No King, No Popery: Anti-Catholicism in Revolutionary New England

No King, No Popery: Anti-Catholicism in Revolutionary New England

No King, No Popery: Anti-Catholicism in Revolutionary New England

No King, No Popery: Anti-Catholicism in Revolutionary New England

Synopsis

This book explores the complex relationship between anti-Catholicism, or anti-popery to use the contemporary term, and the American Revolution in New England. Anti-Catholicism was among the most common themes in colonial New England culture. Nonetheless, New Englanders entered into an alliance with French Catholics against Protestant Britons during the American Revolution. As New Englanders traditionally associated Catholicism with tyranny and oppression, they were able to extend these feelings to the "popish" British upon the passage of the Quebec Act. As a consequence, anti-popery helped enable New Englanders to make the intellectual transition that war with Britain required. During the Revolution, anti-popery became less popular as the American rebels relied on Catholic France for aid. By the end of the revolutionary era, Catholics were extended legal toleration in all of the New England states. The book's conclusion explores the change in religious tolerance and the decline of anti-popery with a study of New England's first Catholic parish.

Excerpt

By the mid-eighteenth century it was impossible for Englishmen in Britain or America to divorce anti-popery from their notion of what it was to be English. The anti-Catholic tradition that the colonists brought with them to the New World can be traced at least as far back as 1563 when the Protestant martyrologist John Foxe published the first English edition of his Actes and Monuments. Commonly called The Book of Martyrs,Foxe's book chronicled in brutal, graphic detail the suffering and torture allegedly inflicted upon Protestants by Catholics. Although the architect of Catholic oppression was ultimately the pope, Foxe paid careful attention to the actions of his supposed minions, the kings of France and Spain. Foxe also paid particular attention to the fate of Protestants persecuted during the reign of Mary Tudor. It is to Foxe that Queen Mary owes her reputation as "Bloody Mary." Foxe did more than simply chronicle Catholic atrocities. He also laid the groundwork for the marriage of Protestantism to the concept of what it was to be English. Queen Mary was nefarious not only for her persecutions, but because she had wed the Catholic king of Spain, thereby endangering the Protestant succession in England. The Book of Martyrs demonstrated that tyranny came from abroad: Versailles, Madrid, and ultimately the Vatican, from which the pope attempted . . .

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