Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Voices for Tolerance

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Catholics in England

The Experience of a Religious Minority

The experience of Catholics in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) provides an interesting example of the difficulties religious minorities faced in the period. Though Protestants were viciously persecuted by the Catholic Queen Mary, the beginning of Elizabeth's reign in 1558 ushered in a period of relative tranquility. The excommunication of Elizabeth in 1570 by Pope Pius V , internal Catholic plotting, and international tension with Catholic Spain, however, changed all of this. Seen as security threats and potential enemy agents, Catholics, and especially continental-educated priests, were increasingly persecuted by the authorities as traitors and enemies of the state.


The Jesuit and Catholic martyr Edmund Campion (1540-1581) was the best known of the victims of Elizabeth's persecution of Catholics. Returning to England from the Continent in 1580, Campion was eventually captured, tortured, and executed.


This contemporary manuscript is a copy of the interrogation on 22 June 1587 of the Jesuit and friend of Campion, William Weston. The gallows symbol indicated that he was scheduled for execution. Weston avoided this fate, dying in Spain in 1616.

The Examination of Jesuits and Seminary priests. Manuscript, 1587. (Detail).

Anthony Munday. A discoverie of Edmund Campion, and his confederates. London, 1582.

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623