Caroline Casuistry

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How did English Catholics come to terms with living in an alien state? Could they, for example, practise equivocation to avoid arrest, possible imprisonment and execution? Could they use force against their captors? What contact could they maintain with Protestants in order to survive and carry on a normal life? In such a context it is not surprising that a training in casuistry, the science of resolving difficult cases of conscience, was an important aspect of the education of English Catholic missionary priests. A number of the manuals used in that training have survived, largely in manuscript versions only. This volume, a companion to Dr Holmes' selection from Elizabethan materials (Elizabethan Casuistry, 1981), contains discussions and debates dating from the reign of Charles I. Their author was Thomas Southwell, a professor at the English Jesuit College in Liege, a respected scholar and teacher. He focuses on the problems facing Catholic priests and laymen under persecution in England, discussing, for example, attitudes to the Oath of Allegiance, the Roman Index of Prohibited Books and the Church's laws on fasting. In addition, there are cases here about witchcraft, astrology, duelling, usury, monopolies and bills of exchange. An important section contains over sixty cases dealing with betrothal and marriage, both from the point of view of English Catholics and in more general terms. The documents are accompanied by a full critical introduction, setting them in context, and elucidatory notes. Peter Holmes holds a doctorate in History from the University of Cambridge, where his research focused on the political thought of the Elizabethan Catholics

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