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"The fatall vesper": providentialism and anti-popery in late Jacobean London.

In the autumn of 1623, an unknown engraver devised an arresting print depicting a recent catastrophe in the London district of Blackfriars, a graphic polemical image which he some time later made available for sale in a centrally located metropolitan bookshop. (Plate 1.) The subject of this highly provocative engraving was a spectacular and horrifically fatal accident which had occurred on the afternoon of Sunday, 26 October. A large garret adjoining the French ambassador's residence, in which a congregation some three hundred strong had gathered to hear a celebrated Jesuit by the name of Robert Drury preach, suddenly and dramatically collapsed. In the middle of the sermon the floor of the makeshift chapel gave way, carrying with it the chamber below, and plummeting the preacher, a fellow priest and over ninety of his auditors to their deaths. The falling masonry also bruised and maimed many other members of this heterogeneous assembly of individuals of both sexes, all ages and a range of nationalities; an assembly in which avowed Catholics commingled with vacillating Protestants, the devout with the inquisitive, and high-ranking recusant gentry with artisans and servants of the "middling" and "meaner" sort. Crowds rapidly thronged to the scene of the carnage and the city authorities were forced to take swift action to close off the site and assist the survivors. A number of the mutilated corpses drawn from the wreckage before nightfall had vanished mysteriously by dawn, presumably borne away by distraught friends and relatives for private burial elsewhere. Following the coroner's inquest the next morning, most of the remaining bodies were unceremoniously interred in a mass grave within the embassy's grounds.(1)


The "fatall vesper" or "dolefull even-song", as contemporary journalists promptly christened the disaster, took place at a critical juncture in Jacobean international relations and at a crossroads of domestic religious policy. It followed in the wake of the unprecedented outburst of popular royalist and anti-Spanish sentiment inspired by the arrival in England of Prince Charles and the duke of Buckingham after six months of frustrating and humiliating negotiations in Madrid for a marriage alliance with the Habsburg Infanta, Maria. Barely three weeks had elapsed since the excitement and jubilation that greeted their rather shamefaced homecoming had transformed it unexpectedly into a triumphal march. Indeed, the Blackfriars accident has consistently been eclipsed and overshadowed by the return of the prodigal young Stuart prince and his entourage; by the enduring repercussions of an episode that signalled both the passing of Anglo-Spanish dynastic plans, and an about-face in political priorities which eventually took shape in the advent of a bellicose foreign policy. If historians have accorded it significance at all, it is in the context of the "anti-Catholic backlash" that was the immediate legacy of retreat from the Spanish match. More often it has simply been ignored and overlooked.(2)

Yet, as an index of collective religious and political convictions and presuppositions, and as a window into urban public opinion in the 1620s, the incident is of considerable independent interest and importance. The catastrophe sparked off a fiercely emotional reaction on the part of the surrounding populace, and generated an extraordinary volume of heated discussion both at street level and in sophisticated circles. A notable talking-point at the time, it continued to echo in popular consciousness into the 1680s and beyond.

The coroner's jury returned the verdict that the calamity was the result of the excessive strain that the weight of the huge crowd had exerted on the timber struts supporting the attic, but to pamphleteers, preachers, and at least a segment of the wider population, this was no mere "accident", no "natural" disaster. Although the vocabulary of chance and misfortune frequently slipped into contemporary reports, commentators of all standpoints enthusiastically acknowledged or tacitly conceded that the debacle at Blackfriars was not in fact a random, contingent event, but on the contrary an awe-inspiring and foreordained act of God -- a signal token of the workings of divine providence. Deciphering what it communicated about the preferences and the grievances of the Almighty, decoding the supernatural message it contained, was, however, a rather more contentious task.

In this article, I want to examine in some detail the providentialism that underlay early Stuart responses to this suburban tragedy, and to locate these interpretations within a cultural climate that nurtured an unruly and elastic cluster of assumptions about the active interference of God in the created world. This was a frame of reference and a web of beliefs that in many respects cut across confessional boundaries, but characteristic of most extant accounts of the "fatall vesper" was the manner in which providentialism fused with anti-popery to form a potent if volatile compound. The temptation to view the downfall of a group participating in an illegal evensong as a wrathful judgement from heaven all too readily fostered popular animosity and prejudice against "the papists". Close study of a variety of reactions to the disaster -- visual as well as textual -- reveals how deeply it became implicated in the complex religious politics of early seventeenth-century England. It also sheds light on the development of an increasingly confrontational relationship between radical anti-Catholicism and the ideology espoused by the hierarchy of the established Church.


Predictably, the Blackfriars catastrophe acquired instant and extensive publicity. It was the headline news of its day. According to John Chamberlain, inveterate "Paul's Walker" and confirmed chatterbox and gossip, in London there was "much discoursing ... of all the circumstances belonging to the busines". "[U]ncertaine reports" synthesized of facts and rumours, truth and hearsay were still being broadcast widely by word of mouth ten days later.(3) Manuscript narratives based on equally indiscriminate sources circulated in the capital and passed with private correspondence into the provinces.(4) Metropolitan preachers seem to have had something of a field day: William Gouge, Puritan rector of the nearby parish church of St Anne, was by no means the only minister to adopt it as the starting-point for a sermon and expound the sobering lessons of the event from the pulpit.(5) But it was above all the maturing publishing industry, anxious to exploit the literate public's taste for sensation and scandal, which turned the disaster to its own advantage. Intent on scooping their rivals and securing exclusive coverage, printers and writers whipped together competing accounts of the shocking accident within a matter of weeks. A stream of pamphlets and ballads by authors of every religious bias issued steadily from the presses, items ranging from trite moralistic ephemera to sophisticated clerical exegesis, and from allegedly "impartial" journalism to blatant propaganda of the most bigoted kind.(6)

To Protestant publicists, the collapse of a house swarming with Catholics and their sympathizers could only be construed as an open invitation to proclaim the Lord's intense aversion to the "romish" faith, to announce his manifest rage against the adherents of the Italian pope. As Don Juan de Mendoza, a distinguished Spanish diplomat, reported to King Philip IV, the "heretics" had impulsively seized upon this harrowing calamity as a singular opportunity to "build a case to attack the Catholic religion".(7) Circumstantial details appeared to confirm that this was the handiwork of an ardently Protestant God. It seemed particularly telling, for instance, that similar mishaps had occurred in at least four London churches, including St Anne, Blackfriars itself, without so much as the loss of one human life -- "in all which the stones forbare their downeward motion, till the peoples absence".(8) Such a selective example of providential justice obviously afforded much metaphorical scope for vaunting claims regarding the figurative confusion of the enemies of the reformed gospel, and the theatrical overthrow of institutionalized idolatry and sacrilege. The disaster was seen as conclusive proof of the unstable theological foundations of Roman Catholicism itself.(9) Thomas Goad, chaplian to the archbishop of Canterbury, observed that "a topicall inference" might be drawn "from the fall of both the floares, namely, of the preaching, and the Massing roome, that both their Doctrine and Sacrifice are weakely and slenderly supported, and that God was displeased as well with their Pulpits, as Altars". No less alluring was the hypothesis that the ceiling had buckled under the weight of "popish" iniquity, that a "load of sinne pressed them down that fell".(10) The accident also had irresistible biblical resonances and parallels: to minds steeped in scripture it must have recalled Samson hauling down the pagan temple upon the heads of the Philistines; the savage blow that befell the statue of Dagon defiantly erected before the ark of the Lord; the earth swallowing alive Korah, Dathan and Abiram for murmuring against Moses and Aaron. Perhaps most vividly it evoked the final apocalyptic destruction of Babylon foretold in Isaiah and Revelation.(11)

Protestant pamphleteers, therefore, viewed the Blackfriars catastrophe as one more milestone in the eternal struggle of the true church against the machinations of Antichrist. But private letter-writers were inclined to diagnose a specific provocation for this providential intervention -- the increasingly undisguised resurgence of Catholicism, especially in London and the Midlands, during the preceding twelve months.(12) In John Chamberlain's eyes, nothing was "more remarkeable" than the fact that the illicit gathering in the attic was the "first so solemne assemblie of theirs" for the sixty years since Queen Elizabeth's re-establishment of the English Reformation in 1558-9.(13) Many, no doubt, instinctively linked the disaster with the legendary "Sicilian Vespers", the massacre of French colonists in Easter week 1282, alleged to have begun spontaneously with the initial stroke of the evensong bell. The allusion to an episode which proverbially embodied the dangers of complacency can hardly have been ignored.(14) Only the anonymous author of an unlicensed tract risked expressing overtly in print the opinion that this "memorable accident" was a brutal divine stroke against the audacious upsurge in urban "popish" activity which had logically followed upon King James I's "lenative courses": the formal and pragmatic relaxation of the recusancy laws that had accompanied the delicate diplomacy surrounding the Habsburg match.(15) The calamity was a fierce reproof to Catholic effrontery and pride. It was a timely rebuke to the impertinence of those who had boasted of Robert Drury as an orator and evangelist "Nonpareil", capable of outclassing "any Puritane Preacher of the world", and "in comparison of whom the greatest Lights of the Protestant Ministerie" were "but Glowormes".(16) God had apparently assessed the alarming evidence of Jesuit insolence in launching so public a missionary campaign, and had intervened to thwart their unbridled boldness "upon a litle connivence".(17) He had suppressed a conventicle that surely heralded the imminent proclamation of the long-promised official reprieve for adherents of the outlawed faith -- the royal pardon over which city papists were said to have openly gloated, and, furthermore, dared to forge and distribute.(18) Such commentators were, however, skating on decidedly thin ice. It was only a small step to the highly seditious proposition that the catastrophe manifested supernatural disapproval of the government's policy of de facto toleration, its mercenary concessions in the interests of securing a Spanish bride.

Nor was it considered an uncanny coincidence that the disaster had occurred on 26 October. Adjusted according to the Gregorian calendar used by Roman Catholic countries on the European mainland, this was none other than 5 November -- the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. Few failed to notice the prodigious significance of the new style date -- not even William Laud, then bishop of the Welsh diocese of St David's.(19) Some did "descant much of the day"; others dissociated themselves selfrighteously from those who went "so farre as to make a numerall inference of a second reflecting Tragedy", surrendering all such "judiciary calculation" to their maker. But the nexus was compelling. The visitation was confidently accounted a passionate act of revenge for the sinister "mischiefe" intended by the papists in 1605, retrospective confirmation of their complicity in that dastardly scheme.(20) It was surely a tangible seal of God's special blessing and protection of the elect English nation, yet another link in the chain of her astonishing providential deliverances from the malevolent forces of Rome and Spain. Although it merits not even a passing mention in David Cressy's Bonfires and Bells, this was another "icon event" destined to be preserved in collective Protestant memory, and to anchor itself in the patriotic annals of post-Reformation history, together with the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.(21) Following so closely on the heels of what the young law student Simonds D'Ewes described in his diary as "this great miracle of our latter age" -- the divinely contrived return of Prince Charles with neither a Catholic fiancee nor the corrupting taint of her faith -- the sudden accident must have seemed a second occasion for national rejoicing within the same month, a double confirmation of the Lord's covenant with Stuart England, as with the Israelites of old.(22)

The tale, moreover, grew much in the telling. The oral passage of news and rumour considerably enhanced the intrinsic symbolism of this inauspicious event. Existing details were embroidered and muddled, and a set of fantastic anti-popish accretions irresistibly sprang up.(23) "[F]irst report went currant", for example, that the evensong crowd had assembled in the French ambassador's private chapel, a traditional place of sanctuary and the target of frequent complaints about the "unwonted concourse" of upperclass Catholics. The French ambassador, Tillieres (who had in fact never been present), was reported to have perished himself, in company with "a multitude of blind ignorant people" -- the gullible, credulous rabble which Protestant polemicists regarded as easy game for wily Counter-Reformation priests.(24) More than a handful were under the mistaken impression that the service in progress had literally been a "mass", a superstitious celebration of the eucharist. This was evidently the conclusion to which the vicar of Eltham, John Ford, who recorded the disaster grimly in his parish register as "a pitiful remembrance to all posteritie", immediately jumped. "[S]o much was God offended with their detestable idolatrie", Ford wrote, that he himself has stepped in iconoclastically to bring it to an abrupt halt. It obviously took little to persuade biased observers that the Almighty had made it his personal business to debunk that central ritual of priestly deception, transubstantiation, and to disgrace lay Catholics as they bowed in worship before the inanimate consecrated bread.(25)

Equally improbable claims circulated about the precise point at which Drury's sermon had been so rudely interrupted. Some thought it telling that in dilating upon his text (Matthew 18:23-35, the parable of the king and his servants) the preacher had "modelled out" popish doctrine in the guise of the "fantasie of Purgatory", the pseudo-sacrament of penance and the illusory heavenly merit of good works, emphasizing the "miserable case" of Protestants who dismissed these spiritual comforts scornfully. Thomas Goad did not "curiously enquire" of the matter -- "as making interpretation of Gods judgement in stopping the currant of his speech at that instant" -- but others all too eagerly did.(26) In the grossly distroted version of events which Joseph Mead, fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, received from London three days later, the Jesuit had been busy delivering a bitter invective against the heretics, and at the exact moment in which he appealed to the Lord to visit a devastating plague upon them, "even then the Floore whereon they stood" resoundingly caved in. The West Country justice Walter Yonge fancied that the execrations had been levelled directly against Luther, Calvin and the late Dr Thomas Sutton, the vehemently anti-Catholic preacher of St Mary Overy, Southwark, who had drowned in tragic circumstances in September. Drury had supposedly declared that the sea had "swallowed" the latter, "because hee was not worthie the earthe shoulde receve him, att which wordes", so the story went, "the house sancke".(27) The papists had seemingly pushed God's patience just too far. Nor did the Norfolk gentleman, Thomas Knyvett, disdain idle gossip that the sermon had focused on another verse from the same Gospel pregnant with far more menacing connotations: "Thou shalt not come out thenc till thou hast payde the uttermost farthing".(28) These preposterous and unsubstantiated reports spread alongside suggestions that the homily being preached that afternoon was the public recantation of an apostate -- a contrite apology by a Jesuit priest who, despite a sound upbringing in "Papistrie", had temporarily defected to the enemy camp. Recast as the assassination of a renegade in the very act of disavowing the reformed religion and returning "in gremium matris Ecclesiae (to the bosom of the Mother Church)", the accident could additionally serve as a cautionary tale to encourage constancy in back-sliding Calvinists.(29)

