Adam Morton
Search for other papers by Adam Morton in
Current site
Google Scholar
Fighting popery with popery
Subverting stereotypes and contesting anti-Catholicism in late seventeenth-century England

This chapter focuses on attempts to control and dispute stereotypes in late-seventeenth-century England. It considers the conflicting uses of the ‘Catholic plotter’ stereotype by different groups of Protestants in the print culture of the succession crisis (1678–83). It argues that stereotypes were platforms on which wider political debates took place, not a crude means of simplifying complex political issues down to the lowest common denominator. Anti-Catholicism was a significant ideology in early modern culture, a commonplace means of defining the positive traits of a religious or political group through attention to its ‘popish’ inverse. ‘Popish’ stereotypes were consequently highly flexible and were applied to different groups as political contexts developed. Accusing each other of being ‘popish’ was a routine part of political conflict between Whigs and Tories, or Anglicans and dissenters, in this period. Attending to how each group applied ‘popery’ to its opponents demonstrates that stereotypes were not simply applied, they had to be controlled, sometimes even subverted, to control anti-Catholicism as an important moral language of political debate. This chapter considers how the images, rhetoric and motifs of ‘popish’ stereotypes were contested as a means of articulating broader political views and values.

Anti-popery had a paradoxical position in early modern English culture as both a pivotal point of unity and a potent mechanism of fracture. From the break with Rome into the early seventeenth century, anti-popery was a baseline ideology unifying Protestants in what they were against even if they could not agree on what they were for. Plotting the past into Revelation’s schema defined the English church as a martyred true church persecuted by the papal Antichrist and provided post-Reformation England with a historical identity which, if not strictly ‘Protestant’, was vehemently anti-Catholic. Against this backdrop traits of ‘Englishness’ and ‘Protestantism’ were defined negatively – each was a binary positive of popery’s absolute negative.1 In this schema, Catholic acts of aggression like the Armada and the gunpowder plot were absorbed into a nascent national identity as evidence of divine favour for England, moments of insurmountable Antichristian peril foiled only by God’s intervention for ‘his’ people.2 During the eighteenth century, as Linda Colley has shown, this anti-popish identity was vital as the locus of a supranational identity which allowed the three nations to override fractures in the bedrock of the new British state.3 Such was its power to crystallise and unify, anti-popery was frequently a clarion call of popular politics through which public opinion was mobilised behind a given cause.4

Yet it was precisely this clarion-call status which made anti-popery so fractious in a context where no agreement existed on what constituted the proper bounds of English Protestantism. Across the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, various Protestant groups – initially puritans and anti-puritans and latterly episcopal royalists and nonconformists – used anti-popery against one another, redefining what ‘Protestant’ encompassed by excluding their opponents from that term as ‘popish’. This had severe ramifications for the Crown. What had originally been a means of defending royal supremacy following the papal Bull of Excommunication soon became an ideology with which to attack that supremacy. As Elizabeth I and the early Stuarts blocked moves for further reform, the very fact that monarchy (rather than Scripture alone) was the head of the church increasingly looked to be the problem: monarchy equated to papacy in all but name. This crypto-Catholicism, when coupled with a high-handed, ‘arbitrary’ style of government which protected the Stuart monarchy at the expense of Parliamentary power, was deemed to be the root of tyranny in England. As a destabilising presence, anti-popery can be seen as a vital force in both the Civil Wars and the revolution of 1688–89. Some historians would even deem it a cause of them.5

Stereotypes were vital in providing anti-popery with explanatory force and in presenting its ideology in a familiar and emotive manner. Typifying Catholics in general, and Jesuits in particular, as nefarious spectres of perfidy incessant in their intrigues against England rested upon repetition of polemical shorthands and clichés – kissing the pope’s foot, Guy Fawkes’s lantern and Jesuit equivocation, to name but three – entrenched in religio-political language at the point of assumption. There is a danger, however, of confusing a repetition of language and images with a repetition of meaning – a danger, in short, of seeing stereotypes as reflexive, generic and unthinking when in reality they were often restyled and reimagined by interest groups for highly specific ends.6 Anti-popery was a form of othering – a means of defining the positive values of England’s culture by pronounced and persistent attention to its ‘popish’ inverse. As the nature of the thing defined (Protestantism, church, sovereignty) changed according to political circumstance, so did the nature of the ‘popery’ used to define it.7 Repetition of common motifs and images thus belied a complexity of application: anti-popery was not a fixed attribute reflecting static prejudice in early modern society, but a discursive form of negation through which vital religio-political issues were fought. Contrary to what much historical scholarship and social psychology asserts, this stereotype was not the result of unthinking, but inventive polemical practice.

This chapter focuses on attempts to control, subvert and dispute the use of stereotypes in late-seventeenth-century religio-political debates, complementing and developing the analysis of anti-popery that Tim Harris has outlined in the final section of Chapter 1. Four principal attributes of anti-popish stereotypes are outlined. First, it is argued that, although stereotypes’ emotiveness was vital to their political appeal, they did not blinker thought and reason. Thinking beyond anti-popery and seeing through a given polemicist’s deployment of it for political gain was a necessary part of being a political citizen when each side of the religio-political divide (Whig/nonconformist and Tory/episcopal royalist) used anti-popish rhetoric for decidedly contradictory ends. Thus, second, it is argued that the presence of anti-popish stereotypes in English culture was not static but acquired meaning according to the context in which they were deployed. Superficial similarities in language (drawn from Revelations), examples (from English history) and motifs (from a polemical tradition dating from the Reformation) belie the fact that loyalists’ definition of whom and what was ‘popish’ was radically different from that of the opposition. Controlling who applied ‘popery’ to whom was consequently a necessary part of political discourse, and it is arguable that the Tories’ wrestling control of the term from the Whigs played a significant role in strengthening royal power in the 1680s. Building on this it is argued, third, that stereotypes are highly contested categories. As Peters has shown in her case study of Quakers in Chapter 5, disputing how the opposing party used negative stereotypes was a ubiquitous polemical practice; and, as Tim Harris and Jonathan Scott have shown, defending oneself from charges of ‘popery’ and redefining it to tar one’s opponent was the life blood of religio-political controversy.8 As such, anti-popery was a platform for debates about issues central to the English constitution, not a crude means of simplifying politics down to irrational fear and blind zeal as crude form of activism. Far from mere mud-slinging, stereotypes here were part of a political language through which ideas were articulated, the significance of events was debated and visions of English society were propounded.

Finally, it follows that writers’ efforts to contest and control stereotypes did not put an end to stereotyping itself but often caused its escalation. Late-seventeenth-century anti-popery illustrates the dialectics of stereotyping outlined in this volume more broadly. Early modern people displayed a great deal of agency and ingenuity in their use of ‘popish’ stereotypes and could see through a given writer or group’s use of ‘popery’ for polemical ends. But it does not follow that they were able to step outside anti-popish patterns of thought quite so readily. The heuristic functions which stereotypes served in social life and thought made this difficult. ‘Popish’ stereotypes were shortcuts that made complex and evolving political processes more readily comprehensible, eased the emotional strains which accompanied religio-political strife and, by demonising opposing groups and opposing views, provided rhetorical and polemical strategies for intervening in politics.

Social psychologists now understand stereotypes to function heuristically. For much of the twentieth century psychologists believed stereotypes to be as much a cognitive flaw as a moral one – the product of unthinking. Explanations of how stereotypes about race and gender persisted so vehemently despite the individuals who held them being confronted daily with evidence which contradicted them began with the assumption that stereotypes rested on ‘faulty’ thinking.9 This could emerge from a specific personality type: a prejudiced person, it was held, is so close-minded or dogmatic that their assumptions blinker them, rendering them unable to see the world ‘as it is’.10 Conversely, the subsequent generation of psychologists began to accept stereotypes as a normal part of cognitive practice common to everyone rather than the product of abnormal mental processes of certain personality types.11 No one can see the world ‘as it is’, but only through the lenses of categories provided by a given culture. All views of social groups are therefore culturally conditioned (rather than individually formed) and once categories of analysis are established they became self-fulfilling: we prioritise examples or information which confirm preconditioned views of a given group.12 Rather than ‘flawed’ thinking, therefore, stereotypes are normative – they are simply one type of the necessarily imperfect categories by which people evaluate the world. These categories reside in memory with certain traits attached to them according to cultural dictates – ‘trees are like X, men are like Y, women are like Z’ – which are recalled as we process and analyse phenomena. Prejudgement is therefore a routine part of daily life, a heuristic form of thinking which creates the illusion that the world is predictable, and recalling that the category ‘minority group A’ possesses certain traits is no different – cognitively speaking – from recalling that the category ‘car’ possesses certain traits. In both cases, these core traits might be misnomers masking the degree of variety and counter-examples which the world provides.13

Such approaches, however, fail to explain stereotypes’ capacity to change over time. If stereotypes are stored in memory as a series of traits, how do we understand the fluidity of minority group stereotypes across the twentieth century? Psychologists have turned to group dynamics theory to answer these questions. This posits that stereotypes are the central marker of intergroup relations and change form according to the motivations of the group using them. Put simply, stereotypes define and sustain the ‘us’ of an in-group against the ‘them’ of an out-group. Individuals subordinate themselves to the group, exaggerating their similarity to the primary traits of the in-group and differences from those of the out-group by assenting to stereotypes associated with both.14 This – as early modern anti-popery demonstrates – is a process of binary opposition by which the negative stereotype defines and valorises positive attributes associated with the in-group (Protestants in this example). This explains stereotypes’ fluidity and changeability. Recent generations of social psychologists have suggested that, rather than the product of everyday cold cognition, stereotypes emerge from emotive situations and are remade according to the specific motivation of the group deploying them in a given context. As the social and political vantage point from which the ‘other’ is viewed shifts, so do the ‘in-’ and ‘out-’group boundaries: stereotypes are modified as part of the process by which group identity is continually re-formed and contested.15 The key point is that stereotypes are to a large degree situational but are mobilised and coordinated by a given group in response to changing political or social practices. Prejudice is therefore a representational practice through which the world is evaluated from a given vantage point at a given moment, and stereotypes are fundamental to that practice.

The popish plot and succession crisis (1678–83)

These themes will be explored through an analysis of attempts to control the ‘popery’ stereotype during the succession crisis of the late 1670s and early 1680s.16 Here both sides of the political divide – understood broadly as Whigs and Tories – asserted opposing visions of what ‘popery’ was in an expanding news media to paint their opponents as ‘popish’. The place of stereotypes as arbiters of group dynamics is highly relevant here. Party politics saw each side assert control over ‘popery’ because controlling the application of the stereotype was to control the centre ground of politics – by defining what was ‘popish’ (out) one defined what was ‘Protestant’ (in).

