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The Contested Appropriation of George Gervase's Martyrdom: European Religious Patronage and the Controversy over the Oath of Allegiance

  • James E. Kelly

Abstract

From the beginning of the seventeenth century, Englishmen professed as Benedictine monks in mainland Europe began returning to their homeland. Until that point, the Catholic mission to England had been run by secular clergy and Jesuits, relationships between the two clerical parties growing increasingly troubled over how the Catholic Reformation should be implemented in England. The arrival of the Benedictines saw the offering of a “third way” to England's proscribed Catholics. Yet with the various missions dependent on lay Catholic resources and support both in England and in mainland Europe, it was necessary for the Benedictines to justify their presence in this often fraught environment. As such, they forcefully laid claim to contemporary English Benedictine martyrs against rival claims by other clerical groups. These battles for validation reached a new level of intensity following James I's serving of the Oath of Allegiance. This article explores how competing groups of English missionary clergy sought to justify their presence in England. Taking the case of two conflicting images of the executed George Gervase, it argues that the contest for martyrs sheds new light on the ways in which martyrdom was exploited by different groups; it also contributes to debates about the Oath of Allegiance, which was threatening to derail the wider Catholic Reformation across mainland Europe. By placing these clashes over English religious identity in both domestic and international contexts, the article makes evident that events on the peripheries of mainland Europe affected discussions at its center.

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References

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1 Shuger, Debora, “A Protesting Catholic Puritan in Elizabethan England,” Journal of British Studies 48, no. 3 (July 2009): 587630 .

2 Ryrie, Alec, “‘Protestantism’ as a Historical Category,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 26 (December 2016): 5977 . See also Lake, Peter, “Calvinism and the English Church, 1570–1635,” Past and Present 114, no. 1 (February 1987): 3276 ; Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, eds., Conformity and Orthodoxy in the English Church, c. 1560–1660 (Woodbridge, 2000), esp. David Como, “Puritans, Predestination and the Construction of Orthodoxy in Early Seventeenth-Century England,” 64–87.

3 On the issue of occasional conformity and Catholicism, see Walsham, Alexandra, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge, 1993); Walsham, , Catholic Reformation in Protestant Britain (Farnham, 2014), 53125 .

4 Lake, Peter and Como, David, “‘Orthodoxy’ and Its Discontents: Dispute Settlement and the Production of ‘Consensus’ in the London (Puritan) ‘Underground,’Journal of British Studies 39, no. 1 (January 2000): 3470 .

5 Bossy, John, The English Catholic Community, 1570–1850 (London, 1975), 2729 , 53–56, 136.

6 Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin, Catholic Europe, 1592–1648: Centre and Peripheries (Oxford, 2015).

7 Ditchfield, Simon, “Decentering the Catholic Reformation: Papacy and Peoples in the Early Modern World,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte – Archive for Reformation History 101, no. 1 (October 2010): 186208 .

8 Challoner, Richard, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. Pollen, John H. (London, 1924), 294–96.

9 The National Archives (hereafter TNA), SP 14/19/2.I, “Examination of Geo. Jarvis, relative to his education, and where he abode and exercised his profession, since he came into England,” 1 March 1606.

10 Burton, E. H. and Williams, T. L., eds., Douay College Diaries: Third Diary, 1598–1637, Catholic Record Society (hereafter CRS) 10 (London, 1911), 28, 50, 51, 60, 74, 84, 85, 90; Anstruther, Godfrey, The Seminary Priests, vol. 2, Early Stuarts, 1603–1659 (Ware and Great Wakering, 1975), 128–29. All dates from this point are given according to the Gregorian calendar then in use in Catholic Europe, unless otherwise stated.

11 Archivum Britannicum Societatis Iesu (hereafter ABSI), cause papers, George Gervase picture file. This is a photograph of an item reportedly held in the Vatican archives, but the reference given is incorrect, and despite searches in the Vatican's Library, Archives, and Secret Archives, the original cannot be located.

12 Translation from original Latin given in Camm, Bede, Nine Martyr Monks: The Lives of the English Benedictine Martyrs Beatified in 1929 (London, 1931), 9899 .

