Role of Anti-Catholicism in England in the 1670s

by Denise Barron


The Popish Plot burst onto the English political scene in the fall of 1678. This was a supposed plot by the Jesuits, with the blessing of the Pope, to murder the king, Charles II, and put his Catholic brother and heir, James, the Duke of York, on the throne so he could re-establish Catholicism in England. A majority of the English people believed in the Popish Plot. Roger North, a loyal court supporter, said, "One might have denied Christ with less contest than the Plot".(1) This essay will examine the reasons for the explosion of anti-Catholicism leading up to the Popish Plot in 1678. Several historians, such as John Miller in Popery and Politics in England 1660-1688, Michael Finlayson in Historians, Puritanism and the English Revolution and John Kenyon in The Popish Plot have written that the anti-Catholic fears expressed during the Popish Plot were based on an irrational hysteria because the Catholic community in England was small and peaceful and the Protestant religion was not in any obvious danger in the country. The main problem with these historians' agrument is that they have failed to take into account the impact of European history on political events in England during the 1670's. This paper will attempt to show there was a valid and rational basis behind the anti-Catholic fears expressed by the English people in the 1670's.

Charles II
Charles II

The strength and persistence of anti-Catholicism at all levels of society was one of the most striking features of seventeenth century England. "No Popery" appealed equally to everyone from the working masses to the richest lord. It was one of the basic underlying and re-occurring themes of seventeenth century England. The intensity of anti-Catholic fears rose and fell according to the political situation of the time. In the late 1660's and during the 1670's, the intensity of anti-Catholicism was on the rise again due to the pro-French policies of Charles II's government, especially its foreign policy. These political events must be viewed against the backdrop of the successful Counter-Reformation in Europe in the seventeenth century and the rise of France as the new Catholic superpower in Europe in the late 1660's under its king, Louis XIV.

Fears of France were based on the fact that Louis XIV was the prime champion of political absolutism and the leader of the Counter-Reformation in Europe in the 1670's. The English believed Louis' aggressive foreign policy that started in 1667 with the invasion of the Spanish Netherlands and continued throughout the 1670's indicated a definite plan to establish a French and Catholic hegemony in Europe. The English people's fears of Catholicism were primarily political in nature. They did not fear the spread of Catholicism in England through the appeal of its religious doctrines. However, the English did fear that a powerful Catholic country such as France would use its impressive military strength to impose Catholicism on England in a manner similar to Spain's 1588 attempted invasion. They assumed Catholic rule would mean the loss of their property, their parliamentary form of government, the rule of law and their religion. French power, Catholicism, political absolutism and the persecution of Protestants were all seen by the English people as interchangeable parts of the same threatening force in Europe in the 1670's.

Louis XIV
Louis XIV

Besides these growing fears about French power, the English were concerned about the increasing influence of Catholics at the Stuart court in the late 1660's and the early 1670's. They worried that court Catholics would use their positions of power to promote pro-Catholic policies which would be detrimental to England's best interests. These worries seemed to be confirmed by the pro-French policies of Charles II's government during the 1670's. To the English, support for pro-French policies was equated with support for Catholicism and absolutism. This led to fears there was a plot to change the religion and form of government in England to that of France. It was the English people's fears of Louis XIV combined with their hostility to the pro-French policies of Charles II's government that led to the rise in anti-Catholicism in England in the 1670's and created the atmosphere that allowed the Popish Plot to be widely believed in 1678.

In order to study the rising intensity in anti-Catholicism in England during the 1670's, it is necessary to examine the long-term English anti-Catholic tradition, the position of Catholics in England, the effects of the Counter-Reformation on England, the rise of court Catholicism and the impact of anti-Catholicism on English culture and politics in the 1670's. The most important emphasis in the paper will be on the discussion of the pro-French religious and political policies of Charles II's government in the late 1660's and during the 1670's. The main argument begins with the French invasion of the Spanish Netherlands in 1667 and ends with the beginning of the Popish Plot in 1678.

The Anti-Catholic Tradition in England

To begin the investigation of the events leading up to the outburst of anti-Catholicism during the Popish Plot, it is necessary to understand the long term anti-Catholic tradition in England, which began with the English Reformation. In 1533, Henry VIII's Parliament passed a law that repudiated any papal jurisdiction over the English Church and declared the king to be its sole head. The Reformation continued under Edward VI (1547-53), but under Mary I (1553-58), England reverted back to Catholicism. She is known by the epithet, "Bloody Mary" because of her cruel persecutions in which about 300 Protestants were burned at the stake for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. The memories of these persecutions engendered a deep hostility to Catholicism in England. On Elizabeth I's ascension to the throne in 1558, Protestantism was permanently re-established in England. Elizabeth's reputation as the Protestant savior assured her a prominent position in the English anti-Catholic tradition. In the later Elizabethan and early Stuart period, the best known examples of Catholic threats are the Catholic assassination plots against Elizabeth I in the 1570's and 1580's, the 1588 attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, in which a small group of Catholics conspired to blow up the king and members of Parliament. In Europe, during this time period, there was the Council of Blood (1567-73) instituted in Holland by the Duke of Alba and also the 1572 Saint Bartholmew's Day Massacre of French Protestants. To the English, these historical events provided graphic proof of the cruelty and intolerance of Catholics in power and served as a reminder of what would happen if Catholicism was ever restored in England.(2)

Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I

After the excitement of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, anti-Catholicism died down only to increase again in the 1620's due to the outbreak of the Thirty Years War (1618-48). This war affected England because James I's son-in-law, the Protestant Elector of the Palatinate, had lost his lands to a victorious Catholic army. The government's failure to intervene and assist him in his attempts to recover his lands was perceived by the English people to be the result of subversive Catholic activities at the court. The discrepancy between the Protestant foreign policy the public wanted and the pro-Spanish foreign policy the government favoured led to a rise in anti-Catholicism in the 1620's.(3)

In the 1630's, the policies of Charles I led to a sharp increase in anti-Catholicism in England. The main reasons for this increase in anti-Catholicism were Charles' promotion of a pro-Spanish foreign policy, his support of the so called "popish" religious reforms of Archbishop Laud, his marriage to Henrietta Marie, an ardent Catholic, who stridently promoted her religion at court, and his toleration of other court Catholics, including the first papal representative to be received in England since the Reformation. The growing prominence of court Catholicism in the 1630's combined with Charles' personal rule from 1629-40 had given rise to fears there was a plot to introduce popery and arbitrary government in England.(4) These fears were one of the prime factors leading to the start of the Civil War in 1642. The anti-Catholicism building in the 1630's reached its peak in 1640-42, the years directly preceding the English Civil War. In this time period, five popish plots were discovered in London. Two were plots to kill the king and three were plots against Parliament. There is no evidence these popish plots of the early 1640's, unlike the real Catholic plots of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, had any historical basis to them.(5)

The strong anti-Catholicism of the 1630's and the early 1640's died down in the 1650's. The anti-Catholicism of this period expressed itself in the belief that the various radical religious sects which had sprung up during the Civil War, especially the Quakers, were "Papists in disguise." One writer in the 1650's argued the Civil War and its subsequent regicide had been part of a popish plot to weaken England, thus leaving it vulnerable to a Catholic takeover. Such arguments show the anti-Catholic tradition was pliable enough to provide an explanation for the rise of radical Protestant sects in the 1640's and could also be used to furnish an explanation for the Civil War and the Protestant murder of Charles I. Fears of Catholicism allowed anyone who was seen as a social or political threat to the government or the Protestant religion to be branded as Papist dupes or collaborators.(6)

Charles I
Charles I

During the Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell was quite tolerant of Catholics in England. In spite of this, he was willing to adopt an anti-Catholic stance as a means of guaranteeing popular and Parliamentary support for his political policies. For this reason, the government made sure the Catholic massacres of Protestants by the Duke of Savoy in Piedmont in the 1650's were widely reported in England. Its purpose was to encourage the English people " 'to see the happiness of the present government, wherein we live in peace, free from the cruelty of Papists.' "(7) That Cromwell could successfully use such events showed how deeply embedded the anti-Catholic tradition had become in the national consciousness of the English nation during the past hundred years.(8)

The first example of anti-Catholicism during the reign of Charles II (1660-85) occurred when the Catholics were blamed for the Great Fire of 1666. The fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane and then quickly spread, destroying 80% of the city and leaving over 100,000 people homeless. Though the Privy Council said "nothing could be found to argue the fire in London to be caused by other than the hand of God, a great wind and a dry season,"(9) the general public belief was the fire was part of a great international Catholic conspiracy, financed by the Pope, and carried out by his agents, the Jesuits. The government tried to contain such beliefs and ordered a pamphlet that promoted these views to be confiscated and burned by the hangman. The public reaction to the Great Fire of 1666 showed when a crises happened, the people automatically looked for popish enemies because this was what the anti-Catholic tradition predisposed them to look for. Ever since the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, the dangers of fire and the dangers of Catholicism had been closely associated in the public mind.(10)

Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London

This history of anti-Catholicism has shown that from the time of the Reformation, there was a continuing undercurrent of anti-Catholicism present in England. It shows there was a historical basis for the anti-Catholic fears of the Tudor/early Stuart era, while many of the anti-Catholic fears of the mid-seventeenth century such as the belief the Catholics caused the Civil War or the Great Fire had no valid basis. It is my thesis there was a valid and rational basis for the rising intensity in anti-Catholicism in England in the late 1660's and during the 1670's.