The succession crisis was driven by agitations against ‘popery and arbitrary government’ within the Stuart Crown nominally triggered by the conversion of Charles II’s brother and heir – James, Duke of York – to Catholicism in the 1670s. The crisis stemmed from tensions surrounding the respective positions of Crown and Parliament in the English constitution, and of episcopal royalists and nonconformists in the English church, both of which had been unresolved since the Restoration settlement some twenty years earlier. Charles’s increasing reliance upon heavy-handed government management under the Earl of Danby – which by stressing monarchical prerogative over Parliamentary liberty was readily interpreted as ‘arbitrary’ – and support of episcopal royalist uniformity over toleration of nonconformity – which by resisting calls for a broader liberty of conscience was readily interpreted as ‘tyrannical’ – appeared to undermine two pillars of Englishness: Protestantism and Parliamentary sovereignty. Coupled with Charles’s marriage to a Catholic queen, a propensity for Catholic mistresses and repeated display of favouring Catholic France against the Protestant Dutch in his foreign policy, this increasingly appeared to be a ‘popish’ Crown in desperate need of reform. Jonathan Scott has demonstrated that when we consider the context of the seventeenth century more broadly – in which a resurgent Counter-Reformation Catholicism championed by Louis XIV was militantly dogmatic and advocated absolute forms of government – concerns about the threat of that Crown to its people become more understandable.17

The eruption of the popish plot in 1678 made these issues appear more urgent and afforded the Whig party the opportunity to lobby for the reforms it considered necessary to protect England from this ‘popish’ threat.18 The farcical plot was ‘discovered’ by Titus Oates, who claimed that while working as a Jesuit envoy he had uncovered a Europe-wide conspiracy to murder Charles II and forcibly return England to Catholicism. Oates essentially articulated generations-old anti-popish clichés at a moment of new political tension – regicide, invasion, the black legend, martyrdom and the firing of London were all bread-and-butter stereotypes, with all but the last dating back to the mid-sixteenth century.19 The mysterious murder of Edmund Godfrey – the magistrate who had taken Oates’s depositions – gave the plot a slither of credence and led to further revelations from other ‘witnesses’.20 The subsequent convictions of Catholics accused by these ‘witnesses’ were the subject of a torrent of news media which, alongside petitioning campaigns and other forms of protest, were part of a very conscious use of anti-popish sentiment by the Whig party to thrust the weight of public opinion behind calls for Charles to address the need for constitutional reform.21 The opposition was divided on what these reforms should be, but if a guiding principle existed amidst the confusion it was for a growth of Parliamentary power as the surest means of preventing arbitrary rule.22 As Harris and Scott have shown, Charles’s refusal to call Parliament – and recalcitrance in acceding to reform when it met – resulted in an increasingly partisan political culture emerging during the early 1680s.23

Thinking with ‘popery’ was a ubiquitous part of that partisan political culture. Each ‘in-group’ styled itself as the party with England’s best interests at heart and claimed to oppose the ‘popery’ of the other party. Doing so necessitated redefining the ‘popery’ stereotype as part of controlling the central religio-political language of legitimacy. The result was the formation of two competing conspiracy theories, each of which asserted a vision of ‘popery’ to define a vision of the English state. First, for the Whigs/nonconformists Charles’s reluctance to accede to reform made the Crown the root of the problem. This inverted a century-and-a-half-old keystone of anti-popery. Polemical justifications of royal supremacy (against papal supremacy) and English church (against the Roman church) stressed that England’s Crown/church phalanx was a golden mean of moderation which provided a bulwark against ‘popish’ tyranny.24 The Stuart Crown/church – it was now argued – were stalwarts of ‘popery’ not bulwarks against it, and only expanded Parliamentary sovereignty and toleration for nonconformists could protect England’s Protestant state from their ‘popery’. Second, for the Tories/episcopal royalists (who opposed reform), Whig cries of ‘popery’ were a ruse: using anti-popery to stir up opposition to the church and Crown was an inherently ‘popish’ activity because these were precisely the institutions which – according to anti-popish stereotypes – the pope and Jesuits had attacked since the Reformation. The Whigs/nonconformists were thus ‘papists in masquerade’ according to one contemporary slogan: people who used anti-popery to claim that they defended the Protestant state, while actually plotting against it.25

This Tory redefinition of ‘popery’ played a significant role in the Crown’s resurgence in the early 1680s, which ended the succession crisis. Roger L’Estrange was the key architect of this redefinition. A vehement loyalist and Tory polemicist-in-chief, L’Estrange was incessant in combating Whig publishing to prevent the opposition from controlling public opinion.26 Peter Hinds has shown that, on an almost daily basis, L’Estrange’s publications refuted, mocked and parodied those of his rivals to claim that the Whigs – not the Crown – were the true danger to Protestant England. Contesting ‘popery’ was vital to this. Here, then, the anti-popish stereotype was turned upon its head and used against the very group – the hotter sort of Protestants – often deemed most effective in using it as a means of agitation. Recognising this is important. It demonstrates that, far from having thought limited by persistent resort to stereotypes, polemicists expected early modern audiences to be able to think beyond them as part of a routine engagement with religio-political discourse.

Stereotype v. stereotype

The collapse of licensing in 1679 triggered an unprecedented surge in printing to match the increase in publications that had occurred during the Civil Wars, with new forms of partisan publication – periodicals and newspapers chief among them – commenting on the plot and associated political developments to lobby public support. This was part of what Mark Knights has characterised as a ‘crisis of representation and misrepresentation’.27 Increasingly frequent general elections, extensive petitioning campaigns and the emergence of an increasingly informed public immersed in news spawned an increasingly representational political process: parties had to engage public opinion as the umpire of politics.28 Misrepresentation was a by-product of this contest for public opinion which lay at the heart of party politics. As competing camps beseeched the public to judge, those parties were increasingly concerned about its ability to do so clearly in the face of a press whose mendacious capacity for misinformation was seemingly limitless. Emotive language was particularly problematic. In an environment over-saturated with a bewildering array of information and misinformation, claim and counter-claim, slogans and images crystallised opinion as totems of party positions, icons which cut through the noise of news to reify key concepts.29 The slogans ‘41 is come again’, ‘liberty’, and ‘popery and arbitrary government’ were highly charged and could steer public opinion, and rhetoric was routinely accused of manipulating emotions at the expense of reason.

‘Popery’ was a particularly acute slogan, largely because of its 150-year legacy as the great ‘other’ of English church and state. L’Estrange recognised its power: ‘[n]ow there are a sort of men, that under the Countenance of This Plot advance another of their own, and ’tis but the Rubbing of a Libel with a little Anti-Popery, to give it the Popular smack; and any thing else against the Government goes down Current’.30 In the hands of the Whigs, the popish plot could blind public opinion – stereotypes provided a dangerous shorthand which manipulated the mob by preventing it from thinking: ‘[t]here is a kinde of Spell in the Word Popery. It transforms a Man into a Beast: And like the Great Medicine, it turns whatever it touches into Plot.’31 Stacking up accounts of ‘popery’ as a miasma of unknowing would be easy. We must be wary, however, of accepting such claims at face value. There is a paradox at work in these characterisations of its power: the recognition of the problem demonstrated that it was insurmountable. L’Estrange and other authors challenged readers to see through the ‘popery’ stereotype even as they bemoaned their inability to do so.32

The problem with breaking this ‘spell’ was that anti-popery had been the central language of religion and politics since the Reformation. In the intervening century-and-a-half, as Peter Lake, Anthony Milton and Arthur Marotti have demonstrated, its prevalence in a dizzying array of genres had seen it woven into the fabric of English culture.33 Despite this ubiquity, however, anti-popery was remarkably incoherent. Far from dogmatic, anti-popery was a complex interplay of arguments, narratives and images amenable to a limitless range of applications.34 Anti-popery was thus a form of othering: a given group (royalists) defined their opponents (parliamentarians) as ‘popish’ to style themselves as loyal and truly Protestant, and were likely to have themselves styled ‘popish’ by the opposing group in another context. Aspects central to one group’s ‘popery’ might be peripheral to another’s. For Andrew Willet, writing in 1600, anti-popery was central to the English church, a means of stimulating a common identity to reunite puritans and bishops wrenched apart by the Presbyterian crisis of the previous twenty years – but for Laudians, anti-popery was the source of the Church of England’s fragmentary status, a bitter ideology which explained its inability to convert recusants into a genuinely national body.35 The puritan William Whitaker fell foul of Archbishop Whitgift when he attempted to secure the removal of the non-puritan Everard Digby from positions of influence for being ‘popish’. As Lake has shown, Whitgift’s ‘popery’ was limited to those who held communion with Rome, while Whitaker’s extended to anyone who did not share his view of the English church as founded on austere Reformed Protestantism – one man’s view of the Church of England required action against Digby, the other’s did not.36 Three points follow from this: first, definitions of ‘popery’ altered according to the political context in which the word was uttered and the vision of England’s church/state it was used to define; second, it constituted a nexus of discursive materials through which groups styled themselves legitimate (‘we oppose popery’) and their opponents illegitimate (‘they are popish’); and, third, each assertion of anti-popery was part of the struggle to control those discursive materials through which various groups hoped to sustain religio-political legitimacy. Applying stereotypes was thus an assertion of power.37

Thus, what constituted ‘popery’ was ever shifting. But being the central language of post-Reformation religio-politics meant that, even as it was recognised as destabilising, it was very difficult for a given person or group to rebut without condemning themselves to charges of being ‘popish’. This was the problem facing the Tories in challenging the Whig narrative of the succession crisis which rested on the principle that the popish plot made constitutional change necessary to protect English liberties. As Charles II discovered, to resist this narrative was to be absorbed into it as part of the ‘popish’ problem. Consequently, rather than rejecting ‘popery’, Tory writers appropriated it in order to limit its capacity as a lobbying force by the Whigs. They did not reject the popish plot as a real danger which the English state must confront, but reconstructed ‘popery’ to include the Whigs within the plot and to call for a stronger Crown and church to deal with the threat which they posed. Tory tactics thus rested on what we in this volume have chosen to call counter-stereotyping.38 Engaging with stereotypes – and challenging the public to think with them rather than simply accept them – became a necessary part of political discourse.