The Blackfriars catastrophe was thus something of a godsend to the Protestant cause. It was crude but none the less convincing propaganda for the thesis that clinging tenaciously to popery was a perilous enterprise; it buttressed the claim that in the economy of salvation Catholics were heading along the road to moral and spiritual ruin. Pamphleteers lost no time in presenting the disaster as a powerful incentive to abandon the sinking Roman ship: those rescued from suffocation and snatched from "the very jawes of Death", urged Thomas Goad, should reflect "whether this sudden stroake and cracke be not the hand, and voice of God, to call them home from wandring after forraine Teachers, that ... carry them hood-winked into the snares of danger, corporall, civill, and spirituall".(30) Preachers like Thomas Adams grumbled about the obstinacy of "our wilfull and bewitched Recusants", who "from these legible Characters" would not "spell Gods plaine meaning",(31) but they made much of individuals involved in the accident who had instantly converted as a result, not least the disillusioned Lancashire minister, John Gee, whose best-selling expose of the urban Catholic underground, The Foot out of the Snare, was a "monument" to his own narrow and miraculous escape from extinction in the "dolefull even-song" and to the divine grace that had plucked him back from the brink of the Babylonian pit.(32) Other edifying anecdotes were recounted, including the chronicle of a lame woman badly injured in the downfall who was thereby induced to make a textbook confession of solafidian faith: "If God spare me now, I will never pray to Saints againe; but to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who onely is my Redeemer".(33) No less triumphantly did publicists point to the unhappy fate of one Parker, an agent and "factor" for the English seminaries and convents in the Low Countries, who, having emerged unscathed on 26 October, foolishly yearned to have suffered a sacrificial death with the rest. A week later, his wish was unexpectedly granted when the boat in which he was escorting a niece to a Brussels nunnery overturned without hope of recovery in the Thames. This scarcely recommended sending one's sons and daughters for a Catholic education abroad.(34) A similar moral could be drawn from the case one Jacobean reader neatly transcribed in the margin of his copy of W. C.'s The Fatall Vesper on 10 November: "I am informed by the worshipfull M. Thomas Smith of Box-Lane, That ... there was one Mr Walstead a Staffordshire gentlemen (who coming up to London with a resolute purpose to disherite his eldest sonne who was a protestant,) was drawne unto this exercise, and there perished" -- before he could finalize this injudicious alteration to his will.(35)

Catholics themselves were keenly aware that the disaster would seriously hinder their own evangelistic aims. "O what advantage will our adversaries take at this", one lucky survivor bewailed; it would "prove a great scandall to their Religion", foretold a precocious ten-year-old child. The Spanish ambassador, Don Carlos Coloma, was evidently relieved that the calamity had not taken place in the vicinity of his own residence. According to an informant with access to "good intelligence" in Ely House, he had remarked that not "for a million of gold" would he desire the misfortune to be his -- it would merely strengthen the argument that God too abhorred the betrothal of England's heir to the Infanta Maria.(36) Providence, to all appearances, had played straight into the Protestants' hands. Private grief and sorrow, insisted the Jesuit John Floyd in the tract he wrote to console his dispirited co-religionists, ought therefore to be subordinated to the "publicke defence" of the beleaguered Church of Rome.(37)

One shrewd and expedient response was to stress the casual, accidental nature of the catastrophe, imputing it entirely to the antiquity of the building and the decayed state of the wooden beam supporting the upper storey. John Floyd countered the insults of his enemies with the observation that "dreadful mischance[s]" of this kind were simply miseries "indifferently incident unto mankind", adversities "unto which their owne sect", moreover, was "continually subject".(38) If Blackfriars embodied anything remarkable at all, it was the extraordinary fervour of the Catholic crowd: "must their fayth also fall to the ground and perish with their bodyes", he protested, "if happily the place breake through the weight of the multitudes that thither overzealously flocke?"(39) The reflex reaction of Catholics who nursed a particular grudge against the heretics, however, was to attribute the slaughter to human malice and spite, to detect behind it a cruel and devious plot masterminded by the "hotter sort" of Protestants to bring both destruction and shame upon their dissenting brethren. Calvinist conspirators, it was vindictively whispered in the city, had "secretly drawne out the pins, or sawed halfe a sunder some of the supporting Timber" of the second floor room. This tall story had allegedly been fabricated by a certain Dr Price, "a Popish Physician", who "stuck not falsely to say that the Puritans of Black Fryers had done it".(40)

Others proceeded to "marshall the defunct in the inventory of Martyres", to canonize them in the ranks of those who had relinquished their lives for the greater glory of the Catholic faith.(41) Far from damning the victims, their sudden death while devoutly at prayer had actually ensured their salvation, investing them with a distinct aura of sanctity as well. In theological terms, a premature end had been inflicted upon them for the satisfaction of their venial sins, as a merciful substitute and supersedeas for the pains of purgatory. This was nothing less than a short cut to heaven -- hence the envious sighs of those extracted from the rubble shaken but virtually without a scratch.(42)

These were some of the alternative explanations that seem to have won acceptance among Catholics at street level, but Floyd's Word of Comfort incorporated a theologically more sophisticated rejoinder to the Protestant assertion that the accident unequivocally demonstrated the deity's contempt and loathing for popery. The Lord, Floyd admitted, was ultimately responsible for this lamentable affair, but when it came to assessing the "holy purpose" behind it his clerical antagonists had made an appalling mistake. The Calvinists had no basis for being so "jolly and jocund, so puffed up with pride at the fall of a rotten chamber", since it was as much part of God's overarching providential plan to test and try the righteous through tribulation and hardship, as to discipline the wicked.(43) Though it might seem baffling, perverse, even sadistic to the feeble human intellect, "to send strange disasters upon his servants hath ever been his custome".(44) Job and Tobias from the Old Testament and Apocrypha and persecuted Christians throughout the pages of ecclesiastical history were shining examples of the forbearance and patience it behoved seventeenth-century Catholics to show in the face of the Blackfriars catastrophe. They were clear evidence that the depravity of men's lives could never be accurately deduced from "the hydeous shew of their deaths" -- that it was misguided always to equate suffering with sin. Floyd refuted the "folly" of those who dared to search the "darke mist" of God's mysterious counsels. "[T]o make happy Event a note of the truth, or unlucky successe a signe of falshood" was "to set Religion on the dyce" and "expose Conscience unto Chaunce".(45) Analysed from this angle, the disaster might even be interpreted as a mark of God's benevolence and goodwill towards the Catholic Church, a harbinger of the "speedy overthrow" of her "hoater Adversaries".(46) Floyd deliberately appropriated a scriptural model of supernatural justice rather more complex than the primitive variety of providentialism which his Protestant counterparts found it advantageous to employ. He juxtaposed the vision of a loving but enigmatic God whose operations were both incomprehensible and paradoxical with the jealous Yahweh of Old Testament, systematically meting out rewards for virtue and punishments for vice.

Floyd's sarcastic rebuke of heretical railing against popery "in regard of a vulgar event" had, nevertheless, rather a hollow and sanctimonious ring. He could hardly claim high moral ground in this respect, for as he proceeded to reveal, Catholic polemicists could fight back with the same blunt and undiscriminating tool. He enumerated the ominous tokens of divine wrath manifested since the Henrician and Elizabethan schism and parried Protestant taunts about the shameful death of Father Drury with stories of the unsavoury ends of Continental reformers, including Zwingli and Oecolampadius. Floyd's trump card was the gruesome cancerous disease that had finally consumed John Calvin, "the Puritans Dad", breeding lice and worms that inexorably ate away his privy parts. The Jesuit was confident that these damaging revelations would effectively deflate his enemies' "insulting spirit" and dissipate their "vayne and frivolous clamors".(47) On the Continent, the papists had reputedly published a pamphlet which even more literally returned the humiliating jeers of their enemies upon their own heads, relating the fall of a house in St Andrew's parish in Holborn, where a "a Puritane Preacher and his Psalming Auditorie" had gathered for a Genevan lecture on exactly the same afternoon, and so, one journalist remarked, "by way of inversion" casting "a lye upon us". Clearly the best way of counteracting providential propaganda was to produce it oneself. Catholics could thus be as opportunistic as their rivals in adopting the rhetoric of the innocent sufferer Job when they discovered themselves in compromising situations, and yet making equally extravagant use of fortuitous events that conveniently vindicated their cause. They too adeptly exploited the tension between two diverging biblical theories about the deity's administration of the temporal realm.(48)

Many Protestant writers qualified their own providential fulminations against the papists with the caveat that it was presumptuous to scrutinize "the boundlesse Ocean of Gods secret judgements". They were "inscrutabilis abyssus", "an unsearchable abysse", and to engage in a "needless and unprofitable inquisition" of them was to encroach upon his prerogative and trespass into the locked cabinet of his predestinarian decisions. Those who passed rash and sudden censure on the individuals killed in the accident on no other grounds than their "outward chastisement" were guilty of confounding their "temporall destruction" with their "eternall confusion".(49) The Almighty, stressed William Gouge, had other means of differentiating saints from sinners than "externall events"; it was arrogant and unwarrantable for mere humanity to attempt to infer from them the identity of the elect and the reprobate.(50) He and his colleagues invariably quoted Luke 13:1-5, the passage in which Jesus reproaches the Jews for imagining that the Galileans executed at Pilate's command and the eighteen men crushed by the tower of Siloam were greater offenders than themselves. Contemporaries should likewise heed Christ's admonition against the error of judging their neighbours ungenerously: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish".(51) According to Thomas Adams, who had preached on this theme at Paul's Cross on the morning of the disaster, it had "pleased God Almighty" only a few hours later "to make a fearfull Comment" on his unwittingly prophetic text. He had expounded in "Characters of bloud" what "His holy Pen had long since written ... with inke". Blackfriars embodied a "terrible remonstrance" rather than a judicial sentence. It was not intended chiefly to avenge the transgressions of the dead, but to instruct and deter evildoers still living.(52)

Yet careless neglect of the catastrophe deserved just as much reprehension and contempt. This memorable accident was not to be treated as some "nine daies wonder", a novelty briefly pondered over but all too soon forgotten. To deny that it betrayed the stern countenance of an irate deity was no better than blasphemy and atheism in the eyes of Protestant apologists; it was on a par with philosophically rejecting the concept of divine control of the universe in favour of the capricious forces of fortune and chance.(53) When men and women were overtaken violating divine law and disobeying the dictates of the gospel, it was an insufferable affront to God to ignore so palpable a testimony to his extreme irritation. "[W]here we see judgments executed on sinners when they are in their sinne, when they are impudent and presumptuous therein", thundered Gouge, "not to acknowledge such to be judged by the Lord, is to winke against a cleare light".(54) In the context of the endless cosmic battle between light and darkness, Christ and Antichrist, it was not only permissible, but arguably obligatory, to "use the language of Canaan", and no "more mannerly ... then the holy Ghost himselfe" to "plainly denuntiate what God threatens". Moral scruples could apparently be laid safely to one side -- lip-service to doctrinal niceties would suffice. Failure to "shew a holy zeale in our anger" against the Roman whore and her followers bespoke a lukewarm and half-hearted commitment to the reformed faith.(55)

There was clearly little place for compassion or impartiality alongside this belligerent strand of providential discourse. They might coexist, albeit uncomfortably, in ballads like Mathew Rhodes's quite literally "deplorable Elegie" on the "Dismall Day", where the tragic muse who lugubriously relates this "heavy wofull Story" of "mournfull ruth" ("which well may make a stony heart relent"), nevertheless maintains that the dead received their "deserved due" and justly felt God's "furious scourge and Iron Rod".(56) But prose accounts of the disaster that aspired to journalistic objectivity and neutrality and affected "an historicall ingenuitie" were ideologically suspect. W. C. anticipated that readers of his Fatall Vesper would be perturbed by its moderate and ambivalent tone, not to say the humanitarian sympathy he voiced for the hapless congregation. Although he was no fencesitting "Adiaphorist", he defended his claim that the occasion demanded direges and plaintive ditties, rather than "Satyres and invective speeches". But this evidently smelt suspiciously of Catholicism to some, for speculation about its author abounded when the pamphlet was quickly recalled by the censors for correction in November 1623.(57) Expressing pity for the wretched plight of the servants of Antichrist was tantamount to an outspoken profession of allegiance to the pope.


