Aspects of the history of the Catholic gentry of Yorkshire from the Pilgrimage of Grace to the First Civil War
This study looks at the responses of the Yorkshire Catholic gentry to the immense changes to their religious landscape in the early modem period, between 1536 and 1642. It examines how they continued to adhere to the Catholic religion, despite all attempts first to induce and then compel conformity and highlights the ways in which they managed to survive and prosper throughout the period, demonstrating that previously neglected groups such as women and younger sons had a crucial role to play in this process. The overwhelming theme to their actions was one of pragmatism, rather than the heroic and self-destructive behaviour that was much admired by earlier historians who wanted to identify martyrs to the Catholic cause. The areas that are to be examined reflect both public and private gentry activities. In the public sphere the Yorkshire gentry's part in the rebellions of the Tudor and Stuart eras are studied along with their rejection of plots. The importance of marriage as an early modem tool for building alliances and social advancement is acknowledged and the impact that a continuing adherence to Catholicism had on this is considered. The gentry and the church are examined through a study of the Catholic gentry's involvement with their local parishes, their reaction to the dissolution and their continuing adherence to monasticism, as shown through their devotion to English orders on the continent. To reflect the changes that were occurring in this period Catholic involvement in education, the law and medicine are also explored showing that the Catholic community was not isolated from the wider society. Lastly the role of Catholic women is given specific consideration in order both to redress the imbalance in previous studies and due to the crucial role that women played in the continuation of the Catholic community within Yorkshire.