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Law and Conscience: Catholicism in Early Modern England, 1570-1625.

Law and Conscience: Catholicism in Early Modern England, 1570-1625. By Stefania Tutino. Catholic Christendom, 1300-1700. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2007. viii + 258 pp. $99.95 cloth.

To the ever-growing number of publications on the history of Catholics in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, Stefania Tutino has added her study of the evolving understanding of the relationship between English Catholics and the English regime and of their efforts to reconcile political loyalty and religious beliefs. A reader lacking a good general knowledge of the history of English Catholics in their homeland and on the Continent in those years would not be able fully to appreciate the author's presentation, for she does not attempt to narrate events; she presupposes a familiarity with them. Instead, utilizing both manuscript and contemporary printed sources, she has judiciously collected and analyzed in roughly chronological order opposing texts by Catholics and Protestants and traced the dependence of the latter on the former.

Tutino begins by considering the controversy between the imprisoned abbot of Westminster Abbey, John Feckenham, and the bishop of Winchester, Robert Home, in the 1560s, which was "a juridical dispute over the origin and extent of the temporal sovereign's power in relation to that of ecclesiastical authority" (13), and then goes on to the response of the Catholic theologian at Louvain, Thomas Stapleton. Immediately after Pope Pius V's excommunication of Elizabeth (1570), another theologian at Louvain, Nicholas Sander(s), entered the fray, and the Protestant theologian John Bridges replied to him. Thus the doctrinal and theological differences assumed central importance, while the dispute passed from the academic to the public forum. Tutino devotes considerable attention to the first mission of the Jesuits to England (1580) and to the publications of one of them, Robert Persons, after he returned to the Continent. However, she is mistaken in asserting that Gregory XIII repeated or reiterated the excommunication in 1580 (20, 111); he reinterpreted the bull and partially suspended it but never reissued it. The more conciliatory Richard Bristow strove to prove that the Catholics' religion did not interfere with their loyalty in the temporal sphere. Richard Verstegan's polemic against William Cecil exposes another aspect of the debate within the Catholic camp. Following the interpretation of John Bossy, Tutino dwells on the division between the archpriest with his Jesuit and secular supporters and the other secular clergy called Appellants. She shows how the contribution of the English Benedictines to the discussion fostered the search for an alternative to Persons's strategy.

The accession of James I to the throne of England opened a new chapter in the relations of the Catholics to the civil power. Tutino analyzes the king's thought on the subject and in this connection the manuscript letters of the Jesuit lay brother Thomas Pounde on the one hand and, at much greater length, the strongly anti-Catholic book of Andrew Willet on the other. Tutino has chosen Thomas Egerton Lord Ellesmere to illustrate the complex nature of James's early religious policy. The Jacobean Oath of Allegiance, which was to be the long-term response to the Gunpowder Plot, changed the ways the English Catholics understood parts of their past and present and provoked the hostile pamphlets of Robert Cecil and the Calvinist bishop Thomas Morton. She does not share the opinion of Michael Questier that the purpose of the oath was to wipe out Catholicism. The Archpriest George Blackwell's acceptance of the oath, which Pope Paul V had condemned, brought Cardinal Robert Bellarmine into the debate, which was focused on the papal potestas indirecta. Tutino scrutinizes the responses of Francis Bunny and Matthew Sutcliffe to the Italian Jesuit prelate and then takes up the further duel between James and Bellarmine. In the last two chapters Tutino traces the changes in the political and theological debates caused by the oath. First she uses the writings of Lancelot Andrewes and Andrew Willet against Bellarmine to demonstrate the change in the political debate from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century as both the cardinal and the king championed the control of the jurisdiction of bodies through the jurisdiction of souls or consciences. Next she studies at length a treatise of the Scottish Catholic jurist William Barclay, who also disagreed with Bellarmine's thesis, and finally she summarizes the writings of another Catholic, Thomas Fitzherbert, who opposed the separation of temporal government from religion in contrast to the Politiques and upheld the inadmissibility of the oath against the Benedictine Thomas Preston (alias Roger Widdrington). To understand the religious issues raised by the oath, Tutino examines treatises of two Catholics, Matthew Kellison and James Anderton, who were influenced by the new political situation in their views of the nature of Catholic orthodoxy. As a counterweight to them, Tutino selects another work of the staunchly intolerant Sutcliffe and one by the Calvinist theologian John White. She studies her final pair of adversaries, the Catholic physician Matthew Pattenson and the bishop of Norwich, Richard Montagu, in the light of the Synod of Dort. She concludes that between 1570 and 1625 Catholic thought was modified from theological, political, and historical standpoints until it "could adapt to the new context the Church of Rome's prerogative to be a catholic church," and she considers Bellarmine's theory of indirecta potestas papalis in temporalibus "one of the most coherent and influential attempts to provide a solution to this question" (223).

The book contains a fourteen-page bibliography of secondary literature, which is abundantly cited in the footnotes. There are numerous typographical errors, not all of which are immediately obvious (for example, "Philip II" for Philip III, 87, and in the index). The author often does not translate brief Latin phrases, but when she quotes longer excerpts in the footnotes and gives a translation in the body, she has not avoided errors and perhaps omissions of words in the transcriptions and inaccuracies in the translations (that is, "vindicet" does not mean "vindicates" but rather "avenges" or "makes compensation for," 173 and n. 49). Her literary style is characterized by long and involved sentences, the meaning of which is not always evident at first reading. Nevertheless, it is worth the reader's effort to grasp the rich content of this original study.

doi: 10.1017/S0009640709000237

Robert Triseo

The Catholic University of America
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Author:Triseo, Robert
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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