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The Bishop’s Role in Two Non-Catholic States

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The Cases of Ireland and Turkish Hungary Considered

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This paper contrasts the very different roles played by the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, on the one hand, and Turkish-occupied Hungary, on the other, in the movement of early modern religious reform. It suggests that the decision of Propaganda Fide to adopt an episcopal model of organisation in Ireland after 1618, despite the obvious difficulties posed by the Protestant nature of the state, was a crucial aspect of the consolidation of a Catholic confessional identity within the island. The importance of the hierarchy in leadership terms was subsequently demonstrated in the short-lived period of de facto independence during the 1640s and after the repression of the Cromwellian period the episcopal model was successfully revived in the later seventeenth century. The paper also offers a parallel examination of the case of Turkish Hungary, where an effective episcopal model of reform could not be adopted, principally because of the jurisdictional jealousy of the Habsburg Kings of Hungary, who continued to claim rights of nomination to Turkish controlled dioceses but whose nominees were unable to reside in their sees. Consequently, the hierarchy of Turkish-occupied Hungary played little or no role in the movement of Catholic reform, prior to the Habsburg reconquest.

Affiliations: 1: University College Dublin, Ireland


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