The Position of Catholics in Restoration England

Given this re-occurring theme of anti-Catholicism throughout the seventeenth century in England, an examination of the position of Catholics in Restoration England is now necessary to see how it fits into the pattern of English anti-Catholicism. Estimates of the size of the Catholic population in England from the mid to the late 1600's range from 60,000 to 260,000 persons out of a population of 5,500,000. This meant Catholics were about one to five percent of the English population. Many historians believe the population surveys of the time, such as the Compton census of 1676, underrepresented the number of Catholics and Protestant Dissenters in England. This would favour the higher numbers as being the more accurate representation of Catholic strength in England in the 1670's. Catholics tended to be upper class, rural and royalist. Seven to ten percent of the gentry and peerage were Catholic. It was these wealthy families, who could afford to support a priest as part of their household, that kept Catholicism alive in England. Catholicism was strongest in areas such as Lancashire in the north and in Herfordshire and Monmouthshire in the west midlands. There were also strong pockets of Catholicism in Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire and a large Catholic community in London, which congregated mainly around the Catholic Queen's court or the various Catholic embassies in London.(11)

These Catholics lived under the penal laws, a series of laws passed between 1559 and 1610 in the English Parliament. The aim of these laws was to force Catholics to conform to the Protestant religion. There was a fine of twelve pence a week for absence from Anglican services, which was later increased to twenty pounds a month or two-thirds of the income from the recusant's estate. Other penal laws made it a treasonable offence to be a priest or to harbour a priest, to reconcile someone to the Catholic faith, to say or hear Mass, to bring a papal bull into the country, to set up Catholic schools in England or for Catholics to send their children abroad to be educated. They also were not allowed to hold political or military office, to transfer property or to keep arms.(12)

If these penal laws had been strictly enforced, they would have eliminated English Catholicism in the same manner that Catholic countries in continental Europe eliminated their Protestant minorities. The laws, as written, looked severe, but as they were not enforced except in times of political crises, their general effect on the lives of Catholics was minimal. As one writer commented, "The penal laws were in the nature of the Damoclean sword, ever-present, but lethal only when put into practise."(13) The government attempted to enforce these laws only for brief periods: from 1605-12 in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot; from 1629-37 during Charles I's personal rule; in the early 1640's under the Long Parliament and in the late 1670's.(14)

In practise, Catholics and Protestants generally lived on good terms in their local communities. They both shared the same lifestyle and interests and moved in the same social circles. Catholic neighbours were not considered to be dangerous papal agents. In times of crises, when there was pressure from the government to enforce the penal laws, many Protestants actively helped their Catholic neighbours to evade the effects of these laws. Also, the sheriffs and justices of the peace were rather slow in initiating legal proceedings against their Catholic neighbours, friends and relations for violations of the penal laws. They put the social cohesion of the community above the strict application of the law. Poorer Catholics, usually servants or suppliers to the Catholic gentry or peers, were generally not fined for non-attendance at Anglican services because this would only force them on poor relief, which was not in the community's best interest. However, there is evidence to show that some Catholics were harassed because of their religion. In the 1670's, Devon court officials ran an illegal protection racket where 80 Catholics paid a yearly fee to avoid presentment at court. Though such abuses did exist, the penal laws in general had a minimal effect on most Catholics.(15)

In spite of the fact that the penal laws were only rarely enforced and Protestant and Catholic neighbours generally lived together in peace in their local communities, the great Catholic families in England were declining in number throughout the Restoration period. The prime contributing factor to this decline was the social pressure to be a Protestant in order to take part in the national political life of the country. For this reason, many of the heirs of prominent Catholic families, such as the Marquis of Worcester, the Marquis of Winchester and the Earl of Shrewsbury, joined the Anglican church in the 1660's and the 1670's. It was mainly the minor peers or gentry, who did not wish to take part in English political life, who retained their Catholic faith.(16)

The Effect of the Counter-Reformation on England

If Protestants were generally tolerant of their Catholic neighbours and they were not seen as a real threat, what accounts for the English people's strong hatred of Catholicism in the 1670's. The domestic anti-Catholic tradition by itself is not adequate to explain the depth of this great hostility to Catholicism in England. Political events in Europe in the seventeenth century will help to explain this seeming paradox. The seventeenth century was the century of the successful Counter-Reformation. Behind the anti-Catholicism of this period were the fears about the future of Protestantism and parliamentary government in England and in continental Europe. Protestantism was secure in England, but in its European context, it was on the defensive and its position was deteriorating for the worse. It is against this European background that fears about the vulnerability of Protestantism must be seen. In the seventeenth century, Protestantism had been reduced from 50% to 20% of the European population as a result of Catholic armed aggression. Because of these Counter-Reformation victories, Protestantism remained only on the northern fringes of Europe in Switzerland, Northern Germany, Holland, England, Scotland and the Nordic countries. Catholic gains were made principally in Poland, Hungary, Bavaria, Bohemia, the Habsburg German lands and France.(17)

It was the spectre of international Catholicism rather than the indigenous Catholic population that worried the English people and led to the rise of anti-Catholicism in England in the 1670's. One of the best examples that personified the English fears of international Catholicism was the growth of French power under Louis XIV in the 1660's. As the French government grew in political and military strength, so did the government's religious persecution of its Protestant minority, the Huguenots. Many of these Huguenots fled to England, bringing with them horror stories of their cruel treatment in France. With France's adoption of an aggressive foreign policy in the late 1660's, the religious persecution of European Protestants became a confirmed, if informal, part of French foreign policy. Because of these events in Europe, the English public believed they were justified in seeing French power, Catholicism, political absolutism and the persecution of Protestants as interchangeable parts of the same threatening force in Europe in the 1670's.(18)

The Rise of Court Catholicism in the Late 1660s and Early 1670s

To add to these fears about Louis XIV, beginning in the late 1660's and during the 1670's, the English started to worry about the growing prominence of Catholics in influential positions at the Stuart court. The public was more concerned with the favour shown to Catholicism within the Royal family and its immediate circle than the Catholicism of the local gentry in the English countryside. The court Catholicism of the 1670's reminded the English people of earlier bad memories of the court Catholicism of Charles I's reign during the 1630's and early 1640's. It was feared these court Catholics had too much influence on government policy making and that they would use their positions of power to promote pro-Catholic policies which would be detrimental to the best interests of England.(19)

Queen Catherine of Braganza
Queen Catherine of Braganza

There were many examples of Catholics at the Stuart court. First, there was the Queen, Catherine of Braganza, who was a Catholic from Portugal.(20) She did not irritate people by promoting her religion in the overly obnoxious manner of Charles I's wife, Henrietta Marie, but her household included many Catholics. She had twenty-eight Catholic priests in her employ and her physician, Sir George Wakeman, and her private secretary, Sir Richard Bellings, were both Catholics.(21)

Other prominent Catholics at the Stuart court included Charles II's two main mistresses. Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine, his mistress in the 1660's, had became a Catholic in 1663. Louise de Keroualle, the Duchess of Portsmouth, his mistress from 1670-85, was a French Catholic who had met the king while in his sister Henrietta's entourage during the visit to Dover in 1670.(22) Neither woman was very popular with the English public. The public feared these women would try to use their positions at the Stuart court to promote the Catholic interest. John Evelyn, in his diary, referred to Castlemaine as "the curse of the nation"(23) and he had an equally low opinion of Portsmouth, saying "she came to England for the purpose to entice Charles into an alliance with Louis, a design which unhappily succeeded but too well."(24) Also, Anne Hyde, James' first wife, had died a Catholic in the early 1670's.(25)

Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine
Barbara Villiers
Louise de Keroualle, the Duchess of Portsmouth
Louise de Keroualle

Government ministers in the early 1670's, such as Thomas Clifford, the Lord Treasurer, and Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, were also thought to be Catholics. Evelyn said in his diary he had long suspected his friend, Clifford "was warping towards Rome and that neither was Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, clear of suspicion."(26) Another Catholic was the courtier, the Earl of Arundell, who came from one of the old English Catholic families. Also, Edward Coleman, a secretary first to James and then to the Duchess of York in the 1670's, was a zealous Catholic convert who was to become famous during the Popish Plot for his indiscreet behavior.(27)

Lastly, and most important of all, there were the many troublesome rumours that James, the Duke of York, had become a Catholic. These rumours were encouraged by the fact that James had not attended Anglican services with Charles since 1671. John Evelyn wrote "the Duke was not to be moved in his resolution of not going against his conscience."(28) This was of great importance because as Charles did not have a legitimate successor, his brother, James, was the heir to the throne. The English feared James as future king might become an English version of Louis XIV. In the minds of the English people, Catholicism and absolutism were as interchangeable as the association between Protestantism and English liberties.(29)

The Reaction of the English Public to the Rising Fears of Popery in the Late 1660s and 1670s

A study of the concerns and fears of the average English person outside of the narrow confines of the elites at Whitehall and Westminster will show how the public articulated their anxieties about the aggressive actions of Louis XIV and his powerful army in Europe and how they expressed their hostility to the pro-French policies of their own government. The English people's growing fears of Catholicism manifested themselves in the public reaction to the second Dutch War, the Bawdy House Riots, the pope-burning pageants, the cult of Elizabeth I, the political discussions in the coffeehouses and the anti-Catholic literature of the 1670's. By studying these events, many interesting and valuable insights can be gained as to what the general public actually thought about the rising fears of Catholicism in the late 1660's and during the 1670's.

In the late 1660's, with the growing fears of French military strength in Europe, there was also a corresponding growing intensity in anti-Catholicism in England. At the end of the second Dutch War in 1667, the Dutch navy had boldly sailed up the Thames, entered the Chatham naval base, burned many of the ships moored there and then towed away the flagship, The Royal Charles. This humiliating disaster, caused by English incompetence, was automatically blamed on the Catholics.(30) The general consensus among the English public was the mismanagement of the war was the direct consequence of the "debauchery and drunkenness at court," saying "no better can be expected when the popish and profane party are in such credit."(31) In his diary, Samuel Pepys described the English people's hostile reaction to the poor results of the Dutch war when he wrote:

That the people make nothing of talking treason in the streets openly; as that they are bought and sold and governed by Papists and that we are betrayed by people around the king and shall be delivered up to the French and I know not what.(32)

The anti-Catholicism emerging in the late 1660's can also be seen in the example of the Bawdy House Riots, which occured during Easter week, 1668, when numerous bawdy houses in London were attacked and destroyed. These riots were a political protest by Protestant Dissenters, who were angry Charles had issued a proclamation calling for the enforcement of the penal laws against them. There was a strong anti-Catholic tone to the riots. Bawdy houses were specifically attacked in these riots because in the minds of the Dissenters, there was a close connection between debauchery and Catholicism. With their protest, the Dissenters wished to contrast the hyprocrisy of their religious persecution with the open toleration of Catholicism at the Stuart court. The public sympathized with the rioters. Samuel Pepys wrote the bystanders "found no fault with the rioters but rather of the soldiers for hindering them."(33) Evidence of the growing anti-Catholicism of the time can be seen when a crowd of people attacked some soldiers sent to suppress the riots whom they wrongly believed to be lead by the Duke of York, already seen in 1668 to be a "professed friend" to the Catholics.(34)

In conjunction with these riots, an anonymous petition, The Poor-Whores Petition: To the Most Splendid, Serene, and Eminent Lady of Pleasure, the Countess of Castlemaine, was widely distributed in all the London coffeehouses. This petition lampooned the rise to prominence at the Stuart court of Charles' main mistress in the 1660's, Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine. She was attacked in particular because of her Catholicism. In the petition, the poor-whores asked for Castlemaine's protection, saying " 'they promised to contribute to her ladyship as our sisters do at Rome and Venice to his Holiness, the Pope.' "(35) This is a sarcastic reference to the fact the Pope made money from a tax on Italian brothels. It also focused attention on the growing court Catholicism of the time, which was beginning to greatly worry many of the English people.(36) These events in 1668, along with the crowd's reaction to the second Dutch War in 1667, were the first real evidence since the Restoration of popular opposition to the court and open hostility to its pro-Catholic sympathies.

