Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




John E Selby


Anticatholicism in the early modern, English-speaking world was far more than a crude prejudice. Instead, anticatholic ideas and rhetoric provided an important stimulus for public discussion of a wide range of theological, political, economic, and social issues. Hatred of the Catholic Church was a vital factor in the early development of the public sphere in the English Empire.;The question of English, Protestant identity was central to much of the discourse that took place in the public sphere. Although all participants in this discourse agreed about certain elements of what constituted "popery" and English Protestantism, there was wide disagreement about other aspects of both ideal, English, Protestant identity, and of the Catholic "Other" against which that identity was measured. From the sixteenth century on, competing groups in the English-speaking world manipulated the attack on "popery" in order to promote their own ideal vision of English Protestantism.;This dissertation explores the anticatholic rhetoric of certain individuals and sets of individuals in England and the English colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, in order to discover how these men used anticatholic rhetoric to promote their own agendas. This study is not an exhaustive survey of all variants of Anglo-American antipopery between the Reformation and the American Revolution. Rather, the intention here is to develop a new approach to the study of anticatholicism: anticatholic rhetoric can be analyzed to reveal the existence of competing discourses about Anglo-American identity.;The particular discourses analyzed in this dissertation reveal anxieties about the development of modern political and economic institutions in the English-speaking world. John Foxe represented the Catholic Church as an overpowerful, secular bureaucracy, intruding into the lives of private individuals. Many eighteenth-century authors portrayed Catholicism as a faith that fostered ruthless competition for material gain. These attacks on the Catholic Church as an institution that fostered modernization suggest that many English and colonial Protestants identified themselves with a society of autonomous, local communities, that social scientists label "traditional".



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