L’Estrange approached this in two ways. First, he limited the plot. He did not deny its existence but claimed that the trial and execution of the conspirators showed that the crisis had been met and neutered.39 Suggesting that ‘popery’ was under control limited its usefulness as a stick with which the Whigs attempted to beat the regime into reform – toleration for ‘true Protestant’ dissenters, greater powers for Parliament and the exclusion of James from the succession. A rhetoric of reason and moderation was vital to L’Estrange’s endeavour.40 His History of the plot (1679), for example, appeared to present the ‘facts’ in a dispassionate manner but was actually a polemical rival to the various plot ‘narratives’ which the star witnesses had produced under the mantle of exposing popery. Avoiding those accounts’ histrionics, L’Estrange presented his History in matter-of-fact prose to create a judicious air.41 What appeared to be verbatim transcripts of the plotters’ trials actually leaned far more heavily on sections in which the ‘witnesses’ under-performed, contradicted themselves, made palpably specious claims or were challenged by a rival witness or the accused. L’Estrange appeared to let the evidence speak for itself, but as readers progressed through the trials the cumulative effect of his edits was a pooling of doubt. Oates, for example, was shown as unable to recognise those whom he claimed to have witnessed conspiring – once because he was ‘too tired’ to see clearly, and once because the man in question had been wearing a different wig whilst plotting.42 L’Estrange also highlighted the extent to which Oates was in the habit of suddenly remembering fresh evidence when contradicted; dozens of witnesses testified that he was abroad when he claimed to have witnessed the ‘Jesuits’ Consult’ at which the plot was hatched.43 The implicit question was simple: could a reasonable society really alter its constitution on such specious fears of ‘popery’ as these?

That L’Estrange expected his audiences to be able to grasp the sharpness of his inferences demonstrates that he assumed a high degree of political literacy.44 Readers were to be familiar with the minutiae of the trials, to have rival accounts to hand as he unmasked their distortions and, despite L’Estrange presenting the ‘popery’ stereotype as a malaise on public opinion, were expected to be up to the task of seeing when those stereotypes were being employed to gull them. This often focused on minutiae. Thus, for example, L’Estrange’s subtle undermining of Miles Prance, one of the chief ‘witnesses’ to the murder of Godfrey on whose ‘evidence’ three Catholics were executed in 1679. In April 1682, L’Estrange reported an incident from Prance’s former career as a silversmith. In 1677 he had been contracted to make a silver antependium – a removable altar cover – for the queen’s chapel. This contract included six silver screws. When the object was cleaned several years later, it was discovered that Prance has soldered silver heads onto brass screws. Peter Hinds has shown that L’Estrange made several inferences in his discussion of this incident: did this deceiving of the queen make Prance a fundamentally untrustworthy individual and, if so, was his testimony about Godfrey’s murder enough evidence on which to execute a man? Had Prance gulled the public as he had gulled the queen? L’Estrange proceeded with hints and asides – these accusations were never explicit because at this moment Parliament was impeaching those who questioned the plot as ‘papists’ favourable to it.45 Reminding readers that Prance had been a Catholic until his ‘discovery’ of Godfrey’s murder was to run one stereotype into another: those who opposed ‘popery’ did so on evidence supplied by a ‘papist’.

The second limitation which L’Estrange placed on anti-popery was to claim that Whig attempts to ‘expose’ the plot were actually a part of it. If the plot was under control, then attempts to browbeat the Crown with ‘popery and arbitrary government’ and to tar James, the king, and his queen with involvement in the plot signalled something else. This, L’Estrange claimed, was ‘popery in masquerade’: the use of emotive ‘popery’ to mask Whig/nonconformist attempts to overthrow church and state. He thus expanded the ‘popery’ stereotype’s parameters to include those who wielded it most vocally. The Whigs/nonconformists who claimed to be the true advocates of anti-popery (and therefore to be the morally legitimate party) were actually ‘popish’. History showed the papacy’s chief aim was to overthrow England’s Crown and church. By manipulating fears of ‘popery’ to call for constitutional changes which weakened the church (to the benefit of nonconformists) and the Crown (to the benefit of Parliament) the Whigs were therefore ‘popish’ – they used one conspiracy theory to mask their own conspiratorial lust for power.46

L’Estrange’s narrative of the plot exemplifies this strategy. Including ‘narrative’ in the title was a parody of printed accounts by Oates, Bedloe and Prance which mocked the authoritative tone with which their texts accorded their fantastic inventions credence: one can only ‘narrate’ events which happened, and with which one is familiar.47 L’Estrange’s mockery went further. Far from undermining the plot (and therefore being ‘popish’ as his critics claimed) his ‘narrative’ was based on evidence provided by Oates – the Whigs’ champion witness – asserting that ‘papists’ had mobilised radical Protestant actions during the Civil War and the Fifth Monarchists’ revolt.48 Groups currently using the plot as a lobbying vehicle for reform were therefore ‘popish’ themselves. L’Estrange (via Oates) stressed that this ‘popish’ use of anti-popery to stir up the populace against church and state was an old puritan trick, and current events risked replaying the descent into Civil War during the early 1640s. Then as now a run at the bishops presaged a run at the king; then as now the collapse of licensing allowed the puritans to mobilise the mob behind fears of ‘popery and arbitrary government’; and then as now those puritan claims to defend the realm from ‘popery’ cloaked their doing the pope’s work, collapsing the realm into disorder and weakening the central institutions (church and Crown) which history showed to be the best defence against Antichrist.49 Puritanism and popery were therefore species of the same genus:

NOW though I cannot allow it upon any Terms that they help one another by Consent; nothing can be plainer yet then that while they play, each of them their Own Game, the One still leads into the Others hand. If Popery Influences schism, That Schism Slides as naturally into Popery, as Motion from One place of Rest tends to another[.]50

Exposing the Whigs/nonconformists – rather than church and Crown – as the true source of ‘popery’ undermined the stereotype’s effectiveness as a weapon of oppositional politics by redefining its boundaries: styling those who used ‘popery’ as ‘popish’.

This sophisticated mockery was certainly effective – by 1682 the Tory narrative was a dominant voice in news culture.51 It was not, however, new. L’Estrange drew on an established polemical tradition by which one stereotype (anti-popery) was undermined by countering it with another (anti-puritanism). Anti-puritanism was as prevalent as anti-popery, a form of ‘othering’ by which the boundaries of church and state were contested, as Lake has shown.52 As old as puritanism itself, it was formulated in defence of episcopacy and royal supremacy against puritan agitation in the late sixteenth century, subsequently became a feature of Jacobean and Caroline anti-Calvinist attempts to push puritans out of the establishment and was a mainstay of the defence of the English church from nonconformists during and after the Civil War – Thomas Edwards’s denunciation of ‘seditious’ Independents and sects was typical of anti-puritanism being used to position the established church as moderate, loyal and legitimate.53 The ‘puritan’ here was principally defined by two things: popularity – ‘Calvinist’ popular sovereignty in church and state was characterised as innately seditious and anti-monarchical; and hypocrisy – such calls for popular representation masked a power play by which the powers of those making the appeal would be enhanced. The Civil War confirmed these warnings that advocates of popular rule in the church actually lusted for popular rule in government and the endless energies against ‘popery’ in both masked an anti-monarchical drive for power.54

Like anti-popery, then, anti-puritanism was used to define orthodoxy in religious and political matters as it was understood by a given group. ‘Puritan’ was the negative half of a relationship which defined the positive half – ‘Anglican’, ‘royalist’ – to justify the relationship between the centre and periphery of English Protestantism in a given context.55 Like anti-popery, anti-puritanism served a variety of polemical ends for different groups with different motivations. And, like the ‘popery’ stereotype, ‘puritanism’ was not an unthinking cloud of prejudice but a platform on which a range of other issues – barriers of church/state, the need (or not) for reform, the nature of royal authority – were debated. Formulating stereotypes of ‘others’ drew boundaries: ‘popery’ and ‘puritanism’ cast out persons and ideas threatening to many groups’ visions of ‘Protestant’ England. This parallel in function drew on a parallel in language, with anti-puritanism often presented as anti-popery. L’Estrange’s Account of the growth of knavery under pretended fears of arbitrary government and popery (1678) was a response to Andrew Marvell’s Account of the growth of popery and arbitrary government (1677). The latter located a conspiracy for ‘popery and arbitrary government’ within Charles II’s regime and set the agenda for how the opposition represented that regime throughout the succession crisis. L’Estrange’s counter-narrative redefined ‘popery’ and ‘arbitrary government’ through classic anti-puritanism. Calls for popular government masked a cynical grasp for power; accusing the government of conspiracy was a libellous corrosion of church and state and was therefore ‘popish’; and popular sovereignty was arbitrary because it rested on the inconsistent vestiges of opinion alone.56 In short, Catholics had long conspired against the church and the Crown and this was what puritans were doing now: they were thus ‘papists in masquerade’. Countering one stereotype with another was thus normal political practice. Polemic did not reflect static categories but contested those categories to attempt to control the boundaries of legitimacy in church and state.57

L’Estrange grounded this puritanical ‘popery’ historically. Stereotypes provided a coherent view of England’s present by weaving elements of that past into a vision of the future. As in anti-popery, where events like the popish plot, Marian burnings or Armada were local manifestations of a longstanding historical animus – in which papal Antichrist’s attempts to destroy Protestant England shaped the way in which history unfolded until the Second Coming – so in anti-puritanism recent events in English history were local manifestations of puritanism’s longstanding historical animus towards monarchy and church which exposed puritanism as fundamentally and inherently un-English.58 In The growth of knavery and popery under the mask of Presbytery (1678) ‘puritans’ were not (as they claimed) the realisation of English Protestantism fully reformed, but popish. The regicide of 1649 was the culmination of ideas originating in Calvin’s Geneva, and Reformed Protestantism was therefore innately seditious.59 The consistory was ‘arbitrary’ because it was subject to no one, and it was seditiously anti-monarchical because it subjected monarchy to the discipline of prelates.60 L’Estrange traced these sentiments through a potted history of Presbyterianism, stressed how dangerously anti-monarchical its resistance theories were and interpreted puritanism’s fraught relationship with the Elizabethan and Jacobean state as a sign of the former’s inherently seditious nature, of which the Whigs/nonconformists were the latest manifestation.61 ‘Puritanism’ was thus collapsed into ‘popery’ since both were forms of anti-monarchism: the former expressed this through papal claims to make and unmake kings – excommunication fomented regicide by relieving subjects of the obedience owed to their monarchs; the latter by claiming that royal supremacy over the church was tyrannical – using the Word to oppose that supremacy justified resistance to the monarchy in equally ‘popish’ ways.62

Stereotypes did not simplify politics. As a crucial language of political debate they were contested and redefined to contest the core issues of the day. ‘Language’ is thus perhaps a more appropriate definition than ‘prejudice’. The latter implies an animus with a fixed target, but as the existence of anti-puritanism demonstrates, anti-popery had been neither uncontested nor static since the late sixteenth century. Thinking with stereotypes – rather than having thought constrained by them – was inherent in disputes over the boundaries of church and state. That anti-popery remained the language of legitimacy in religion and politics was demonstrated by its persistent use by those who wanted to control the definition of ‘popery’ as an effective means of political debate.


