those who protested against this were often punished brutally by the Bishops and Privy Councillors who were involved in the Star Chamber and the Prerogative Courts of High Communion and acted in the King's name. Authoritarian government, lack of Parliaments and overriding of Common law seemed to be leading towards the kind of Absolutism associated with Catholicism.
modern Historians suggest that he was consciously or deliberately attempting to establish an Absolute Monarchy, let alone a Catholic Church in England. The unity of opposition that his errors created in parliament and the Political nation quickly dissipated when there was a need to agree on what should replace the structures of the Personal Rule and by 1642. Charles rallied sufficient support to believe that he could suppress what to him was the Great Rebellion.
within the ranks of royalists, the English Catholics formed a significant and loyal Minority and in both Ireland and western Scotland there were sizeable Catholic armies who played a significant part in the war. Military value came with a cost. the wide spreads fears generated in England by the Irish rebellions in 1641, reinforced by 1645 by the news of the King's correspondence, captured with his baggage train after the Battle of Naseby, revealed plans to use Irish troops in England and an offer to help from the pope. Fears and Prejudices that existed in 1621 were intensified by the events of the personal rule and the struggles that followed while the Political legacy was to bring into sharp focus the perceived links between Absolute Monarchy,the Catholic Church and Tyranny.
the origins and development of anti-Catholicism
in 1621, the House of Commons petitioned James I to take England into the Thirty Years War that had started in 1618 and led to the expulsion of his brother-in-law from his lands in Palestine. This war was fought in order to resist the expansion of Catholic power that seemed to be occurring. Those in the Commons who pushed for war believed that if Catholics were given any power or influence in England, that they would press for toleration and ,if they then got that, they would push for equality. if they then got equality they would then aspire for superior and a destruction of Protestantism.
these views were hold by many in the House of Commons not just the puritan extremists, that the Catholics Church's claim as the only true church intended to destruction of other religions and the absolute control of religious life when it gained it.
this did not necessarily mean hostility towards every individual Catholic as it was mainly the Church as an institution that was feared.However the application of terms such as Popery and papist indicated that every Catholic was suspect if they maintained loyal to the Catholic Church
in 1570 the pope excommunicated Elizabeth I, which imposed on Catholics a duty to withdraw and work for her deposition, if not her death. Many Catholics continued their attendance at a parish church and found ways of combining private worship with loyality to the queen, a minority didn't.
The arrival of priests trained in the English seminary at Douai in France,links established between nobility and Mary, Queen of Scots, the plotting against Elizabeth's life and occasional outright rebellion led to an widespread anti-catholic nature by 1587.The massacre of protestants in France and the Spanish's attempt to invade England in 1588 and the rebellion in Ireland added to the tensions.
the Gunpowder plot of 1605 and the Hapsburg assault on Protestants in Central Europe, which later led to a outbreak of war 1618 also reinforced this. by 1625 most English people shared an intense fear of Catholics.
the exclusion of Catholics from religious toleration
the Civil War and its aftermath
religious toleration was offered by the Rump in the form of the Toleration Act of 1650- removed requirement to attend Anglican church but didn't grant freedom for Catholics
1640s= key decade in the development of toleration ideas- were grounded in Radical Puritanism. for this time, in the context of war, the issues of toleration can be freely and openly debated. in 1644 puritan theologian Robert Williams opened the debate when his call for toleration included the Heretics,blasphemers, Catholics and pagans. Williams emigrated to North America in 1930s during Lauds persecution- most puritans disagreed with him.
first explicit law against Catholics after 1640 was passed by the Long Parliament in August 1643, requiring all Catholics over the age of 21 to swear an oath of Abjuration denying their basic beliefs. if they refused 2/3 of their land and goods would be confiscated. Catholics also required to pay the assessment tax at twice the normal rate.
Oath reissued in 1656 with stricter terms and the Act of Parliament that accompanied it called for the closing down of Catholic chapel in foreign embassies and a fine of £100 for anyone caught worshipping at them. Many Catholics had their estates confiscated after the Civil War and some were left with no option to conform.
Cromwell was not prepared to grant Catholic toleration and even Henry Vane who wrote a pamphlet calling for religious freedom for Catholics in 1652 stated he would not extend it idolaters(those who worship false idols e.g statues of saints revered by Catholics.) most calls for sustained Catholic persecution cited the use of statues and reverence of saints as a primary reason for their continued actions.
