Debates over the interpretation of the English Reformation often have followed from the wider controversies of the day. This was especially true in the years before Catholic Emancipation, when political tensions led Catholic, Anglican, and Whig historians to revive the many quarrels about the past. Of these disputes, the persecutions under Mary I and the alleged treason of Elizabethan Catholics seemed most relevant to the issue of Catholic freedom. From John Foxe had come the Anglican image of Catholic cruelty; from the statutes and official tracts of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, the obsessive fears of Catholic treason. John Foxe taught his generation that persecution and treason had been practiced by the papal antichrist since the fourteenth century. The apparent timelessness of Roman evil was given new support by the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the Irish Massacres of 1641. Moreover, by culling quotations from church councils, papal decrees, and Catholic divines, seventeenth-century Anglican writers alleged that treason and cruelty flowed from the very principles of the Roman church. Since those same principles had been established as early as 1215 and never had been rescinded, the lesson was clear enough: the penal laws could not be ended until Rome changed. For the historians of the English Reformation, Mary's fires and Elizabeth's traitors would show not only what Rome had been but what it must always be.