Anything but indifference and detachment characterized the behaviour of the crowd that gathered in Blackfriars that autumn afternoon. Some, it is true, voluntarily offered assistance and basic first aid; others were willingly pressed into service by city officers in an operation to dig out the survivors that continued throughout the night. But it was the striking lack of charity of the common people, indeed their deliberate callousness and cruelty, that evoked most comment from metropolitan observers. Predictably, Catholic writers dwelt in calculated detail on the malice of the London rabble. Full of persecuting spirit, it was said, they had viciously assailed the victims with "contemelious speech", railing and "uttering a thousand curses" against these ill-fated adherents of the "romish" faith. The verbal aggression, moreover, erupted into actual physical assault. Not only were the catcalls accompanied by the slinging of mud and stones, but by individual outrages committed as the wounded were carried off through the streets to surgeons and physicians. Bursting with murderous intent, angry groups apparently went on the rampage, besieging the coaches of distressed Catholic gentlewomen beating a hasty retreat; one gang even tried to set fire to the unfortunate occupant of a vehicle crippled by a broken wheel. According to the Venetian ambassador, homicidal bullies set upon a young girl dragged half-dead from the wreckage, nearly depriving her of what little life remained. The accident, he said, "provided the occasion for a general and bloody riot".(58)

Catholics were predisposed to note and exaggerate evidence of their enemies' inhumanity, but allegations about brutal conduct do not come from hostile sources alone. Protestant reporters themselves admitted ruefully that at least a section of the tumultuous mob that threatened the embassy's gates had looting, vandalism and other "ill purposes" in mind. John Chamberlain was astounded at the ferocity of the masses, remarking in a letter to Dudley Carleton in The Hague that "our people beeing growne so sauvage and barbarous" had not only refused to relieve the injured, "but rather insulted upon them with taunts and gibes in their affliction". "[E]ven in Cheapside", he added reprovingly, "where they sholde be more civill".(59)

The explosive response of the suburban populace to the "fatall vesper", however, can scarcely be described as random or irrational. There is a strong case for seeing it as a form of confessional conflict -- violence and strife of a kind that at first glance appears completely alien to "civilized" England, immune from the bloodthirsty confrontations that typified the war-torn Continental scene. It should also be examined in the context of the "antipopish panics" that periodically rocked towns and villages across the country at moments of acute political crisis, injecting friction and discord into communities where, we are told, a degree of mutual compromise usually permitted Catholics and Protestants to live together in relative peace.(60) These spasmodic clashes generally originated in deep-seated anxiety about the ubiquitous "popish plot", but the episodes that ensued upon the Blackfriars catastrophe were more reflective of anti-Catholicism's ebullient and chauvinistic other face. They resembled the animated outbreaks of hispanophobia which had swept the capital earlier that decade, when the Spanish ambassadors and their attaches were subjected to many "insolencies", indignities, and much highspirited verbal abuse at the hands of the "inferiour and baser sort of people". The situation had become so unstable by 1621 that the envoys hardly dared leave their residence at all, and in April James I was forced to intervene with a proclamation designed to stifle any further disturbing manifestations of plebeian opposition to the Habsburg match.(61)

Two years later the targets for attack were no longer essentially political figures, foreign diplomats and strangers on the margins of London society, but native Englishmen and women themselves. Nor was it distant international developments, a dynastic alliance under discussion far away in Madrid, which inflamed the crowd's passions, but instead devotional innovations in the immediate neighbourhood. Above all, in this instance anti-popery was catalysed by providentialism. It was in a sense God's own act of sabotage that triggered off the excesses of the local inhabitants, his own iconoclastic stroke against Catholics participating in idolatrous rites that at once precipitated and legitimated the atrocities that followed. Natalie Davis has suggested that religious riots in sixteenth-century French cities were sometimes motivated by the idea that communities which allowed Catholicism to remain unpunished within their midst necessarily laid themselves open to wrathful visitations from above.(62) Here, rather than anticipating the impatient intervention of the Almighty, the people interpreted the disaster as both a mandate and a cue to carry through the disciplinary process to completion. Perhaps they saw themselves as merely the instruments and executioners of a higher authority, as collaborators in a programme of ethnic cleansing initiated by their enraged deity. The Jesuit John Floyd hinted as much in upbraiding the common sort for falling upon the victims as if they deserved more punishment still -- for usurping God's office "as if he wanted eyther wisedome to know, or justice to hate, or power to punish sufficiently the grievousnes of mans sinnes".(63) Such behaviour had subversive implications: spontaneous appropriation of the magistrate's sword added up to implicit criticism of the status quo. It could be read as a form of protest against a regime that failed to enforce the penal laws against nonconforming Catholics.

The violence in Blackfriars also had ritualistic features and a quasi-ecclesiastical structure. The dirt and refuse hurled at members of the congregation was surely at some level symbolic of Catholicism's polluting and contaminating presence in Protestant London, an ironic rite of purification by desecration.(64) Stoning was the sentence inflicted upon Jewish idolators, sabbath breakers, blasphemers and adulterers according to the Mosaic code, and curses too had residually sacred connotations. Far from meaningless expletives, they appealed to ancient beliefs about the ability of human beings to invoke destruction upon other persons and objects, to enlist and manipulate supernatural power for their own ends. Nor did the Reformation entirely discredit imprecations of this type, although there always remained a blurred line between merely predicting the plagues the Bible declared would eventually befall flagrant sinners and actively calling down such vengeance from heaven. An official liturgy for the commination of sinners lingered on in the Book of Common Prayer.(65) While Protestant zealots in the Netherlands, Germany and France often subjected their Catholic hostages to medieval ordeals of innocence, challenging them to prove the protective and thaumaturgic properties of their "God of paste", those involved in the unpleasant incidents in England in October 1623 had no need for semimagical experiments and tests. God had already undermined Rome's spiritual charisma and dispelled her numinous haze. They were simply rubbing salt in the wound.(66)

Yet these solemn overtones should not blind us to the carnivalesque side of the proceedings. The accident obviously put some city dwellers in an exuberant holiday mood; it had indeed released them from their dull sabbatarian routine. Possibly those who sought to ignite the carriage of the wealthy female recusant were not employing intimidatory tactics so much as giving vent to their gleeful exultation at the unexpected annihilation of their popish enemies and peers. It was, after all, just three weeks since bonfires celebrating Prince Charles's return had lined the very same byways and lanes. The euphoria and revelry all too readily spilt over into less innocent forms of anti-Catholic sport.(67)

Who then were the actors in these street wars of religion? What was the confessional identity of the crowd? Catholics were convinced it was made up of Calvinist fanatics -- "infuriati Protestanti", in the Venetian ambassador's expressive Italian phrase.(68) John floyd contended that this anarchic and unchristian conduct was the inevitable consequence of a radical internalization of reformed dogma. These nefarious deeds should not be attributed to English Protestants ("Heresy hath not made them so wild"), but to "Puritans" -- to the Puritans of that "one particle of London" which they "boast to be their speciall Nest". The enormities perpetrated in the aftermath of the catastrophe were witness to the "rudenes of their Pretended Holy Discipline", to the antinomian tendencies encouraged by presbyterian tenets and the savagery this "new gospel" instilled in its converts' hearts.(69)

Blackfriars did have a reputation as a "Puritan streete", a poor district where the godly met regularly for lectures and exercises under the direction of Stephen Egerton and William Gouge. The many pious feather-makers who based their businesses in fashionable upper-class finery in the parish of St Anne were particularly notorious: their choice of a vocation so sharply at odds with Calvinist strictures against sumptuary excess made them a favourite subject for satire and comic caricature on the metropolitan stage.(70) To all appearances, the mob was composed of the "hotter sort of Protestants", individuals who exhibited more than a courteous distaste for the Roman Catholic faith. But as Peter Lake has reminded us, anti-popery can hardly be regarded as a exclusively Puritan trait.(71) Indeed, those with "precise" inclinations were quick to distance themselves from the activities of the disorderly hordes, and to deny all responsibility for rousing the lawless multitude or stage-managing their terrorist attacks. One pamphleteer was horrified to hear such "unruly voices crye out upon popery", aggrieved to see hooligans and thugs who "feared neither God nor men" metamorphosed overnight into "professors of the Gospell, and detesters of Antichrist". Their providential and anti-Catholic zeal, in his opinion, was merely an effective cover for "rifling" and "spoile", a form of camouflage for underhand criminal schemes.(72) This was Puritanism born not of personal regeneration nor a psychological struggle, but of hypocrisy, knavery and material greed.

What we are observing, then, is an occasion on which the culture of festive licence and the culture of a militant brand of Calvinism briefly converged, a fleeting moment when a precarious and impermanent alliance was forged between those nicknamed "Puritans" and those they in turn deemed profane and impious.(73) This is a situation which gives further substance to recent suggestions that in times of crisis radical Protestants could influence and mobilize bodies of opinion far broader than the select and cliquish company of the "saints" -- a conjunction of circumstances which may help explain how the entire country became embroiled in full-scale civil war in 1642. It adds weight to Peter Lake's argument that of late "we may have been seduced into taking too adversarial a view of the relationship between Puritanism and popular culture".(74)

If anti-Catholicism was a fundamental common denominator in post-Reformation religion, an ideological cement uniting the diverse strands within the Elizabethan and early Stuart Church, so too I suspect were shared assumptions about God's propensity to meddle directly in earthly affairs. Providentialism was possibly one more respect in which Protestantism, far from smothering and eradicating "superstition", helped in fact to sustain and intensify it, and to reinforce key elements of an older cosmology.(75) Popular notions of the mechanisms by which divine justice worked and the eschatological significance of particular manifestations of God's wrath probably only loosely overlapped and imperfectly corresponded with the predestinarian doctrine expounded by university-educated curates and vicars. Many were apt to ignore the repeated warnings of their ministers about the evils of prying into God's unfathomable judgements and infer that the sould of individuals struck down in their prime were perpetually damned in hell. Those killed in the Blackfriars accident, remarked one foreign emissary, were adjudged "guilty even in death by the rabid opinion of the heretical multitude".(76) The urban crowd apparently had little time for the intellectual equivocations of its clerical teachers. But for all these subtle discrepancies, the outlook of godly Protestants was by no means as incompatible with that of the ordinary people as is generally implied.(77)


One legacy of a decade and a half of revisionist assessments of the impact and course of the English Reformation has been an enduring scepticism about the extent to which Protestantism, a religion forbiddingly abstract in its emphasis on the spoken and written word, could appeal to a generation whose cultural and ecclesiastical heritage was intensely visual. As Margaret Aston has shown, Calvinist ideology drove "a wedge of conscientious objection" between the graphic arts and spiritual experience, implanting in the logocentric psyche of many Protestants deepseated inhibitions about the legitimacy of the pictorial medium. Increasingly rigorous and dogmatic application of the injunction against idolatry contained in the second commandment created an atmosphere which was not merely iconoclastic but, as Patrick Collinson has persuaded us, profoundly iconophobic. Protestants, it is argued, systematically extended the ban on image-making to preclude most forms of secular representation as well. Repudiation of the medieval cliche that pictures were illiterate "laymen's books", valuable devotional aids and pedagogic tools, encouraged a lasting antipathy to art per se, a "creeping ascetic totalitarianism" which all but extinguished creative instincts in this area for the half-century after 1580.(78)

But Tessa Watt's study of religious woodcuts and other cheap broadside prints has modified this view, refined the stark vision of a society suffering from severe "visual anorexia", a culture shrinking from iconography of any kind. As she has shown, the early seventeenth century in fact saw a major expansion in the London print-selling trade. It witnessed the emergence of a new interest in the craft of copper engraving, as well as the birth, or rather the resuscitation, of an older tradition of visual propaganda.(79) This is the backdrop against which I want to place the dramatic print of the Blackfriars accident I introduced at the beginning (Plate 1), a picture dominated by a central providential motif.

Before unveiling it for a second inspection, something more should be said about the upsurge in the production of anti-Catholic art which marked the Jacobean period. The early English reformers were by no means hesitant about harnessing this medium for polemical objectives, for they enthusiastically borrowed and adapted the imaginative formulae and themes of the illustrated broadsheets that proliferated in Lutheran Germany. The scanty evidence we have seems to confirm Collinson's suggestion that the second-generation Calvinists who were their successors had far more misgivings. Their Stuart descendants, however, appear to have had rather fewer reservations about dabbling in this sphere. Although a mere handful of examples of this ephemeral genre survives, it is striking that nearly all the anti-Catholic cartoons in the British Museum's collection of satirical prints postdate Elizabeth I's death.(80) It was with the collapse of censorship during the Civil War that the genre fully matured, but this type of propaganda also appears to have flourished in the early 1620s, coinciding with the heightening of confessional tensions at the time of the Spanish match. This was an impression which some contemporary publicists were anxious to promote: in Thomas Scott's infamous Vox Populi, for instance, the character of the Spanish Ambassador, Gondomar, is made to admonish the English Jesuits and secular priests to spare no effort to buy up every copy of "scandalous" pictures which came out "to our prejudice", and to "burne them forthwith".(81) Were such prints an attempt to counteract the pernicious effects of the "superstitious" Catholic images Protestants feared were infiltrating every corner of the land? Along with crucifixes, relics, rosaries and other such trumpery, "papisticall pictures" devised to captivate the simple were being exported and publicly displayed for sale, "with much outfacing and ostentation on their side". One member of the 1621 Parliament reported to the House of Commons that in Lancashire these items were "openly made and showed in the streets". Traditional icons of the holy family and the saints were not the sole focus of complaint: equally disturbing was the visual propaganda flooding in from the Low Countries designed to pervert the loyalty of English subjects to the monarchy, government and the established church.(82) The patriotic images which Protestants developed in response commemorated the supreme instances of providential deliverance already enshrined in the mythology of English nationhood, pre-eminently the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot.