Cromwell issued an order in January 1654 stating that the laws against Catholics enacted under Elizabeth I and James I were to continue. a group of Catholics led by three peers met with Cromwell privately to plead restraint. Although Cromwell gave the impression he would resist further limiting Catholics - meeting followed with a proclamation by Cromwell that the laws against Catholic influence in the priesthood be adhered to in April 1655.
in September 1655, report sent to Cromwell that stated 992 people refused to agree to the Oath of Abjuration in Lancashire(more than any county). Contemporaries reported that mass still happened and authorities turned a blind eye to many Catholic practises. Cromwell's Anti-Catholicism is shown in hi friendship with Sir Kenelm Digby a leading catholic in the household of Henrietta Maria.
although persecution of Catholics were clearly widespread, in the years between the end of the First Civil War and the fall of Clarendon in 1667, the problem of Catholic influence was not the major focus of the political battles and religious toleration that dominated affair. The existence of Monarchy itself and the threat posed by unrestricted religious enthusiasm was a far more immediate threat to the moderate majority and their perception of stability.
need a Catholics or the hostility towards them went away but if they remained discreet they were able to worship privately. Irish Catholics entered a further evasion in 1649 but the fighting was between parliament and Royalist armies and despite the supposed massacres of civilians at Drogheda and Wexford the evidence of local records show few civilian deaths. the population probably suffered more from the Land settlement in which Scottish and English soldiers were paid with Irish land.
after the restoration of Charles II, the Catholics in England gained a measure of safety,in some cases a reward for being faithful and a measure of religious freedom because they were other more important issues. in Scotland similar situation occurred as the restored parliament was dominated b y the nobility who' main priority was with limiting the power of the Kirk and suppress rebellious dissenters. Ireland was governed by a governor and the church of Ireland restored, leading to the persecution of Catholic and dissenters.
Anti-Catholic Sentiment 1660-88
Charles II and Catholicism at home
Difficult to assess Charles' motives. There is no doubt that he genuinely opposed persecution in matters of religion and his association with Latitudinarians like Lord Ashley, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1661 indicated his attitude towards dissent was sympathetic. Ashley was one of the Individuals that replaced Clarendon and in 1672 was promoted to the office of Lord Chancellor and created the Earl of Shaftesbury. when Charles was forced to withdraw the indulgence in 1673. Shaftesbury's reservations about the French alliance led to his dismissal and the beginning of the a career in opposition to Royal policy. main reason for this was Charles decision to ally with the Anglican Establishment. This decision and his acceptance of the Test Act (excluding all but Anglicans from public office). whatever his motives were it wasn't strong enough to persuade Charles to risk execution like his father.
from this point the fear of Absolutism and Catholicism increased significantly. Danby created an alliance with the Dutch by marriage between William of Orange and Mary(James's(Duke of York) daughter). the Duke was permitted to marry the Catholic,Mary of Modena in 1673. it was likely that James would succeed his brother as the Queen failed to provide Children. James had two protestant daughters from his marriage with Anne Hyde,that would take the throne if he didn't have a son. there was fears he would produce a son that could grow up to be Catholic. Meanwhile Danby was building up control of Parliament using Royal Patronage and French subsidies. the old equation of Popery with arbitrary government was encouraged by publications like the pamphlet issued by Shaftersbury in 1675, entitled A letter from a Person of Quality to his Friend in the Countryside- argued that Anglican Bishop were promoting persecution of Protestants and Arbitrary government under the guise of protecting the Church.
direction of these events was enough to raise suspicions and rumours. Announcement of a new Declaration of Indulgence 1672 which permitted Catholics from worshipping in private, did not come as a shock. it produced some hostile reactions in Parliament and across the Anglican establishment for two reasons.
dislike of the Kings claim to be able to dispense with the law,rather than any religious toleration that the Declaration had.
Catholic sympathies of both the King and his brother and heir were increasingly apparent.
the Political attitudes and beliefs that were to become Whigs and Tory were beginning to take shape. Whigs= Protestant Majority- tainted by association with dissent. Tories= stood by King and Church-tainted by association with Catholic Absolutism.
no coincidence that the Exclusion Crisis which threatened Charles II, with a repeat of his father's problems in 1640-42, was preceded by the hysteria generated by the Popish plot. perfect opportunity for the Whigs to undermine Danby, remove the threat of a Catholic King and strengthen the rights and independence of Parliamentary government . Charles was able to outmanoeuvre them for a number of reasons,
English course of Ireland and Scotland, established after 1649 and strengthened by the Restoration,enabled him to focus entirely on events in England
the memories of the upheaval and the Protestant extremists of the 1640s and 1650s allowed him to paint the Whigs as potential rebels and regicides, drawing on the loyalty to the crown and the belief that only the crown could guarantee stability.
