Mary of recusants and reform
Literary memory and defloration
in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700
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The reflection on the Hail Mary prayer colours the analogy between the Virgin Mary and Henrietta Maria to follow. Since venerating Mary was outlawed after 1559, subsequent poetry exalting her is in a sense recusant by default because it refuses Elizabethan conformity. The poetry to Mary of Richard Rowlands or Verstegan is less known than that of Constable, and their backgrounds seem initially rather different. Rowlands was a printer who, in the wake of Edmund Campion's execution, became a leading Counter-Reformation publicist on the continent. Rowlands was an important smuggler of recusant books and also people into England, and his works circulated widely on the continent. Recalling the deeply inscribed, indeed scriptural, Marys, the poets present the Church as a seventeenth-century Mary without name: thereby acknowledging a loss of memory metaphorically, but with maximum sadness and horror, termed defloration.

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