But to return to our present concern: an eye-catching representation of the Blackfriars accident now in the possession of the British Museum. The work of an anonymous engraver, No Plot No Powder was marketed in single sheet form by a resourceful young Puritan book- and print-seller, Thomas Jenner, from his shop at London's Royal Exchange door. Jenner was a print-seller rapidly establishing a profitable trade in religious art to suit the tastes of the pious urban middle class, a godly entrepreneur who in the 1640s was to offer his professional services to the leaders of the Parliamentary cause.(83) Though this engraving probably appeared only several months after the event, it left its viewers in no doubt whatsoever that the catastrophe on 26 October was an act of capital punishment executed by an implacably anti-Catholic deity. The artist has evoked in gratuitous detail the appalling spectacle of a divine judgement against the avowed enemies of the Protestant faith. The finger of God points menacingly from the clouds, shooting a beam of supernatural light to pierce the preacher "Drew(a)ry's" heart and silence his Antichristian discourse forever. Its uncompromising inscription, "DIGITVS DEI HIC CONFV =", only adds to the macabre effect. All around him masonry crumbles and monumental pillars topple, heavy timbers groan and then snap, crushing the richly attired evensong crowd -- a far cry from the humble reality of a rickety garret overloaded with representatives of every rank and creeed. The dismembered bodies of the Jesuit's auditors are placed at excruciating angles; their faces stare out bewildered and stunned. Some exclaim popishly in the midst of their ordeal "ora pro nobis (pray for us)". Others are clearly determined to desert the Church of Rome without further delay: their cartoon bubbles enclose terse anti-Catholic epigrams. "Masse is misery", one wails; "Ile go no more to masse", another fervently vows. At once emblematic and photographic, the cataclysmic scene is an arresting parody of the havoc wrought by Samson in the temple of his Philistine persecutors. In other respects it resembles mid-sixteenth-century book illustrations of the apocalytic overthrow of the mystic whore of Babylon, the pope. (Plates 2 and 3.)(84) The heavy-handed four-line stanza below was a superfluous post-Restoration addition.(85)


Yet there remain puzzling elements in this compelling print. How, for example, do we interpret its rather cryptic heading and the obscure scripture text lettered along the bottom edge? But these perplexing features immediately become self-explanatory when No Plot No Powder is juxtaposed with two other contemporary engravings bearing the titles A Plot with Powder and A Plot without Powder. (Plates 4 and 5.)(86) It formed, therefore, the third panel in a polemical triptych. In view of their unmistakable stylistic affinities and compositional symmetry, there can be little doubt that the three were originally issued as a series and designed to be contemplated in succession and side by side. These particular copies are specimens of different impressions made from recycled plates in varying states of simplification, deterioration and decay. Periodically revamped and republished, this seems to have been a extremely popular set of topical prints.(87)


First the eye of the beholder was to be confronted by a familiar tableau -- the arch-traitor Guy Fawkes ("Faux"), equipped with a lantern and robed in a long flowing cloak, is providentially detected as he stealthily approaches the cellar under Parliament House and prepares to set a match to the barrels of gunpowder and explode his monarch and countrymen to smithereens. Next the curtain opens to reveal a scheming conclave of Jesuits seated around a square table littered with all manner of religious paraphernalia, conspiring by means of the Spanish match to bring England back into the Catholic fold and under the subjection of Philip IV. But in this theatre, the usual masks of comedy and tragedy have been replaced by gargoyles of the devil and a fiendish, triple-tiara'd pope, who urge on the villainous company below. And in the third act of this divine drama, truth is permitted to triumph once more: the perpetrators of plots with and without powder are violently surprised and overwhelmed. At "Blackefriars" in 1623 God has at last revenged the "Black Deeds" done in Westminster in 1605, and the "Black Breed" that clandestinely intrigued in Fetter Lane, Holborn, around 1620. As the swallow-tailed banners flying in the left and right corners of the triptych proclaim, there is neat poetic justice in the fact that the treachery of 5 November "Old Stile" should be requited on 5 November "New Stile". The caption carried across from Guy Fawkes's cloak to Robert Drury's surplice also clumsily insists that this is a simple case of cause and effect: "Faux why Drew (a)ry".(88)

The biblical verses engraved beneath each picture are taken from the Old Testament (2 Samuel 12:11-12). One one level, they amount to nothing more than a vulgar anti-Catholic brag, a slogan of self-congratulation that the shady dealings of the papists behind closed doors will eventually be brought to light and punished in full public view: "This thou didst secretly, but I wil doe this before the sunne". But the scriptural context of this passage requires closer consideration. God speaks here through the prophet Nathan, delivering a chilling sentence against King David, who has committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and effectively murdered her husband by sending him to certain slaughter in battle: "Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine owne house". The typological implications are clearly problematical. Is the divine chastisement visited on the royal house of Israel an allegory of the future fortunes of the Stuart line? Is it England's intended alliance with Antichrist, her licentious liaison with the Catholic Infanta, or the spirit of compromise with popery which was beginning to characterize government policy, which will likewise kindle the Lord's wrath? Are these prints a defiant final protest against the Spanish match, against dynastic and ecclesiastical policies believed to be prostituting the integrity of the Protestant nation?

Perhaps these engravings contained no such clever riddles and hidden political barbs. But even as an entirely conventional expression of popular anti-popery they were potentially inflammatory. So the Ipswich preacher Samuel Ward had discovered to his cost two years earlier when he attempted to publish an equally impertinent cartoon in "memorye" of England's "double deliveraunce from the invincible Navie and the unmatcheable powder Treason". (Plate 6.) With the Habsburg marriage negotiations at a sensitive stage, it is no wonder that a print which depicted the intervention of providence -- here symbolized by the Tetragrammaton (the Hebrew name for God) and the allseeing eye, rather than by an anthropomorphic divine hand -- against the pope colluding with Satan and the Spanish king to contrive "some rate stratagem" by which "Great Brytanes State ruinate should bee" was construed as a personal insult to Philip IV. It was a tactless display of artistic talent which permanently tarnished Ward's reputation and blighted his subsequent career. Provoking a formal protest from Count Gondomar, this ingenious artefact manufactured in Amsterdam earned him an extended term in prison.(89) In a petition to James I in the spring of 1622, Ward claimed to have invented this "embleme" of the extraordinary blessings God had lavished upon England "five yeeres since in imitacion of auntient rites ... without anie ... sinister intencion, especiallie of meddling in any of your Majesties secrett affaires". A bookseller's notice advertised it as a "monument" "[n]ecessary to be had in the House of every good Christian, to shew Gods loving and wonderfull providence, over this Kingdome, when the Papists twise sought their utter ruine & subvertion".(90) This was the type of religious picture it was appropriate to hang above a Puritan mantelpiece.(91)


Ward's controversial rendering of this previously unexceptionable theme evidently inspired the unknown engraver of the Powder Plot prints, for the first is a reversed mirror image, a near facsimile of the concluding frame. And the second was surely based on, or alternatively the basis for, an illustration prepared by the Dutchman Crispin van de Passe for Thomas Scott's suppressed Vox Populi, part two. (Plate 7.)(92) Could Ward or Scott conceivably have designed or commissioned all three? We can only speculate, but whoever was the driving force behind it must have been aware he was playing with fire -- "inventing" providential "monuments" had already proved to be fraught with political risk. Virulent anti-popery did enjoy something of an Indian summer after the fiasco of the Spanish match, but the interdict against it was all too soon renewed.(93)



It certainly seems more than a coincidence that Thomas Scott preached and published a sermon about the Blackfriars catastrophe soon after it occurred. Having already incensed the authorities with half a dozen pamphlets reviling the projected Habsburg marriage and insisting upon the moral necessity of military intervention in the Thirty Years War, it is hardly surprising that Scott took the precaution of entrusting his latest tirade against Antichrist to a Dutch press. For even without the stigma of his name on its cover, Digitus Dei is unlikely to have escaped censorship at home.(94) Precisely where or when this diatribe was first delivered is still a mystery. Early in 1621, having "forenotice of the pursevant", Scott had prudently fled, and he is known to have been in the Netherlands by the following year.(95) Perhaps it was first heard at Utrecht where he served as chaplain to the English garrison stationed there, or by a congregation of exiled English Calvinists elsewhere in the Low Countries? Whichever the case, Digitus Dei reached a much larger invisible audience across the Channel, becoming incorporated in the collected edition of the Vox Populi tracts.

Scott selected as his text Luke 13:5, "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish", and proceeded to apply it to his "present purpose" -- an uncompromising exposition of the religio-political significance of the recent tragedy. This so-called "accident", he declared, could not be satisfactorily explained by reference to the whims of Lady Fortune and her handmaid Chance: these were fabulous notions begotten by the "Dwarfe Ignorance" and the "Monster Atheisme".(96) To say that God had no role in it was wicked and absurd. The calamity was indisputably a premeditated supernatural act, a consummation of biblical promises made in the infancy of the world: "We see what lately hath befalne the Sinagogue of Satan, the Temple of Baal, the Image of Dagon, the Sonnes of Antichrist, the Children of Babylon, who sought to bring all the Roman Idolatries, and Whorish Superstitions into the Land: how the Lord overwhelmed them, and brought upon them sodaine destruction, as he had long before threatned in his Word". Scott claimed to relate this catastrophe "not as a man that tooke delight in blood", but as one who bemoaned the loss of his "own deare Countrimen", lamenting their "obstinate blindnesse" in falling head first into the Jesuits' trap. Their allotted place in the predestinarian order, he emphasized, was "sealed up in seacret from us" until the Last Judgement -- none should presume they were eternally doomed. But "this great work" of God's justice was nevertheless to be blazoned abroad, not whitewashed and covered up. This was "a notorious Sacrelige", and "Prince, Priest, and People", he warned, would "pay for the concealement by some severe and strickt Inquisition".(97)

Scott considered this providential disaster all the "more remarkeable" for "being done upon them who stand upon Miracles, for the confirmation of their falsehoods", especially when they prated of "restauration" and expected "an Omen of good lucke" and encouragement instead, to "reestablish them in the common mans conceit". God in effect had pre-empted the announcement of the royal pardon which Catholics so vainly paraded as a fait accompli. He had made a mocking spectacle of a religion grounded on pretence and deceit, a faith that taught its adherents "to commit Spirituall Fornication under the shew of Sanctitie and Holinesse" and played with "the Word and Sacraments in a most Anticke or Apish fashion". It was therefore entirely fitting that the unmasking of Antichrist should be next to take centre stage in the theatre of his judgements. This illegal chapel was as lewd and profane as the playhouses nearby; its fall bore comparison with the collapse of stands full of bear-baiting fans one Sunday at Paris Garden exactly forty years before.(98)

The harsh discipline dealt out to their "Brethren in the Black-Fryars" should compel all Catholics to acknowledge that Rome was the Babylonish whore spoken of in the book of Revelation, and convince them of the wisdom of hearkening to God's call to "Come out of her my People that ye be not partakers of her sinnes, and that ye receive not of her plagues".(99) Scott gave free rein to his viciously satirical tongue in arguing that the accident exposed the impotence of Catholic ecclesiastical magic: none of their "toyes" and "trash" -- idols, crosses, talismans or Agnus Dei -- had shielded the superstitious laity from this lethal blow. This should open the eyes of these "bewitched Customers" and "abate the price and esteeme" of such worthless "merchandize". Furthermore, "[t]heir Saints and tutelar Angels ... were verie negligent in their cures and charges". And "[w]hat", he scoffed, "became of those Wafer-cakes which the Priest had before turned into gods ... What were all of them brayned with the Timber and Brickbats ...?" Unless false witnesses could be hired to say they had seen the "consecrated Cakes rise alone from under the ruines", none would ever believe in the error of transubstantiation again -- "except such as you with the Cup of Abhominations have transubstantiated or transformed Spiritually ... into such Don Quixshots or Gorgantuahs as would eat up their God Almightie at a mouthfull, or in their melancholly mood imagine themselves to be such Monsters as could doe it".(100)

Scott's anti-popery was unusually scurrilous, but nothing quoted above departs very drastically from the remarks made in pamphlets licensed for the press. What was dangerous was the way in which he teased out the seditious implications inherent in his position. Scott asserted that it was "the silence of all men at that time and in that action" that had provoked God "to speake and to doe" -- the tacit and universal sanction given to the current "encrochments of Antichrist". He vigorously rebuked those who had held their peace for fear of being "counted factious, furious, and hot-headed fellowes" and rendered ineligible for "preferment and imployment": "neither shall they escape the Hand of God, but he will find them out, and punish their falshood and faintnesse in his cause".(101) Scott detected this kind of Laodicean lukewarmness in official reluctance to implement the recusancy laws, in the crypto-popery creeping into "the heart and bosome" of the Stuart court and state, in the pro-Catholic character of domestic religious policy -- not to mention long-term dynastic plans.(102) It was not the "sodaine reentrance of Antichrist" that must be guarded against, but "his slye insinuation", and "their wiles who pretend to worke reconcilement, and say that humour is too much stird upon both sides". Backsliding towards Rome, accepting "the least market of the Beast which we have long cast off, therby to buy our peace, and to endeare our entertainment", was "to sinne with a high Hand against the Light of Knowledge", the Holy Ghost.(103)

As the suppression in August 1624 of Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chesse revealed, the expression of savagely anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish sentiments was still considered to be internationally indiscreet. It is worth remembering that this was a context in which, even after the exhilaration at Prince Charles's return, rumours about his marriage to the Infanta Maria continued to fester and spread.(104) Scott had the added temerity to redirect his venomous anti-popery inwards to dissect tendencies he conceived to be poisoning and debauching the civil and ecclesiastical establishment from within.

