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Chapter Summary

Ideals had a very problematic relationship with reality and thus discourses of Englishness tell us little about how people actually lived their lives. The rhetoric of Englishness even becomes, in some hands, a way of legitimating a variety of positions which might be considered subversive by authorities. In the current state of literature on the subject of the construction of other identities, a full judgment cannot yet be reached. All three themes, plainness, liberty and anti-Catholicism were thus well-adapted to long-term national self-fashioning and indeed imperial self-glorification when Britain became more confident in its own stature and secure in its power. The English country gentleman could pride himself on the idea that his lifestyle was more worthy and plain than the courtiers abroad. The English had a narrative of distinctiveness and superiority long before they acquired greatness or before greatness was thrust upon them.

Keywords: anti-Catholicism; Englishness; liberty; plainness



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