Controlling and countering the definition of ‘popery’ allowed L’Estrange to focus on mocking the opposition’s misuse of it. Mockery, as Quentin Skinner has shown, was well established in the rhetorical tradition.63 It was the caustic art of studied negation. Because mockery deemed its subject unworthy of respect it was acutely damaging in an honour culture centred upon public reputation. Indeed, transgressors of gendered and moral mores – cuckolds, adulterers or shrewish women – were often subjected to punitive rituals of humiliation precisely because mockery possessed the capacity to debase and diminish.64 This potency was captivating and problematic: captivating because by evoking pleasure, laughter afforded authors and speakers the opportunity to win over audiences and corrode their opponent; and problematic because that corrosiveness was highly dangerous if used improperly.65 Indeed, as Alastair Bellany and Andrew McRae have demonstrated, mocking verses were a prominent and effective medium of popular politics, a means by which authority was debated and contested, respect for social betters withheld and protest against government activities solidified.66 That seditious libel was policed by a severe legal code indicates how contentious mockery could be. Ridiculing persons of state invited disorder by eroding the ties of respect which bound the social hierarchy together.67 It is unsurprising, then, that L’Estrange presented mockery in the Whig press as libellous and vociferously called for the state to clamp down upon it as a means of reasserting Crown control.68 But even as he criticised his opponents’ unseemly laughter, he readily engaged in it as a routine part of political practice. Here, then, is one example of what Koji Yamamoto and Peter Lake have called the dialectics of stereotyping.69 L’Estrange’s strenuous efforts to control debates hardly led to calm exchanges or de-escalation, but instead to polemical escalation and more stereotyping.

This was highly apparent in The Observator, L’Estrange’s bi-weekly newspaper launched in 1681 to variously counter and antagonise the Whig press. Mark Goldie has shown that because its effectiveness rested upon rapid retort and the delivery of scabrous commentary on the news as this unfolded in rival newspapers, The Observator was little more than a cluster of animadversions which showed the Whig press to be fallacious, specious or – by undermining church and state – libellous.70 This ‘goose-quill fraternity’, mocked L’Estrange, had become ‘oracles of state’. The Observator’s incessantness earned L’Estrange the title of ‘scribbler-general of Tory land’ from his enemies, the ‘idol’ of his party. Often witty, it was rarely erudite. Vulgar, scatological and relentless in its inventive mockery, The Observator was overwrought, with insults and asides crammed into hectic prose which reduced politics to epithets and exclamations as L’Estrange rushed his haphazard thoughts about the day’s political events to press. The energy he placed into this endeavour highlights the paradox of L’Estrange. Few loathed politics being taken down to the mob’s mire more than he, but none did more to inject royalism into that mire. This was The Observator’s stated goal: ‘’Tis the press that has made ’um mad, and the press must set ’em right again. The distemper is epidemical; and there’s no way in the world, but by printing, to convey the remedy to the disease.’ The ‘madness’ referred to the plot. Popery for L’Estrange was a pathological mass delusion of ‘panic terrors, ecstatic raptures’ and ‘hypochondrines’, and was reliant upon ‘counterfeit’ evidence, ‘masquerade’, ‘canting’ and ‘vizarding’ which his pen would dispel. In his hands, anti-popery became an inverted popery: a zealous creed blinkering its acolytes to their credulity, a tyranny on reason which perverted truth and natural order.71

Manipulating anti-popish stereotypes in this way was a crucial part of L’Estrange’s polemic. His immersion in the London print trade allowed him to parody Whig anti-papal pamphlets with a rapidity which undermined them. Thus The character of a popish successor (1681) – in which John Phillips used a conventional anti-popish account of English history to assert that all Protestants could expect from James’s accession was tyranny and bloodshed – was countered by L’Estrange’s mocking The character of a papist in masquerade (1681) – which used the Civil War to demonstrate, conversely, that Whig/nonconformist rule posed a far greater chance of tyranny and bloodshed and was the true source of ‘popery’. Similarly, L’Estrange’s sayings (1681) – which displayed extracts from L’Estrange’s writings to ‘prove’ his ‘popish’ tendencies – was speedily met with L’Estrange’s The dissenter’s sayings (1681) – which displayed anti-monarchical extracts from Whig/nonconformist texts proving them to be, like Jesuits, ‘popish’. Examples could be stacked up, but the point is simple. Anti-popery was rarely left uncontested but was challenged at the moment of issue: stereotypes were not afforded the space to simply control opinion and close down thought.

In part this was because the Tories had another stereotype – the ‘puritan’ – with which to combat ‘popery’. The stereotype of ‘puritans’ as zealous killjoys and/or seditious anti-monarchists was prevalent in polemic and on stage by the early seventeenth century, and anti-popish babbling was one of its key traits.72 Vitriol bubbles out of ‘puritans’ like Zeal-of-the-Land Busy from Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair (1614) in incoherent ramblings made up of little more than a mishmash of clichés and generic imagery, bully-boy zealots devoid of substance.73 L’Estrange drew on this tradition. In his satire the ‘puritan’ rambles against ‘popery’ as the motor of all traumas in recent history: ‘papists’ had stirred up the Civil War, had corrupted the Presbyterians who murdered Charles I and had burnt London in 1666, and so on. When asked teasingly if ‘papists’ had also caused the recent plague, he replies farcically: ‘[n]othing more likely in my judgement; for what with their Mass mumbling ... Conjurations, Incense and Holy-Water ... they have raised such a pother and sent such a foule stink among us enough to cause an infection to spread not only over the City, but the whole Nation too’.74 Such parody forced readers to reconsider anti-popery by aping so closely stock attributes of the polemic which it mocked. The aim was to neuter the Whig’s use of popery as a polemical language. Elsewhere L’Estrange was more direct. Animadversion pinned ‘popery’ back on the Whigs who employed it. Here is the image of the popish tyranny from Charles Blount's An appeal from the country to the city (1679), a tyranny which would ensue if James ascended to the throne:

First … Imagine you see the whole Town in a Flame, occasioned this second time by the same Popish Malice which set it on Fire before. At the same Instant Phansie that among the distracted Crowd you behold Troops of Papists Ravishing your Wives and Daughters; dashing your little Childrens brains out against Walls, Plundering your Houses, and Cutting your Own Throats by the name of Heretick Dogs[.]

This typical image became in L’Estrange’s hands a memory of ‘real’ tyranny from ‘Whig’ rule during the Civil Wars:

First Imagine the whole Nation in a Flame … by the Malice of the same Faction that embroyl’d us before; and at the same Instant, Phansy whole Droves of Coblers, Draymen, Ostlers, Quatering upon your Wives and Daughters, till ye want bread to put in your Childrens Mouths … your Houses Rifled; your Accompt-Books Examin’d … your Persons sent on Ship-board, transported, or thrown into nasty Dungeons … your Throats cut, by the Name of Popish Dogs75

Mockery was effective here because its object was so familiar, the parody echoing the stylised patterns of anti-popery to expose it as hollow. The stereotype’s ubiquity rendered it pliable to inversion.

This was not frivolous. Ridicule was vital because it highlighted anti-popery’s central danger: its dependency upon the separation of words and things. Because ‘popery’ was divorced from any concrete content it could be applied to anything/anyone which the Whigs/nonconformists desired.76 It was therefore dangerously unstable, a ‘cast of Rhetorique’ which threatened order because it bound the unthinking mob in its spell and rendered them unable to perceive the Whig’s mendacity: ‘the Common people are caught just as we catch Larks; ’Tis but setting up a fine Thing for a Wonderment, they all flock to’t … and never leave Flickering about it, till the Fowler has them in the Net’.77 L’Estrange’s animadversions on The character of a popish successor highlighted this separation of words and things. He challenged its author to provide evidence for every claim about the inevitability of Catholic cruelty and arbitrary government for, as it stood, fears of ‘popery’ were supported by words alone rather than substance. If ‘popery’ was truly demonstrable, such ‘Hyperboliz’d … Declamatory Torrent of Words’ would not be necessary: ‘[i]t is one of the greatest Indignities that can be put upon the simplicity of a Just Truth, the dawbing of it with Embrodery and Flourish, and the over-doing of it’.78 Although highly emotive, such substanceless anti-popery dissolved upon closer examination. L’Estrange thus quoted a long, furious passage from The character which asserted that, because a Catholic monarchy could only be enslaved to the pope, James’s reign could only see martyrs at Smithfield, English law overrun and Protestantism outlawed. He deemed it hot air:

This Passage is only the same thing over again, in a diversity of Words and Phrase. But it is well enough to answer the Ends it was intended for; the tickling of the Phansy, and the moving of a Popular Passion, without one syllable of weight to strike the Judgement ... I cannot liken it to anything better then the Gaudy Glittering Vapour that Children are used to Phansy in a Cloud. They’ll Phansy Lions, Peackocks, in it, or what other Figures they Please; but the first Breath of Ayre scatters the Phantastique Images, and resolves the whole into its original Nothing.79

This ‘popery’ was a phantom. Accepting the stereotype was unreasonable because ‘popery’ here did not accord with reality: ‘[this] Popish Successor … is a Figure that has no Being in Nature, but [only in the author’s] own Brain’. Accepting it was to be credulous, to demonstrate that ‘the very Sound of Popery will do the business, as well Without a Ground, as With it’, that English politics was being based on fear of the word, not the actual thing.80 In another pamphlet, L’Estrange mocked those who accepted this stereotype as reality: expecting ‘papists’ to look like their depiction in the fantastic graphic satires currently circulating London, his Whig character was ever watchful for ‘a company of ill-looked fellows with Bags of Gun-pow[d]er and Pistols in one hand, and Daggers and long knives in the other’.81

Because L’Estrange was charged with being a ‘papist’ he was sensitive to how dangerous this separation of words and things could be. The accusation was a backhanded compliment to the success of his Tory polemic. Responding to his undermining their credibility, Oates and the other witnesses claimed to have evidence that L’Estrange was involved in the plot – painting him ‘popish’ tainted the legitimacy of his voice. After Parliament threatened to impeach him, L’Estrange fled London.82 As Helen Pierce has shown, he soon became the bête noire of Whig street politics, caricatured as ‘Towzer’, the Pope’s lap-dog who ‘barked’ at the opposition according to the dictates of his master. In 1680–1, this became a calling card of opposition politics. In a series of graphic satires ‘Towzer’ was mocked as the chief papal agent in England; and during the pope-burning procession of November 1681 he sat nestled on the pope’s lap and was consigned to the flames alongside his master at the culmination of the festivities.83

L’Estrange did not simply deny the charge. His defence rested upon demonstrating that the unthinking application of the ‘popery’ stereotype was dangerous. A farcical dialogue between Pragmaticus and Philosophicus asked readers to consider what believing him to be ‘popish’ revealed about the succession crisis. How could his accusers know L’Estrange’s conscience? What evidence supported the charge? And, given this lack of evidence, was not ‘popery’ here the misapplication of words to things?84 That is, was this not – like charges of ‘popery’ against church and state – nonsensical? Neutering ‘popery’ by exposing it as meaningless, L’Estrange spun the worst possible accusation into a mockery of the accusers. Thus Pragmaticus’s ridiculous response to Philosophicus’s charge that L’Estrange’s decades of royalism and writing against popery proved him to be no papist:

this is wonderful strange you say, that he should be a profest enemy to the Papists, and yet be one himself underhand … as if the Pope could not grant a Dispensation for all this: why it is ordinarily done in such cases, and I thought you had not been so shallow as not to apprehend it … these confounded Dispensations are of a strange nature, for I have heard that by the strength of one of them a man may come to our Church, wear a Peruque and a Sword by his side, flatter and fawn upon the King, and cry God bless your Majesty, I wish you a long a prosperous Reign, and then Stab or Poison him at the first opportunity, and yet for all at last go to Heaven in a string. And I think on it a little better, might not L’Estrange be a Jesuite and be like enough to do some such like Prank at the long Run?85

The absurdity is palpable: if someone whom the Whigs styled ‘popish’ was demonstrably not so on the basis of decades of service to the Crown that was because the pope had granted a dispensation allowing them to dissemble during all of that time. Mockery thus highlighted danger. On this definition of ‘popery’, no one was safe.

