The good Pope : British reactions to the Papacy of Pius IX, 1846-52
From the time of the Reformation in England Anglo-vatican relations have typically been seen as a long history of unending antagonism. It is not common knowledge that in the period between 1846 and 1851 there was a notable, if temporary, lull in this animosity and even talk of establishing full diplomatic relations. This thesis aims to account for this thaw in tensions and to analyse the British response to the early 'liberal' years of Pope Pius IX, not only looking at government policy but also the attitude of the British public towards the new Pope. In addition, this study sets out not only to look at individual issues, such as the Risorgimento, the history of the Roman Catholic Church in England and the Irish question, but seeks to explain the interplay between them in order to come to a fuller understanding of British policy. This thesis reveals that British policy was based on the need to achieve a number of goals, such as a peaceful solution to the political crisis in the Italian peninsula and the curbing of the Irish agitation, and that it was held that an enlightened Pope could help in the fulfilment of these aims. The effort to improve relations in the end failed as it was undermined by an overoptimistic assessment of the Pope's liberalism and failure of the British government to appreciate the depth of anti-Catholic opinion among the British public and their representatives in Parliament. The result was that this short thaw in relations came to an abrupt end.