Louisiana Tech history professor Jeffery R. Hankins took a new look at religion and politics in Reformation England in his article, which was published recently.
“Papists, Power, and Puritans: Catholic Officeholding and the Rise of the ‘Puritan Faction’ in Early-Seventeenth-Century Essex,” Hankins’s article, appears in the current issue of the Catholic Historical Review.
Although the Roman Catholic church was essentially outlawed in England following the Reformation of the 16th century, Hankins’s research revealed a pattern of continued Catholic participation in public life.
Based on data gathered for the county of Essex, Hankins argued that “prominent Catholic families continued to work visibly in their communities and to serve as powerful county magistrates and regional commissioners well into the 1630s.”
This finding itself was unexpected, Hankins said.
“What makes it even more unusual is that known Catholics appear in the records serving alongside leading English Puritans,” he said.
Hankins suggested that as long as Catholic officeholders did their part to maintain order and stability in local affairs, their Protestant neighbors were inclined to tolerate their presence.
“In fact, Catholic cooperation may well have assisted the Puritan families to consolidate their power in Reformation Essex,” Hankins said.
A member of the Louisiana Tech faculty since 2004, Hankins holds his BA degree from the University of Texas, his master’s degree from Texas State University, and his doctorate from Louisiana State University. A specialist in British history, early modern European history and early American history, he has authored numerous specialized articles and conference papers.
Hankins currently serves as assistant professor of history and as vice-president of the University Senate at Tech.