Laughing at this farce relied upon being able to see through ‘popery’ as the Whigs used it. This underscores a central argument of this chapter: stereotypes here did not blinker thought but were a springboard to thinking through political issues. L’Estrange expected contesting stereotypes to be a normal part of polemical discourse. To believe that either he or the state was ‘popish’ was to be paralysed by public opinion rather than to exercise rational thought, to accept a stereotype rather than to question it. To this end, L’Estrange used mockery to underscore the extent to which anti-popery rested on mob rule:

Philo. Then I perceive it is become now as criminal to speak well of L’Estrange, as to drink the Dukes Health, and all because one is supposed to be a Papist, and the other is so. But pray tell me one thing, supposing, though not granting L’Estrange to be Papist, may not a man for all that speak in his behalf, quatenus an honest man?

Prag. That is a good one: An honest Papist? ... it is an absurdity, nay an utter impossibility. An honest man perhaps may be a Papist, but a Papist can never be an honest man: and there is the short and the long of the business pithily delivered in few words … the Papist L’Estrange is a Papist; and whosoever speaks a good word of him is a Popeling, an Abettor of the Diabolical party, and an ill Commonwealths man.

Philo. Acutely argued. I perceive by this you are a man of parts and perhaps can give me the reason ... why you think L’Estrange is a Papist.

Prag. What need of any Reason, when all the Town and Country say so? sure their words may be taken without any farther Reason.

Philo. And therefore you believe him to be a Papist, because he is generally reported one.

Prag. Yes marry do I: and every good Christian ought to do the like.

Philo. I always thought that every mans own persuasion and practice had made him of this or that Religion, and not anothers saying so: But it seems you think otherwise, and L’Estrange must be a Papist, because the people vote him one: then I say, if he be a Papist, they ought to be punished for being accessory to his being such, for it is evident that he was none before they talked him into it.86

The final gibe – that if L’Estrange was a ‘papist’ it was the Whig mob who made him so – was a delicious demonstration of farce undoing polemic. Here the mob is led by ‘popery’ into a slavishness in which anti-popery displays popery’s core elements: credulity and tyranny. Mockery achieved more than highlighting such accusations’ speciousness. It showed the ‘popery’ stereotype – rather than actual popery – to be the problem of the moment.87

Despite this, anti-popery could not be rejected as an ideal. It was necessary to contest its meaning precisely because it remained the centre point of religio-politics and one which it was vital to redefine as a language of Tory loyalism. A further discovery of the plot (1680) was typical. This refutation of charges that he was ‘popish’ was made all the more acidic by addressing Oates (his accuser) in a faux-courteous tone which used irony to say the unsayable: ‘I believe the Plot; and as much of it as every good Subject ought to believe, or as any man in his right Wits can believe: Nay, I do so absolutely believe it, that, in my Conscience, you yourself, Doctor, do not believe more of it then I do’ (i.e. not at all).88 L’Estrange feigned an embrace of Oates as a loyal brother-in-arms by mining the myriad contradictions of Oates’s ‘evidence’ for extracts in which their definitions of ‘popery’ were the same. The barb was clear: accusing me of ‘popery’ is to accuse yourself. L’Estrange drew attention to Oates’s claims that Jesuit infiltration had inspired anti-monarchism in Scottish Presbyterians and Fifth Monarchists. As his own evidence showed ‘popery’ nestled amidst his biggest supporters – the nonconformists – Oates (like L’Estrange) must surely therefore see the Whigs/nonconformists as the most severe ‘popish’ threat to church and state.89 Employing a centrepiece of anti-papal language – Guy Fawkes’s lantern – L’Estrange savaged Oates’s exposure of his own party:

Sir, I have Read you, I have Consider’d you, and … You have Lighted me into the Vault, where all our Mischief is a Brewing. You have shewed me not onely the Train, but Faux himself also (the Master-Engineer) Creeping with his Dark Lanthern to give Fire to it, and to my Eyes, things are as plain, as the Sun at Noon-day.90

This evoked a keystone of popular memory. Fawkes caught by divine providence about to destroy the monarchy was a visual cliché of graphic culture (see Figure 6.1).91 Here, L’Estrange mockingly claimed Oates as the lantern exposing the chief threat to the Restoration monarchy: the Whigs. Anti-popery neutered anti-popery.

There are two central points here. First, L’Estrange understood his readers to be capable of seeing through stereotypes – anti-popery remained the primary religio-political language but controlling that language through contestation and redefinition was normal practice. Even though he clearly did not believe that the plot existed, or that ‘popery’ was a real issue of English politics, L’Estrange’s polemics remain saturated with anti-popish language, which he appropriated in order to control. Focusing explicitly on what ‘popery’ actually meant, how the Whigs misused it and, by extension, how the Tory/episcopal royalist used it correctly, was central to his controlling the centre ground of opinion. Second, that the public was challenged to see beyond stereotypes tells us that they did not close thought down but opened it up. Thus, laughing at others’ credulity in accepting stereotypes was vital in making one’s position appear reasonable. Indeed, mocking the farcical nature of a ‘popery’ discourse in which words were very definitely separate from things (that is, ‘popery’ was set apart from anything papist) offered L’Estrange the opportunity to bring the two back together and therefore limit anti-popery as an oppositional discourse.

This limitation centred on reintegrating ‘popery’ with its proper subject, the Roman Catholic church:

Let them vent their Indignation against the Principles and Practises of the Church of Rome, in what Terms they please, and make Popery as Odious as they can, provided that they do not encourage Tumults [against church and state] and contain their Passions within the Bounds of Truth and Justice. If they once passe those limits ... ’tis no longer Zeal, but Confederacy[.]92

This limited anti-popery as a political language. If ‘popery’ referred only to the Catholic church’s doctrinal errors, it could not refer to the current Crown, Catholic princes or styles of government as the Whigs would have matters. Controlling anti-popery thus had two principal advantages. First, it positioned the Church of England – rather than the nonconformists – as the true stalwarts of anti-popery and highlighted that the church’s historical alliance with the Crown was vital to its being so. It was the Church of England under the royal supremacy which had reformed itself from ‘popish’ error. History thus demonstrated that the church/Crown alliance was England’s best safeguard against ‘popery’ and therefore – despite the Whigs’ best efforts to separate words and things – neither institution could be ‘popish’. Tory anti-popish credentials were asserted as those of the Whigs were denied.

Alongside appropriating it for Tory purposes, limiting anti-popery to a doctrinal opposition to Rome had the second polemical advantage of appearing more reasonable. This ‘reasonable’ anti-popery had a heritage in Restoration society. As Jacqueline Rose has demonstrated, polemical histories of the Civil Wars explained Charles I’s execution as the result of a combination of popery and puritanism. According to these histories anti-monarchism originated in advocacy of popular sovereignty and the deposition of rulers. Here ‘papists’ who advocated resistance and regicide, and ‘Presbyterians’ who permitted resistance to and deposition of ‘ungodly’ rulers, were two sides of the same coin. Papal excommunication – which removed Elizabeth I’s subjects from fealty – and puritan agitation – which denied her governorship over the church – amounted to the same thing. Both asserted that the people could overthrow a monarch; and both consequently made monarchy subject to de facto popular approval.93 As Sir Robert Filmer noted: ‘[t]he main, and indeed the only point of popery is the alienating and withdrawing from subjects their obedience to their prince, to raise sedition and rebellion ... popery and popularity agree in this point’.94 Charles I’s puritan/Parliamentary ‘murderers’ were therefore in all actuality ‘popish’. Rose has demonstrated that considerable scholarly effort was spent tying historical links between Catholicism and puritanism into one vast font of ‘popish’ sedition. Puritan resistance theories depended upon Catholic authors, and Catholicism and puritanism used the same propaganda methods, hot language, libels which corroded respect for the state and the stirring up of zeal amidst a credulous populace.95 Consequently, the true defence against ‘popery’ was the English church’s moderate Protestantism. Episcopal royalist writing became less explicitly anti-popish as its claim to be the bulwark against ‘popery’ increased. Where their intolerance against ‘popery’ was reasonable, the nonconformists’ was enthusiastic and destabilising.

Resistance to the excessiveness of anti-popery should not be underestimated.96 In a superficial sense, it seems to question anti-popery’s dominance as the period’s central religio-political ideology. Paradoxically, however, resistance may actually provide further evidence for that dominance as it demonstrates that even resistance to that ideology could only be asserted through ideological language. A contemporary parallel is instructive. In twenty-first-century societies, the dominance of toleration as the normative ideology forces intolerant persons to engage in its language in order to provide their positions with an air of acceptability (‘I’m not racist, but …’) – the manner of dissent reinforces the grip of orthodoxy.97 In late seventeenth-century society, the converse was true: the dominance of anti-popish intolerance meant that those who did resist it (like L’Estrange) had to voice their resistance through its language to make their positions legitimate. The key point is that contesting (and therefore controlling) the meaning of ‘popery’ was established polemical practice. By engaging in it L’Estrange (and other Tory authors) simultaneously limited the power of their opponent’s anti-popery and asserted the morality of their own positions.


