A Scottish anti-Catholic satire crossing the border: ‘Ane bull of our haly fader the paip, quhairby it is leesum to everie man to haif tua wyffis’ and the Redeswyre Raid of 1575

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Abstract

The significance of political commentary and satire in Scotland in the aftermath of Mary, Queen of Scots’s deposition and during the minority of James VI is gradually receiving scholarly recognition. Many examples survive in the English state papers, but few survive in Scottish archives and even fewer date from after the end of the Marian Civil wars (May 1573). This article considers a hitherto unknown piece of anti-Catholic satire. Taking the form of a fake papal Bull, the piece opens by bemoaning the woeful state of Catholicism in the face of Protestant incursion, and provides a solution in the form of a dispensation allowing Catholic men to take two wives. On the first reading, this constitutes an amusing critique of the sexual morality of Catholics. However, a reference to the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre reminds readers that the Catholic threat from the continent remained palpable. The accompanying cover note allows the Bull to be dated to circa August 1575, a point when Anglo-Scottish tension was high following the Raid of Redeswyre. Circulated amongst pro-English Scots, including former spies, negotiating with England following the Raid, this satire not only commented upon, but potentially also tried to direct, contemporary politics, at a critical juncture for Anglo-Scottish Protestant solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1346-1370
JournalEnglish Historical Review
Volume129
Issue number541
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

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