Digitus Dei was just one symptom of the extent to which preaching became politicized in the Jacobean period. During the early 1620s, a string of clergymen had been imprisoned or severely reprimanded for deploring James's pacific foreign policy from prominent London pulpits -- not least Paul's Cross. Godly ministers who adopted a hard line against Rome, particularly with an apocalyptic or hispanophobic twist, were angrily muzzled -- few of these incendiary sermons passed into print. In August 1622, only two days after the suspension of the recusancy laws, the king took even sharper measures, issuing directions to restrain the "abuses and extravagances" that abounded in contemporary preaching, outlawing discussion of matters of state and "deep" theological doctrines like predestination, as well as all "bitter invectives and indecent railings" against the Catholic faith.(105) But as Anthony Milton's important forthcoming book will reveal, these efforts to curb anti-papal rhetoric were indicative of a more generally repressive trend. The devaluation of impassioned polemic against Antichrist was one tell-tale sign of the changing ideological temper of the episcopal hierarchy. The aggressive anti-popery that had been the bread and butter of mainstream Elizabethan preachers came to be regarded as one of the outrageous excesses of a deviant sectarian fringe. It came to be associated exclusively with that segment of contemporary society which an ascendant Arminianism was tarring with brush of "Puritanism", unorthodoxy and schism. Once the rallying-cry of a consensually Calvinist Church -- an accepted means by which moderate Puritans could demonstrate their fidelity and conformity to the establishment while affirming their commitment to further ecclesiological reform -- anti-Catholicism grew into a major source of religious contention and dissent. The opportunities it afforded to criticize the new "popish" virus infecting the Church of England eliminated it as a sphere of discourse into which radical Protestant zeal could safely be channelled.(106)

A similar shift can be discerned in relation to providential preaching. Fire and brimstone denunciations of God's judgements on the iniquitous English nation were the staple fare of Elizabethan sermon gadders. Assuming the mantle of the Old Testament prophets, Protestant ministers of all persuasions thundered out well-worn themes -- they predicted the divine punishments that would overtake a people as "froward", incorrigible and "stiff necked" as the Jews, analysed the ominous signs of the times, and identified the particular transgressions that were hauling down supernatural plagues from heaven. Until perhaps the 1620s, this was a paradigm that tended to underwrite rather than undermine the existing order: it was moral and social failings, rather than political shortcomings, which were considered to be the bane of the land. Thereafter, the "scapegoat" sins deemed to be infuriating the Almighty were of a distinctly less innocuous type.(107) Bravely, late Jacobean preachers began to attribute past and impending catastophes to England's evasion of her responsibility to relieve her afflicted Protestant cousins abroad and royal hesitation to take action to recover the Palatinate, to the scandal of the Spanish match and the government's connivance at the idolatry committed by its Catholic subjects. Outrage about the persons and institutions countenancing violations of divine law, moreover, started to eclipse and outweigh indignation against the offenders themselves. The clergy became less preoccupied with individual papists than with the public bodies turning a blind eye to recusancy and overtly seeking to establish a modus vivendi with Rome.(108)

As David Cressy has shown, ritual celebration of the red-letter days in the calendar of the Protestant nation's miraculous deliverances from Catholic oppression and cruelty evolved into a polemically charged exercise too. The rehearsal of these mercies in anniversary sermons and other books of remembrance became distasteful and embarrassing to an ecumenically minded Arminian regime. Patriotic providentialism took on an increasingly strident and partisan tone: popular festive practices incurred official displeasure, and Puritans who used such occasions to emphasize the hazards of relapsing into popish superstition, or to condemn the liturgical innovations introduced by Laudian prelates, were relentlessly persecuted and harassed.(109)

The "fatall vesper" of 26 October 1623 was itself assimilated into this controversial historical tradition. Elevated to the status of a sacred date in the epic tale of Protestant England's victory over popery, the episode acquired lasting and semi-mythical significance. When Theodore Hering preached in the parish church of St Anne, Blackfriars, in 1625 it was hardly necessary to remind the community he addressed of the providential disaster that had happened on its doorstep just two years before: "Witnesse this day of dayes", he exhorted his hearers, "on the morning of our fifth of November, they would have blowne us up; on the evening of their fifth of November, God beate them downe".(110) In 1626, John Wilson of Boston, Lincolnshire, recollected the accident in jingoistic doggerel verse:

...that we all might learne to flee,

From Babell and her dung,

Least for our filthinesse we be,

Into her sorrows flung.(111) By the 1630s, the "Black Frier fall" was a standard entry in almanacs: two compiled by Richard Allestree even highlighted its ignominious link with the plot hatched by the "powder Papists" in the autumn of 1605.(112) The disaster was also one of the "publique deliverances" for which the Harleys gave heartfelt thanks at household prayer meetings held at Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire in February and April 1633. It became a favourite subject for set pieces by young Oxbridge scholars, an ideal theme for loyal elegies displaying academic Latin eloquence.(113) John Vicars stressed the retributive connection between the "Powder-Plott" and the "Fatall Fall" in England's Hallelu-jah in 1631, declaring the accident "A Type of Justice on the Rabble of Rome". And in 1636 Henry Burton alluded to the calamity in For God, and the King, the explosive anti-Arminian anniversary sermon for which he later lost his ears. It numbered among the examples of "Gods heavi Judgements on Sabbath breakers" privately compiled by the London artisan Nehemiah Wallington, who enlisted the downfall of this impious conventicle for a new Puritan agenda -- as further proof of divine rage at the Caroline reissue of the 1617 Book of Sports.(114) Thomas Fuller assigned the "dolefull even-song" a prominent place in his influential Church-History of Britain, published during the Interegnum in 1655, and it continued to appear in encyclopaedic anthologies of providences like Samuel Clarke's Mirrour or Looking-Glasse both for Saints, and Sinners.(115)

Indeed, in 1657 Clarke appended a narrative of this seemingly indelible event to his England's Remembrancer -- a cheap duodecimo tract recounting the "never to be forgotten deliverances" of '88 and 1605. He pirated William Gouge's report of the accident and added a crude fold-out copy of the No Plot No Powder print. (Plate 8.) Clarke had prepared this historical pocket-book for the benefit and edification of the poor and their children. His subject was hardly original, he admitted, but it had previously been treated only in expensive bulky volumes, which were neither affordable with "every ones money" nor "fit for every Family".(116) His Remembrancer aimed to stir up gratitude to God, accord him glory and the papists "perpetual infamy"; it was designed to revive the memory of mercies and judgements which "some noted persons amongst us" seemed intent on extinguishing altogether. Subsequently something of a classic, Clarke's chapbook sought, in effect, to inject providentialism artificially into popular culture. Perhaps, however, it already had a tenacious grip on the early modern imagination.(117)


It is becoming conventional to argue that anti-Catholicism represented a region of ideological common ground between the self-styled minority of "perfect" Protestants and the vast mass of "the people".(118) Providentialism, this essay has implicitly suggested, might be viewed in a similar light. It was an assortment of habits of thought that at least had the potential to be absorbed and integrated into the new theological framework of post-Reformation predestinarianism. it permits us a glimpse of the rough and irregular interface between clerically prescribed Calvinist religiosity and the mentality of sections of lay society awkwardly, if not improperly, aligned with the "godly" elite -- at least in the context of late Jacobean London. Far from a set of bizarre phobias and irrational beliefs, providentialism, like anti-poperty, could on occasion operate as a coherent and unifying force. But, as we have seen, it could also contribute to the creation of a dangerously polarized urban political scene. Indeed by the third decade of the seventeenth century, providence, as a concept, was no longer politically benign. The language, interpretation and application of God's judgements were generating conflict and exacerbating divisions at the highest levels of church and state. The exponents of its more inflexible and revolutionary forms were finding themselves progressively marginalized from the early Stuart establishment.

(1)The most detailed accounts of the accident, based on eye-witness reports and including the coroner's list of the victims, can be found in W. C., The Fatall Vesper: or, A True and Punctuall Relation of that Lamentable and Fearefull Accident, Hapning on Sunday in the Afternoone being the 26. of October Last, by the Fall of a Roome in the Black-Friers (London, 1623, S.T.C. 6015) (often erroneously attributed to the Puritan divine William Crashaw); Thomas Goad, The Dolefull Even-Song: or, A True, Particular and Impartiall Narration of that Fearefull and Sudden Calamity, which Befell the Preacher Mr. Drury a Jesuite, in the Black-Friers on Sunday the 26. of Octob. Last, in the Afternoone (London, 1623, S.T.C. 11923); and William Gouge, The Extent of Gods Providence, Set out in a Sermon, Preached in Black-Fryers Church, v. Nov. 1623. On Occasion of the Downefall of Papists in a Chamber at the Said Black-Fryers, 1623. Oct. 27. stilo vet. Nov. 5. stilo novo, bound with Gods Three Arrowes: Plague, Famine, Sword, in Three Treatises (London, 1631, S.T.C. 12116), esp. pp. 393-400. See also the London newsletters received by the Cambridge don Joseph Mead and sent on to Sir Martin Stutevile: British Library, London (hereafter Brit. Lib.), Harleian MS. 389, fos. [372.sup.r]-[374.sup.v], which include an early uncorrected version of Goad's Dolefull Even-Song. For a comprehensive, if partisan, account of the accident, incorporating lengthy transcriptions from relevant contemporary publications and manuscripts, see Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, ed. Henry Foley, 7 vols. in 8 (London, 1877-84), i, pp. 76-97. The catastrophe is not recorded in the parish register of St Anne, Blackfriars, but two of the dead were buried in its churchyard on 28 October: Guildhall Library, London, MS. 4510/1 ("Register of Burials, 1566-1700").

(2)Thomas Cogswell, "England and the Spanish Match", in Richard Cust and Ann Hughes (eds.), Conflict in Early Stuart England: Studies in Religion and Politics, 1603-1642 (London, 1989), pp. 107-33, esp. p. 127. The accident is briefly discussed in T. H. B. M. Harmsen, John Gee's Foot Out of the Snare (1624) (Nijmegen, 1992), pp. 49-56. For further analysis of the early 1620s background, see Thomas Cogswell, The Blessed Revolution: English Politics and the Coming of War, 1621-1624 (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 6-53. On the popular response to Prince Charles's home-coming, see David Cressy, Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (London, 1989), ch. 6.

(3)Public Record Office, London, State Papers (hereafter P.R.O., S.P.) 14/154/17 (John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton, 8 Nov. 1623), printed in The Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. Norman Egbert McClure, 2 vols. (Amer. Philos. Soc. Memoirs, xii, Philadelphia, 1939), ii, p. 521; Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, p. 392.

(4)See Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fos. [372.sup.r]-[377.sup.r], [381.sup.r]. A number of letters on the subject are preserved in P.R.O., S.P. 14/153/103, 104, 106, 108; 14/154/2, 17, 28, 55. See also the Norfolk gentleman Thomas Knyvett's letter to his wife ([27 Oct. - 2 Nov. 1623]): The Knyvett Letters (1620-1644), ed. Bertram Schofield (London, 1949), pp. 61-2 (I owe this reference to Arnold Hunt). The future governor of Massachusetts wrote to a friend in London on 11 November begging him "when you goe by Pouls buye me the book of the relation of the Blackfryars accident": The Winthrop Papers, ed. G. W. Robinson et al., 6 vols. (Massachusetts Hist. Soc., Boston, 1929-92), i, p. 291. It was recorded in the diaries of Sir Simonds D'Ewes: The Diary of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (1622-1624): journal d'un etudiant londonien sous le regne de Jacques 1er, ed. Elisabeth Bourcier (Publications de la Sorbonne, Litteratures, v, Paris, 1975), pp. 167-8, cf. The Autobiography and Correspondence of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Bart., during the Reigns of James I and Charles I, ed. J. O. Halliwell, 2 vols. (London, 1845), i, p. 238; the Dorchester merchant William Whiteway: Brit. Lib., Egerton MS. 784, fo. [35.sup.r], printed in William Whiteway of Dorchester: His Diary, 1618 to 1635 (Dorset Rec. Soc., xii, Dorchester, 1991), p. 55; the Devonshire J.P. Walter Yonge: Brit. Lib., Add. MS. 28032, fo. [54.sup.v], printed in Diary of Walter Yonge, Esq. Justice of the Peace and M.P. for Honiton, Written at Colyton and Axminster, Co. Devon, from 1604 to 1628, ed. George Roberts (Camden Soc., 1st ser., xli, London, 1847), p. 70; and in the notebook of the Catholic divine John Southcote: "The Notebook of John Southcote, D.D., 1628-36", ed. J. H. Pollen, in Miscellanea I (Catholic Rec. Soc. Pubns, i, London, 1905), p. 99.

(5)Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, preached on 5 November. John Chamberlain had apparently heard several sermons preached shortly after the accident which touched on the subject: P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 521: "I commend our preachers cariage in this accident, for generally they do not dilate nor aggravate yt very much, and for those that I have heard yf they touch yt at al, they do yt temperatly and charitablie".

(6)In addition to Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, and W. C., Fatall Vesper (see n. 1. above), the following publications (which perhaps represent only a portion of the original output) have survived: a ballad by Mathew Rhodes, The Dismall Day, at the Black-Fryers: or, A Deplorable Elegie, on the Death of Almost an Hundred Persons, who were Lamentably Slaine by the Fall of a House in the Blacke-Fryers (London, 1623, S.T.C. 20961.5); an anonymous pamphlet entitled Something Written by Occasion of that Fatall and Memorable Accident in the Blacke Friers on Sunday, being the 26. of October 1623, stilo antiquo, and the 5. of November stilo novo, or romano ([London], 1623, S.T.C. 3101); a tract by the Jesuit John Floyd, who identified himself by the letters I. R. P., A Word of Comfort: or, A Discourse Concerning the Late Lamentable Accident of the Fall of a Roome, at a Catholike Sermon, in the Black-Friars at London ... Written for the Comfort of Catholiks, and Information of Protestants ([St Omer], 1623, S.T.C. 11118). Facing hte title-page of Cambridge University Library's copy of Goad's Dolefull Even-Song (Peterborough K.1.19(15)) a contemporary reader has transcribed a witty squib, "The Priests Epitaph who suffered Death in that Downefall", which concludes "Perhaps youl' say it was a strang disaster, / Though they dyde like his sheepe, he like their Pastor. / Let us like Christians judge them, we all hope, / Theire thoughts were then on Christ, not on the Pope". Thomas Cogswell cites another poem on the subject, from a manuscript now in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.: Cogswell, "England and the Spanish Match", p. 128. Thomas Adams added an exhortatory epistle referring to the disaster to the published version of the sermon he had delivered at Paul's Cross on the morning of the unhappy event: T. Adams, The Barren Tree. A Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse October 26. 1623 (London, 1623, S.T.C. 106), sigs. A[4.sup.r-v]. In 1624 the Lancashire minister John Gee, who had himself attended Drury's sermon and escaped unhurt from the rubble, prefaced the book he published as evidence of his repentance and reconversion to Protestantism with an apology for his presence in the Blackfriars garret: J. Gee, The Foot Out of the Snare: With a Detection of Sundry Late Practices and Impostures of the Priests and Jesuites in England, 3rd edn (London, 1624, S.T.C. 11703), sigs. A[3.sup.r]-B[1.sup.r], pp. 5-7. He referred to it again in a sermon delivered almost exactly a year later: J. Gee, Hold Fast: A Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse upon Sunday, being the xxxi of October, Anno Domini 1624 (London, 1624, S.T.C. 11705), pp. 63-5. Goad, chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury, interrogated Gee when he was summoned to Lambeth to explain his deviant behaviour, and his own pamphlet is undoubtedly derived from this examination. He may also have used his position as licenser of the press to call in W. C.'s earlier Fatall Vesper and thereby ensure the success and precedence of The Dolefull Even-Song. On these and other bibliographical matters, see Arthur Freeman, "The Fatal Vesper and The Doleful Evensong: Claim-Jumping in 1623", Library, 5th ser., xxii (1967), pp. 128-35; John Crow, "Thomas Goad and The Dolefull Even-Song: An Editorial Experiment", Trans. Cambridge Bibliog. Soc., i (1949-53), pp. 238-59.

