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The Development of an anti-Catholic Narrative

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Chapter Summary

Religious culture has informed the development of a sense of English national consciousness, particularly since the Reformation. The idea evolved that there was an out-and-out incompatibility between being English and being Catholic, not merely in theological ways but in political, social, and cultural ways too. Lastly, they were going to be depicted as untrue to their nature, to their heart. Historians have been generally sensitive to the construction of English identity around an anti-Catholic, anti-Jesuit axis. First, there is once again an obvious effort to 'construe' the image of the true Englishman by reflecting upon what he is not. Second, it is never a purely 'religious' discourse if what one means by religion is something fairly narrowly restrictive. The final reason for the potency of this strand of thinking is that it depends as much, or more on the power of the imaginary as it does on hard facts.

Keywords: anti-Catholic; anti-Jesuit; English



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