The Antichrist's Lewd Hat

Protestants, Papists and Players in Post-Reformation England

Peter Lake; With Michael Questier

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Short, cheap pamphlets with catchy titles and crude woodcuts lured readers in early modern England. The pamphlets described notorious murders and the sometimes providential means by which the culprit was captured and condemned to the scaffold. In this extraordinary book, Peter Lake examines how various groups—protestant, puritan, and catholic, the press, and the popular stage—sought to enlist these pamphlets for their own ideological and commercial purposes in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

The book explores print shops, book stalls, and theaters, then proceeds to the pulpits, prisons, and public executions of post-reformation England, tracing the impact of the popular pamphlets and their gory tales. The pamphlets were deployed to attract paying audiences to theaters and customers for book sellers. At the same time they were exploited by clerics seeking to attract the same broad congregation. While the godly attacked the depravity of the pamphleteers and the theaters, the popular press and stage retaliated with anti-puritan stereotypes and stories.

This is a major work of religious, social, and cultural history—a book that redraws the intellectual map of early modern England. Lake goes beyond the exploration of popular literature and the way it was used to offer wider insights into contemporary notions of politics, religion, gender, and social order, and into the tensions of the time.

Peter Lake is professor of history at Princeton University. Michael Questier was senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford.

“This ambitious, thoroughly researched [book] . . . represents a fine contribution to our ongoing understanding of the complexities of early modern religious culture. . . . This rich and provocative book will give much impetus to further thought and research in a field that continues to provoke controversy and scholarship in equal measure.”—Adrian Streete, Anglican and Episcopal History

“This book will enhance our appreciation of the interactions between a variety of levels of religious and political culture, and has much to offer readers interested in the religious, cultural, and intellectual history of post-Reformation England.”—Charles W. A. Prior, H-Net Reviews

"For graduate students and researchers, it is a creative, multilayered, ambitious contribution to the cultural history of early modern England."—Choice

"This sprawling, ambitious work is lots of fun! Focusing as it does on popular literature and especially pamphlets distributed in the streets, the work evokes a rich sense of life in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries. . . . History crackles and burns in these pages."—Virginia Quarterly Review

“Simultaneously engagingly written and combative, lucid and sophisticated, this large and richly dialectical study offers a model and methods of reading. . . . Lake and Questier—illuminate the way representational strategies allow us to trace early modern culture’s fissures and show us the stakes in interpreting the ‘reformations’.”—S.J. Wiseman, American Historical Review

“An immense investigation of the evidence which popular murder pamphlets and related popular plays and sermons provide concerning Anglican, Puritan, and Catholic views of politics, religion, and society. This study is convincing and likely to change our views of life and literature in post-Reformation England.”—Douglas J. McMillan, Religion and the Arts

“A magisterial study that brings religious, social, and cultural histories to life through a fascinating, exhaustively detailed narrative that traces the travels of sensationalist murder pamphlets through print shops, bookstalls, theaters, pulpits, prisons, and public executions.”—Barbara Hodgdon, Studies in English Literature

“The book is brilliant. Rich in penetrating insights, it addresses a series of complex intellectual problems in highly sophisticated ways, challenging us to reconceptualize the way we approach a whole range of issues concerning the relationship between popular print and the forging of popular religious outlooks in the relationship between popular print and the forging of popular religious outlooks in the contested era of post-Reformation England. . . . A truly inspiring work that is set to have a huge impact not just on the field of Reformation studies but also on the way we think about a whole range of issues of historical interpretation.”—Tim Harris, Journal of Modern History

"Peter Lake is to be commended for highlighting analogous forms in the vast repertoire of murder-pamphlets, Catholic martyrologies, tragedies, and comedies."—Ann M. O'Donnell, Catholic Historical Review
ISBN: 9780300088847
Publication Date: February 8, 2002
768 pages, 6 x 9 1/2
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