‘Popery’ did not entail permanent demarcations between rigid ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups, but it was a stereotype which rival groups wrestled to control for specific political ends. Current research in social psychology has stressed that rather than simply being in a given culture, stereotypes have to be mobilised.98 Far from being a passive product of cognition – an imperfect simplification of phenomena necessary to allow individuals to process information in a complex world – or a routine by-product of social groups who define themselves by excluding ‘others’, stereotypes are mobilised by one group to do something to another. Even a simple prejudiced stereotypical characterisation – ‘ethnic minority X are stupid’ – contains a rich world view: it explains reality (why ethnic minority X are socially subordinate) and responds to that reality (measures towards equality are pointless because ‘they’ are incapable of equality). The statement thus justifies the in-group’s power as much as it explains the out-group’s status and in doing so it intends to keep the latter in its place.99 Stereotypes are about doing. They are not abstracted statements, but assertions of power deployed in specific political contexts to control the interpretation of a given moment. Thus in late-seventeenth-century England, contestation over ‘popery’ was the product of struggles for power between two groups: for the Whigs/nonconformists, heightened Parliamentary power and the toleration of ‘true Protestant’ dissenters was the surest way of resisting ‘popery’ in church/Crown; for the Tories/episcopal royalists, this was a malevolent, ‘popish’ misapplication of anti-popery against those institutions – church/Crown – best suited to protect England from ‘popery’. Paradoxically, ‘popery’ was a viable means of sustaining existing religio-political systems (Tory/episcopal royalist) or of asserting the need for those systems to change (Whig/nonconformists). Stereotypes were mobilised in specific political contexts to justify specific political arguments. Mobilisation involves reimagining.100

Social scientists now frame the problem of intolerance not by asking ‘why does group X hold views which are demonstrably inaccurate about group Y?’ but by asking ‘what do such views allow group X to achieve?’ and ‘why are such views effective?’ Moving beyond understanding stereotypes as the product of ‘flawed’ thinking in individuals to view them as one means by which groups explain current social structures shows that stereotypes are bound up with issues of power and politics.101 When stereotypes appear in historical sources, therefore, we should see them not as a reflection of uncontentious popular attitudes, but as part of a rhetorical strategy utilised at a particular moment with a particular aim. As a moral commonplace, ‘popery’ was often employed in argumentative contexts to assert a position, persuade an audience or defend a norm – it was a rhetorical flourish, an emotive ploy, used to achieve an end rather than a constant of popular belief.102 Its use was promiscuous precisely because of this.

Because stereotypes are about doing – asserting a world view or maintaining political privilege – they are open to being resisted. Scott Sowerby has demonstrated that ‘anti-anti-popery’ flourished as a loyalist ideology in James II’s reign. This had less to do with a decline in anti-popish sentiment than it did with a changing political context necessitating a changing polemical discourse. A Catholic king and the solidification of a Tory/episcopal royalist government meant that currents of opposition to anti-popery as a destabilising presence in English politics advocated by L’Estrange five years earlier blossomed into a full-blown rejection of the ideology in some quarters. Under James anti-anti-popery polemic offered a range of opportunities to different groups. For Tory/episcopal royalists it asserted loyalism: they – unlike the ‘popish’ puritans – had always supported monarchy and royal supremacy. For Whigs/nonconformists, renouncing anti-popery now had a vested interest: as James considered tolerating religious dissenters, anti-anti-popery was a language of loyalty which offered formerly rabidly anti-popish groups the opportunity to renounce any hint of dangerous zeal.103 This was pure rhetorical practice: the abandonment of one stereotype for another as political circumstance required. As Sowerby notes: ‘[i]f anti-popery could be explicitly rejected and opposed, then it was not a fixed attribute that invariably dictated behaviour; rather, it seems to have been a polemical strategy that was used by certain English Protestants in pursuit of a given set of ends [and which] could be both adopted and discarded’.104 Does this tell us that anti-popery was no more than the mere puffery of words? No: it speaks, rather, to anti-popery’s ubiquity as a moral baseline with which it was necessary to engage to assert any religio-political position. The manner of that engagement – adoption or rejection – changed according to political circumstance and the aim of a given group, but the fact of the engagement remained constant.

Contradictions like these ultimately proved vital to stereotypes’ vitality. We might think that early modern Protestants’ ability to challenge anti-popery, the frequency with which they acknowledged that not all Catholics were malicious and their capacity to coexist in multiconfessional parishes are signs that despite the polemical bluster anti-Catholic intolerance was often moderated in practice.105 This would be a mistake. Anti-popery was certainly an intolerance ‘qualified’ by positive appreciations of Catholicism. Engagement with Catholic learning and appreciation of Catholic culture was as much a factor of early modern Englishness as was anti-popery – we need only think of the Grand Tour as an aspect of ‘English’ gentility.106 Curiosity and condemnation sat side-by-side: Rome was both the eternal city and the Whore of Babylon. But a contradiction is not the same as tempering. Prejudiced stereotypes are often a complex mixture of positive and negative attributes – Jews as industrious and intelligent, Black men as sexually potent. Intolerance lies in this ambivalence. Positive traits reinforce negative attitudes because they acknowledge the potency of the group feared, the threat ‘they’ pose to ‘us’.107 ‘Popish’ art was idolatrous because it was alluring, the Antichrist was threatening because it was so clever and Louis XIV’s absolutism was terrifying because it was so successful. When the root of stereotypes is understood to be a fear of that potency, these contradictions make more sense.


This chapter has argued that anti-popish stereotypes were an agent of thought (rather than a barrier to it) which ultimately provided a vocabulary through which religion and politics could be debated and evaluated. That anti-popery was a representational practice which attained value in the context of its use meant authors were more than capable of thinking beyond it and expected their audiences to do so as well. Indeed, contesting an opponent’s definition of ‘popery’ was a normal part of polemical practice, and one heightened by party politics during the succession crisis. To control what was ‘popish’ was to control what was ‘Protestant’ and thus to control the language of legitimacy. The Whigs’ labelling church /Crown ‘popish’ and the Tories’ branding the Whigs with the same label was consequently far more than trading slurs: it was to conduct a debate over fundamental issues of religion and politics – the boundaries of church, polity and constitution – through the same ideological language. As L’Estrange exclaimed: ‘[t]his Cuckoo-Song of Forty One, Forty One, Forty One, over and over; were Ill-natured and Ridiculous, if the other Cuckoo-Song of Popery and Tyranny, Popery and Tyranny ... over and over, had not made it absolutely Necessary’.108

Examining stereotypes in situ is thus vital if we are to understand their potency. Stereotypes certainly can simplify the world and provide easy explanations for unequal majority/minority relationships, but to truly understand their persuasive force requires capturing the context of their use and how other groups responded to and disputed that use: to see stereotypes as aspects of the discursive practices necessary to sustaining ideologies. Ideologies do not exist in a vacuum and are forged through opposition and conflict rather than abstract deduction. To study stereotypes therefore requires attention to the complex interplay of use and counter-use, attack and counter-attack, by which they are at once invigorated and contained.

Seen in this way, stereotypes are ultimately assertions of power: they form a vital part of the means by which a given group controls the interpretation of political events. The succession crisis was at root a contestation between two conspiracy theories striving to control the definition of ‘popery’. In this way, what historians often understand to be a ‘crisis of popery and arbitrary government’ in Charles II’s reign could also be styled a crisis of what it meant to be ‘popish’. As this chapter has demonstrated, L’Estrange’s polemic rested on undermining anti-popery as a tool of Whig politics without rejecting it as an ideal of English culture. Those who did not assent to anti-popery had to appear to assent to the centre ground of acceptable intolerance – and a generations-old founding doctrine of Protestant national identity – even as they wrestled to undermine it.

Comparisons may be drawn here with modern racist groups’ engagement with ideologies which they do not support. As Michael Billig has shown, such groups routinely deny that they are intolerant and, flipping the obvious accusations made against racists, attribute intolerance to their liberal opponents whilst describing their own racist positions in terms of fairness and equality. In doing so, they do not deny the language of legitimacy in Western societies – that intolerance is morally wrong – but reinforce it. Such groups thus feign embrace of an ideology (toleration) in which they do not believe because it is necessary to do so for polemical purposes, to have one’s views aired and to counter expected opposition. Accusation and defence thus turn not on who has the best ideas, but on who can paint whom as intolerant: that is, who can convincingly control the normative moral language of tolerance.109 In the late seventeenth century, the debate was equivalent if inverted. Claiming to be suitably anti-popish was necessary to rebut the political momentum gained by another group’s use of anti-popery as the normative language of intolerance. In this sense early modern people were constrained by anti-popery even as they demonstrated their ability to see through and beyond it.