The revival of pope-burnings, which first started during the reign of Charles I in the 1630's, was another example of the growing anti-Catholicism of the 1670's. They were to become more common during this time period with the increasing public concern about French military strength in Europe, the unpopularity of Charles II's pro-French policies, James' religious conversion and his second marriage to the Catholic Mary of Modena. These pope-burnings were popular with the people because they mixed good entertainment with a defiant re-affirmation of their Protestantism. During the 1670's, pope-burnings were so popular in London a popemaker was regarded as one of the common sites in the city. The most important dates in the English Protestant calendar in the 1670's were the celebrations that began with the sermons and bonfires commemorating the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot on November 5 and climaxed with the joyous celebrations marking the ascension of Queen Elizabeth I on November 17.(37)

A pamphlet, The Burning of the Whore of Babylon,(38) gives a lively description of the first spontaneous pope-burning since the 1640's that was held during the celebrations commemorating the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot on November 5, 1673. The author wrote the apprentices had decided "to make a new addition (to a parade) with a large effigy of the whore of Babylon dressed up with all the popish ornaments."(39) He described how the Pope "was carried not in a chaire, but as a traytor's head upon the Bridge, fixed upon a pole in procession all about the Poultrey market place, attended with near an hundred torches, and more than a thousand people."(40) Following the ceremony, some (French) effigies were hung from two garret windows and shot with pistols in a mock court martial and after everyone had "filled themselves with good liquor," they went home satisfied with the evening. The pamphlet concluded with a history of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, lest any person forget this story with its important implications for the current situation in England in the 1670's.(41)

The growing public fears about the dangers of French power led to a marked increase in the celebration of the cult of Elizabeth I in the 1670's. Elizabeth was admired as the great Protestant warrior queen who had successfully defeated Catholic Spain, the most powerful country in Europe in the late sixteenth century. This defeat led to the creation of a cult of Protestant patriotism based on Elizabeth's spirited defense of the English nation and its religion. The Elizabethan cult provided a yardstick against which the more ambiguously Protestant Stuarts could be measured and found wanting.(42) An interesting account of one pope-burning pageant held on November 17, 1677, that celebrated the Elizabethan cult was described as follows:

Last Saturday the coronation of Queen Elizabeth was solemnized in the city with mighty bonfires and the burning of a most costly pope, carried by four persons in diverse habits, and the effigies of two devils whispering in his ears, his belly filled with live cats who squalled most hideously as soon as they felt fire; the commons saying all the while it was the language of the pope and the devil in a dialogue betwist them. A tierce of claret was set before the Temple gate for the common people. Mr. Langhorne saith he is very confident the pagaentry cost forty pounds.(43)

These pope-burning pageants are interesting because of the insight they offer into the psychology of late seventeenth century popular politics. The pageants showed the heightened fears of Catholicism in England in the 1670's aroused by the impressive military strength of France in Europe at this time and the pro-French policies of Charles II's government. They were evidence of the latent anti-Catholicism in England that emerged to dominate the national political scene, whenever there was a political crisis in the country as there was in the 1670's.

Charles II
Charles II

The coffeehouses were another important centre of anti-Catholicism in the 1670's. Coffeehouses first appeared in the 1650's in England and were well established by the 1670's. There were hundreds of coffeehouses in London and many more in other English cities. These coffeehouses were important because of their crucial role in the dissemination and circulation of news in England and because they were centres of lively discussions on a wide variety of subjects, especially on the topic of politics. They were also a point of contact between high and low society. Members of the general public who were illiterate or could not afford to purchase political literature were able to go to the coffeehouses and have the pamphlets read to them.(44) The coffeehouses provided a social space for public criticism of the state. This did not meet with the approval of many establishment Anglicans who viewed these coffeehouses as "neo-puritan places of sedition."(45) The high churchman, Sir Peter Mews, showed his disapproval of them when he commented, " 'The best statesmen now sit in the coffeehouses.' "(46) A government agent agreed with his sentiment. In a report on the coffeehouses, he wrote:

The common people talke anything, for every carman and porter is now a statesman; and indeed the coffeehouses are good for nothing else. It was not thus when wee drank nothing but sack and claret or English beer or ale. These sober clubs produce nothing but scandalous and censorious discourses, and at these nobody is spared.(47)

With this atmosphere in the coffeehouses and the rising intensity in anti-Catholicism in the 1670's, it is not surprising that the coffeehouses would become linked with the anti-Catholic, anti-French sentiments of the time. The majority of the coffeehouses supported the Whigs, the Parliamentary opposition party, as did a majority of the English people because of their fears of France. This is why one writer could say of his experience in a coffeehouse, " 'The air which I breathed provoked me to write prolifically against the Pope and the King of France.' "(48) Throughout the 1670's, every political move was discussed, analyzed and applauded or vilified in the English coffeehouses. The large and broad clientele they attracted showed there was a very lively and sophisticated political culture in Restoration England. These coffeehouses played an important role in creating an articulate and politically aware English public, whose vocal expression of hostility to the unpopular pro-French, pro-Catholic government policies of the 1670's played a part in putting pressure on the government to change these policies.(49)

Another expression of anti-Catholicism in the 1670's can be seen in the growing market for anti-Catholic literature. The most influential book in the development of the English anti-Catholic tradition was John Foxe's The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Reformation, commonly known as The Book of Martyrs. This book, first published in 1563, became a best-seller with sales second only to the Bible. It was continually re-published in the Elizabethan era and throughout the seventeenth century. According to Foxe's thesis, there was a continuous struggle between the forces of true Christianity, represented by Protestantism, and the forces of the anti-Christ, represented by the Papacy in Rome. His thesis was used by later writers to develop an argument in which it became logical for the English to look for popish designs behind every crises or defeat in the country. Foxe's book was important because by linking anti-Catholic feelings with powerful feelings of nationalism, it ensured that anti-Catholicism was one of the predominant features of English nationalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.(50)

One of the more popular books of the 1670's that expressed the English people's fears about Catholicism was Andrew Marvell's 1678 An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government. Marvell was a well-known poet and Whig member of Parliament from Hull. His main thesis, as stated in his opening sentence, was " 'There has now for divers years a design been carried on to change the lawful government of England into absolute tyranny and to convert the established church into downright Popery.' "(51) In his book, Marvell attacked the policies of the Earl of Danby, Charles' chief minister from 1674-78. He denounced Danby for his arbitrary tendencies in government, saying, wrongly, his political policies were a continuation of the pro-Catholic policies of the early 1670's in a new disguise. Danby's Anglicanism was also attacked as being nothing more than revived Laudism, which from Marvell's point of view was only one step removed from Catholicism. These arguments showed the strength and diversity of the anti-Catholic tradition in England. It allowed two very different lines of political policy to both be interpreted in terms of popery and arbitrary government.(52) Marvell's book was important because it reflected what the English people already thought; that there were plans to change the religion and government of England to that of France.

A number of earlier seventeenth century books that dealt with anti-Catholic themes, such as A Discourse Concerning the Origins of the Powder Plot, Popish Policies and Practises and A Narrative of the Horrible Conspiracy against King James and the Whole Parliament of England, commonly called the Gunpowder Treason, were re-printed in the 1670's. They helped to ensure the past history of Catholic attacks on Protestants in England and Europe were kept in the public mind. Besides these re-prints, there was also a large increase in the amount of new anti-Catholic literature published in the 1670's. Some of this literature was so popular it sold out immediately on its arrival at the bookseller's. A good example was A Seasonable Argument published in April, 1678. This pamphlet proclaimed to list all the placemen and pensioners in the Commons accused of selling their votes in exchange for their support of popery and arbitrary government in England.(53) Given the popularity of such pamphlets, Edmund Bohun, a government supporter, could complain with some justification " 'that loyalist pamphlets remained on gentlemen's bookshelves, whereas base pamphlets are quickly bought up.' "(54) Another court supporter, Francis North, grumbled in a similar vein saying " 'reports that are scandalous are greedily received and libelous books are applauded and to be had everywhere.' "(55)

Much of the anti-Catholic literature of the 1670's was in the form of manuscript libels that were too controversial to be formally published. However, these pamphlets reached a wide audience mainly through their circulation in the coffeehouses and through personal distribution among friends. One such manuscript libel that circulated in the coffeehouses in 1674 directly attacked the Duke of York and his religion. It asked " 'whither it be high time to consider settling the succession of the crown so as may secure us from the bloody massacres and inhuman Smithfield butcheries, the certain consequences of a Popish government.' "(56) The popular appeal of these pamphlets can be seen by the protest of Bohun who said, " ' You shall sometimes find a seditious libel to pass through so many hands that it is at last scare legible for dust and sweat' "(57) and also by the comment that these pamphlets "swarm in every street and march from friend to friend."(58) There was a large and growing market for anti-Catholic literature in the 1670's.(59)

Politics in England in the 1670s

As the growing fears of Catholicism expressed by the English public in the late 1660's and during the 1670's were caused by the pro-French policies of Charles II's government, it is now necessary to examine these policies in detail. For this reason, there will be a discussion of the 1668 Triple Alliance, the 1670 Treaty of Dover with its secret Catholic clause, the 1672 Declaration of Indulgence, the 1672-74 Anglo-Dutch war, the 1673 Test Act, James' 1673 public declaration of Catholicism along with his unpopular marriage to the Catholic Mary of Modena and a discussion of the breakdown in trust between the House of Commons and the government as seen in the Parliamentary debates of the 1670's. An examination of the government's policies, especially its foreign policy, will show the fears expressed by the English people had a valid basis in fact. It was the pro-French policies pursued by the government, despite the English people's great fear of France, that led to the rise of anti-Catholicism in the 1670's and set the stage for the belief in the Popish Plot in 1678.

