John Donne: Pseudo-Martyr

(2351 words)
  • David Reid (University of Stirling)

In reaction to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the government of James I drew up an Oath of Allegiance that might be required of anyone, lay or clerical, suspected of recusancy. It required an abjuration of the Pope’s claim to a right to depose James and declared “as impious, and Hereticall this damnable doctrine and position that princes that be excommunicated or deprived by the Pope may be deposed or murdered by their subjects”. Most English Catholics detested the Gunpowder Plot and wished only to be allowed to practise their faith and live as good subjects. The English Archpriest, George Blackwell, gave a lead to them in taking the Oath himself. But Paul V, backed by the Jesuits, forced the issue, and in a Breve of 1606 and a…

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Reid, David. "Pseudo-Martyr". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 April 2004
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]