13 Morris, John, ed., The Troubles of Our Catholic Forefathers, vol. 3 (London, 1877), 331440 .

14 Anstruther, Godfrey, The Seminary Priests, vol. 1, Elizabethan, 1558–1603 (Ware and Great Wakering, 1968), 242.

15 Burton and Williams, Douay College Diaries, 92, 352.

16 See below, page 228.

17 “Varia de Rebus Angliae super successione ad Regnum variae relationes ab anno 1597 usq. ad 1608,” Vatican Library, Vat.lat.6227, fol. 212rbis. My thanks to Maurice Whitehead for his assistance with the archives in Rome.

18 Redworth, Glyn, ed., The Letters of Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, trans. McGrath, David and Redworth, 2 vols. (London, 2012), 1:300–8; 2:1–40. It cannot be argued that Luisa was ignorant of the difference between religious and secular clerics: shortly after writing about Gervase, she says “a Benedictine monk,” most likely John Roberts, was expected to be executed. Ibid., 2:22.

19 Ibid., 2:45.

20 Richard Holtby to Robert Persons, 15 April 1608, Anglia, 37, fol. 330v, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu.

21 For these issues, see News Networks in Early Modern Europe, ed. Raymond, Joad and Moxham, Noah (Leiden, 2016), esp. Raymond and Moxham, “News Networks in Early Modern Europe,” 1–16.

22 Abbey, Ampleforth, MS 119, fol. 447 in Memorials of Father Augustine Baker and Other Documents Relating to the English Benedictines, ed. McCann, Justin and Connolly, Hugh, CRS 33 (London, 1933), 175.

23 The account is signed “Ro Cha.” The only alternative to Charnock is Robert Chambers, but he was chaplain to the English convent of Benedictine nuns at Brussels from 1599 to 1628, so he is unlikely to have been an eyewitness to Gervase's martyrdom. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, 1:70, 73–75.

24 Account of the martyrdom of George Gervase, A VIII, no. 52: 287, 289, Westminster Diocesan Archives (hereafter WDA).

25 de Estado, Sección, Legajos 2586/99, Archivo General de Simancas, nr. Valladolid, printed in Spain and the Jacobean Catholics, vol. 1, 1603–1612, ed. Loomie, Albert J., CRS 64 (London, 1973), 117–19.

26 TNA, Roman Transcripts (Bliss), 23 April 1608, translation from Italian in Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 87, 95. Similarly, The Apprehension, Arraignment, and Execution of E. Abbot as Also the Arraignement, Conuiction, and Execution of George Iaruis Priest after the Order of Saint Benedicts, Both Which Suffered Death on Munday the Eleuenth of Aprill, 1608, was printed in London in 1608 (English Short Title Catalogue S1757). The section relevant to Gervase is not included in the Early English Books Online copy, and the British Library copy was destroyed during World War II. An Italian translation of the work exists at the Vatican Library, Vat.lat.6227, fols. 209r–212r.

27 TNA, 31/9/116, fol. 11 (author's translation from the original Latin).

28 Richard Smith, accounts of martyrs, A IX, no. 53: 291–92, WDA.

29 Ampleforth Abbey MS 119, fol. 447, in McCann and Connolly, Memorials of Father Augustine Baker and Other Documents, 175.

30 Anstruther, Seminary Priests, 2:129. Anstruther's reference is not correct; it should be Fondo Gesuitico 651, folder 617, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu. This folder has been missing for many years and remains so despite searches in the archive; nor is there a copy of it, even as a transcription, at ABSI.

31 Clement Reyner, Apostalatus Benedictinorum in Anglia, siue, Disceptatio Historica, de antiquitate ordinis congregationisque monarchorum nigrorum S. Benedicti in regno Angliæ (Douai, 1626), Tract I, 242, 247: Ushaw College Library, IX.D.5.10.

32 ABSI, cause papers, George Gervase picture file. The note is in the hand of Christopher Grene, S.J., the seventeenth-century collector of materials relating to the English and Welsh martyrs. Grene writes, “This picture was in all likelyhood made by the Sem. of Douay”; he goes on to quote a letter of complaint about the Benedictines from Worthington. The image, along with the comment in Grene's hand, was evidently part of his second Collectanea volume on martyrdom that was dispersed. This is evidenced by Grene's reference to more Gervase material in “MII” and his instruction to consult volume 5; see ABSI, Collectanea, N II, 9.