(7)Spain and the Jacobean Catholics, ed. Albert J. Loomie, 2 vols. (Catholic Rec. Soc. Pubns, lxiv, lxviii, London, 1973-8), ii, p. 157 (document 56, Marquis of La Ynojosa to Philip IV, 9 Nov. 1623).

(8)Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. I[1.sup.v]; cf. Diary of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ed. Bourcier, p. 168.

(9)See, for instance, Something Written, pp. 11, 28; W. C., Fatall Vesper, sig. F[1.sup.v].

(10)Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. H[2.sup.v], H[3.sup.r-v]; Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, p. 5.

(11)Judg. 16; 1 Sam. 5; Num. 16; Isa. 43; Rev. 14-18.

(12)This Roman Catholic renaissance is documented in Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, and Hold Fast. In his Latin history of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, Henry More celebrated the mass conversions of this period, not least those wrought by William Whittingham, alias Rediate, the other Jesuit who perished at Blackfriars, commonly known as "Sacerdos Pauperum (the Priest of the Poor)": H. More, Historia provinciae anglicanae Societatis Jesu (Audomari [St Omer], 1660), fos. [451.sup.a]-[452.sup.a] (trans. Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, pp. 86-7). More generally, see Alan Dures, English Catholicism, 1558-1642 (Harlow, 1983), pp. 51-3; Caroline M. Hibbard, "Early Stuart Catholicism: Revisions and Re-Revisions", Jl Mod. Hist., lii (1980), esp. pp. 14-15.

(13)P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 521. Cf. Dudley Carleton's account, P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/2, and Sir Simonds D'Ewes's reflections in Autobiography and Correspondence of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ed. Halliwell, i. p. 238.

(14)The phrases "Sicilian Vespers" and "Sicilian Evensong" in fact had a proverbial character in the seventeenth century. Randle Cotgrave, A Dictionarye of the French and English Tongues (London, 1611, S.T.C. 5830), records under "Vespres Siciliennes", "mischiefes done, or death inflicted, in a place, and time, of imagined securitie". Describing the event in his The Historie of the Holy Warre (Cambridge, 1639, S.T.C. 11464), Thomas Fuller wrote: "Hence grew the proverb of the Sicilian Vespers; though their Even-song was nothing to the English Mattens intended in the Gunpowder treason" (p. 223). I owe both the point and the references to Dr Margaret Aston.

(15)Something Written, p. 14. For official instructions to the judges regarding the suspension of prosecutions against recusancy and the release of imprisoned Catholics in August 1622, see P.R.O., S.P. 14/132/84 and 15/42/88.

(16)Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. [12.sup.r-v]; Something Written, pp. 11-12, 18, 21; cf. Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, p. 393.

(17)P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 521.

(18)Something Written, pp. 15-16. See also W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. F[2.sup.r-v]; Autobiography and Correspondence of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ed. Halliwell, i. p. 238.

(19)The Works of the Most Reverend Father in God, William Laud, D.D., ed. W. Scott and J. Bliss, 7 vols. (Oxford, 1847-60), iii, p. 143. See also Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [374.sup.r].

(20)P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 521; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. B[2.sup.v]; Something Written, p. 12 According to the Jesuit Floyd this was a "farre fetcht argument": Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 37.

(21)Cressy, Bonfires and Bells, p. 94.

(22)Diary of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ed. Bourcier, p. 164.

(23)Cf. Richard Cust's suggestions about the way in which the circulation of news contributed to an excessively polarized view of early Stuart politics: R. Cust, "News and Politics in Early Seventeenth-Century England", Past and Present, no. 112 (Aug. 1986), pp. 60-90.

(24)W. C., Fatall Vesper, sig. C[3.sup.v]; P.R.O., 31/3/57, fo. [260.sup.r] (transcript of a letter in the Bibliotheque Nationale from Tillieres to M. de Puysieux in Calais, 7 Nov. 1623). For complaints about ambassadors' residences as the resorts of wealthy recusants, see Dures, English Catholicism, p. 52.

(25)Ford's entry in the Eltham parish register is transcribed in Daniel Lysons, The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages, and Hamlets, within Twelve Miles of that Capital; Interspersed with Biographical Anecdotes, 4 vols. (London, 1792-6), iv, p. 410. Cf. P.R.O., S.P. 14/153/104 (Henry Banister to Lord Zouch, 27 Oct. 1623).

(26)Something Written, p. 24; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. C[1.sup.r-v]. Cf. Floyd, Word of Comfort, pp. 37-8.

(27)Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [374.sup.r]; Brit. Lib., Add. MS. 28032, fo. [54.sup.v], printed in Diary of Walter Yonge, ed. Roberts, p. 70. See also W. C., Fatall Vesper, sig. D[2.sup.v]; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. H[3.sup.r]; Something Written, pp. 17, 28; D.N.B., s.n. Thomas Sutton. As Joseph Mead's London correspondent reported, Sutton's death had indeed been received with great rejoicing by the capital's "Popelings": Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [355.sup.r].

(28)Matt. 5:26. See Knyvett Letters, ed. Schofield, p. 62.

(29)P.R.O., S.P. 14/153/104 (Henry Banister to Lord Zouch, 27 Oct. 1623) and 14/154/2 (Dudley Carleton Esq. to Sir Dudley Carleton, 1 Nov. 1623); Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [355.sup.r].

(30)Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. D[2.sup.r-v]. See also Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 11.

(31)Adams, Barren Tree, sig. A[4.sup.v]. Cf. Something Written, pp. 13-14.

(32)Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, p. 6 and sig. B[1.sup.r]. Cf. Gee, Hold Fast, pp. 21-2, 63-5. The Foot Out of the Snare ran through four editions in 1624 alone. On Gee, see Arthur Freeman, Elizabeth's Misfits: Brief Lives of English Eccentrics, Exploiters, Rogues and Failures, 1580-1660 (London, 1978), pp. 51-87; Harmsen, John Gee's Foot Out of the Snare, esp. pt 1, ch. 2; Michael C. Questier, "John Gee, Archbishop Abbot, and the Use of Converts from Rome in Jacobean Anti-Catholicism", Recusant History, xxi (1993), pp. 347-60.

(33)Something Written, p. 14. See also Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [374.sup.v].

(34)P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/55 (Chamberlain to Carleton, 21 Nov. 1623), printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 526; Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, pp. 397-8; Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, p. 7.

(35)This marginal note can be found on sig. G[3.sup.v] of the copy of W. C., The Fatall Vesper, in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

(36)See respectively Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. E[2.sup.r-v] and W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. E[4.sup.r-v]; ibid., sig. E[1.sup.r]; cf. More, Historia provinciae anglicanae Societatis Jesu, fo. [452.sup.a] (trans. Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, p. 89).

(37)Floyd, Word of Comfort, pp. 3-4.

(38)Ibid., pp. 5, 11 and 6 respectively, cf. p. 12. See also More, Historia provinciae anglicanae Societatis Jesu, fo. [451.sup.b] (trans. Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, p. 87); Something Written, p. 9; W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. F[1.sup.v]-[2.sup.r].

(39)Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 27.

(40)Something Written, pp. 10-11; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. D[1.sup.r-v]; W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. F[1.sup.r-v]; Knyvett Letters, ed. Schofield, p. 62. On Dr Price, see Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [374.sup.r].

(41)Something Written, p. 10. According to Gee, Richard Linton, a "popish" parson of Middleton in Norfolk, preaching on the Sunday before Christmas 1623 declared that "the most of them were Martyrs and Saints in heaven, and desired that he might dye no other, or no worse death then they did"; the next Thursday he was reportedly killed by a piece of timber falling from his barn: Gee, Foot Out of the Snare (1624 edn, S.T.C. 11704), pp. 9-10.

(42)Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 48; More, Historia provinciae anglicanae Societatis Jesu, fos. [451.sup.b]-[452.sup.a] (trans. Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, p. 89). See also Something Written, p. 10; Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, pp. 6-7; Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [374.sup.v]; P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 520.

(43)Floyd, Word of Comfort, pp. 48, 21 and ch. 4.

(44)Ibid., p. 8.

(45)Ibid., chs. 1-2, quotations at pp. 11, 4, 27.

(46)Ibid., pp. 57, 53.

(47)Ibid., ch. 3, esp. pp. 27-32, quotations at pp. 20, 30.

(48)Thomas James, A Manuduction, or Introduction unto Divinitie: Containing a Confutation of Papists by Papists ([London], 1625, S.T.C. 14460), p. 127; 1624. Newes from Holland, True, Strange and Wonderfull (London, 1624, S.T.C. 13574), sig. A[2.sup.v]. Cf. Blair Worden's discussion of the "double thinking" and self-confirming quality of Civil War providentialism in "Providence and Politics in Cromwellian England", Past and Present, no. 109 (Nov. 1985), pp. 55-99.

(49)W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. B[4.sup.v]-C[1.sup.r]; Goad, Dolefull Enen-Song, sigs. A[3.sup.r-v], H[2.sup.v]-[3.sup.r].

(50)Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, p. 400. Cf. Something Written, pp. 1-3; Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, p. 7; Gee, Hold Fast, p. 64.

(51)Luke 13:3, 5. See Something Written, p. 3. This was coincidentally the chapter appointed in the Church of England's litany for matins the Monday morning after the accident: W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. B[2.sup.r-v]; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sigs. H[2.sup.v], H[3.sup.v].

(52)Adams, Barren Tree, sigs. A[4.sup.r-v]. Cf. Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. H[1.sup.r].

(53)See Adams, Barren Tree, sig. A[4.sup.r]; Goad, Dolefull Even-Song, sig. A[4.sup.r]; Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, p. 401, cf. pp. 379-81.

(54)Gouge, Extent of Gods Providence, p. 400.

(55)Something Written, pp. 4-7, quotation at pp. 4-5.

(56)Rhodes, Dismall Day.

(57)W. C., Fatall Vesper, sigs. B[2.sup.v]-[3.sup.r]. For suspicions about W. C.'s confessional identity, see Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fos. [377.sup.r], [381.sup.r]. Mead was informed that "there is another book since it which discovers him, but I have not seene it" -- sadly, it does not survive. The Jacobean owner of the Huntington Library's copy remarked on the title page that the author of the treatise seemed to be "a learned and moderate or temperate man". On the official recall of this pamphlet, see also Freeman, "Claim-Jumping in 1623".

(58)Floyd, Word of Comfort, pp. 42-3; Spain and the Jacobean Catholics, ed. Loomie, ii, p. 160 (a report of the archdeacon of Cambrai, 9 Nov. 1623); More, Historia provinciae anglicanae Societatis Jesu, fo. [451.sup.b] (trans. Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, p. 88); Calendar of State Papers, Venetian, xviii, p. 147 (no. 189, Alvise Valaresso to the doge and senate, 10 Nov. 1623).

(59)Something Written, p. 27; P.R.O., S.P. 14/153/103 (Secretary Calvert to Secretary Conway, 26 Oct. 1623); P.R.O., S.P. 14/154/17, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, pp. 520-1.

(60)See Robin Clifton, "Fear of Popery", in Conrad Russell (ed.), The Origins of the English Civil War (London, 1973), pp. 144-67; Robin Clifton, "The Popular Fear of Catholics during the English Revolution", Past and Present, no. 52 (Aug. 1971), repr. in Paul Slack (ed.), Rebellion, Popular Protest and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 129-61; Brian Manning, The English People and the English Revolution (Harmondsworth, 1976), ch. 2; Caroline M. Hibbard, Charles I and the Popish Plot (Chapel Hill, 1983), ch. 1.

(61)See "A Proclamation for suppressing insolent abuses committed by base people against persons of qualitie, as well Strangers as others, in the Streetes of the Citie and Suburbes of London, with the parts adjacent" (8 Apr. 1621), repr. in Stuart Royal Proclamations, ed. J. F. Larkin and P. L. Hughes, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1973-82), i, pp. 508-11, quotation at p. 509; Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, p. 46; Cogswell, "England and the Spanish Match", p. 125; K. J. Lindley, "Riot Prevention and Control in Early Stuart London", Trans. Roy. Hist. Soc., 5th ser., xxxiii (1983), pp. 111-12. This kind of abuse was still occurring in September 1623: P.R.O., S.P. 14/152/4, 40.

(62)Natalie Zemon Davis, "The Rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth-Century France", Past and Present, no. 59 (May 1973), repr. in her Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford, 1975), p. 159.

(63)Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 45.

(64)Cf. Davis, "Rites of Violence", pp. 159, 179-80, and R. W. Scribner's discussion of iconoclastic incidents in early Lutheran Germany: "Reformation, Carnival and the World Turned Upside-Down", Social History, iii (1978), repr. in his Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London, 1987), pp. 95-7.

(65)Lev. 20:2, 24:10-23; Num. 15:32-6; Deut. 17:5, 21:21, 22:21, 24; Ezek. 16:40, 23:47. Floyd drew attention to this too, denouncing the crowd's use of the "instruments of Jewish cruelty": Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 42. On cursing, see Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England (Harmondsworth, 1971), pp. 599-611; "A Commination against Sinners", in The Book of Common Prayer (1559), repr. in Liturgical Services: Liturgies and Occasional Forms of Prayer Set Forth in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, ed. William Keating Clay (Parker Soc., Cambridge, 1847), pp. 239-45.

(66)Cf. Davis, "Rites of Violence", p. 157; Scribner, "Reformation, Carnival and the World Turned Upside-Down", pp. 76, 95-7; Phyllis Mack Crew, Calvinist Preaching and Iconoclasm in the Netherlands, 1544-1589 (Cambridge, 1978), pp. 24-6.

