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From 2014 to 2020, we compiled radiocarbon ages from the lower 48 states, creating a database of more than 100,000 archaeological, geological, and paleontological ages that will be freely available to researchers through the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database. Here, we discuss the process used to compile ages, general characteristics of the database, and lessons learned from this exercise in “big data” compilation.
Demonstrates how, far from being peripheral, the stable communities of conventual religious in mainland Europe acted as important centres of religious and secular activity in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation.
Scholars have paid little attention to the English Benedictine Augustine Baker's ‘Treatise of the English Mission’, largely because of the synopsis provided by Serenus Cressy in his Sancta Sophia, published within a decade of Baker's death. In the mere seven pages that summarise the unnamed Treatise, Cressy presents the text as a narrow polemic about the peculiarity of missionary monks, reducing it to a tirade against monks entering the Mission. From that, it is a short jump to the historian J. C. H. Aveling's bold claim that Baker ‘wanted to withdraw from the Mission’. I have argued elsewhere that such an interpretation completely decontextualises and bowdlerises Baker's Treatise, which was written in the 1630s. In reality, the Treatise was addressed to the whole English Mission, presenting a vision of how to implement the Catholic Reformation in England. It was a direct response to the fallout of the intra-Catholic debate known as the Approbation Affair. The text outlined a new approach to the spiritual formation of all would-be missionaries, regardless of whether they were monks or not. In this chapter, I wish to approach the Treatise from a different angle, and to highlight a strong influence running throughout the text that has been neglected by scholars who prioritise Baker's subsequent reputation as a great English mystic. This chapter focuses on the influence of one particular international Benedictine reform movement that shaped Baker's work: namely that of the Cassinese Congregation. It explores how this continental Benedictine reform movement shaped Baker's vision for the Catholic Reformation in England, to be carried out, in this particular reading, by monks. The Treatise's focus on the primacy of monastic observance, the fundamental importance of contemplation within the cloister, plus the dangers of the secular world and its distractions, was a contribution to ongoing reform movements within the Benedictine order. As such, on one level, the Treatise is Baker's entree into a debate within the Benedictine order on its role within the wider Catholic Reformation.
The last two decades have seen a total shift in the study of early modern Catholicism. These changes are underlined on a wider scale by the launch of the Catholicisms, c. 1450–c. 1800 series of which this collection is the first volume. Moreover, the archival riches of Church bodies, especially religious orders, have stimulated multiple research projects based on Catholic sources written in a non-confessional manner. These upheavals in the field are particularly evident in scholarly approaches to British and Irish Catholicism, as a growing number of researchers have recognised the importance of the subject both to national and global history. This burgeoning interest is indicated by the renaming of the journal Recusant History as British Catholic History, and the launch of the biennial Early Modern British and Irish Catholicism conference jointly organised by Durham University and the University of Notre Dame. A sign of the subject's coming of age is that, at the time of writing, work is ongoing on the five volumes that will result in The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism.
Rather than embark on an in-depth study of all the publications that have contributed to this surge, the editors wish to instead use this Introduction to make a historiographical intervention in how the field has rapidly developed. This collection seeks to reorientate the recent direction of scholarship on early modern Catholicism, and especially in relation to Britain and Ireland, by focusing on the activities of the conventual and monastic religious orders. Current research trajectories have resulted in a historiographical imbalance, which has led to an over-emphasis being placed on the role of the Society of Jesus in the development of British and Irish Catholicism following the Protestant Reformation. In reality, the stable communities of conventual religious in mainland Europe acted as important centres of religious and secular activity. This volume explores the ways in which these communities, both male and female, engaged with the seismic religious and philosophical developments of the early modern period, such as the Catholic Reformation and the Enlightenment in mainland Europe, as well as important political developments at ‘home’, exploring the connections between centres and peripheries. It seeks to recapture the roles played by conventuals and religious, and recover their place in a historiography that is in danger of overlooking them.