33 Hicks, Leo, ed., Letters of Thomas Fitzherbert, 1608–1610, CRS 41 (London, 1948), 2526 .

34 Ibid., 47.

35 Ibid., 55–56.

36 Letter copied by Grene: ABSI, cause papers, George Gervase picture file.

37 Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent: Original Text with English Translation, trans. Schroeder, H. J. (Rockford, 1978), 226.

38 Downside Abbey, Liber Graduum, p. 1. Haworth would actually go on to profess as Joseph of Saint Mary at Saint Laurence's, Dieulouard on 8 September 1609, having taken the habit there on 1 August 1608. Others who made oblations of themselves include Augustine Lee, alias Johnson, who undertook his novitiate at Saint Gregory's in 1608, having been ordained at Seville College and oblated himself to Bradshaw, and Placid Hartburn, who made a solemn oblation of himself on the mission having been ordained at Douai College in 1609; ID 477, 522, Monks in Motion database, www.dur.ac.uk/mim, accessed 25 October 2017.

39 See below, pages 232–33.

40 Thomas Worthington, Catalogus Martyrum pro Religione Catholica in Anglia Occisorum (1614), 8: Durham Palace Green Library, Routh 25.H.26.

41 Tierney, Mark A., Dodd's Church History of England from the Commencement of the Sixteenth Century to the Revolution in 1688, 5 vols. (London, 1839–43), 4:ccxix.

42 Thomas Worthington, A Catalogue of Martyrs in England, facsimile print of the copy at Oscott College in Rogers, D. M., ed., English Recusant Literature 1558–1640, vol. 363 (Ilkley, 1978), 2324 .

43 Ibid., 49–50 (author's translations from the Latin). This story of Gervase seeking to join the Jesuits is not recorded anywhere else but is repeated by Richard Challoner, no doubt taking Worthington as his authority. Certainly, Worthington appears to be the source of the story, which Camm was unable to identify, and in the context it seems that it was meant as defamatory. Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 69; Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, 295.

44 Printed in The Harleian Miscellany: A Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts, as well in Manuscript as in Print, vol. 3 (London, 1809), 38, 40, 46–47: Ushaw College Library, X.E.4.11.

45 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 4:ccxiii; Anstruther, Seminary Priests, 1:104–5; Holmes, Peter, s.v., “Drury, Robert (1567–1607),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Cannadine, David (Oxford, 2004), http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/8098, accessed 31 March 2017. Bede Camm ventures that Drury was received as an oblate by another Benedictine martyr, John Roberts, plus that Matthew Flathers, a graduate of Douai College who was executed at York on 21 March 1608, was also a Benedictine oblate. Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 87–88, 129–30.

46 Also known as the Appellant Controversy, it involved an anti-Jesuit faction of the secular clergy appealing to Rome for the re-establishment of an English ecclesiastical hierarchy. The faction's aim was both to become the recognized voice of the nation's Catholic community and to curtail Jesuit influence and shape the community as they believed best. For an overview, see Bossy, English Catholic Community, 35–48; McCoog, Thomas M. S.J., “Recognising the Archpriest: Seeking Clarification or Formenting Schism?,” British Catholic History 32, no. 4 (October 2015): 473–91.

47 For summaries of the Worthington saga and the situation at Douai as outlined in this paragraph and the preceding, see Burton and Williams, Douay College Diaries, xvi–xviii; Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 5:3–12, iv–vi, ciii–cvi. It is worth noting that Dodd's account of the decline in seminary training standards is polemically charged, relying as it does on contemporary claims against Worthington, a man who appears to have possessed a character that could excite considerable hostility. Nevertheless, the college diaries, although more circumspect, attest that all was not right in the seminary. It is significant as well that contemporaries intent on dislodging Worthington from the presidency evidently felt they could make such claims without their being dismissed as outlandish.

48 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 4:88n2.

49 Burton and Williams, Douay College Diaries, 80–83, 346–49.

50 Ibid. Haworth entered the new community at Saint Laurence's, Dieulourd, on 1 August 1608, Nuttall following on 9 November 1609; Malone entered Saint Gregory's on 2 September 1608; Godfrey eventually professed at Monte Cassino on 10 January 1611.

