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English and Catholic

, 336 pages

3 halftones

August 2004



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English and Catholic

The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to be English and Catholic was to face persecution, financial penalties, and sometimes death. Yet some English Catholics prospered, reconciling their faith and loyalty to their country. Among the most prominent was George Calvert, a talented and ambitious man who successfully navigated the politics of court and became secretary of state under King James I. A conforming Protestant from the age of twelve, Calvert converted back to Catholicism when a political crisis forced him to resign his position in 1625. The king rewarded Calvert by naming him Baron of Baltimore in Ireland. Insulated by wealth, with the support of powerful friends, and no longer occupied with court business, Baltimore sought to exploit his land grants in Ireland and Newfoundland. Seeking to increase his own fortune and status while enlarging the king's dominions, he embarked on a series of colonial enterprises that eventually led to Maryland.

The experiences of Calvert and his heirs foster our understanding of politics and faith in Jacobean England. They also point to one of the earliest codifications of religious liberty in America, for in founding Maryland, Calvert and his son Cecil envisioned a prosperous society based on freedom of conscience. In English and Catholic, John D. Krugler traces the development of the "Maryland Designe," the novel solution the Calverts devised to resolve the conflict of loyalty they faced as English Catholics. In doing so, Krugler places the founding and early history of Maryland in the context of pervasive anxieties in England over identity, allegiance, and conscience.

Explaining the evolution of the Calvert vision, Krugler ties together three main aspects of George Calvert's career: his nationalism and enthusiasm for English imperialism; his aim to find fortune and fame; and his deepening sense of himself as a Catholic. Skillfully told here, the story of the Calverts' bold experiment in advancing freedom of conscience is also the story of the roots of American liberty.

John D. Krugler is an associate professor of history at Marquette University.

"A well-written contribution to the history of the Calverts and the founding of Maryland."

"A fine addition to the field... will be useful not only to students of early Maryland but those interested in court politics, English Catholicism, and the development of religious toleration."

"This meticulously researched and well-crafted work will stand as the definitive study on the Lords Baltimore."

"Krugler's scholarship goes far to correct sectarian assessments of Catholic proprietorships in colonial Newfoundland and Maryland... A well-told tale of Catholic English court politics, impressively researched and cogently argued."

"Anyone interested in the early history of Maryland should make certain to read Krugler's detailed examination of the first three Lords Baltimore and their radical experiment."

"As Krugler reflects the complexity of history and weighs the magnitude of the Calverts' brief triumph, he sets some records straight."

"The whole narrative is adroitly woven around a central theme of opposing polarities of religion and politics, state and church, conformity and dissent."

"This book has many virtues, not least as an account of the establishment of the only Catholic colony in colonial America, and the attempt to create a religiously pluralist society in an intolerant world."

"This valuable book is a study of the first three Lords Baltimore and their role as proprietors of Maryland, the only successful overseas colony developed by English Catholics during the seventeenth century... A highly readable and engrossing story, and Krugler has vividly reconstructed and narrated it... An impressive achievement that sheds much light on the history of both colonial America and seventeenth-century England."

"This book nuances our understanding of the ways in which religious affiliation might affect elite families. It also complicates our understanding of early colonial politics and organization."

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