Polemic as Piety: Thomas Stapleton's Tres Thomae and Catholic Controversy in the 1580s

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This article examines the triple biography of Thomas the Apostle, Thomas Becket and Thomas More, published by Thomas Stapleton in 1588 and generally regarded as a work of pious hagiography. By focusing on the circumstances in which the book was written and published, the article demonstrates its polemical significance at a time of rapid political change in Catholic/Protestant relations in both England and Europe. Conceived a a Catholic alternative to the history of the Christian past produced by Foxe, Stapleton's book also addressed contested issues within Catholicism: how to deal with the Elizabethan regime, and the status to be accorded to recent martyrs. In answering these questions, Stapleton's views reflect the complexity of Catholic thought at this time, and its fluidity in response to the shifting political circumstances of the late 1580s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-94
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Ecclesiastical History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

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