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The Catholic Church and the English Civil War: The Case of Thomas White

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

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Thomas White alias Blacklo, an English Catholic priest, natural philosopher and theologian, was the leader of a small group of Catholics, known as ‘Blackloists’, who in the 1640s and 1650s wrote in support of Oliver Cromwell. This article seeks to explain the ecclesiological, theological and political arguments put forward by White and his followers in order to justify their approach to the Independents and later to the Lord Protector. After putting into context and interpreting some of the issues elaborated in White's circle, the reaction of the Holy See to Thomas White and to his political and theological positions is examined. While contemporary historiography seems to agree that the majority of English Catholics were on the king's side during the civil war, the evidence that emerges from White's case shows that the Roman hierarchy was of a different opinion.

Research Article
© 2007 Cambridge University Press

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ACDF=Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, Rome; ACDF, St. St.=Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, Stanza Storica, Rome; ARSI=Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu; RH=Recusant History
I wish to thank Simon Healy, Margaret Jacob, John Morrill, Michael Questier, Susan Rosa and Susan Wabuda for their comments on earlier drafts of this work. I am also grateful for the valuable suggestions made by the anonymous readers and the editors of this JOURNAL.