Catholics, Turks, and Jews

  • Jerome Friedman


If sects were up to no good and religious charlatans were profane and blasphemous, Roman Catholics, Turks, and Jews were willfully evil and sources of general misfortune. The Spanish, French, and Irish, for instance, all traditional enemies of God’s island, were Roman Catholics, and a week’s worth of debate might be required to determine which was more detestable. But at least Roman Catholics were Christian. Turks compounded a peculiar foreign religion with an alien culture and an indecipherable language, and Jews were perverse in almost every sense possible. Even worse, all three impinged upon the English sense of place and peace in the world, posing a great threat to England during the years of revolution.


Jewish Community Title Page Alien Culture Jewish Leader Ritual Murder 
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  1. 1.
    Catholics had been vilified in the press for decades. See Joseph Frank, The Beginnings of the English Newspapers, 1620–1660 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961), pp. 24 and 26 for coverage of Catholics in the early press and page 77 for the rumor that Charles I was a Catholic. Sandra Clark’s The Elizabethan Pamphleteers: Popular Moralistic Pamphlets, 1580–1640 (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983), p. 189, details anti-Catholic animus for the period before the outbreak of the civil war. For the civil war years, Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1971), p. 543, cites the very worthwhile unpublished doctoral dissertation by Robin Clifton, “The Fear Of Catholics in England, 1637–1645,” Oxford, 1967. Also see B. Magee, “Popish Plots in the Seventeenth Century: The Great Panic of 1641,” The Month 175 (1940). Also, Brian Manning, “The Outbreak of the English Civil War,” in R. H. Parry, ed., The English Civil War and After, 1642–1658 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970), pp. 4, 7; and Michael G. Finlayson, Historians, Puritanism and the English Revolution: The Religious Factor in England Before and After the Interregnum (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1987); R. W. Harris, Clarendon and the English Revolution (London: Hogarth Press, 1983); George Miller, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (Boston: Twayne, 1983).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The standard work on the Christian image of Islam is Richard W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962). More recently, Norman Daniel, Islam and the West: The Making of an Image (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966); and Daniel, Islam, Europe and Empire (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Concerning the readmission of Jews to England, the following should prove helpful: David S. Katz, Philosemitism and the Readmission of Jews to England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982); Mel Scult, Millennial Expectation and Jewish Liberties (Leiden: Brill, 1978); Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941); H. S. Q. Henriques, The Return of the Jews to England (London: Macmillan, 1905). The curious relationship that developed between Cromwell and Mennasseh ben Israel, the spokesman for Dutch Jewry who conducted negotiations with the English government, is described in Roth, The Life of Mennasseh ben Israel (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1934); Lucien Wolf, Mennasseh ben Israel’s Mission to Oliver Cromwell (London: Macmillan, 1901); and most recently and from a very different point of view, Joseph Kaplan, Henry Méchoulan, and Richard Popkin, eds., Menasseh ben Israel and His World (Leiden: Brill, 1989).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    There are many fine general works on anti-Semitism, but the enchanted and magical view of the Jew as a semidemon is best captured by Joshua Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1943) and most recently, R. Po-Chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder: Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). And from a slightly different perspective, Alan H. Cutler, The Jew as an Ally of the Muslim: Medeival Roots of Antisemitism (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Identifying New Christians has been an historically complex issue but a good introduction to the subject and the role New Christians played in early modern European economic and cultural life is Jerome Friedman, “Jewish Conversion and the Spanish Pure Blood Laws,” Sixteenth Century Journal 18 (1987): 4–29. The best general understanding of how mercantilism and trade fostered greater toleration of Jews is Jonathan Israel’s excellent study, European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550–1750 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). Also, see Norma Perry’s “Anglo-Jewry, the Law, Religious Conviction and Self Interest, 1655–1753,” Journal of European Studies (1984): 1–23.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The reader might consult the following regarding the Fifth Monarchists and the English apocalyptic tradition: Paul K. Christianson, Reformers in Babylon: Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978); Bryan W. Ball, A Great Expectation: Eschatological Thought in English Protestantism to 1660 (Leiden: Brill, 1975); Louise F. Brown, The Political Activities of the Baptists and Fifth Monarchy Men in England during the Interregnum (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1912); B. S. Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in 17th Century Millenarianism (London: Bowman and Littlefield, 1972); Katharine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain, 1530–1645 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979); William M. Lamont, Godly Rule: Politics and Religion 1603–1660 (London: Macmillan, 1969); and Philip G. Rogers, The Fifth Monarchy Men (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    On the importance of 1656 see Christopher Hill, “Till the Conversion of the Jews,” The Collected Essays of Christopher Hill, 2 vols. (Amherst, 1986), vol. 2, pp. 296–300.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See, for instance, Richard H. Popkin, “The Lost Tribes, the Caraties, and the English Millenarians,” Journal of Jewish Studies 37 (1986): 213–22.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Peter Toon, ed., Puritans, the Millenium, and the Future of Israel-Puritan Eschatology 1600–1660 (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1970), pp. 20–6; also, J. Fines, “’Judaising’ in the Period of the English Reformation—The Case of Richard Bruern,” Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society 21 (1962–67): 323–6; H. E. I. Phillips, “An Early Stuart Judaising Sect,” Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society 15 (1939–45).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    For additional information about these individuals, see Jerome Friedman, Blasphemy, Immorality and Anarchy: The Ranters and the English Revolution (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1988). For George Foster, see pages 127–40; John Robins, pp. 156–60; Thomas Tany, pp. 167–90.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    For additional information regarding this interesting fable, see George K. Anderson, The Legend of the Wandering Jew (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1963; reissued, 1991); C. Schoebel, La Légend de Juif Errant (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1877).Google Scholar

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© Jerome Friedman 1993

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  • Jerome Friedman

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