Martyrological Themes and the Revival of Catholic Identity in Robert Persons' De Persecutione Anglicana

Dircksen, Marianne
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Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
This article supplements a previous article, ‘Towards a Critical Edition and Modern Translation of Robert Persons’ De Persecutione Anglicana’ (published in vol. 28 of the journal) with a discussion of the significance of its treatment of martyrdom. Another major role player in publicizing the persecution of Catholics in England, Richard Verstegan, is introduced. He was the originator of a series of illustrations included in one of the early editions of Persons’ text, namely the one printed in Rome by Georgio Ferrari in 1582. The premise of my analysis of the text and the engraved plates is that their value is not limited to the (inside) information it provides about the fate of Catholic priests in England during the sixteenth century, but the particular features of the presentation of martyrdom. The aim is to identify these typical martyrological tropes that had originated during the earliest years of Christian persecution and to highlight the specific emphasis placed on Catholic practices and symbolism in the selected passages from the text as well as in the Verstegan illustrations. A close reading of the texts will reveal and unravel the clues that encourage a predetermined interpretation of the text.
Robert Persons , martyrology , persecution , recusancy
Marianne Dircksen, 'Martyrological Themes and the Revival of Catholic Identity in Robert Persons' De Persecutione Anglicana', Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 29 (2019): 98-114