Author: Cummings, Anne Elizabeth
This thesis examines several aspects of the enforcement of conformity to the religious and political regimes of Elizabeth I and James I against Catholic political and religious opposition. I discuss the means by which royal and ecclesiastical officials obtained information about suspects through the use of churchwardens, spies, private informers, priest hunters, searchers, neighbours and Catholics themselves; why this information was forthcoming; and the reactions of Catholics and others who found themselves under scrutiny. I argue that those persons whose behaviour might be described as opportunistic, or even malicious, legitimized their actions by adopting the anti-Catholic rhetoric and concerns current in England at this time. Whether used as a tactic of empowerment against enemies, or a route to influence and reward, these acts signalled an acceptance of the argument that Catholicism was subordinate and a threat.
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