English Catholics constructed narratives of their own religious heritage and identity, however, not only in response to Protestant polemic but also as part of intra-Catholic rivalries that pitted Marian clergy against seminary priests, secular priests against Jesuits, and exiled English Catholics against their co-religionists from other parts of Britain and Ireland. Drawing on the reassessments of English Catholicism by John Bossy, Christopher Haigh, Alexandra Walsham, Michael Questier and others, Catholics Writing the Nation foregrounds the faultlines within and between the various Catholic communities of the Atlantic archipelago.
Eschewing any confessional bias, Highley's book is an interdisciplinary cultural study of an important but neglected dimension of Early Modern English Catholicism. In charting the complex Catholic engagement with questions of cultural and national identity, he discusses a range of genres, texts, and documents both in print and manuscript, including ecclesiastical histories, polemical treatises, antiquarian tracts, and correspondence. His argument weaves together a rich historical narrative of people, events, and texts while also offering contextualized close readings of specific works by figures such as Edmund Campion, Robert Persons, Thomas Stapleton, and Richard Verstegan.
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