© 2018

Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829


Part of the Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000 book series (HISASE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Lisa McClain
    Pages 1-9
  3. Pushing the Boundaries of Gender

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 11-11
    2. Lisa McClain
      Pages 13-40
    3. Lisa McClain
      Pages 41-78
    4. Lisa McClain
      Pages 79-116
    5. Lisa McClain
      Pages 117-153
  4. Pushing the Boundaries of Religion

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 275-282

About this book


This book explores changing gender and religious roles for Catholic men and women in the British Isles from Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church in 1534 to full emancipation in 1829. Filled with richly detailed stories, such as the suppression of Mary Ward’s Institute of English Ladies, it explores how Catholics created and tested new understandings of women’s and men’s roles in family life, ritual, religious leadership, and vocation through engaging personal narratives, letters, trial records, and other rich primary sources. Using an intersectional approach, it crafts a compelling narrative of three centuries of religious and social experimentation, adaptation, and change as traditional religious and gender norms became flexible during a period of crisis. The conclusions shed new light on the Catholic Church’s long-term, ongoing process of balancing gendered and religious authority during this period while offering insights into the debates on those topics taking place worldwide today.


Lay, laity, laypeople Ministry Catholicism Reformation Church and state Underground faith Family life Henry VIII Catholic Emancipation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryBoise State UniversityBoise, IDUSA

About the authors

Lisa McClain is Professor of History and Gender Studies at Boise State University, USA, specializing in the history of Catholicism and the intersections of gender, religion, and popular culture. Her previous works include Lest We Be Damned: Practical Innovation and Lived Experience among Catholics in Protestant England 1559-1642.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829
  • Authors Lisa McClain
  • Series Title Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000
  • Series Abbreviated Title Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-73086-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-10313-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-73087-5
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages X, 282
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Britain and Ireland
    History of Religion
    Religion and Gender
    Social History
    Gender Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“McClain’s evidence throughout leans heavily on English examples from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, making the book more about early modern English Catholics. … McClain’s work is an important read for scholars of the post-Reformation British Catholic community.” (Jennifer Binczewski, British Catholic History, Vol. 34 (3), May, 2019)