Eighteenth-Century English Anti-Catholicism: Contexts, Continuity and Diminution



Anti-Catholicism in eighteenth-century England was little studied before the 1980s. During the 1960s and 70s, political and economic- social historians displayed markedly less interest in the eighteenth century than in the seventeenth, with the ‘English Revolution’ at the latter’s core. Or they preferred to study the nineteenth century, with the Industrial Revolution and its spectacular modernizing transformations. Jacobitism, one notable preservative of anti-Popery, was scarcely examined by academics, who thought, as Herbert Butterfield had pronounced in 1931, that the Jacobites’ ‘adventures’ were among –the most useless things in the world’.1 Specialist ecclesiastical historians found the churches’ supposedly widespread ‘torpor’ in the eighteenth century less engaging than the religious struggles of the preceding hundred years or the deep, luminous religiosity of the Victorians. Anti-Catholicism appeared an anomaly in an England where religion seemed either cool or somnolent, and Enlightenment thinking scorned the religious fanaticism of ‘the former age’. Even the Gordon Riots no longer seemed an unequivocal recrudescence of atavistic ‘No Popery!’ fanaticism: for had not George Rude, that consummate Marxist magician, discerned in them ‘a deeper social purpose’, and produced Class Struggle from the hat?2


Eighteenth Century Oxford Dictionary Catholic Priest Religious Struggle Religious Intolerance 
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Copyright information

© Colin Haydon 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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