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Against Popery

Britain, Empire, and Anti-Catholicism
Edited by Evan Haefeli

BUY Cloth · 358 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813944913 · $39.50 · Dec 2020
BUY Ebook · 358 pp. · ISBN 9780813944920 · $39.50 · Dec 2020

Although commonly regarded as a prejudice against Roman Catholics and their religion, anti-popery is both more complex and far more historically significant than this common conception would suggest. As the essays collected in this volume demonstrate, anti-popery is a powerful lens through which to interpret the culture and politics of the British-American world.

In early modern England, opposition to tyranny and corruption associated with the papacy could spark violent conflicts not only between Protestants and Catholics but among Protestants themselves. Yet anti-popery had a capacity for inclusion as well and contributed to the growth and stability of the first British Empire. Combining the religious and political concerns of the Protestant Empire into a powerful (if occasionally unpredictable) ideology, anti-popery affords an effective framework for analyzing and explaining Anglo-American politics, especially since it figured prominently in the American Revolution as well as others.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, written by scholars from both sides of the Atlantic working in history, literature, art history, and political science, the essays in Against Popery cover three centuries of English, Scottish, Irish, early American, and imperial history between the early sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries. More comprehensive, inclusive, and far-reaching than earlier studies, this volume represents a major turning point, summing up earlier work and laying a broad foundation for future scholarship across disciplinary lines.

Contributors: Craig Gallagher, New England College * Tim Harris, Brown University * Clare Haynes, Independent Researcher * Susan P. Liebell, St. Joseph’s University * Brendan McConville, Boston University * Anthony Milton, University of Sheffield * Andrew R. Murphy, Virginia Commonwealth University * Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker, Rutgers University, New Brunswick * Laura M. Stevens, University of Tulsa * Cynthia J. Van Zandt, University of New Hampshire * Peter W. Walker, University of Wyoming

Early American Histories


An excellent collection. Without exception, these essays are well written and significant, and as a whole, Against Popery makes a valuable and original contribution to scholarship. It cannot be said that anti-popery or anti-Catholicism have been neglected as subjects. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has never received the attention it so richly deserves. As such, this volume is a worthy addition to the scholarly literature.

Owen Stanwood, Boston College, author of The Global Refuge: Huguenots in an Age of Empire

These essays nicely explore the complicated ways in which religious intolerance—which is inherently exclusionary—has actually helped to bring people together, forming communities by defining the requirements and limits of faith, patriotism, and freedom. The questions raised are timely, even as the history they interrogate is centuries’ old.

Maura Jane Farrelly, Brandeis University, author of Anti-Catholicism in America, 1620-1860

About the Author(s): 

Evan Haefeli is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University and author of New Netherland and the Dutch Origins of American Religious Liberty.

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