The political crises of the 1670's started with France's invasion of the Spanish Netherlands in 1667. This invasion was an important turning point in European politics because it showed the impressive military strength of France under Louis XIV. It was feared in England that if France were successful in this operation, it would use the Spanish Netherlands as a base to invade Holland and from there to attack England. In order to placate public opinion, on January 13, 1668, England formed the Triple Alliance, a defensive alliance with Holland and Sweden. Its aim was to contain French military advances in the Low Countries, especially in the Spanish Netherlands. This alliance, which was greeted with much popular approval in England, seemed to be the point where the general English attitude towards Dutch commercial superiority was subordinated to a greater hatred of France and its political ambitions. Many of the English people now realized they had more in common with Holland, such as Protestantism and parliamentary government, than they did with Catholic, absolutist France. However, Charles did not share these growing anti-French opinions of the English public. He explained to Ruvigny, the French ambassador to England, that the Triple Alliance made no difference to their relationship. He saw the alliance as a tactical move to win him some public approval because of his weak position after the second Dutch war and to show Louis he expected a suitable price for any support from him in the future.(60)

In April, 1668, only three months after the signing of the Triple Alliance, Charles was already putting out feelers to Louis for an Anglo-French alliance. He had always been interested in an alliance with Louis since the start of the French king's personal rule in 1661, but with the growing anti-French mood in England, Charles was apprehensive of the reaction of Parliament and his people to such an alliance. Colbert de Croissey came to England in August, 1668, as the new French ambassador with instructions to discuss the personal union with Louis that Charles said he was so interested in. Charles negotiated with the French king through his sister, Henrietta, who lived at the French court and was married to Louis' brother. Her personal access to Louis allowed Henrietta(61) to become a discreet and effective intermediary between the two kings. These negotiations led to the secret Treaty of Dover, which was signed May 22, 1670. The treaty is well known for its Catholic clause in which Charles agreed to become a Catholic and to impose Catholicism on England with French military force if necessary. It also provided for a joint Anglo-French war against Holland. A second treaty, minus the Catholic clause, was signed on December 22, 1670, for the benefit of the Protestant government officials.(62) The secret Catholic clause stated:

The king of England being convinced of the truth of the Roman Catholic religion is resolved to declare it, and to reconcile himself with the Church of Rome as soon as the state of his country's affairs permit.... But as there are unquiet spirits who mask their designs under the guise of religion, the king of England for the peace of his kingdom, will avail himself of the assistance of the king of France, who, as he is quite anxious to contribute to a design glorious not only for the king of England, but for the whole of Catholic Christendom, promises to pay to the king of England the sum of two million tournois, the first half payable three months after the ratification of the treaty, the other half three months later. In addition, the king of France undertakes to provide, at his own expense, 6,000 troops for the execution of this design, if they should be required. The time for the declaration of Catholicism is left entirely to the discretion of the king of England.(63)

Charles' motives for the Catholic clause are not known.(64) James said Charles had stated his desire to become a Catholic in a secret meeting at his apartment on January 25, 1669. He said Charles called the meeting " 'to have their advice about the ways and methods fittest to be taken for the setting of the Catholic religion in his kingdom and to consider the time most proper to declare himself.' "(65) There is also the story of Charles' meeting with the young William of Orange in the winter of 1669. Gilbert Burnet wrote on this meeting in his history:

He (Charles) tried the prince, as the prince himself told me, in the point of religion: He spoke of all Protestants as a factious body, broken among themselves ever since they had broken off from the main body; and wished, that he would take more pains and look into these things, and not be led by his Dutch blockheads. He (William) always carried it in his mind and could not hinder himself from judging of all the king's intentions after that, from the discovery he had then made of his sentiments.(66)

It is possible that Charles, for a brief period, may have contemplated becoming a Catholic. The existence of the secret Treaty of Dover does show the ideal of the restoration of Catholicism in England was actually considered, even if it was eventually discarded. Charles was personally grateful to the Catholics who saved his life after the Battle of Worcester, and to the Catholics who supported his father in the Civil War, but his political common sense would have quickly told him a conversion to Catholicism was not a good idea if he did not wish to go on his travels again. As Charles was not particularly religious, the purpose of the Catholic clause was possibly an attempt to cut through the distrust troubling Anglo-French relations in the 1660's so Charles could establish a personal relationship with the French king. This explanation appears plausible because after the secret treaty was signed and Louis had paid him his subsidy, Charles' religious ardour cooled significantly. He then advanced various pretexts for putting off his conversion, until he told Louis it was definitely delayed and that the secret treaty should be safely locked away to guard its precious secret.(67)

The fact that Charles did not go through with his conversion did not mean he had no intentions to do so. Clifford had drawn up details for military plans to be followed on the imposition of Catholicism and also prepared proposals to be sent to the Pope to make Catholicism more amenable to the English. If the third Dutch war had been a success, it is possible a revolution would have been attempted in England. What is known is that Charles' actions, even if they were always insincere and only a diplomatic ploy, were taken seriously by James and Clifford, both ardent Catholics, who were anxious for Charles to declare his Catholicism so they could do the same. The Catholic clause was of great importance to them. It is likely Charles might have become a Catholic if there had been no serious political consequences attached to his conversion. However, Charles seriously underestimated the religious fervour of both James and Clifford. Their public declaration of Catholicism in 1673 helped to undermine the credibility of the government and contributed directly to the crises that engulfed the country in the late 1670's.(68)

Rumours about the meeting at Dover began to circulate almost immediately. Many of the rumours about the secret treaty turned out to be true. The Dover meeting caused much concern among the European diplomats in Paris who wondered what was really going on behind the scenes in this so-called family visit. Ralph Montagu,(69) the English ambassador to France, said there was considerable alarm that the real reason for Henrietta's visit to England was to detach England from the Triple Alliance and to create a new alliance between England and France. Because of this meeting, Von Beuningen,(70) a Dutch politician, came on a special mission to London in June, 1670, to assess the political situation there. Arlington, the Secretary of State, said he found it extremely difficult to keep the inquisitive Von Beuningen at arms length. In a meeting in September, 1670, the Dutch republican leader, Johann Dewitt, had told William Temple,(71) the English ambassador to the Netherlands, of rumours he heard about a possible Anglo-French alliance.(72) Temple, who did not have any knowledge of the Treaty of Dover, had denied them. Other rumours that circulated at this time included talk that French troops were to be used to establish Catholicism in England and that Louis was paying subsidies to the English government.(73) There was also much discussion of the treaty outside the diplomatic community. Pepys had commented in his diary on rumours he heard from his friend, Sir H. Cholmly, about a possible alliance with France. He wrote:

I find out by him that it is brought almost to effect, the late endeavours of the Duke of York and Duchess, the Queen Mother and my Lord St. Albans, together with some of the contrary faction, my Lord Arlington, that for a sum of money we shall enter into a league with the king of France... and that this sum of money shall help the King as he will not need the Parliament... but hereby we must leave the Dutch.... My Lady Castlemaine is instrumental in this matter and he says, never more great with the king than she is now. But this is a thing that will make the Parliament and Kingdom mad and will turn to our ruine.(74)

The above gossip showed the basic outline of the secret treaty was already being discussed in public. Though the terms of the secret Treaty of Dover never became public knowledge, which was most fortunate for Charles as he could have met the same fate as his father, there were enough rumours circulating to create fears in the minds of the English people that there were hidden plans by the Stuart court to change the religion and form of government in England to that of France. It was these fears that led to the outbreak of anti-Catholicism in the 1670's in England.(75) The secret treaty of Dover showed the fears of the English people about Charles' foreign policy were valid.

When Parliament met in the fall of 1670, Charles was well aware of the public hostility to France. This is why no mention was made of the French alliance or the coming war against the Dutch. In fact, Charles used French aggression in Europe to his advantage in order to obtain money from Parliament for the support of the popular Triple Alliance. He intended to use this money to prepare for the war against the Dutch. Also, in the fall of 1670, a petition against the growth of popery in England was passed. This was a rather ominous sign for Charles who had just negotiated a secret treaty with Catholic France. Previously, the intolerance of Parliament had been directed against the Protestant Dissenters, who were seen as disloyal republicans, rather than the Catholics. Things, however, were to change with the increasing fears of Catholicism caused by the disturbing gossip circulating about the secret Treaty of Dover, the growing prominence of Catholics at court and by rumours that James, the heir to the throne, had already converted to Catholicism. Parliament prorogued in April, 1671, and did not meet again until February, 1673.(76) Much would happen in the coming two years that would have a great impact on English history and on the Stuart dynasty.

The third Dutch war started on March 17, 1672. It immediately began to take on religious overtones that were absent from the first two wars, which were seen primarily as trade wars. The Declaration of Indulgence announced on the eve of the war that gave religious toleration to both Catholics and Dissenters was instantly unpopular. It caused the war and the alliance with France to be looked upon with much mistrust. The declaration was seen as nothing more than an attempt to introduce Catholicism into England under the guise of religious toleration.(77) In his memoirs, John Reresby, a strong Anglican and loyal court supporter, worried about the dire effect of the declaration on the Church of England. He wrote, "The King did issue out his proclamation for indulgence to tender concienys. This did make a great noise and was the greatest blow that ever was given, since the King's restoration, to the Church of England."(78) If Reresby could say this about the Declaration, it is not difficult to imagine what people who were less charitably inclined to the government might say about it. Charles' religious and political policies aroused many suspicions, even among his supporters such as Reresby, specifically because of the perception of his lukewarm adherence to Protestantism.

The naval war, which was under English leadership, got off to a poor start. In particular, the obvious failure of the French to provide any support to the English navy at the battle of Sole Bay on May 28, 1672, was widely criticized in England. This battle coincided with the launch of a devastating attack by Louis' army on the Dutch Republic. The speed and scale of the attack took the Dutch by surprise and their army collapsed "like a bad souffle." All the provinces, with the exception of Holland and Zeeland, were quickly overrun by the French. These two provinces were forced to flood their dykes in a desperate measure to save themselves from the rapidly advancing French army. The States General was badly shaken by these events and this led to a political revolution in June, 1672, in which William, the Prince of Orange, was declared the Stadtholder of both Holland and Zeeland. The assassination of the republican leader, Dewitt, who was viciously torn to pieces by a furious mob at The Hague in August, 1672, allowed William to emerge as the sole political leader in the battle for the existence of the Netherlands.(79) While the Dutch were pre-occupied with their struggle for survival, fears began to intensify in England that if Louis defeated the Dutch, he would use their country as a base to attack England and subject it to French and Catholic rule with all its negative consequences. As the Bishop of Lincoln, a court supporter, said, "Holland deservedly suffers all the miseries it now lies under...but if it submits to France, where are we?"(80)

With the overthrow of the Dutch republicans in favour of William, the majority of the English now saw no justification for the continuation of the war. Its continuation led them to suspect there were dark and hidden ulterior motives behind the war. The poor performance of the French navy in contrast with the spectacular success of the French army seemed to prove this point to many of the English. The rumours that Louis had told the Elector of Cologne the real purpose of the war was to destroy the Dutch and their Protestant religion and also comments by one of Louis' ministers that his master wished to destroy the Dutch on account of their religious heresy did nothing to calm the English suspicions of the war. The fears that there was a hidden design to establish popery and arbitrary government in England led the English public to view French military victories as bad news and their defeats as good news. Catholicism, French power, and absolutism were seen as the same in the minds of most English. This war seemed to be paving the way for the political domination of Louis XIV in Europe, which was not in the best interests of England.(81) The Venetian ambassador, in May, 1672, in one of his numerous reports on the Dutch war, seemed to agree with the growing suspicions of the English public when he commented that he himself believed there were hidden, ulterior motives behind the war. He wrote:

So your majesty seeks to subdue his subjects, to assume authority and to take advantage of the ruin of his dangerous neighbour.... It will behove him to address parliament in another tone, to obtain money as by the forces remaining on foot and with the support of the party that is forming at home.(82)

Government intelligence reports on the war showed the increasing English hostility to the French and their growing sympathy for the Dutch. The agents wrote, "the French are generally hated to the devil by all the English"(83) and "the people talk discontentedly about the success of the last battle and make horrid reflections on some great people and I assure you they do not spare the French."(84) One agent, writing from Yarmouth, lamented to Secretary Williamson, "we are so dutchified here that a Dutch man cannot be more dejected than our people are for the generally sad condition we understand the Hollander to be in."(85) Even Reresby complained about the conduct of the French in the war. He wrote, "This summer, the French joined us at sea and betrayed us at the same time, for in the sea fight upon the 18 of May, the French squadrons stood off and left us and the Dutch to dispute the day."(86) In the summer of 1672, because of the introduction of the religious factor, the behavior of the French in the naval battles, the defeat of the Dutch republicans, and the increasing fears of the political and military might of France, the war aroused sympathy and respect for the Dutch and hostility for the French and the court faction that supported the war.