(67)On this aspect of religious violence, see Scribner, "Reformation, Carnival and the World Turned Upside-Down", esp. pp. 87-9.

(68)Calendar of State Papers, Venetian, xviii, p. 147.

(69)Floyd, Word of Comfort, pp. 42-3, cf. p. 57. Here Floyd was exploiting a rhetoric developed by conformist divines in the campaign against Puritanism of the 1590s. He was deliberately alluding to Richard Cosin's Conspiracie, for Pretended Reformation: viz., Presbyteriall Discipline (London, 1591, S.T.C. 5823), which sought to discredit the entire Puritan movement on the basis of the fanatical activities of the pseudo-Messiah William Hacket and his accomplices Edmund Coppinger and Henry Arthington; and to Richard Bancroft's two tracts published in the wake of the scandalous Martin Marprelate affair: A Survey of the Pretended Holy Discipline (London, 1593, S.T.C. 1352); Dangerous Positions and Proceedings, Published and Practised... under Pretence of Reformation, and for the Presbiteriall Discipline (London, 1593, S.T.C. 1344). Floyd, Word of Comfort, p. 42, misquoted Richard Hooker's Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (London, 1604 edn, S.T.C. 13713), bk 4, p. 184: "Least (as a learned Protestant warnes them) under pretence of rooting out Popery, they bring extreme Barbarity into the Church". Nineteenth-century Catholic commentators perpetuated such opinions about the "Puritan mob": see, for instance, Records of the English Province, ed. Foley, i, p. 94.

(70)See, for example, Ben Jonson, The Alchemist, I. i. 127-9, and Bartholomew Fair, V. v. 77-80, in Three Comedies, ed. Michael Jamieson (Harmondsworth, 1966). See also Henry B. Wheatley, London Past and Present: Its History, Associations and Traditions, 3 vols. (London, 1891), i, p. 195; Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People, and its Places (London, 1873-8), 3 vols., i, pp. 201-4; Tai Liu, Puritan London: A Study of Religion and Society in the City Parishes (Newark, Del., 1986), pp. 41, 59.

(71)Peter Lake, "Anti-Popery: The Structure of a Prejudice", in Cust and Hughes (eds.), Conflict in Early Stuart England, p. 95 and pp. 72-106 passim.

(72)Something Written, p. 27.

(73)Cf. Cressy, Bonfires and Bells, p. 105.

(74)See Lake, "Anti-Popery", pp. 83, 93, 95-6. See also William Hunt, The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), ch. 11, esp. pp. 306-10; David Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 129, 140-1; Clifton, "Popular Fear of Catholics", p. 161; Manning, English People and the English Revolution, p. 42; Derek Hirst, The Representative of the People? Voters and Voting in England under the Early Stuarts (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 145-7.

(75)Suggestions along these lines have been made by Clive Holmes, "Popular Culture? Witches, Magistrates and Divines in Early Modern England", in Steven L. Kaplan (ed.), Understanding Popular Culture: Europe from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century (Berlin, 1984), esp. pp. 100, 105; Michael MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety and Healing in Seventeenth Century England (Cambridge, 1981), esp. pp. 167-8, 174, 218-19; Michael MacDonald, "Religion, Social Change and Psychological Healing in England, 1600-1800", in W. J. Sheils (ed.), The Church and Healing (Studies in Church Hist., xix, Oxford, 1982), esp. pp. 106-12; Michael MacDonald and Terence R. Murphy, Sleepless Souls: Suicide in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1990), esp. pp. 30-1, 76, 353. See also the remarks of Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, pp. 318, 534, 542, 560-1, although the overwhelming impression given by this seminal study is of the extent to which the Reformation contributed to the suppression of "superstition", and particularly to the erosion of belief in the supernatural and spirit world. See ibid., esp. pp. 87-9, 763-6.

(76)Calendar of State Papers, Venetian, xviii, p. 147.

(77)With regard to the essential incompatibility of Protestantism and the religious mentality of the vast majority of the populace, see esp. Christopher Haigh, "The Church of England, the Catholics and the People", in Christopher Haigh (ed.), The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke, 1984), pp. 195-219. This view has been implicit in all of Haigh's work, though one should note the marked shift in tone and emphasis in his recent English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors (Oxford, 1993), esp. ch. 16 and conclusion. With particular reference to providentialism, see Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, ch. 4, esp. pp. 126, 129, 130-2, and pp. 391, 647-8; Keith Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680 (London, 1982), pp. 201-2; Anthony Fletcher and John Stevenson, "Introduction", in Anthony Fletcher and John Stevenson (eds.), Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1985), p. 23.

(78)Margaret Aston, England's Iconoclasts, i, Laws against Images (Oxford, 1988), p. vii; Patrick Collinson, From Iconoclasm to Iconophobia: The Cultural Impact of the Second English Reformation (Stenton Lecture 1985, Reading, 1986), pp. 22-6, quotation at p. 25; Patrick Collinson, The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London, 1988), pp. 115-21. See also Sergiusz Michalski, The Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe (London, 1993), esp. ch. 2.

(79)Tessa Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991), pt 2, "The Broadside Picture", esp. pp. 134-9. See also Peter Lake's review of Collinson's Birthpangs of Protestant England, in Jl Eccles. Hist., xli (1990), p. 689. The phrase "visual anorexia" can be found in Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, p. 119.

(80)See the chronological listing of prints in F. G. Stephens and M. Dorothy George, Catalogue of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: Division I, Political and Personal Satires, 11 vols. (London, 1870-1954; hereafter BM Satires), i. This catalogue is by no means a complete or entirely reliable guide to the British Museum's holdings. See also A. M. Hind, Engraving in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, 3 vols. (Cambridge, 1952-64) (vol. iii compiled by M. Corbett and M. Norton). Other relevant collections include the Sutherland Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: Catalogue of the Sutherland Collection (London, 1837). On the debt of early Protestant visual propaganda to German artists, see Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, pp. 150-9; Lutheran broadsheets have been brilliantly analysed in Robert Scribner's pioneering For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Cambridge, 1981). On the development of English print-making and engraving, especially anti-Catholic propaganda, in this period, see Sidney Colvin, Early Engraving and Engravers in England, 1545-1695: A Critical and Historical Essay (London, 1905), esp. p. 82; A. M. Hind, A Short History of Engraving and Etching for the Use of Collectors and Students (London, 1908), pp. 134-9; M. Dorothy George, English Political Caricature: A Study of Opinion and Propaganda (Oxford, 1959), ch. 1; David Kunzle, The Early Comic Strip: Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c. 1450 to 1825 (Berkeley, 1973), ch. 5; John Miller, Religion in the Popular Prints, 1600-1832 (Cambridge, 1986), esp. p. 15.

(81)Thomas Scott, The Second Part of Vox Populi: or, Gondomar Appearing in the Likenes of Matchiavell in a Spanish Parliament, wherein are Discovered his Treacherous and Subtile Practises. To the Ruine as well of England, as the Netherlandes. Faithfully Translated out of the Spanish Coppie by a Well-Willer to England and Holland (Goricom [London], 1624, S.T.C. 22104), pp. 52, 57.

(82)Ibid.; Something Written, p. 17. The M.P.'s complaint is quoted in Dures, English Catholicism, p. 56. See also [Thomas Scott], Boanerges: or, The Humble Supplication of the Ministers of Scotland, to the High Court of Parliament in England (Edinburgh [London], 1624, S.T.C. 3171), p. 23.

(83)On Jenner, see Leona Rostenberg, English Publishers in the Graphic Arts, 1599-1700: A Study of the Printsellers and Publishers of Engravings, Art and Architectural Manuals, Maps and Copy Books (New York, 1963), pp. 25-36. Some of his pre-1640 output can be traced through the printers' and publishers' index in A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave, A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640, rev. W. A. Jackson, F. S. Ferguson and K. F. Pantzer, 3 vols. (London, 1976-91), iii, p. 92. See also Hind, Engraving in England, i, p. 6 n. 1. No Plot No Powder 1623 is no. 95 in the BM Satires series, held in the Department of Prints and Drawings. It is listed neither in Hind, Engraving in England, nor in the S.T.C. This was not the only visual representation of the disaster: see the title-page of Richard Hord, Black-Fryers. Elegia de admiranda clade centum papistarum tempore concionis vespertinae habitae Londini juxta domum legati gallicani: ubi olim erat domicilium fraterculorum atratorum. Anno 1623. Octob. 26. stylo vetere, et Novemb. 5. stylo novo (London, 1625, S.T.C. 13806); and the Dutch print entitled Anno, 1623. Quinto Novembris eo scripto die quo Anglie parlamentum anno 1605, proditione et insidys Iesuitarum pulvere nitro substratum inflammari et in aetherae spargi debuit, Iesuitarum conventus Londini in vicinis gallici legati aedib, ad missam et conciones audiendas congregatus fatali providentia oedium ruina precipitatque et dissipatque est, oppressis centum et plus totidem vulneratis (BM Satires, no. 63).

(84)See respectively the illustration to Judg. 16 in the Bishops' Bible: The. Holie. Bible. (London, [1568], S.T.C. 2099.2), and the picture facing the title-page of Walter Lynne's A Most Necessarie Treatise, Declaring the Beginning and Ending of All Poperie, or the Popish Kingdome. Drawne Out of Certaine Olde Prophecies Above Three Hundred Yeeres Since: And Now Newly Set Forth with the Auncient Pictures Thereunto Belonging (London, 1588, S.T.C. 17116; first pubd [1548?]). On the illustrations to the Bishops' Bible, see Margaret Aston, "The Bishops' Bible Illustrations", in Diana Wood (ed.), The Church and the Arts (Studies in Church Hist., xxviii, Oxford, 1992), pp. 267-85.

(85)Stephens's and George's Catalogue of BM Satires refers to another impression without the verses (i, pp. 57-8), but unfortunately the staff of the Department of Prints and Drawings are at present unable to locate it.

(86)Again, neither appears in the S.T.C. A Plot without Powder is BM Satires, no. 87. A Plot with Powder 1605 is separately catalogued and filed with "English History, 1605-1606". It is noted in Hind, Engraving in England, ii, p. 393 (no. 65). Another copy (of the same impression) survives in the Sutherland Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (B. 1. 11). To my knowledge, the connection between the three prints has not previously been noticed.

(87)I am extremely grateful to Antony Griffiths, Keeper of the British Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings, for his advice and assistance on these technical matters.

(88)The same link is drawn in the Dutch print cited in n. 83 above, Anno, 1623. The slight variation in the concluding word of the Latin tag "Digitus Dei Hic...", which appears in each of the prints (consu = in the first and confu = in the latter two) is rather puzzling. Consu = is probably intended to be expanded as some form of consumere (consume, destroy), while confu= seems to call for a form of confundere (confuse, confound, perplex), both of which occur in a number of appropriate biblical texts (e.g., Num. 32:13, Ezek. 13:14, Gen. 11:7 (the Tower of Babel), Isa. 45:16).

(89)Samuel Ward, Deo Trin-UniBritanniae bis ultori. In memoriam classis invincibilis subversae submersae / proditionis nefandae detectae disiectae. To God, in Memorye of his Double Deliveraunce from the Invincible Navie and the Unmatcheable Powder Treason (Amsterdam, 1621, S.T.C. 25043, BM Satires, no. 41). On Ward's print and subsequent difficulties with the authorities, see John Bruce, "The Caricatures of Samuel Ward of Ipswich", Notes and Queries, 4th ser., i (1868), pp. 1-2; P.R.O., S.P. 14/130/127, 15/42/76 and 77 (Ward's petitions to the king and privy council from gaol); Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fos. [13.sup.r-v], [15.sup.v], [22.sup.v] (Mead sent a description of the print to Sir Martin Stutevile); P.R.O., S.P. 14/120/13, printed in Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. McClure, ii, p. 349 (Chamberlain comments "yt is not goode rubbing on that sore"); Scott, Second Part of Vox Populi, p. 17. It is alluded to in Thomas Middleton's play A Game at Chess (performed 1624), ed. J. W. Harper (London, 1966), III. i. 102-3, where the Black Knight (Gondomar) boasts "Whose policy... Made pictures that were dumb enough before / Poor sufferers in that politic restraint?". In Boanerges, p. 25, Scott refers to a second "facete and befitting" picture (unfortunately now lost) which was also suppressed, its plate cut in pieces and its sellers imprisoned. It depicted James holding the pope's nose to a grindstone turned by two archbishops.

(90)P.R.O., S.P. 15/42/76; "The Bookseller to the Reader", in Samuel Ward, The Life of Faith, 2nd edn (London, 1621, S.T.C. 25049), p. 117.

(91)Other examples include the engraver Michael Droeshout's The Powder Treason, Propounded by Sathan, Approved by Anti-Christ, Enterprised by Papists, Practized by Traitors, Reveled by an Eagle, Expounded by an Oracle. Confounded in Heaven ([London, c.1615], S.T.C. 22824.7, BM Satires, no. 67); A Thankfull Remembrance of Gods Mercie (London, 1625, S.T.C. 4643.5, Sutherland Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Lar. vol. iii). This large broadside engraved by Cornelius Danckertsz was adapted by Frederick Van Hulsen for the twenty-one plates he engraved for the third edition of George Carleton's A Thankfull Remembrance of Gods Mercy (London, 1627, S.T.C. 4642; first pubd 1624); cf. Popish Plots and Treasons, from the Beginning of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. Illustrated with Emblems and Explain'd in Verse, BM Satires, no. 13, a later seventeenth-century adaptation. Similarly Jan Barra's To the Glory of God in Thankefull Remembrance of our Three Great Deliveraunces unto Etern[al] Memory, is here Described: The Spanish Armado, in 1588. The Powder-Treason, in 1605. And the Heavy Time of Gods Visitation, 1625. With a Zealous Prayer to Turne from us the Fourth Judgement, that is Likely to Fall upon us by the Sword (London, 1627, S.T.C. 23018; Society of Antiquaries, London, Lemon 266). A trimmed impression can be found in Michael Sparke, Crummes of Comfort (London, 1627, S.T.C. 23015.7).