51 Letter copied by Grene. ABSI, cause papers, George Gervase picture file.

52 Lunn, David, The English Benedictines, 1540–1688: From Reformation to Revolution (London, 1980), 7273 , 77, 79–81.

53 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 4:88n2 (at 89).

54 Ibid., 4:ccxvi (author's summary translation from the original Italian; direct quoted translation from Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 98).

55 Lettere di Monsig[nore] Bentivolgio, fols. 364r–366r, 207, Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziature Diverse.

56 Worthington, Catalogus Martyrum, 8–9.

57 McCoog, Thomas M., “Construing Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community, 1582–1602,” in Catholics and the “Protestant Nation”: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England, ed. Shagan, Ethan (Manchester, 2005), 95127 , at 105–6.

58 See, for example, Lake, Peter, “A Tale of Two Episcopal Surveys: The Strange Fates of Edmund Grindal and Cuthbert Mayne Revisited,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 18 (2008): 129–63; Freeman, Thomas S., “Fate, Faction, and Fiction in Foxe's Book of Martyrs,” Historical Journal 43, no. 3 (September 2000): 601–23; Gunther, Karl, “The Marian Persecution and Early Elizabethan Protestants: Persecutors, Apostates, and the Wages of Sin,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte – Archive for Reformation History 107, no. 1 (October 2016): 137–64; Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael C., “Puritans, Papists and the ‘Public Sphere’ in Early Modern England: The Edmund Campion Affair in Context,” Journal of Modern History 72, no. 3 (September 2000): 587627 ; Lake, and Questier, , “Margaret Clitherow, Catholic Nonconformity, Martyrology and the Politics of Religious Change in Elizabethan England,” Past and Present 185, no. 1 (November 2004): 4390 ; Lake, and Questier, , The Trials of Margaret Clitherow: Persecution, Martyrdom and the Politics of Sanctity in Elizabethan England (London, 2011).

59 See, for example, Gregory, Brad S., Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA, 1999).

60 Questier, Michael C., “Loyalty, Religion and State Power in Early Modern England: English Romanism and the Jacobean Oath of Allegiance,” Historical Journal 40, no. 2 (June 1997): 211–29.

61 Somerville, Johann P., “Papalist Political Thought and the Controversy over the Jacobean Oath of Allegiance,” in Catholics and the “Protestant Nation”: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England, ed. Shagan, Ethan (Manchester, 2005), 162–84.

62 Questier, Michael, “Catholic Loyalism in Early Stuart England,” English Historical Review 123, no. 504 (October 2008): 1132–65, esp. 1136–44.

63 Tutino, Stefania, Law and Conscience: Catholicism in Early Modern England, 1570–1625 (Aldershot, 2007), 117–93; Tutino, Stefania, Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth (Oxford, 2010), 128.

64 Account of the martyrdom of George Gervase, AVIII, no. 52: 287–89, WDA.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid. Gervase's desperation to evade answering the question supports Questier's view that Catholics were deeply troubled by the carefully chosen words of the oath and were eager to avoid its implications. Questier, “Catholic Loyalism,” 1132–65.

67 Richard Holtby to Robert Persons, 15 April 1608. Richard Smith would later attest to Gervase's opposition to the oath: A IX, no. 53: 291–92, WDA.

68 Redworth, Letters, 1:301–4, 2:1–4, 12, 14, 21–22, 24–25, 34–35, 46–47. The author of the third Douai diary alluded to these conflicts when writing up the death of Gervase, noting how some priests who took the oath were spared. Burton and Williams, Douay College Diaries, 90, 351. Indeed, at his trial, Blackwell's acceptance of the oath and his view that to refuse it was to die a traitor rather than a martyr was dangled before Gervase. TNA, Roman Transcripts (Bliss), 23 April 1608, translation from Italian in Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 90.

69 Burton and Williams, Douay College Diaries, 90, 351.

70 McCoog, “Construing Martyrdom,” 120. McCoog places Worthington's English language 1608 publication of his A Relation of Sixtene Martyrs in this context and views it as an attempt to support Robert Persons and the Jesuits against the claims of a faction of the secular clergy. Ibid., 112–19. Questier has posited that martyrs and their beliefs or stands could be appropriated for different purposes, such as the anti-Jesuit gloss put on Thomas More by a section of the secular clergy in the early seventeenth century; see Questier, , “Catholicism, Kinship and the Public Memory of Sir Thomas More,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53, no. 3 (July 2002): 476509 .

