chapter  2
16 Pages

Elite Religion

Persecution is a victim's word. None of the magistrates, parochial officials and good citizens who were described as 'persecutors' in the marginalia of John Foxe's great work would have acknowledged such a description of themselves. In a sense the persecution was very 'top-down', driven first by Gardiner and the Queen and latterly by Reginald Pole. In other words the persecution was counter-productive in terms of the Church's declared policy of Catholic reconversion. Recent research has not only cast doubt on that interpretation, but has presented the alternative scenario of a Church winning its battle for hearts and minds against an increasingly beleaguered and diminishing minority, and frustrated merely by the deaths of its two protagonists in November 1558. It is probably safest to conclude that the government's earnestness in pursuing a policy of persecution was accepted by most people as a part of its job.