The politics of art and religion : Absolutism and Catholic iconography in early Stuart England 1603-1649

The politics of art and religion : Absolutism and Catholic iconography in early Stuart England 1603-1649

Morse, Michael Eugene

Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Florida, May (2009)


Early Stuart England (1603-1649) was dramatically transformed by the first two Stuart monarchs, James I and Charles I. Less appreciated, the art and architecture of the early Stuarts, and the politics of the Absolute state, were strongly influenced by Catholic thought and Catholic iconography. The present study reevaluates the impact of Catholicism in church polity and material culture under the influence of the early Stuarts. Marking a clear departure from the art and display of the Elizabethan
age, the Stuarts, I argue, introduced a “Culture of Image” that helped define the relationship between Catholicism and the English Absolute state. Both Stuart kings aimed self-consciously to use Catholic iconography to solidify and extend their Absolutist Claims. Evidence for Catholic influence is found in their patterns of collection and commission, which show important deviations from earlier Protestant monarchs, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. The influence of Catholic iconography on English political culture has been largely overlooked. The surprisingly short list of scholarly publications on the topic contrasts sharply with an otherwise rich and nuanced Stuart historiography.

Click here to read this thesis from The University of Florida

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