Catholicism, Identity and Politics in the Age of Enlightenment

September 2016
4 black and white, 3 line illustrations
284 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Modern British Religious History
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037050

Catholicism, Identity and Politics in the Age of Enlightenment

The Life and Career of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, 1745-1810

Alexander Lock

Explores the changing aspirations, attitudes and identities of English Catholics in the late eighteenth century
This book explores the changing aspirations, attitudes and identities of English Catholics in the late eighteenth century, a period which marked a critical moment of transition in their spiritual, political and intellectual culture. It is based on the experiences of the English Catholic baronet, Grand Tourist and politician Sir Thomas Gascoigne (1745-1810). Gascoigne was born on the Continent into a devout Catholic family based in Yorkshire; however, following an unusual Continental upbringing and extensive series of Grand Tours to the courts of Catholic Europe, he would abjure his faith for a seat in Parliament. Throughout his life, he was an important advocate of agricultural reform, a considerable coal owner interested in mining engineering, as well as a keen developer of spa culture. By examining the experiences of Gascoigne and his milieu, this book explores English Catholic attitudes towards continental Catholicism, the influence of the European Enlightenment upon their education and outlook, and how this affected their Christianity, their estates and their conception of national identity. It demonstrates how increased toleration entailed a gradual rejection amongst English Catholics of a pious separatism for a more ecumenical and, ultimately, Enlightened approach to religion. Although this risked the loss of English Catholics to Anglicanism, many - like Gascoigne - remained crypto-Catholic in sympathy. They adapted their faith to the Enlightenment and regarded it as a matter of personal conviction and private choice.

ALEXANDER LOCK is Curator of Modern Historical Manuscripts at the British Library.

Table of Contents

'The Qualifications as Adorn a Gentleman and a Christian': Family, Education and Upbringing
The Grand Tourism of an English Catholic
Apostasy and Politics
Estate Management and Agricultural Innovation
Entrepreneurship and the Exploitation of Mineral Resources
Appendix: Pedigree of the Gascoigne Family


Lucidly elucidates the tensions and complexities of English Catholic life during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS HISTORY, LITERATURE AND CULTURE

A welcome and worthy addition to the expanding corpus of scholarly works which examines English Catholics within their true international context. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

[An] impressive study. PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY

Lock makes interesting contributions in this work to two important areas of recent historiography-the construction and manifestation of English Catholicism at a time during which the penal laws were still in place and of a distinct English national identity. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

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