The Emissaries of Antichrist within

  • Claire Cross


Although he armed his region to withstand the attacks of Catholic Spain, Huntingdon could never comfort himself with the knowledge that his countrymen had united to defend their religion: he knew that even within the camp the spies of Antichrist had penetrated and been made welcome. The Rebellion of 1569 had provided the government with evidence for linking Catholicism with treason, and as the fear of Spain grew stronger, increasingly the Catholics in the north, and particularly the priests there, came to be considered enemies of the state. The persecution of northern Catholics originated with the central government, not with Huntingdon, but he carried out his instructions with enthusiasm. At first he worked chiefly through the Northern High Commission until, with the passing of the new recusancy laws in the 15 8o’s he could deal more effectively with Catholics in the civil courts, and he gained a reputation of a tireless persecutor. Yet for him, whatever the intentions of the government, plucking up Catholicism was but a means to an end, not an end in itself: he believed firmly in his mission to plant Protestantism. During the early years of his presidency he collaborated closely with Grindal and long after the archbishop had gone south he continued with his policy of placing Protestant preachers in northern towns: he sponsored exercises for the better education of the clergy and interfered over a wide area to get godly ministers appointed.


Central Government High Commissioner Civil Court Catholic Priest High Commission 
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© Claire Cross 1966

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  • Claire Cross

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