Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England Essays

Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England Essays

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Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England

February hath XXVIII Days
Rouze, Protestants, the Year of Wonder’s gone,
Great George is now establish’d on the Throne;
A Mighty Prince, by God for us prepar’d,
Us to preserve from Dangers greatly fear’d;
From Popery the Devil’s great Master Fear,
Where Men are Slaves, and Priests their Gods do eat . . .
(Mullan and Reid 2000, 173)

This poem, published in John Partridge’s almanac Merlinus Liberatus for 1717, shows the common feeling amongst the English Protestants towards Catholics. The term “Popery” was actually a hostile term for anything relating to Catholicism (Popery). Although many other countries in Europe were moving toward more modern, secular governments, the English were not prepared to let go of old prejudices so easily.

One of the problems between Protestants and Catholics in England was that the “self-image of the protestant elite comprised not only religious doctrine and providential history, but constitutional theory and a concern for cultural and economic improvement; the Catholic case represented a challenge in each of these areas” (McBride 2003). During the eighteenth century, Protestants in England felt that they had endured persecution from the Catholics and so justified their resentment and intolerance. This sentiment can be seen in anti-Catholic literature published during this period. The Kalendar, of the Cruelties of the Papists to Protestants also from 1717, reports:

July. Altho the Weather in this month was hot, yet the Persecution of poor Protestants by the Papists was much hotter, as you may see by following List of Martyrs who underwent fiery Trials, because they would not turn Papists and ...

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... 1882.

MacCaffrey, Rev. James. From the Renaissance to the French Revolution. History of the Catholic Church, 2000. [cited November 19, 2003]. Available from World Wide Web: (

McBride, Ian. The Language of Liberty 1660-1822; Anti-Catholicism in 18th-Century England; and Catholicism in a Protestant Kingdom. History Today, 2003. [cited November 18, 2003] Available from World Wide Web: (

Mullen, John and Christopher Reid, Ed. Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture. Oxford: University Press, 2000.

Popery. Oxford English Dictionary [online], 2000. [cited on November 17, 2003]. Oxford: University Press, 1989.

Woloch, Isser. Eighteenth-Century Europe: Tradition and Progress, 1715-1789. Norton and Company Press: New York, 1982.

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