The growing concern about the obvious change in government policy can be seen clearly in a 1672 entry in the diary of Edward Dering who, like John Reresby, was a court supporter. It showed the extent of the increasing anxieties about the Catholic threat in Europe in the 1670's and the heightened worries about the Anglo-French alliance and its negative influence on the English nation. He wrote:

For twelve years more, we lived in peace, plenty and happiness above all nations of the world. But this blessing was too great to be continued long to those who deserved it so ill as we, and then the nation began to think the court inclined to favour popery and France, grounding their suspicion on:
  1. The declaration coming out about this time for laying aside all the penal laws in matters of religion.
  2. The second war being made in conjunction with France, there being no sufficient visible reason to provoke it.
  3. The departing from the Triple League.
  4. The connivance at the Jesuits and priests, who abundantly swarm in the kingdom and even about the court.
  5. The conference between the king and his sister, Madame, the Duchess of Orleans, at Dover, the cause of the meeting and the matter there debated and resolved on, being kept very secret.
  6. The employing of several known or suspected papists in great places of trust, especially Lord Clifford, made High Treasurer.
  7. Lastly, to these, and much more than all these together, is the Duke of York being a papist. This gave no unreasonable foundation to fear that, the king having no children, when the duke should come to the throne the Protestant religion would be at least oppressed, if not extirpated.(87)

When Parliament met on February 4, 1673, for the first time since the start of the Dutch war, Charles boldly asked for supply to continue the war. Parliament, however, was in a contentious mood. Its members felt tricked into giving money for the Dutch war. They had believed the supply was for the support of the Triple Alliance. This deception did nothing to encourage trust between the king and Parliament. The members soon made it clear the price for any war supply would be the withdrawal of the Declaration of Indulgence, which most members, like the majority of the English public, saw as the first step in the re-establishment of Catholicism in England. Sir Thomas Meres said, "What is it that makes us so jealous on this question but our fears of popery?"(88) Another member quoted from a 1621 petition against popery, which said Catholicism "has a restless spirit" that would not be satisfied with toleration and would never rest "till it got a subversion of the true religion."(89) Most members believed this to be as true in 1673 as it was in 1621. Other members worried the declaration struck at the rule of law in the country because if the king could destroy one law made by Parliament, then he had the power to destroy all laws passed by Parliament. This was the basis for absolutist government as practised in France, where Louis XIV was all powerful. In order to get a supply for the coming war season, Charles revoked the Declaration of Indulgence on March 8, 1673. News of the withdrawal was greeted with much glee in the country. One writer commented, "the streets shined with bonfires as if there was a second restoration."(90)

On March 28, 1673, a Test Act became law at the same time as the new supply bill was passed. It said "all persons who shall refuse to take both the oath of allegiance and supremacy and to receive the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England shall be incapable of all public employment, military as well as civil,"(91) The Test Act was primarily political in nature. It was directed against court Catholics at the centre of political power rather than the general English Catholic population. The members of Parliament feared the presence of so many Catholics in high positions at the Stuart court was merely the most visible element of a hidden design by Charles' government to introduce Catholicism and French style absolutism into England. There was some truth in these fears. Government ministers, such as Clifford and Lord Arlington, and courtiers, such as the Earl of Arundell and Richard Bellings, were prominent court Catholics who were all directly involved in the negotiations leading to the secret Treaty of Dover. James, the heir to the throne, supported these negotiations, though he did not take any direct part in them.(92) The fact that these court Catholics were using their positions of power to promote pro-Catholic policies shows the fears of the English people were justified.

The Dutch had hoped, given the strong anti-French atmosphere in the country, Parliament would not vote any money for the war in 1673. However, when it became clear that Parliament would give supply in exchange for concessions on religion, the Dutch decided the time had come to use propaganda to promote their cause and to put public pressure on the English government to abandon the war. One of the most effective pieces of propaganda the Dutch used was the distribution of the pamphlet, England's Appeal from the Private Cabal at Whitehall in March, 1673. This pamphlet was written by Pierre du Moulin,(93) an English Huguenot who supported the Dutch side in the war. His previous diplomatic background gave him a good understanding of both English and European politics. Moulin was an excellent writer with a genius for political pamphleteering. His pamphlet was a very effective piece of political propaganda because it articulated in such a clear and readable manner the anti-Catholic fears and suspicions the English public already felt about the Dutch war. England's Appeal did more than any other piece of writing at this time to exploit the discontent with the French alliance and to show there was a clear relationship between it and the English people's fears of the Catholic threat in Europe in the 1670's.(94)

The Dutch war showed the political nature of anti-Catholicism in seventeenth century Europe. In the war, Spain supported the Dutch side, though Spain was Catholic, because it was in its best political interests to do so. In fact, much of the Dutch propaganda, including Moulin's England's Appeal, was smuggled into England compliments of the Spanish diplomatic pouch. The Spanish embassy also delivered Moulin's instructions to his agents in London and then carried back their reports to him in Holland. The English government did not view Spain's behavior in a favourable light, but otherwise there were no objections in England. Spain's Catholicism was not feared in England because Spain had lost its power to influence events in Europe in the early seventeenth century and was therefore not seen to be a political threat to England as France was. The English did not fear the spread of Catholicism in England through the appeal of its religious doctrines, but they did worry that a powerful Catholic country such as France would use its military force to impose Catholicism on England in the same manner as Spain had attempted in the late sixteenth century with its Armada.(95)

Suspicions encouraged by the Dutch propaganda were confirmed when on June 15, 1673, James, the heir to the throne, resigned his position as Lord Admiral of the Navy rather than take the Test Act. This was a public declaration of his Catholicism. James' conversion had long been rumoured as he had not taken Anglican communion at Easter in 1672 or in 1673. Many historians believe 1669 is the most probable date for his conversion. James' rigid, authoritarian personality combined with his Catholicism seemed to support the widely held negative stereotypes in England about the relationship between Catholicism and absolutism. A letter sent to Secretary Williamson, telling of the public's reaction to James' declaration of Catholicism said, "I dare not write the strange talk of the town on his Royal Highness' surrender; your Excellency can well imagine it, it being as bad against him as it ever was in his father's day."(96) The fact the heir to the throne was now an open Catholic contributed directly to the crises atmosphere of the 1670's and led to the attempt to exclude James from the throne in 1679.(97)

James II of England
James II of England

Also, on June 15, Clifford, the Lord Treasurer, was involved in an accident on the Strand in which his coach tipped over revealing himself and a fully dressed priest on their way to Mass at Somerset House, the Queen's residence. Clifford, who had vehemently attacked the Test Act as a "monstrous horrendum" in the Parliamentary debates in March, 1673, resigned from his position on June 19 and retired to his country estate, where he committed suicide that August. His good friend, John Evelyn, said in his diary "that he had made away with himself after an extraordinary melancholy."(98) Evelyn said his suicide was caused by the heartbreak of losing his office and most likely the failure of his cherished dream to re-establish Catholicism in England. Clifford's and James' admission of Catholicism in the summer of 1673 only increased the public's fears that there really was a conspiracy by the Stuart court to establish popery and arbitrary government in England.(99)

In 1673, the Dutch war continued to go poorly for the English. As in the 1672 season, the French again failed to support the English navy. At the Battle of Texel in August, 1673, the French commander, D'Estrees, said he did not engage the Dutch in battle because of his failure to understand the signal the English commander, Prince Rupert, had given. The government tried to rewrite the account of the battle, saying the French had fought bravely, but the real story was soon circulating in the coffeehouses in England. It produced much outrage among the general public and encouraged the natural antipathy of the English towards the French.(100) This outrage against the French can be seen in the following letter sent to Joseph Williamson, Secretary of State, in September, 1673. It said:

The coffee-houses and from them the people continue their too open hate to the French, and discourse of them with the greatest contempt imaginable; and they say that the Prince is so angry that he will not goe out with them againe; and a letter is published in manuscript about Town pretended to be writ by Mons. Martell(101) to the French king, not only in his own defence for fighting without orders, but accusing the Comte d'Estrees of all the miscarriage. Without a doubt, the Comte will be called home and seemingly punished, for the business is too open to be concealed, and without it the league and union between the two kings may be in danger, because there are dayly quarells with the English and French seamen when they meete.(102)

In September, 1673, James married a Catholic princess, Mary of Modena, whose family was closely aligned with Louis in Italy. Given the strong anti-French and anti-Catholic feelings in England in the early 1670's, this was not a good time for James to marry such a woman. However, James, showing his "usual political astuteness," chose to ignore such feelings. His main aim was to marry the princess before the next sitting of Parliament so the members could not pressure him to marry a Protestant woman. This marriage did much to inflame the political situation in England in the fall of 1673 because, in the minds of most people, the marriage fused together their fears about James, Catholicism and the French alliance with Louis XIV. Since James was the heir to the throne, as Charles had no legitimate children, the marriage raised the worrisome prospect not only would there be a Catholic king in the future, but also the possibility of a Catholic dynasty, if the sons from this marriage were raised as Catholics. Therefore, it was no wonder that the marriage encouraged the discussion of a divorce for the king so he could remarry and have a legitimate Protestant heir and thus keep James from the throne.(103)

Mary of Modena
Mary of Modena

Letters written in the fall of 1673 reveal the English people's great hostility to the new Duchess and her Catholicism. One letter said, "the people say she brings a great many priests with her and that sticks in their stomachs" and "the common people here and even those of quallyty in the country beleeve shee is the Pope's eldest daughter!"(104) The English public feared Louis would use the marriage to promote the French and Catholic interest at the Stuart court. In one of his many reports, the Venetian ambassador commented on these fears. He wrote, "the English nation is increasingly suspicious of His Royal Highness as his marriage is thought to be of French contriving." He also commented, "It is much rumoured that the French king goes himself to meet the old lady (Mary of Modena's mother) to instruct her how to work his interest here."(105)