Charles II was better at politics than his father and was able to use his patience and skill, aided by French subsidies so that he could afford to dissolve Parliament.
in 1683 reinforced by Rye House Plot to assassinate Charles and for the remainder of his life he was able to focus public fears on dissent and away for Catholicism. 1682-86 labelled by some historians as the Second Stuart Absolutism. , in which loyalty to the Church and the King led to the Triennial Act being ignored ,the corporations brought under Tory control and financial independence to be secured by French subsidies. whether it could be extended debatable. rested on two things: the skills and determination of Charles II and the questioning of anti-Catholic fears by focusing on the non-conformist threat. 1685, both lost after the accession of James II.
James II and anti-Catholic sentiment 1685-88
it is unclear whether he decided to extend royal power for his own sake or toleration for all. He had a close friendship with the Quaker William Penn suggesting that he was sincere. it is unclear whether a Catholic monarch would have maintain toleration over a long period of time.
his brother-in-law Louis the fourteenth actions against protestants including the withdrawal of toleration from the protestant Huguenots in 1685 sending a stream of refugees to England raised doubts at the time and contributed significantly to his failure due the the increased fear of Catholics closely linked with Absolute Monarchy.
in comparison to his brothers Charles II aims being very unclear, James policies was very clear he wanted to ensure equality as citizen's for his fellow Catholics by using his power as monarch.This would entail overriding existing laws or ignoring the rights of Parliaments and James didn't seem to care seen in the actions he took from 1685 to 1688.
in 1686 James issued instructions to Bishops for bidding the preacher of anti-catholic sermons, and set up the court of Ecclesiastical Commissions(similar to the prerogative court of High Commission) to oversee enforcement. when Bishop Compton of London refused to suspend a cleric for preaching such a sermon he was suspended by the court. James also set up a licensing office to sell permits to dissenters accepting them from the laws of the Clarendon code. a legal decision was being made in the case of Godden vs Hales confirming the King's right to exempt individuals from Test and Corporation Acts and James used this to force Magdalen College, Oxford to accept a Catholic president despite the opposition of the fellows.
James dismissed his Anglican can advisors the Earls of Clarendon and Rochester( sons of Edward Hyde)and authorised the Earl of Sunderland and Judge Jeffreys(infamous for trials conducted against the Monmouth rebels known as Bloody Assizes) to question JPS and and parliamentary candidates in a campaign to pack the new Parliament with members who would vote in favour of repealing the acts.in 1687 he issued a Declaration of Indulgence allowing both dissenters and Catholics to worship freely. in 1688 another declaration more explicit on the rights of Catholics and allowing dissenters to meet without a specific licence which he ordered to be read from the pulpit of every Parish Church. 7 bishops including the Archbishop of Canterbury petitioned against the order they were tried and acquitted to public celebration.
after the birth of a son to James and Mary of Modena leading to 7 political figures (including 3 Whigs, 3 Anglican Lords and the bishop of London) to write an appeal to William of Orange to invade England and stop any further actions by the King
Charles II and Continental Catholicism
After the Restoration - signs of renewed concerns about Catholics. 166-Great Fire of London- sparked rumours of Catholic Agents at work. War with the Dutch popular the disasters that followed (e.g destruction of the fleet) created a range of reactions. House of Commons blamed and impeached Charles' Chief adviser (Clarendon) and others saw these events as acts of God to dissolute court and the Papists within it.
in 1667, great absolutist Louis XIV tried to invade the Spanish Netherlands and launched an attack on the Dutch, feeding a growing awareness in England that Catholic France was a great threat to English and Protestant independence than the Hapsburg in the Holy Roman Empire and Spain.
in 1668 English diplomats were negotiating a Triple Alliance with Sweden and the United Provinces , Charles was having talks with Louis. Same year Duke of York converted to Catholicism- became public knowledge in 1689. he replaced Clarendon with a group of courtiers including two known Catholics( Clifford and Arrlington). Charles entertained his sister in an extended visit in 1670, signed the Treaty of Dover with France and took a French Mistress.
Charles commitment to the French Alliance-concerned many - his receipts of subsidies created concern that Charles was trying to seek Financial Independence from Parliament. Charles and his subjects were very unaware of a clause on the Treaty in which Charles had to announce his Conversion to Catholicism whenever it was safe to do so.