Militant Catholicism, inter confessional relations, and the Rookwood family of Stanningfield, Suffolk, c. 1689-1737

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Explanations of local interconfessional relations in post-revolutionary England tend to highlight the role of Catholic quiescence and compromise in allowing Protestants and Catholics to ‘get along’. By examining the interactions of a Catholic family who were far from quiescent in their religious and political practice, this article suggests that these explanations may overemphasize the compromise of religious minorities, obscuring the importance of the wider local context to the shape of interconfessional relations. The subjects of this study, the Rookwoods of Stanningfield, Suffolk, were active in expression of Catholic religion and its political implications. Contrary to patterns suggested elsewhere, the social and economic interactions of this family with their neighbours illustrate that such ardent Catholicism was not enough to prevent cordial relations with local Protestants. The social and economic importance of the Rookwoods within their community is used to make suggestions as to why they were accepted on the local level against a backdrop of wider anti-Catholic polemic. The example of the Rookwoods implies a need to explore the broader factors which shaped the underlying balance of power on a local level before it is possible to understand the nature of compromises that allowed for peaceful co-existence.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Historical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date2 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017