Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

English Catholic Exiles in Late Sixteenth-Century Paris

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

English Catholic Exiles in Late Sixteenth-Century Paris

Article excerpt

English Catholic Exiles in Late Sixteenth-Century Paris. By Katy Gibbons. [Studies in History, New Series.] (Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, for the Royal Historical Society. 2011. Pp.x, 206. $90.00. ISBN 978-0-861-93313-6.)

This engaging and stimulating book focuses on the English Catholic lay exiles in Paris in the 1580s and 1590s. It is composed of five chapters. The first gives a brief overview of the English and French political and religious context. The second chapter contains fascinating pages on the different circumstances that prompted some English Catholics to leave England and move to Paris, as well as on the social and economic challenges they faced in a city that had an urban and juridical structure different from that of London and other English towns. Notwithstanding the difficulties, however, Paris offered important opportunities to the exiles, who were free to practice their religion publicly and to take advantage of the city's printing houses, colleges, and universities, which became venues for English Catholics "to interact with their hosts, to appeal to their continental coreligionists, and to articulate their identity as Catholic exiles" (p. 75). In the third chapter Gibbons insightfully shows how French polemical works in the 1580s exploited the English Catholic cause and how, conversely, the French polemical atmosphere contributed to radicalize the political and religious positions of some members of the English Catholic community in Paris. The fourth chapter discusses how English Catholics articulated their condition of exile. Although in the rest of her work Gibbons persuasively argues for the specificity and the importance of the Paris community, in this chapter she mainly relates common tropes of Catholic exiles that scholars such as Anne Dillon and Alison Shell have already analyzed. Moreover, when Gibbons examines how the English exiles in Paris grappled with the relationship between religious exile and political loyalty, she neglects important questions. For instance, a fuller discussion of how the English exiles in Paris related to Gallicanism (especially the political Gallicanism of the Parlement and a part of the Sorbonne) would have been useful, especially given the fact that, as Gibbons shows, the English exiles did not leave Paris with the League, but they remained a significant presence even after the accession of King Henri IV The final chapter contains a lucid and rich analysis of the nature of the English Catholic community in Paris and of what the Parisian case can teach us on the nature of early-modern English Catholicism. …

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