You are here

Loyal Protestants and Dangerous Papists

Maryland and the Politics of Religion in the English Atlantic, 1630-1690
Antoinette Sutto

BUY Cloth · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937472 · $39.50 · Nov 2015
BUY Ebook · 272 pp. · ISBN 9780813937489 · $39.50 · Nov 2015

Loyal Protestants and Dangerous Papists analyzes the vibrant and often violent political culture of seventeenth-century America, exploring the relationship between early American and early modern British politics through a detailed study of colonial Maryland. Seventeenth-century Maryland was repeatedly wracked by disputes over the legitimacy of the colony’s Catholic proprietorship. The proprietors’ strange policy of religious liberty was part of the controversy, but colonists also voiced fears of proprietary conspiracies with Native Americans and claimed the colony’s ruling circle aimed to crush their liberties as English subjects. Conflicts like these became wrapped up in disputes less obviously political, such as disagreements over how to manage the tobacco trade, without which Maryland’s economy would falter.

Antoinette Sutto argues that the best way to understand this strange mix of religious, economic, and political controversies is to view it with regard to the disputes over the role of the English church, the power of the state, and the ideal relationship between the two—disputes that tore apart the English-speaking world twice over in the 1600s. Sutto contends that the turbulent political history of early Maryland makes most sense when seen in an imperial as well as an American context. Such an understanding of political culture and conflict in this colony offers a window not only into the processes of seventeenth-century American politics but also into the construction of the early modern state. Examining the dramatic rise and fall of Maryland’s Catholic proprietorship through this lens, Loyal Protestants and Dangerous Papists offers a unique glimpse into the ambiguities and possibilities of the early English colonial world.


Loyal Protestants and Dangerous Papists is an original and substantial contribution to early American history. Although Sutto focuses on a single province, her treatment of it is anything but provincial. Within a framework of the English Atlantic, Sutto shows that seventeenth-century ideas about party, faction, and interests caused people in England and Maryland to attribute their political disagreements to malicious individuals rather than considering them to be legitimate differences of opinion over issues of common interest. This argument adds an important new dimension to our understanding of the period.

James D. Rice, SUNY Plattsburgh, author of Tales from a Revolution: Bacon's Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America

An important analysis of an odd and little-understood colony, this book is an excellent example of a local history placed within a transatlantic context.

Carla Gardina Pestana, UCLA, author of Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World

[A] layered work that moves between the dynamics of intracolonial politics and religious perspective, regional and intercolonial actions and reactions, and the developing force of empire


Sutto offers a valuable analysis of the ‘anomalous politics of religion,' distinguishing Maryland from other, more typical seventeenth-century colonial enterprises. Sutto casts the religio-politicalupheaval Maryland faced in the decades following its founding by Catholic proprietors in 1632 as part of a prolonged, trans-Atlantic struggle to understand whether religious diversity posed an inescapable stumbling block to political loyalty.... [the book] provides a comprehensible and wide-ranging narrative of the complex forces affecting the contours of this debate.

The English Historical Review

About the Author(s): 

Antoinette Sutto is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Mississippi.

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books