When Parliament met on October 27, 1673, Charles again asked for more money to continue the Dutch war in 1674. However, there was a marked change in temperament in Parliament in the fall of 1673. The intensity of anti-Catholicism was increasing among the general public and in Parliament. The members said they had a long list of grievances to discuss before they would consider the matter of the war supply. One member created quite a stir by placing a wooden shoe on the speaker's chair with the emblem of Louis XIV on one side and that of Charles II on the other side to show the great peril of England aligning itself too closely with France. The wooden shoe was seen as a symbol of the French poverty that the English would be reduced to with the continuation of the present pro-French policies of Charles II in the 1670's.(106)

In the House of Commons debate that followed, William Russell, the opposition leader in the Commons, openly attacked the Dutch war. He called it "destructive to the nation and the Protestant religion," noting "the French king calls it a Catholic war."(107) Lord Cavendish said in his speech that "the national interest is laid aside for private interest."(108) Henry Powle then attacked James' Catholicism saying, "We have been very careful to prevent popery, but it is in vain to suppress it elsewhere, if it gets a footing so near the throne."(109) Even strong Cavaliers, such as Sir Giles Strangeways, were as outspoken against the government as its most vocal opponents. Strangeways said in his speech, "It is a sad condition we are reduced to...France has strangled us; the public articles are ill enough; what are the private articles."(110) This hostile reference to the secret Treaty of Dover showed the extent of the effectiveness of the Dutch propaganda. Another opposition member, William Coventry argued in his speech that the Dutch war was destructive to both trade and religion and "that it was in the interest of the King of England to keep France from being too great on the continent." He said he was opposed to any further supply unless it could be shown "the obstinacy of the Dutch shall make a supply necessary."(111)

The House then voted against any further supply, until Charles would deal with their grievances concerning "the Protestant religion, liberties and properties" and had moved "to suppress popery and remove all persons that are popishly affected or otherwise obnoxious or dangerous to the government."(112) The House also approved an address attacking James' marriage made by Henry Powle. It said:

This marriage would disquiet the minds of your Protestant subjects at home and fill them with endless jealousies and discontents and bring your majesty into such alliances abroad, as may prove highly prejudicial, if not destructive to the interest of the Protestant religion itself...the princess having so near a relation to many eminent persons of the court of Rome, may give them great opportunities to promote their designs and carry on their practices here amongst us; and by the same means penetrate your majesty's most secret councils and more easily discover the state of the whole kingdom.(113)

Given the antagonistic tone of the debate in the House of Commons, Charles announced on November 4 he was proroguing Parliament until January 7, 1674, to give the members' tempers time to cool.(114) The above debate showed the heightened hostility to Catholicism in the fall of 1673. The members had attacked the French alliance, James' Catholicism and his marriage to Mary of Modena and had also refused any supply to continue the Dutch war. The Cavalier Parliament had started out very loyal to the king, but the pro-French religious and political policies of Charles II's government in the 1670's alienated the members to such an extent they now openly challenged the king's prerogative power to conduct the foreign affairs of the country. The new Duchess of York, who had married James by proxy on September 30, arrived in England at the end of November, 1673. The Venetian ambassador, in one of his reports, commented on the widespread unpopularity of James' marriage. He wrote:

It is very much taken notice that the Lord Mayor has not been to compliment their Royal Highnesses upon their marriage, but his Lordship sides, it seems, with the people, who on all occasions express their aversion to this match. But I dare not commit to paper all I heare and that from sober people.(115)

Another account of the Duchess' arrival reported, "The night the Duchess arrived a Pope of 50 pounds was burnt in Southwark." The writer also noted the hostility to the new Duchess and her mother when they were presented at court. He wrote, "Most of our great ladies have been rude in their behavior towards the Duchess of Modena, who when she was allowed to sit in the Queen's presence, caused many of them to hump and withdraw themselves." He commented that many people thought the new princess' presence in England would make the Parliament less likely to vote any money for a new war season, adding "as far as I dare give my opinion, we are like to be involved in many unavoidable troubles."(116)

In a speech to Parliament on January 7, 1674, Charles tried to win the confidence of the two Houses by offering to show them the Treaty of Dover, so they could see for themselves there were no harmful, secret religious clauses in it. This was obviously a reference to the second treaty of Dover, but as both Louis and Charles regarded the treaty signed in May, 1670, as the real treaty, Charles' statement there were no secret religious clauses was an outright lie.(117) He said:

I know you have heard much of my alliance with France and I believe it hath been very strongly misrepresented to you, as if there were certain secret articles of dangerous consequences; but I will make no difficulty of letting the treaty, and all the articles without the least reserve to be seen by a small committee of both Houses, who may report to you of the scope of them and I assure you, there is no other treaty with France either before or since, which shall not be made known.(118)

This speech was followed by a masterful attack on the Dutch by the Lord Keeper, Finch. Parliament then recessed until January 12 to consider the king's offer. Things, however, were not to go well for Charles. Moulin's pen had been busily working during the parliamentary prorogation as the Dutch were determined the English Parliament would not vote a war supply in 1674 as it had in 1673. The streets of London were soon flooded with new propaganda dispatched from The Hague to promote the Dutch cause in England. Arlington testily commented " 'the Dutch libels swarm among us sowing the seeds of sedition.' "(119) These pamphlets succeeded beyond all Dutch expectation in confirming the nation's suspicions that there was a definite link between the French alliance and the English people's fears of the Catholic threat in Europe in the 1670's. As a result, Parliament voted against a supply to continue the war and Charles was forced to sign the Treaty of Westminster on February 9, 1674. Moulin's agents were elated and wrote him glowing accounts of the results of his propaganda and the great discomfiture it had caused the king and his government.(120)

The Parliamentary opposition party, the future Whig party, which had arisen in response to fears about Charles' pro-French religious and political policies of the early 1670's, had secured the withdrawal of the Declaration of Indulgence and the passage of the Test Act, had forced Charles to make peace with the Dutch and to publicly abandon his alliance with France. That its members were able to force the king to accede to their wishes showed the depth of the anxieties about Catholicism in Parliament and the nation. This was a great defeat for Charles and his government and a great victory for the opposition party in Parliament.(121)

The Dutch war gained Charles nothing for his efforts that he could not have gotten through diplomatic negotiations. This showed how slight the pretext for the Dutch war was in the first place. The war was, as the Duke of Ormond, the Irish Lord Lieutenant, said in 1673, one that was " 'entered without the concurrence of Parliament or the affection of the people.' "(122) To embark on a foreign war while deeply in debt and without the support of Parliament was a perilous undertaking. Charles must have thought a joint Anglo-French naval and military assault on the Netherlands would result in a quick victory, but there was no quick victory. The price the king paid for this war was enormous. Besides his money problems and the disarray of his ministers,(123) his main political problem was the complete lack of trust between the king and the nation, which had been shattered by his pro-French policies of the early 1670's. This lack of trust in Charles was to continue throughout the 1670's, coming to a head during the Popish Plot crises. The Grand Design was the one and only major personal policy initiative of Charles II and it was a great failure.(124)

In July, 1673, Thomas Osbourne, the Earl of Danby, was chosen as the new Lord Treasurer to replace Clifford. He was Charles' chief minister from 1674-78. Danby attempted to calm the fears about Catholicism by reverting to the Anglican Cavalier policies that had worked well in the 1660's and also by publicly promoting an anti-French, pro-Dutch foreign policy. Despite these policies, his arrogant, authoritarian personality and his method of parliamentary management, in which he used patronage to build up a court party in Parliament, led many members to suspect he wished to compromise the independence of Parliament and favoured the establishment of arbitrary government. Danby's other major problem was he could do nothing about James' Catholicism, nor could he persuade Charles to abandon his secret subsidy negotiations with Louis. He had told the king he could never be great or rich unless he followed the "humour of the people," which meant taking into account the people's fears of France and Catholicism and their desire to promote the English and Anglican interest.(125)

There was a dramatic increase in anti-Catholic hostility in England in February, 1677, when the French army launched another aggressive attack on the Spanish Netherlands. The Commons sent addresses to Charles on March 29, April 13 and April 16 expressing their great fears about the dangers of French power and asking him to negotiate an alliance with the Dutch. Many members wanted a war against France to preserve the Spanish Netherlands, which was in England's interest, but were afraid to vote a supply for an army because of fears it would be used to establish absolutism in England. One writer joked there were those in England who wanted a war without an army and there were those who wanted an army without a war. On May 25, 1677, the Commons took the unusual step of demanding the king enter into a defensive and offensive alliance with the States General and passed a bill refusing supply until such an alliance had been concluded. Reresby commented on Charles' reply on May 28:

He said we had exceeded the methods of Parliament in that addresse; that we had entrenched on his prerogative by not only directing him to make alliances, but by pointing out to him what those alliances should be, with whom they should be made; that the power of making peace or warr only belonged to himselfe, and that if that was taken from him, he should only have the name of king, and then what states or princes would treat with him; for this reason, as well as want of money, he should not comply with this address.(126)

Faced with these pressures from a hostile Parliament and with some prodding from Danby, Charles concluded a treaty with the Dutch on December 31, 1677. Danby hoped this treaty would lead to a broader offensive and defensive treaty between England and Holland to replace the unpopular pro-French tendencies of Charles.(127)

In November, 1677, in an attempt to placate the angry public mood, Charles had agreed to the marriage of Mary, James' daughter, to William of Orange. Burnet said Louis had received the news of the marriage "as he would have done the loss of an army; and he spoke very hardly of the duke for consenting to it, and not, at the least, acquainting him with it." He said, "our court had forsaken him" and "that the Duke had given his daughter to the greatest enemy he had in the world."(128) This marriage was a victory for Danby, who arranged it and a defeat for Louis. Danby hoped the marriage to the Protestant William would improve the popularity of the government in England and calm the growing suspicions that there were any plans to change either the religion or the established form of government in England to that of France.(129)

On February 28, 1678, Reresby wrote in his memoirs that "the Commons voted a grant of one million to the King, to enable him to make war with the French King for the preservation of Flanders."(130) An army was raised in the spring of 1678 for this purpose, but the transparent eagerness of Charles not to enter the war led to fears the army would be used not to fight the French, but as part of a plot to establish popery and arbitrary government in England. Even Reresby, a known loyal friend of the court, had commented in June, 1678, "I thought it (a war) impossible seeing the King, the Duke and the French ambassador so often very merry and intimate at the Duchess of Portmouth's lodgings, laughing at those that believed it in earnest."(131) A European peace agreement was signed in July, 1678, so the English army was no longer needed. Parliament then voted a supply to disband it, but the government's decison to use the supply to maintain the army seemed to confirm the widespread suspicions of the English people that the army was to be used in a government coup d'etat to establish popery and arbitrary government in England.(132)