1 Peter Lake, ‘Anti-popery: the structure of a prejudice’, in Richard Cust and Ann Hughes (eds), Conflict in early Stuart England (New York, 1989), pp. 72–106; Anthony Milton, Catholic and reformed: the Roman and Protestant churches in English Protestant thought, 1600–1640 (Cambridge, 1995), esp. chs 3–5.
2 Alexandra Walsham, Providence in early modern England (Oxford, 1999), pp. 243–66.
3 Linda Colley, Britons: forging the nation 1707–1837 (London, 1996), ch. 1.
4 Alexandra Walsham, ‘“The fatall vesper”: providentialism and anti-popery in late Jacobean London’, Past & Present, 144 (1994), 36–87; David Cressy, Bonfires and bells: national memory and the Protestant calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (Stroud, 2004), esp. chs 7–9.
5 Jonathan Scott, ‘England’s troubles: exhuming the popish plot’ in Tim Harris, Paul Seaward and Mark Goldie (eds), The politics of religion in Restoration England (Oxford, 1990), pp. 107–31; Anthony Fletcher, The outbreak of the English Civil War (London, 1981), pp. 407–19; John Morrill, ‘The religious context of the English Civil War’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 35 (1985), pp. 135–57.
6 See Adam Morton, ‘A product of confession or corruption? The common weales canker wormes (c. 1625) and the progress of sin in early modern England’, in Feike Dietz, Adam Morton, Lien Rogen, Els Stronks and Marc Van Vaeck (eds), Illustrated religious texts in the north of Europe, 1500–1800 (Farnham, 2014), pp. 135–64.
7 Lake, ‘Anti-popery’; Milton, Catholic and reformed; Frances Dolan, Whores of Babylon: Catholicism, gender and seventeenth-century print culture (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1999).
8 Tim Harris, London crowds in the reign of Charles II: propaganda and politics from the Restoration until the exclusion crisis (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 129–44; Harris, Politics under the later Stuarts: party conflict in a divided society, 1660–1715 (London, 1993), pp. 70–1, 98–101, 122; Jonathan Scott, England’s troubles: seventeenth-century English political instability in European Context (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 427–46.
9 My survey of developments in social psychology is indebted to Perry R. Hinton, Stereotypes, cognition and culture (Hove, 2000) and David J. Schneider, The psychology of stereotyping (New York and London, 2005), pp. 20–1, 376–87, 435–8. For the ‘faulty thinking’ interpretation see D. Katz and K. Braly, ‘Racial stereotypes of one hundred college students’, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 28 (1933), 280–90; Katz and Braly, ‘Racial prejudice and racial stereotypes’, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 30 (1935), 175–93.
10 T. W. Adorno et al., The authoritarian personality (New York, 1950); Hinton, Stereotypes, pp. 15–17.
11 D. T. Campbell, ‘Stereotypes and the perception of group differences’, American Psychologist, 22 (1967), 817–29; Henri Tajfel, ‘Cognitive aspects of prejudice’, Journal of Social Issues, 25 (1969), 79–97; E. J. Langer, ‘Rethinking the role of thought in social interaction’, in John H. Harvey, William Ickes and Robert F. Kidd (eds), New directions in attribution research (Hillsdale, NJ, 1978); Hinton, Stereotypes, pp. 20–3, 54–7; Schneider, Stereotyping, pp. 2–3, 10–12.
12 Hinton, Stereotypes, pp. 65–7.
13 Frederic C. Bartlett, Remembering: a study in experimental and social psychology (Cambridge, 1932); Susan T. Fiske and Shelley E. Taylor, Social cognition (New York, 1991); Hinton, Stereotypes, pp. 46–51, 65–8, 82–6; Schneider, Stereotyping, pp. 24–8, 150–1.
14 My comments here are indebted to Schneider, Stereotyping, pp. 333–63.
15 S. A. Haslam, ‘Stereotyping and social influence: foundations of stereotype consensus’, in R. Spears, P. J. Oakes, N. Ellemers and S. A. Haslam (eds), The social psychology of stereotyping and group life (Oxford, 1997), 119–43; S. Alexander Haslam et al., ‘The group as a basis for emergent stereotype consensus’, European Review of Social Psychology, 8 (1998), 203–39; Schneider, Stereotyping, pp. 325–8.
16 For excellent accounts see Tim Harris, Restoration: Charles II and his kingdoms, 1660–1685 (London, 2006), chs 3–5; Mark Knights, Politics and opinion in crisis (Cambridge, 1994); K. H. D. Haley, The first Earl of Shaftesbury (Oxford, 1968).
17 Scott, ‘England’s troubles’.
18 For surveys of these events see John Kenyon, The popish plot (London, 1972); Haley, Shaftesbury, chs 21–30.
19 Titus Oates, A true narrative of the horrid plot (London, 1679); and The discovery of the popish plot (London, 1679); and The King’s evidence justified (London, 1679).
20 Miles Prance, A true narrative and discovery of several very remarkable passages relating to the horrid popish plot (London, 1679); Miles Prance, The additional narrative of Miles Prance (London, 1679); William Bedloe, A narrative and impartial discovery of the horrid popish plot (London, 1679). On this aspect of the crisis see Alan Marshall, The strange death of Edmund Godfrey (Stroud, 1999).
21 John Miller, Popery and politics in England, 1660–1688 (Cambridge, 1978), chs 8 and 9; Harris, London crowds, chs 5 and 6.
22 See Knights, Politics and opinion, chs 6–8.
23 Harris, London crowds, esp. chs 7 and 9; Scott, England’s troubles, esp. ch 19. Grant Tapsell has demonstrated that this partisan culture was extended after the succession crisis when Charles II ruled without Parliament. See his The personal rule of Charles II, 1681–85 (Woodbridge, 2007).
24 Ethan H. Shagan has urged us to be cautious in seeing moderation as a clearly definable centre ground in church and state. Rather, the rhetoric of ‘moderation’ was often used to assert power and control. See his The rule of moderation (Cambridge, 2011).
25 Miller, Popery and politics, ch. 9; Harris, Restoration, chs 4 and 5.
26 Peter Hinds, ‘The horrid popish plot: Roger L’Estrange and the circulation of political discourse in late seventeenth-century London (Oxford, 2010). All scholars working on L’Estrange are indebted to Hinds’s work. See also Anne Dunan-Page and Beth Lynch (eds), Roger L’Estrange and the making of Restoration culture (Aldershot, 2008), esp. chapters by Mark Goldie and Peter Hinds.
27 Mark Knights, Representation and misrepresentation in later Stuart Britain (Oxford, 2005).
28 Mark Knights, ‘London’s “monster” petition of 1680’, Historical Journal, 36 (1993), 39–67; Knights, ‘London petitions and Parliamentary politics in 1679’, Parliamentary History, 12 (1993), 29–46.
29 Knights, Representation, chs 5 and 6.
30 Roger L’Estrange, The case put concerning the succession (London, 1679), p. 37. Hinds, Horrid popish plot, ch. 3, pp. 303–5, 308.
31 Roger L’Estrange, L’Estrange’s narrative of the plot (London, 1680), p. 21. See also pp. 27 and 13–18 where L’Estrange lists issues of pure folly into which ‘popery’ has led men in recent years. See also Roger L’Estrange, The free-born subject: or, the Englishmans birthright (London, 1681), pp. 8, 11.
32 For L’Estrange’s use of anti-popery, see Miller, Popery and politics, pp. 177–9; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, p. 189; L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 2–3.
33 Lake, ‘Anti-popery’; Arthur F. Marotti, Religious ideology and cultural fantasy: Catholic and anti-Catholic discourses in early modern England (Notre Dame, IN, 2005); Milton, Catholic and reformed.
34 Lake, ‘Anti-popery’. See also my ‘Popery, politics, and play: visual culture in succession crisis London’, Seventeenth Century (2016), 411–49.
35 Andrew Willet, Synopsis papismi, 3rd edn (London, 1600). On Willet see Milton, Catholic and reformed, pp. 31, 47–56.
36 Peter Lake, ‘The significance of the Elizabethan identification of the Pope as Antichrist’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 31 (1980), 161–78.
37 Peter Lake, ‘Anti-puritanism: the structure of a prejudice’, in Kenneth Fincham and Peter Lake (eds), Religious politics in post-Reformation England: essays in honour of Nicholas Tyacke (Woodbridge, 2006), pp. 80–97.
38 See Introduction, pp. 20–1, Harris’s Chapter 1, pp. 51–2 and Peters’s Chapter 5, p. 163.
39 This was a recurrent aspect of L’Estrange’s works. The key texts are L’Estrange, Narrative, pp. 4–5, 19, 20–5; History of the plot (London, 1679), sig. A2r-v; Roger L’Estrange, An answer to the appeal from the country to the city (London, 1679), pp. 10–23; L’Estrange, Case put, p. 1; L’Estrange, Free-born subject, p. 13; Roger L’Estrange, A further discovery of the plot (London, 1680), p. 6. (In subsequent notes, I will avoid repeating L’Estrange’s name where citing several of his works and those of no one else.) On the Narrative, see Hinds, Horrid popish plot, pp. 163–4.
40 L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 18–19.
41 L’Estrange, History of the plot, sig. A2v.
42 L’Estrange, History of the plot, pp. 5–6, 10–11, 20–2, 23–4, 33–7, 39–40.
43 L’Estrange, History of the plot, pp. 15–16, 74–6. See also Case put, pp. 12–15, where L’Estrange used Oates’s evidence to separate the Duke of York from the plot (and thereby undermine calls for exclusion).
44 On this reading, see my ‘Intensive ephemera: the visual culture of “news” in Restoration London’, in Simon Davies and Puck Fletcher (eds), News in early modern Europe: currents and connections (Leiden, 2014), pp. 115–40.
45 Peter Hinds, ‘“Tales and romantick stories”: “impostures”, trustworthiness and the credibility of information in the late seventeenth century’ in Dunan-Page and Lynch (eds), Roger L’Estrange, pp. 93–100. Hinds’s excellent detective work has revealed the extent to which this case caused a storm. It was discussed in The Observator, 1 April 1682; The Loyal Protestant and True Domestick Intelligence, no. 105, Thursday, 19 January 1682; The Impartial Protestant Mercury, no. 87, Friday, 17–21 February; Sir Edmund Godfrey’s ghost: or, an answer to Nat. Thompsons scandalous letter from Cambridge (London, 1682); George Everett, A second letter to Mr. Miles Prance, in reply to the Ghost of Sir Edmond-bury Godfrey (London, 1682); The pillory: or a dialogue betwixt Roger L’Estrange and Nat. Thompson (London, 1682).
46 L’Estrange, Narrative, pp. 11, 25–7; Case put, pp. 4–5; Further discovery, pp. 23–32.
47 See L’Estrange, Narrative, pp. 1–2 for direct mockery of ‘narratives’.
48 L’Estrange, Narrative, pp. 3, 5, 7–8; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, pp. 45–6, 97.
49 L’Estrange, Narrative, pp. 4–6, 11, 27–31. See esp. pp. 19–20, where L’Estrange claims not to be mocking the plot (as his critics claimed), but merely showing the Whigs to be part of it. See also Roger L’Estrange, Dissenter’s sayings (London, 1681), sig. A3; Case put, pp. 27–9; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, p. 128.
50 L’Estrange, Narrative, p. 5.
51 Harris, Restoration, pp. 260–2.
52 Lake, ‘Anti-puritanism’, various; Peter Lake, ‘Presbyterianism, the idea of a national church and the argument from divine right’, in Maria Dowling and Peter Lake (eds), Protestantism and the national church in sixteenth century England (London, 1987), pp. 193–224; Peter Lake, Anglicans and puritans? Presbyterianism and English conformist thought from Whitgift to Hooker (London, 1988), various. See also Patrick Collinson, ‘Anti-puritanism’, in John Coffey and Paul Chang-Ha Lim (eds), The Cambridge companion to puritanism (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 19–33; Patrick Collinson, ‘Ecclesiastical vitriol: religious satire in the 1590s and the invention of puritanism’, in John Guy (ed.), The reign of Elizabeth I: court and culture in the last decade (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 150–70.
53 Thomas Edwards, The first and second part of Gangraena (London, 1647).