(92)See Scott, Second Part of Vox Populi, p. 54 (also presserved in BM Satires, no. 86). Crispin van de Passe, who illustrated a number of Scott's works, practised his craft in Utrecht, where Scott was based: Hind, Engraving in England, ii, pp. 43-6. Samuel Ward's print inspired many copies and adaptations, including at least two in embroidery: see J. L. Nevinson, "English Domestic Embroidery Patterns of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Walpole Soc., xxviii (1939-40), p. 10 and plates VI(a) and (b); M. J. Rodriguez-Salgado et al., Armada, 1588-1988 (London, 1988), plate 16.32, p. 283. I have not been able to ascertain whether Ward originally invented this design, or whether he was simply juxtaposing pre-existing images which had already appeared independently, closer to the events to which they refer. Icon-like, paired salvation scenes, especially Faux's timely providential discovery, in combination with the crescent Armada dispersed by a heaven-sent wind, were enduring iconographical themes: they reappear on the title-pages of Christopher Lever's The Historie of the Defendors of the Catholique Faith (London, 1627, S.T.C. 15537), engraved by Frederick Van Hulsen, and George Carleton's Thankfull Remembrance (1624 and later editions), engraved by William van de Passe. Versions of the "Power Plot" were engraved to face the liturgy for 5 November in half a dozen octavo editions of the Book of Common Prayer in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: see, for example, the editions of 1676, 1678 and 1711. John Sturt and G. L. Smith adapted this design for the same purpose in 1717 and 1787. It continued to be revived when fears of popery became acute, even as late as the early nineteenth century: see BM Satires, nos. 42-7, 64, and George, English Political Caricature, pp. 16-17, 63-4, 105. The motif of the cabal or conclave of conspirators was also of lasting influence: see, for instance, the royalist, anti-republican propaganda of [Edward Ward], The Whigs Unmask'd: Being the Secret History of the Calf's-Head Club, 9th edn (London, 1721), which has plates depicting the "Calve's Head Club", and "Olever Cromwells Cabinet Councell Discoverd" (a committee of regicides seated around a table and chaired by the devil), as well as the public destruction of Burgess's meeting-house in the Sacheverell riots. Strikingly, these pictures seem to bear the same relation to each other as the prints of the Jesuit conclave and the collapse of the Blackfriars' attic. I am grateful to Professor Collinson for bringing this to my attention.

(93)It is difficult to date precisely the three prints, but their relationship to other contemporary images exploiting similar providential motifs strongly suggests some time in 1624, probably after the so-called "blessed revolution" in February -- the rapprochement between the king and parliament over the question of foreign policy, which generated a flood of aggressively anti-Catholic publications.

(94)Thomas Scott, Exod. 8. 19. Digitus Dei. Esay. 59. 1. The Lords Hand is not Shortned. 2 Tim. 3. 8, 9 ([Holland, 1623], S.T.C. 22075). It is reprinted with a separate title-page in the collected edition of Vox Populi. Vox Dei. Vox Regis. Digitus Dei. The Belgick Pismire. The Tongue-Combat. Symmachia. The High-Wayes of God and the King. The Projector ([Holland, 1624], S.T.C. 22102), from which I quote. On Scott, see P. G. Lake, "Constitutional Consensus and Puritan Opposition in the 1620s: Thomas Scott and the Spanish Match", Hist. Jl, xxv (1982), pp. 805-25.

(95)Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [15.sup.v].

(96)Scott, Digitus Dei, pp. 19-20.

(97)Ibid., pp. 21-2.

(98)Ibid., pp. 22, 24-5.

(99)Ibid., pp. 39, 41, 43 (quoting from Rev. 18:4).

(100)Ibid., pp. 19, 26-7; cf. Gee, Foot Out of the Snare, p. 44.

(101)Scott, Digitus Dei, pp. 28-30.

(102)Ibid., pp. 14-17; cf. Scott, Boanerges, pp. 26-8.

(103)Scott, Digitus Dei, pp. 31, 33.

(104)See, for example, Diary of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, ed. Bourcier, p. 180 (13 Feb. 1624); Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fo. [370.sup.r] (25 Oct. 1623); P.R.O., S.P. 14/153/32 (Dudley Carleton Esq. to Sir Dudley Carleton, 10 Oct. 1623).

(105)See P.R.O., S.P. 14/118/39, 120/13, 122/46, 123/105, 129/35 and 36, 153/30 and 38; Brit. Lib., Harleian MS. 389, fos. [168.sup.v], [228.sup.v], [233.sup.r]; Scott, Second Part of Vox Populi, p. 17; Scott, Boanerges, p. 23. The August 1622 directions are printed in The Stuart Constitution, 1603-1688, ed. J. P. Kenyon, 2nd edn (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 128-30; for the suspension of the recusancy laws, see P.R.O., S.P. 14/132/84. See also Kenneth Fincham and Peter Lake, "The Ecclesiastical Policy of James I", JL Brit. Studies, xxiv (1988), pp. 198-201; Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, pp. 27-33. For the career of the controversial lecturer at St Martin's, Westminster, Dr John Everard, see Julia Merritt, "Religion, Government and Society in Early Modern Westminster, c. 1525-1625" (Univ. of London Ph.D. thesis, 1992), pp. 349-51.

(106)Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 (Cambridge, forthcoming). I am grateful to the author for allowing me to read his manuscript prior to publication. In the interim, see Milton's dissertation, "The Laudians and the Church of Rome, c. 1625-1640" (Univ. of Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1989), esp. ch. 4; Anthony Milton, "The Church of England, Rome and the True Church: The Demise of a Jacobean Consensus", in Kenneth Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642 (Basingstoke, 1993), pp. 187-210; also Peter Lake, Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church (Cambridge, 1982), esp. chs. 4, 6; Bernard Capp, "The Political Dimension of Apocalyptic Thought", in C. A. Patrides and Joseph Wittreich (eds.), The Apocalypse in English Renaissance Thought and Literature: Patterns, Antecedents and Repercussions (Manchester, 1984), pp. 93-124.

(107)See Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, pp. 17-27; Michael McGiffert, "God's Controversy with Jacobean England", Amer. Hist. Rev., lxxxv (1983), esp. p. 1172.

(108)To give only a few examples: Thomas Gataker, A Sparke toward the Kindling of Sorrow for Sion (London, 1621, S.T.C. 11675), esp. pp. 36-9; Thomas Jackson, Judah Must into Captivitie. Six Sermons on Jerem. 7. 16 (London, 1622, S.T.C. 14301), esp. pp. 59-61, 96-7; Thomas Barnes, The Court of Conscience: or, Joseph's Brethrens Judgement Barre (London, 1623, S.T.C. 1475), esp. pp. 145-6. See also Hunt, Puritan Moment, pp. 176-7, 198-202, 238; Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, p. 29.

(109)Cressy, Bonfires and Bells, esp. pp. 35, 152-5; cf. Hunt, Puritan Moment, pp. 200-1. Representative examples of anniversary sermons include Thomas Gataker, An Anniversarie Memoriall of Englands Delivery from the Spanish Invasion: Delivered in a Sermon on Psal. 48. 7, 8 (London, 1626, S.T.C. 11648) and Thomas Taylor, An Everlasting Record of the Utter Ruine of Romish Amalek. Delivered in a Sermon at Black-Friers in London, in Two Sermons (London, 1624, S.T.C. 23853); for typical books of remembrance, see Carleton, Thankfull Remembrance of Gods Mercy, and Sparke, Crummes of Comfort. For politically sensitive preaching on such occasions, see Thomas Hooker, The Church's Deliverances (preached 5 Nov. 1626), repr. in Thomas Hooker: Writings in England and Holland, 1626-1633, ed. George H. Williams et al. (Harvard Theol. Studies, no. 28, Cambridge, Mass., 1975), document II; and perhaps above all, Henry Burton, For God, and the King. The Summe of Two Sermons Preached on the Fifth of November last in St. Matthewes Friday-Streete. 1636 ([Amsterdam], 1636, S.T.C. 4142).

(110)Theodore Hering, The Triumph of the Church over Water and Fire; or, A Thankfull Gratulation for that Miraculous Deliverance of the Church and State of Great Britaine, from the Romish Tophet or that Barbarous and Savage Powder-Plot. As it was Delivered (for Substance) in a Sermon at Blacke Fryers in London on the Fifth of November. 1625 (London, 1625, S.T.C. 13204), p. 39.

(111)John Wilson, A Song or Story, for the Lasting Remembrance of Divers Famous Works, which God hath Done in Our Time. With an Addition of Certaine Other Verses (both Latine and English) to the Same Purpose (London, 1626, S.T.C. 22922), pp. 31-7, quotation at p. 35.

(112)Richard Allestree, A New Almanack and Prognostication, for the Yeere of Our Lord God, 1630 (London, 1630, S.T.C. 407.13), and for 1631 (London, 1631, S.T.C. 407.14). I owe this reference to Dr Bill Sherman. See also the almancs compiled by Daniel Browne for 1629 (London, 1629, S.T.C. 421.14), Thomas Kidman for 1634 (Cambridge, 1634, S.T.C. 469.3), and by Edward Fallowes and Peregrine Rivers for 1640 (London, 1640, S.T.C. 442.7; CAMBRIDGE, 1640, S.T.C. 505.14).

(113)Brit. Lib., Add. MS. 70062, no. 5 ("Memoranda of Sir Robert Harley", unbound). I am grateful to Dr Jacqueline Eales for alerting me to this reference. For the Latin elegies, see Richard Hord, Black-Fryers. Elegia de admiranda (cited in n. 83 above); John Robotham, Omen Romae. Sive cippus et threnoidia in duos Jesuitas et centum circiter Gregarios pontificios: quos...aedes collapsae...neci dederunt (London, 1627, S.T.C. 21129); Alexander Gil, "In ruinam camerae papisticae, Londini Octob. 26", in Parerga, sive poetici conatus Alexandri ab Alexandro Gil Londinensis, ab aliquammultis antehaec expetiti, tandem in lucum prodeunt (London, 1632, S.T.C. 11879.9), pp. 10-13; Edward Benlowes, quoted in Thomas Fuller, The Church-History of Britain from the Birth of Jesus Christ untill the Year M.DC.XLVIII (London, 1655), pp. 103-4. On Benlowes, see Alan and Tina Davidson, "Edward Benlowes and the Blackfriars Disaster", Essex Recusant, xiii (1971), pp. 46-7. For other poetic echoes and repercussions, see David Quint, Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgil to Milton (Princeton, 1993), pp. 278-81. I owe this reference to Dr David Armitage.

(114)John Vicars, Englands Hallelu-jah: or, Great Brittaines Gratefull Retribution, for Gods Gratious Benediction (London, 1631, S.T.C. 24697), sig. [B4.sup.v]; Burton, For God, and the King, pp. 102-3; see also P.R.O., S.P. 16/354/176 and 180, 16/335/69; Brit. Lib., Add. MS. 21935 ("Historical Notices"), fos. [23.sup.r], [25.sup.v], and Sloane MS. 1457 ("A Memorial of God's Judgements upon Sabbath Breakers, Drunkards and Other Vile Livers, 1632"), fos. [9.sup.v]-[10.sup.v], [11.sup.r]. The latter manuscript incorporates a transcription of part of Mathew Rhodes's ballad, The Dismall Day.

(115)Fuller, Church-History of Britain, pp. 102-4; Samuel Clarke, A Mirrour or Looking-Glasse both for Saints, and Sinners, Held Forth in some Thousands of Examples (London, 1657; first pubd 1646), pp. 394-9. It was also included in A Compleat History of the Most Remarkable Providences, both of Judgment and Mercy, which have Hapned in this Present Age, by the late seventeenth-century vicar of Walberton, Sussex, William Turner (London, 1697), ch. 99, p. 7. Secular historians and chroniclers recorded it too: see Edmund Howes' continuation of John Stow, Annales: or, A Generall Chronicle of England (London, 1631, S.T.C. 23340), p. 1035; William Camden, "The Annals of King James I", in his A Complete History of England: With the Lives of All the Kings and Queens Thereof; from the Earliest Account of Time, to the Death of His Late Majesty King William III, 3 vols. (London, 1706), ii, p. 659 (Camden's entry for the date is garbled and confused: he records the "Fall of the Playhouse in Black-Fryers"); The Historians Guide: or, Englands Remembrancer (London, 1679), p. 8. The Dorchester gentleman William Whiteway recorded it in the otherwise "private Chronology" he compiled in his commonplace book in 1634: Cambridge University Library, MS. Dd. 11. 73, fo. [45.sup.v].

(116)Samuel Clarke, Englands Remembrance, Containing a True and Full Narrative of those Two Never to Be Forgotten Deliverances: The One from the Spanish Invasion in Eighty Eight: The Other from the Hellish Powder Plot: November 5. 1605. Whereunto is Added the Like Narrative of that Signal Judgement of God upon the Papists, by the Fall of the House in Black-Friers London, upon their Fifth of November, 1623 (London, 1657), pp. 87-100. The quotations are taken from the two prefaces: sigs. [A4.sup.r], [F1.sup.v]. The simplified No Plot No Powder print can be found in the duodecimo British Library copy with shelf-mark G 3517, facing p. 67; and in the octavo fourth edition of 1679 (Brit. Lib., 807.a.18), between pp. 110 and 111.

(117)Ibid., sigs. [F1.supv]; [A3.sup.v]-[4.sup.r]. There were new editions, expanded to incorporate more recent "popish plots", in 1671, 1676, 1677, 1679, [1680?] and 1775. The Fatall Vespers (complete with a re-engraved version of the No Plot No Powder print) and Englands Remembrancer were reprinted as late as 1817 and 1820 by the early antiquarian publisher George Smeeton.

(118)See nn. 71, 74 above.
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Author:Walsham, Alexandra
Publication:Past & Present
Date:Aug 1, 1994
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