Into this politically explosive situation, walked Mr. Titus Oates, the creator of the Popish Plot, the most famous of all Catholic plots, with his story of a Jesuit conspiracy to murder the king and replace him with the Catholic James in order to facilitate the re-introduction of Catholicism into England. By the time of the Popish Plot, Oates already had a dubious career as an Anglican minister, having been expelled in disgrace from a living in Bobbing, Kent and also from positions as a chaplain in the navy and in the Duke of Norfolk's house. He had become a Catholic in 1677 and was sent to two Jesuit seminaries on the continent, again being expelled in disgrace from both institutions. In August, 1678, he had arrived back in London, penniless on the doorstep of Israel Tonge, a fanatical Anglican clergyman. It was to Tonge that Oates first told his story of the Jesuit plot to kill the king.(133)

Oates had concocted his story from Catholic gossip he had heard at the Jesuit seminaries and from the earlier popish plots of the 1630's that he had read about in Sir Hammond L'Estrange's Charles I. Oates' story was an expression of the people's fears rather than the cause of them. The English people already believed there was a plot to introduce popery and arbitrary government into England. His story introduced into the politically charged atmosphere of 1678 was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. The belief in the Popish Plot was the culmination of ten years of political tensions about the pro-French religious and political policies of Charles II's government coming to a head and leading to the crises of 1678-81.(134)


Anti-Catholicism was one of the main re-occurring themes of seventeenth century England. The intensity of anti-Catholicism in England rose and fell according to the political situation of the time. In the late 1660's and during the 1670's, anti-Catholicism in England was on the rise again due to the pro-French policies of Charles II's government, especially the government's foreign policy. These events in England must be seen against the backdrop of the successful Counter-Reformation in Europe in the seventeenth century and the rise of France as a new and aggressive Catholic superpower in the late 1660's under its king, Louis XIV.

Anti-Catholicism in England was mainly political in nature. It was the spectre of international Catholicism as personified by Louis XIV rather than fears of the indigenous Catholic population that worried the English people. In Europe during the seventeenth century, Protestantism had been reduced from 50% to 20% of the population through Catholic armed aggression. The English people feared the impressive display of French military strength in Europe in the late 1660's and during the 1670's was a disturbing continuation of this trend and indicated a definite plan to establish a French and Catholic hegemony in Europe. This led to English fears of a French invasion of their country with the resulting loss of their property, their laws, their parliamentary form of government and their religion. Besides these fears about France, the English also worried about the increasing prominence of Catholics in influential positions at the Stuart court and the simultaneous appearance of the pro-French policies of Charles II's government in the early 1670's. In the minds of the English people, French power, Catholicism, political absolutism and the persecution of Protestants were all seen to be interchangeable parts of the same threatening force in Europe in the 1670's.

It was the combination of the breaking of the popular Triple Alliance, the many rumours about the secret Treaty of Dover, the growing prominence of Catholics in influential positions at the Stuart court, the Declaration of Indulgence, the Anglo-French war against the Dutch, James' public declaration of his Catholicism, his unpopular marriage to the Catholic Mary of Modena and Louis' aggressive foreign policy in Europe that fuelled the rising intensity in anti-Catholicism in England in the late 1660's and during the 1670's. These events, plus the great distrust of the government's policy intentions that continued throughout the 1670's, led the English to believe there definitely was a plan to change the religion and form of government of England to that of France. These were the fears the English people were reacting to in 1678 rather than the specific story of Titus Oates. There was no Popish Plot in 1678, but the government's actions gave the people good reason to believe there was one. Charles II, with his pro-French sympathies, had failed to express the deep anxieties the English people felt about the Catholic threat in Europe in the 1670's. It was the English people's great fear of France combined with the pro-French policies of Charles II's government, especially its foreign policy, that led to the rise of anti-Catholicism in England in the 1670's and set the scene for the widespread belief in the Popish Plot in 1678.

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1. Tony Palmer, Charles II Portrait of an Age (London: Cassell 1979), p.205.

2. S. Bindoff, Tudor England (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books 1964), pp.93-95, 150, 165-67, 183-86, David Cressey, Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1989), pp.121-25 and John Miller, Popery and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1973), pp.78-80.

3. Conrad Russell, Parliaments and English Politics 1621-29 (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1979), pp.88-89 and Cressey, Bonfires, p.150.

4. This association between Catholicism and absolutism began in the 1620's and grew during the 1630's when there was a sharp rise in the power of Catholic absolutist monarchies and a corresponding decline in the power of legislative institutions in Europe. A good example can be seen in France where the king assumed absolute authority after the abolition of the powers of its legislative branch, the Estates General, in 1628.

5. Caroline Hibbard, Charles I and the Popish Plot (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press 1983) pp. 1-25, 227-238 and Robin Clifton, "Fear of Popery" in The Origin of the Civil War Ed. Conrad Russell (London: Macmillan 1973), pp.158-160.

6. Ian Thackeray, "Zion Undermined: the Protestant belief in a Popish Plot during the English Interregnum" in History Workshop No.18 (Autumn 1984), pp.33-35.

7. Ibid, p.35.

8. Ibid, pp.34-35,41.

9. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, September 25, 1666.

10. Kenyon, Popish, pp.11-15.

11. John Kenyon, The Popish Plot (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books 1972), pp.28-32 and Miller, Popery, pp.9-13.

12. Kenyon, Popish, p.5 and Miller, Popery, pp.52-56 and J. A. Williams, "English Catholicism under Charles II: The Legal Position" in Recusant History VII No. 3 (October 1963), pp.124-129.

13. Williams, "English Catholicism," p.125.

14. Caroline Hibbard, "Early Stuart Catholicism: Revisions and Re:Revisions" in Journal of Modern History 52 No. 1 (March, 1980), pp.3 -4, 19-20 and Kenyon, Popish, p.6.

15. Kenyon, Popish, pp.6-8, Miller, Popery, pp.85-89 and Clifton, "Fear of Popery", pp.164-65.

16. Kenyon, Popish, pp.30-35 and Miller, Popery, pp.14-15.

17. J.F. Bosher, "The Franco-Catholic Danger, 1660- 1715" in History Volume 79 no. 255 (February, 1994), pp.6-8.

18. Bosher, "Franco-Catholic," pp.8, 11-13, 15, 19, 21, 24.

19. K.D. Haley, "No Popery" in the Reign of Charles II" in Britain and the Netherlands ed. J.S. Bromley and E.H. Kossman (The Hague: Martinus Nyhoff 1975) Volume 5, pp.107-08. An interesting point is that in Holland, 35-40% of its population was Catholic. However, it did not have the same anti-Catholic tradition as England did because the Protestantism of its leaders was never questioned.

20. Ibid.

21. Haley, "No Popery," pp.108-110.

22. Henrietta came to England in May, 1670, as part of the ceremonies for the signing of the secret Treaty of Dover. This English alliance with France was to become very unpopular with the English public in the 1670's. This will be discussed later in the paper.

23. John Evelyn, The Diary of John Evelyn Ed. William Bray (London: J.M. Dent and Sons 1920), March 1, 1671. John Evelyn was a Restoration writer, who was a court supporter and a friend of Charles II. He knew most of the influential people of his time.

24. Ibid, November 4, 1670.

25. Haley, "No Popery," pp.110-111.

26. Evelyn, Diary, March 12, 1672.

27. Haley, "No Popery," pp.110-111.

28. Evelyn, Diary, March 12, 1672.

29. Haley, "No Popery", p.110.

30. Miller, Popery, p.105.

31. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, June 14, 1667.

32. Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys editors, Robert Latham and William Matthews (Berkley: University of California Press 1974) June 14, 1667. Samuel Pepys is well known today for the diaries he kept from 1660-69 when unfortunately he stopped because of bad eyesight. His diary is full of interesting insights into Restoration life. In his career, he was a naval administrator, one the first of a breed of efficient bureaucrats that were emerging at this time. Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1993) Volume XV, pp.806-7.

33. Pepys, Diary, March 26, 1668.

34. Tim Harris, "The Bawdy House Riots of 1668" in The Historical Journal 29(3) (1986), pp.538-41, 546-48.

35. Harris, "Bawdy House," p.541.

36. Ibid, p.541.

37. Cressey, Bonfires, pp. 189-190.

38. The Burning of the Whore of Babylon as it was acted with great applause in Poultrey, London on Wednesday night (being the fifth of November last) at six of the clock. London, 1673.

39. Ibid, p.3.

40. Ibid, p.3.

41. Ibid, pp.3-4.

42. Cressey, Bonfires, pp.130-140.

43. Furley, "Pope-Burnings," p.17.

44. Steven Pincus, "Coffee Politicians Does Create": Coffeehouses and Restoration Political Culture" in Journal of Modern History 67 (4) (December, 1995), pp.808, 811-14, and John Miller, "Public Opinion in Charles II's England" in History Volume 80 no. 260 (October, 1995), pp.360-62.

45. Pincus, "Coffee," p.809. For a general discussion of coffeehouses, see pp.808-09, 819, 821-22 and Miller, Public Opinion, pp.364-67. The government had tried unsuccessfully to suppress the coffeehouses at the end of 1675 because of the people's criticism of government policy.

46. Pincus, p. 820.

47. Letters addressed from London to Joseph Williamson Ed. W.D. Christie (London Camden Society 1874) Volume II, November 10, 1673. Joseph Williamson was a secretary of State in the early 1670's. One of his responsibilities was collecting intelligence for the government.

48. Pincus, "Coffee", p.828.

49. Ibid, pp.821-22, 828.

50. Miller, Popery, pp.72-75 and Robin Clifton, "The Popular Fear of Catholics in England 1640-60" in Rebellion, Popular Protest and Social Change in Early Modern Europe ed. Paul Slack (Past and Present Publications, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1984 ), pp.149-50 and Michael G. Finalyson, Historians, Puritanism and the English Revolution: the Religious Factor in English Politics before and after the Interregnum (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983) pp.124-25.

51. Ogg, England, p.541.

52. Miller, Popery, pp.148-52 and Ogg, England, pp.371-72.

53. Cressey, Bonfires, pp.175-77 and Miller, Politics pp. 133, 152.

54. Mark Knights, Politics and Opinion in Crises 1678-1681. (Cambridge: Cambridge University 1994), p.166.

55. Ibid, p.166.

56. Miller, Politics, p.131.

57. Tim Harris, London Crowds in the reign of Charles II. ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987), p. 99.