54 Lake, ‘Anti-puritanism’, p. 91; Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: the rise of English Arminianism 1590–1640 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 27–8, 56–7, 137–9, 155–7, 236–8; Anthony Milton, Laudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth-century England: the career and writings of Peter Heylyn (Manchester, 2007), pp. 93–8. On popularity see Peter Lake, ‘Puritanism, (monarchical) republicanism, and monarchy: John Whitgift and the “invention” of popularity’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2010), 463–95.
55 This serves to remind us that Patrick Collinson’s definition of puritanism as something defined in opposition to other forms of Protestantism – one half of a stressful relationship – is acutely relevant for later periods. Patrick Collinson, ‘A comment: concerning the name puritan’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 31 (1980), 483–8.
56 Roger L’Estrange, Account of the growth of knavery under pretended fears of arbitrary government and popery (London, 1678), various; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, pp. 192–3; Scott Sowerby, ‘Opposition to anti-popery in Restoration England’, Journal of British Studies, 51 (2012), 30; L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 20–1; L’Estrange, Free-born subject, pp. 3–5.
57 See L’Estrange, Free-born subject, pp. 1–2, for an explicit control of political terms.
58 I am indebted here to Lake, ‘Anti-puritanism’, pp. 90–2, for this interpretation.
59 Roger L’Estrange, The growth of knavery and popery under the mask of Presbytery (London, 1678), pp. 1–5, 42–8. Roger L’Estrange, The character of a papist in masquerade (London, 1681), various.
60 L’Estrange, Growth of knavery, pp. 5–13.
61 L’Estrange, Growth of knavery, pp. 13–20. This arbitrary rule was replayed in Parliament, pp. 39–42.
62 L’Estrange, Growth of knavery, pp. 24–5, 64–7. See also Further discovery, pp. 18–22.
63 Quentin Skinner, ‘Hobbes and the classical theory of laughter’ in his Visions of politics, vol. 3: Hobbes and civil science (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 142–76.
64 Martin Ingram, ‘Ridings, rough music and the “reform of popular culture” in early modern England’, Past & Present, 105 (1984), 79–113. Adam Morton, ‘Laughter as a polemical act in late seventeenth-century England’, in Mark Knights and Adam Morton (eds), The power of laughter and satire in early modern Britain: political and religious culture, 1500–1820 (Woodbridge, 2017), pp. 107–32.
65 Skinner, ‘Classical theory of laughter’, various. These themes are explored in Knights and Morton (eds), The power of laughter and satire.
66 Alastair Bellany, ‘Libels in action: ritual, subversion and the English literary underground 1603–42’, in Tim Harris (ed.), The politics of the excluded c. 1500–1850 (Basingstoke and New York, 2001), pp. 99–124; Alastair Bellany, ‘Railing rhymes revisited: libels, scandals and early Stuart politics’, History Compass, 5 (2007), 1136–79; Andrew McRae, Literature, satire, and the early Stuart state (Cambridge, 2004).
67 Alastair Bellany, ‘A poem on the Archbishop’s hearse: puritanism, libel and sedition after the Hampton Court conference’, Journal of British Studies, 34 (1995), 137–64.
68 Examples are innumerable, but see The committee: or, popery in masquerade (1680); Frederick G. Stephens and Dorothy M. George, Catalogue of political and personal satires preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1870–1954), 1080 (henceforth referred to as BM Satire); Roger L’Estrange, A short ansvver to a whole litter of libellers (London, 1680); L’Estrange, History of the plot, sig. A2; L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 6–7 and others; L’Estrange, Account of the growth, various.
69 See pp. 14, 115–16, 136–43, 259, 316–17, this volume.
70 Mark Goldie, ‘Roger L’Estrange’s Observator and the exorcism of the plot’, in Dunan-Page and Lynch (eds), Roger L’Estrange, pp. 67–88; see esp. pp. 68, 72, and 76–7. My analysis in this paragraph is indebted to this excellent piece.
71 The Observator, 3 vols (London, 1684–7), vol. 1, issues 1, 255, 272 and 306; vol. 2, issues 53, 168 and 212; vol. 3, issues 2, 73 and 112. On the Observator see Hinds, Horrid popish plot, pp. 38–9, 60–4, 97–108, 389–97.
72 Peter Lake, Bad Queen Bess? Libels, secret histories, and the politics of publicity in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Oxford, 2016), pp. 11, 15, 33, 39–40, 105–10, 142, 190, 446–53.
73 Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair (London, 1614), 1:6, 70–82, 95–100; 3:2, 39–48, 77–87; 3:5, 27–38; 3:6, 72–4; 5:5.
74 Roger L’Estrange, L’Estrange no papist (London, 1681), p. 14; see also pp. 3, 12; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, p. 127.
75 This is from L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 31–3. L’Estrange transcribes the preceding block quotation faithfully, then writes this. Italics are in the original.
76 L’Estrange, History of the plot, preface; Further discovery, p. 8; Character, pp. 1–2, 64; Account of the growth, pp. 8–10, 18, 24, 52–3.
77 L’Estrange, Character, p. 3; see also p. 20; Case put, p. 3.
78 L’Estrange, Character, p. 2. See also Peters’s Chapter 5, p. 171.
79 L’Estrange, Character, p. 20.
80 L’Estrange, Character, pp. 20–1; see also pp. 64, 69, 73–4; Further discovery, p. 15.
81 L’Estrange, No papist, p. 14; Character, pp. 28–9, 50–2.
82 A letter out of Scotland from Mr. R. L. S. to his friend, H. B. in London (London, 1681); BM Satire 1083; L’Estrange, Further discovery, p. 2.
83 Helen Pierce, ‘The devil’s bloodhound: Roger L’Estrange caricatured’, in Michael Hunter (ed.), Printed images in early modern Britain (Aldershot, 2010), pp. 237–54; Hinds, Horrid popish plot, pp. 48–59, 110–11, 331–2; BM Satire 1085; The procession: or the burning of the pope in effigie in Smithfield-rounds (London, 1681), p. 3; L’Estrange, No papist, p. 17; L’Estrange, Further discovery, p. 10. See also Adam Morton, ‘Glaring at Antichrist: printed images of the papacy in early modern England, 1530–1680’, PhD thesis, University of York, 2011, ch. 3.
84 L’Estrange, No papist; see p. 13, where ‘popery’ is shown to be nothing but clichés. See also pp. 16–17 for the effect of ‘popery’ as a label.
85 L’Estrange, No papist, pp. 10–11.
86 L’Estrange, No papist, pp. 4–6.
87 L’Estrange, Case put, pp. 16–17; Free-born subject, pp. 20–3; Further discovery, p. 17; Character, pp. 20–1. See also Character, pp. 26, 49 for his discussion of Whig uses of Mary I.
88 L’Estrange, Further discovery, p. 2. Italics in the original.
89 L’Estrange, Further discovery, pp. 12–13.
90 L’Estrange, Further discovery, p. 14. For similar use of anti-popish tropes to ‘expose’ the puritans, see L’Estrange, Dissenter’s sayings, sig. A3.
91 Samuel Ward, The double deliverance (1621); BM Satire 41. For the impact of this imagery on post-Reformation culture see Alexandra Walsham, ‘Impolitic pictures: providence, history and the iconography of Protestant nationhood in Stuart England’, Studies in Church History, 33 (1997), 307–28; Helen Pierce, Unseemly pictures: graphic satire and politics in early modern England (New Haven, CT, 2008), ch. 2.
92 L’Estrange, Narrative, p. 12.
93 Jacqueline Rose, Godly kingship in Restoration England (Cambridge, 2011), chs 1 and 3; Jacqueline Rose, ‘Robert Brady’s intellectual history and royalist antipopery in Restoration England’, English Historical Review, 122 (2007), 1287–1317. I am deeply indebted to Rose’s work in this section. See also John Spurr, The Restoration Church of England, 1646–1689 (New Haven, CT, 1991), pp. 267–8. Royalism and anti-puritanism had an earlier heritage: see Peter Lake, ‘Serving God and the times: the Calvinist conformity of Robert Sanderson’, Journal of British Studies, 27 (1988), 81–116; Peter Lake with Michael Questier, The Antichrist’s lewd hat: Protestants, papists and players in post-Reformation England (New Haven, CT, 2002), chs 12–14; Kenneth Fincham and Peter Lake, ‘Popularity, prelacy and puritanism in the 1630s: Joseph Hall explains himself’, English Historical Review, 111 (1996), 856–81.
94 Robert Filmer, Patriarcha and other writings, Johann P. Sommerville (ed.) (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 132–3, quoted in Rose, ‘Robert Brady’, p. 1289.
95 Rose, ‘Robert Brady’, pp. 1292–1301. Older works also used the equation of popery and Presbyterianism. See Peter Heylin, Aerius redivivus (London, 1670). On this text see Milton, Laudian and royalist polemic, pp. 204–15. Richard Bancroft, Dangerous positions and proceedings (London, 1593) traced sedition from the Presbyterians through Scottish writers to Geneva, the strategy employed by L’Estrange in Growth of knavery, pp. 5–23. This was typical of anti-puritanism. See Henry Foulis, The history of wicked plots and conspiracies (London, 1662) and George Hickes, The spirit of popery speaking out of the mouths of phanatical Protestants (London, 1680).
96 On this point, see Sowerby’s excellent ‘Opposition to anti-popery’, pp. 26–49.
97 Margaret Wetherell, ‘The prejudice problematic’, in John Dixon and Mark Levine (eds), Beyond prejudice: extending the social psychology of conflict, inequality and social change (Cambridge, 2012), pp. 158–78, esp. pp. 168–72.
98 My comments here are indebted to Stephen Reicher, ‘From perception to mobilization: the shifting paradigm of prejudice’ in Dixon and Levine (eds), Beyond prejudice, pp. 27–47, esp. pp. 30–8.
99 Reicher, ‘From perception to mobilization’, pp. 31–2.
100 This emphasis on reuse leading to reimagining is a common way of understanding culture among early modern historians. See Roger Chartier, The cultural uses of print in early modern France, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Princeton, NJ, 1987); Roger Chartier, Cultural history: between practices and representations, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Ithaca, NY, 1988); Michelle O’Callaghan, ‘“Thomas the scholer” versus “John the sculler”: defining popular culture in the early seventeenth century’, in Matthew Dimmock and Adrian Hadfield (eds), Literature and popular culture in early modern England (Aldershot, 2009), pp. 45–56.
101 Reicher, ‘From perception to mobilization’, p. 35.
102 This emphasis on ‘doing’ has a direct point of contact with studies of early modern polemic and discourse through speech act studies. The crucial work here has been produced by Quentin Skinner. See his ‘Seeing things their way’, ‘Meaning and understanding in the history of ideas’ and ‘Interpretation and the understanding of speech acts’ in his Visions of politics, vol. 1: Regarding method (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 1–8, 57–89, 103–27.
103 Sowerby, ‘Opposition to anti-popery’, pp. 26–49.
104 Sowerby, ‘Opposition to anti-popery’, p. 28.
105 These themes are explored in Alexandra Walsham, Charitable hatred: tolerance and intolerance in England 1500–1700 (Manchester, 2006); Nadine Lewycky and Adam Morton (eds), Getting along? Religious identities and confessional identities in early modern England – essays in honour of Professor W. J. Sheils (Farnham, 2012); C. Scott Dixon, Dagmar Freist and Mark Greengrass (eds), Living with religious diversity in early-modern Europe (Aldershot, 2009).
106 Anthony Milton, ‘A qualified intolerance: the limits and ambiguities of early Stuart anti-Catholicism’, in Arthur F. Marotti (ed.), Catholicism and anti-Catholicism in early modern English texts (Basingstoke, 1999), pp. 85–115.
107 Social psychologists have much to say about this. See Reicher, ‘From perception to mobilization’, pp. 36–8; Peter Glick and Susan T. Fiske, ‘An ambivalent alliance: hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality’, in Dixon and Levine (eds), Beyond prejudice, pp. 70–88.
108 L’Estrange, Free-born subject, p. 16.
109 Michael Billig, ‘The notion of “prejudice”: some rhetorical and ideological aspects’, in Dixon and Levine (eds), Beyond prejudice, pp. 139–57.
  • Collapse
  • Expand

All of MUP's digital content including Open Access books and journals is now available on manchesterhive.




All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 631 330 38
PDF Downloads 341 138 18