Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in History

Department

Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

Joseph Ward

Second Advisor

Ivo Kamps

Third Advisor

Lester Field

Abstract

Historians have devoted much attention to Catholics in Elizabethan England at a time when tensions ran high between the Catholic Church and the English state. The current dissertation deals with perceptions of the Jesuits among the Catholic community in the Elizabethan Age. Numerous primary sources, both printed and manuscript, written by the Jesuits, their supporters, and their opponents were consulted in the writing of this dissertation. Additionally, the observations and research of other historians have been included to show how the current study differs from past scholarship on the Catholic community in Elizabethan England. Previous studies of the Elizabethan Catholics have tended to depict them as very divided on the question of loyalty to the monarchy and whether or not to support the Jesuits in their quest to restore the Catholic Church in England by overthrowing Queen Elizabeth I. The current treatise argues that the political influence of the Jesuits over the English Catholic community was very limited and superficial. The overwhelming majority of Catholics in England, even among recusants, displayed loyalist sentiments towards Elizabeth and were far more united against than divided by the Jesuits. Catholics who took the Jesuits seriously were confined to a tiny minority of conspirators involved in failed plots to carry out the will of the papacy in overthrowing Elizabeth. The Jesuits were on the extreme end of the spectrum of Catholicism in Elizabethan England because of the tradition of loyalty among English Catholics to established political authority.

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