58. Miller, Politics, p. 133.

59. Cressey, Bonfires, pp. 175-77.

60. For a discussion of the Triple Alliance, see David Ogg, England in the Reign of Charles II Second Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1984), pp.332-34 and J.R. Jones, Charles II Royal Politician (London: Allen and Unwin 1987), pp.86-87.

61. From her letters, Henrietta seemed to have been an intelligent woman with a good understanding of the politics of her time. She believed her brother was sincere in his desire to become a Catholic and thought the Treaty of Dover was in England's best interests. Charles had a high opinion of Henrietta. Unfortunately, she died shortly after her return to France in June, 1670. Cyril Hartman, Charles and Madame (London: Heinemann 1934), pp.339-40.

62. For a discussion of the Treaty of Dover, see John Miller, Charles II (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1991), pp.142-44 and Ronald Hutton, Charles the Second (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1989), pp.271 -72, 363-64, Also, Ogg, England, p.344 and Hartmann, Charles, pp.233- 35.

63. Excerpt from the Treaty of Dover in Ogg, England, p.344.

64. The only reason the secret treaty is known is because Clifford, the Lord Treasurer in the early 1670's, took a copy with him on his retirement from office in June, 1673. It was found among his papers at his estate. Ronald Hutton, "The Making of the secret Treaty of Dover of 1668-70" in Historical Journal 29 (2) (1986), p.298.

65. Ogg, England, p.338.

66. Gilbert Burnet, History of My Own Times ed. Martin Joseph Routh (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagbuchhandlung 1969), Volume I, pp.501-02. Gilbert Burnet was an Anglican bishop who wrote a history of Restoration England and the later reigns of William III and Anne. He was a Whig supporter and favoured the exclusion of James from the throne.

67. Miller, Charles, pp.160-62 and Ogg, England, pp.347-350.

68. Miller, Charles, pp.161-63, 166, 177 and Robert M. Bliss Restoration England 1660-1688 (London, Meuthen 1985), p.30 and Ogg, England, p.347.

69. Montagu did not participate in the negotiations for the Treaty of Dover. Henrietta informed him of the treaty and the coming Dutch war on June 28, 1670, on her deathbed. Hartmann, Charles, p.319.

70. Von Beuningen was an influential politician in Amsterdam. He was the former Dutch ambassador to France in the late 1660's. He greatly feared the growing power of Louis XIV in Europe and was a strong supporter of the Triple Alliance. While in London in 1670, Von Beuingen noted public opinion was becoming increasingly anti-French. In 1674, he returned to London as the new Dutch ambassador. K.D. Haley, William of Orange and the English Opposition 1672- 74 (Westport: Greenwood Press 1975), pp.93-94, 207.

71. Charles recalled Temple to England in September, 1670. He was replaced by the anti-Dutch Downing who was sent deliberately to pick a fight with the Dutch as a pretext for the start of the third Dutch War in 1671. Temple, unlike Charles, was sincere in his belief in the Triple Alliance. As he did not agree with Charles' pro-French policies, he retired from politics to tend to his estate. William Temple Dictionary of National Biography Volume XIX, p.524.

72. In April, 1669, the Swedish ambassador to France warned Dewitt that French ministers were trying to persuade Sweden to drop out of the Triple Alliance and had told him the English would definitely do so. The Swedish ambassador also told Dewitt he had seen letters in which Colbert, the French ambassador to England, discussed the payment of money to the English government. In the fall of 1670, the Dutch charge d' affaires in Paris, who was well connected, was given a copy of the second Treaty of Dover by a high placed French official. He sent this to Dewitt, who then sent a letter to Von Beuningen in London asking him to investigate this matter. However, there is no evidence Dewitt know of the Catholic clause, except through unsubstantiated rumour. Herbert Rowen, John Dewitt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1986) pp.158-160, 165-168.

73. For a discussion of the rumours associated with the treaty, see Keith Fielding, British Foreign Policy 1660-1672 Second Edition (London: Frank Cass and Company 1968), pp.315-16, Miller, Charles, p.178 and Hartmann, Charles, p.318.

74. Pepys, Diary, April 28, 1669.

75. Hutton, Treaty, pp.310-313, and Barry Coward, The Stuart Age: A History of England 1603-1714 Second Edition (London, Longman 1994), pp.306-307 and Miller, Charles, pp.161-163.

76. For a discussion, see Ogg, England, pp.350-51 and Miller, Charles, pp.182-86.

77. For a discussion, see Ogg, England, pp.354-56 and Jones, Charles, pp.96-97 and Hutton, Charles, pp.284-85.

78. John Reresby, Memoirs of Sir John Reresby Ed. Andrew Browning (Glasgow: Jackson, Son and Company 1936), p.84. John Reresby was a M.P. from Yorkshire. He was a court supporter and a member of the future Tory Party. He voted against all the exclusion bills in Parliament. Basil Duke Henning, The History of Parliament. The House of Commons 1660-90 (London: House of Parliament Trust 1983) Volume III, pp.321-22.

79. For a discussion of the Dutch war, see Miller, Charles, pp.193-95 and Coward, Stuart Age, p.266 and Ogg, England, pp.362-64 and Hutton, Charles, p.289.

80. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, June 22, 1672.

81. For a discussion of the hostility to the French in England, see Steven Pincus, "From Butterboxes to Wooden Shoes: The Shift in English Popular Sentiment from anti-Dutch to anti-French in the 1670's" in The Historical Journal 38(2) (1995), pp.348- 49, 351 and J.R. Jones, Court and Country: England 1658-1714 (London: Edward Arnold 1978), p.178 and Miller, Charles, pp.191-93.

82. Calendar of State Papers Venetian, May 6, 1672.

83. Pincus, "Butterboxes," p.342.

84. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, June 5, 1672.

85. Pincus, "Butterboxes," p.345.

86. Reresby, Memoirs, p.85.

87. Excerpt from the Diary of Edward Dering, 1672 in John Miller, Restoration England: The Reign of Charles II (London: Longman 1985) Document 29, p.85. Edward Dering was a M.P. from Kent. He was a court supporter like Reresby. He voted against the first exclusion bill and in favour of the other two. Henning, History of Parliament, Volume II, pp.208- 10.

88. Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England ed. William Cobbett (London 1808) Volume IV February 14, 1673, p.532.

89. Coward, Stuart Age, p.316.

90. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, March 8, 1673.

91. Cobbett, Debates, February 28, 1673, p.556.

92. Miller, Charles, pp.200-3, Ogg, England, pp.366-68 and Haley, "No Popery," pp.110-11.

93. Pierre du Moulin was the person responsible for both the writing and the distribution of Dutch propaganda in England and also for the organization of a Dutch spy network in the country from 1672-74. He was a former client of Arlington, the Secretary of State, and collected political intelligence for him from 1664-69. While working at the English embassy in Paris in 1669, he had his suspicions that changes in English foreign policy were in the making. To prevent him finding out anything about the negotiations with Louis, he was recalled to London. This was the end of his diplomatic career. After the outbreak of war in 1672, he was discovered spying for the Dutch in London and managed to escape to Holland. By the summer of 1672, he had become William's private secretary. It is thought that Von Beuningen, whom Moulin had met when they both worked in Paris in the late 1660's, introduced him to William. Moulin's writing ability and his English intelligence network were of invaluable assistance to William. He himself boasted both were worth 40,000 men to the States General. Moulin died at The Hague from consumption in 1676. Haley, William, pp.14-20, 23-29, 52.

94. Miller, Charles, p.209 and Haley, William, pp.97-101, 108-111.

95. Haley, William, pp.63-64.

96. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, June 15, 1673.

97. Ogg, England, p.370, Miller, Politics, p.52, Hutton, Charles, p.301.

98. Evelyn, Diary, August 19, 1673.

99. Miller, Politics, p.58, Haley, William, p.61.

100. Miller, Charles, p.210.

101. Martell was the only French commander who engaged the Dutch in battle. He wrote an account of the Battle of Texel, defending his own actions and attacking the actions of the French commander, Estrees, which was suppressed by Louis. However, copies of the book were smuggled out of France into England. Martell was imprisoned in the Bastille for writing his account of the battle. Ogg, England, p.376.

102. Williamson, Letters, September 1, 1673.

103. Ogg, England, pp.378-79, Miller, Restoration England, p.62, Miller, Charles, p.210.

104. Williamson, Letters, November 5, 1673.

105. Calendar of State Papers Venetian, October 10, 1673.

106. Miller, Charles, p.212.

107. Anchitell Grey, Debates of the House of Commons from the year 1667 to the year 1694. (London, 1673) October 31, 1673, p.198.

108. Ibid, October 31, 1673, p.200.

109. Ibid, October 31, 1673, p.198.

110. Ibid, October 31, 1673, p.200.

111. Ibid, October 31, 1673, p.203.

112. Ibid, October 31, 1673, p.214. William Russell, William Coventry, Lord Cavendish, Henry Powle and Sir Thomas Meres were members of the country opposition party who opposed the pro-French political and religious policies of Charles II.

113. Ibid, October 31, 1673, pp.214- 15.

114. Miller, Charles, p.211.

115. Calendarof State Papers Venetian, November 28, 1673.

116. Calendar of State Papers Domestic, December 1, 1673.

117. Miller, Charles, p.215. Historians such as Miller, Ogg and Hutton have noted Charles stumbled in his speech when he said there were no secret religious clauses in the French treaty.

118. The letters, speeches and declarations of Charles II Ed. Sir Arthur Bryant (London: Cassell and Company 1968), p.274.

119. Miller, Charles, p.214.

120. Ibid, pp.212-214.

121. Ogg, England, p.387, Haley, William, p.166.

122. Miller, Charles, p.209.

123. Shaftesbury and Buckingham joined the Parliamentary opposition in the fall of 1673, Clifford resigned his position rather than take the Test Act, committing suicide in August 1673, Arlington took a non- political household job and Lauderdale returned to Scotland.

124. Hutton, Charles, pp.316-17, Miller, Charles, pp.174, 219.

125. Jones, Charles, pp.109-10, 124 and Coward, Stuart Age, pp.317-318 and Miller, Charles, pp.224-25, 266.

126. Reresby, Memoirs, p.123.

127. Coward, Stuart Age, p.324, Miller, Charles, p.253 and Ogg, England, p.526

128. Burnet, History, Volume II, p.124.

129. Coward, Stuart Age, p.324, Miller, Charles, p.269 and Ogg, England, p.546.

130. Reresby, Memoirs, p.125.

131. Ibid, p.149.

132. Jones, Charles, pp.126-29 and Ogg, England, pp.549-553.

133. Ogg, England, pp. 561-64 and Hutton, Charles, pp. 359-62.

134. Ibid, pp.561-64 and Ibid, pp.359-62.

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