71 Dillon, Anne, The Construction of Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community, 1535–1603 (Aldershot, 2002), 326.

72 Questier, “Loyalty, Religion and State Power,” 313–17.

73 “Venice: April 1608,” in Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, vol. 11, 1607–1610, ed. Horatio F. Brown (London, 1904), British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/venice/vol11/pp114-129, accessed 31 March 2017, 114–29.

74 Tutino, Empire of Souls, 127–211, at 129, 130, 158; On Temporal and Spiritual Authority: On Laymen or Secular People; on the Temporal Power of the Pope, against William Barclay; On the Primary Duty of the Supreme Pontiff, by Robert Bellarmine, ed. and trans. Stefania Tutinio (Indianapolis, 2012), xvi–xiv, 121–405. On the impact in France, see also Questier, “Catholic Loyalism,” 1151–52.

75 Hicks, Letters of Thomas Fitzherbert, 25.

76 TNA, Roman Transcripts 9, bundle 116, printed in ibid., 25–26. My thanks to Stefano Cracolici for his translation from the original Italian.

77 Tutino, Stefania, “Thomas Preston and English Catholic Loyalism: Elements of an International Affair,” Sixteenth Century Journal 41, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 91–109.

78 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 4:ccxiii (author's translation from the Latin).

79 See, for example, McCoog, Thomas M., The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England, 1589–1597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter upon the King of Spain's Monarchy (Farnham, 2012).

80 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 5:civ–cvi.

81 The Constable of Castille to Phillip III, 22 November 1604, Manuscritos Varios, tomo 6969, fols. 115–25, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional; printed in Loomie, Spain and the Jacobean Catholics, 26–44, at 39.

82 Tierney, Dodd's Church History, 4:87n1 (at 88).

83 Reyner, Apostalatus Benedictinorum in Anglia, Tract 1, 247.

84 Camm, Nine Martyr Monks, 101–2.

85 Loomie, Spain and the Jacobean Catholics, 117–19. De Zúñiga repeated this version of events in a letter of the same day to Don Alonso de la Cueva y Benavides, Spanish ambassador to the Republic of Venice. See Vat.lat.6227, fols. 207r–208r, 213r–214v, Vatican Library.

86 For Roberts and Scott, see ID 698, 699, Monks in Motion, www.dur.ac.uk/mim, accessed 25 October 2017.

87 Although this argument accords with Lunn's, it does question his assertion that the monks initially favored the oath simply because of anti-Jesuit sentiment. The existence of the conflicting images instead bears testament to the more fundamental importance of international influence and reputation from the very start of debates about the oath. Lunn, Maurus, “English Benedictines and the Oath of Allegiance, 1606–1647,” Recusant History 10, no. 3 (October 1969): 146–63.

88 “It is our will, that this Union be not agreed upon in any other manner than that all and every one of such as are to be united, do conform themselves to the doctrine of the Holy Roman Church; as well generally in all matters that concern either belief or manners, as specially and in particular, in accepting and submitting to the Decrees of our Holy Father Pope Paul V touching the oath of allegiance, and authority and jurisdiction of the Church and holy Apostolic See. But with others (if there be any such) who dissent from those articles or Decrees, we do by no means intend to strike up an Union or hold communion, unless within six months after a sufficient admonition thereof by their Superiors, they purge themselves from such imputation and give sufficient satisfaction to the said Superiors of this Congregation.” Weldon, Bennet, Chronological Notes, Containing the Rise, Growth and Present State of the English Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict (London, 1881), 109.

89 For Preston and his Gallicanism, see Lunn, Maurus, “The Anglo-Gallicanism of Dom Thomas Preston, 1567–1647,” in Schism, Heresy and Religious Protest, ed. Baker, Derek (Cambridge, 1972), 239–46.

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The Contested Appropriation of George Gervase's Martyrdom: European Religious Patronage and the Controversy over the Oath of Allegiance

  • James E. Kelly

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