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Non-Fiction 942.055 HOG 1 Available

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

A thrilling account of treachery, loyalty and martyrdom in Elizabethan England from an exceptional new writer.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

8 11 37 89 96

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

God's Secret Agents Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot Chapter One ' ... as the waves of the sea, without stay, do one rise and overtake another, so the Pope and his ... ministers be never at rest, but as fast as one enterprise faileth they take another in hand... hoping at last to prevail.' Sir Walter Mildmay MP, October 1586 Armada Year, 1558, swept in on a flood tide of historical prophecies and dire predictions. For the numerologists, who divided the Christian calendar into vast, looping cycles of time, constructed in multiples of seven and ten and based on the Revelation of St John and the bloodier parts of the Book of Isaiah, the year offered nothing less than the opening of the Seventh Seal, the overthrow of Antichrist and the sounding of the trumpets for the Last Judgement. For the fifteenth century mathematician Regiomontanus, although he had not been quite so specific about the year's unfolding, still the promise of a solar eclipse in February, and not one but two lunar eclipses in March and August had not, he had thought, augured well. Regiomontanus had recorded his findings in Latin verse, concluding: 'If, this year, total catastrophe does not befall, if land and sea do not collapse in total ruin, yet will the whole world suffer in upheavals, empires will dwindle and from everywhere will be great lamentation.' As the year began, in Prague the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, himself a keen astrologer, scanned the heavens for signs that his was not the empire to which Regiomontanus referred. He could discover little more than that the weather that year would be unseasonably bad. The printers of Amsterdam rang in the year with a special edition of their annual almanac, detailing in lurid prose the coming disasters: tempests and floods, midsummer snowstorms, darkness at midday, rain clouds of blood, monstrous births, and strange convulsions of the earth. On a more positive note, they suggested that things would calm down a bit after August and that late autumn might even be lucky for some, but this was not a January horoscope many read with pleasure. In Spain and Portugal the sailors assembling along the western seaboard talked of little else, no matter that their King, His Most Catholic Majesty Philip II of Spain, regarded all attempts to divine the future as impious. In Lisbon a fortune-teller was arrested for 'making false and discouraging predictions', but the arrest came too late: the year had already begun with a flurry of naval desertions. In the Basque ports Philip's recruiting drive slowed and halted 'because of many strange and frightening portents that are rumoured'. In Rome it was brought to the attention of Pope Sixtus V that a recent earth tremor in England had just disgorged an ancient marble slab, concealed for centuries beneath the crypt of Glastonbury Abbey, on which were written in letters of fire the opening words of Regiomontanus' prediction. It was felt by the papal agent who delivered this report that the mathematician could not, therefore, be the original author of the verses and that the prophecy could stem from one source only: from the magician Merlin. It was the first hint that God might be on the side of the English. But in England no one mentioned Merlin's intervention in international affairs and the English almanacs that year were strangely muted affairs, proffering the general observation that 'Here and in the quarters following might be noted ... many strange events to happen which purposely are omitted in good consideration.' With their fellow printers in Amsterdam working round the clock to meet the public's demand for gruesome predictions it seems odd the English press were grown so coy, particularly when the editor of Holinshed's Chronicles had written the year before that Regiomontanus' prophecy was 'rife in every man's mouth'. But it was not in the Government's interest that England should be flooded with stories of death and destruction, for it was all too likely that any day now it would be visited by the real thing. For some four years now England and Spain had been at war: an undeclared phoney war, fought at third hand, on the battlefields of the Low Countries and up and down the Spanish Main, by mercenaries and privateers, most notably the 'merry, careful' Francis Drake. Drake's raid on the port of Cadiz in April 1587 had cost Spain some thirty ships and had bought England a twelvemonth reprieve. But all this did was to postpone the inevitable until the fateful year 1588, because the Spanish were coming, with the mightiest fleet that had ever been amassed. Sixty-five galleons like floating castles, many-oared galleys, cargo-carrying urcas, nimble pataches and zabras, all these had been assembling in the west-coast ports of the Iberian peninsula since 1586. Together they could hold some thirty thousand men, numerous cavalry horses and pack animals and all the many carefully counted barrels of food and water needed to sustain a force of such size ... God's Secret Agents Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot . Copyright © by Alice Hogge. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot by Alice Hogge All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

As historian Hogge points out in this sometimes dry and sometimes lively popular religious history, the impulse to return Catholicism to England in the latter part of the 16th century arose with the establishment of the Anglican Church. In the early days of her reign, Elizabeth instituted strict laws regarding church attendance and religious practice with punishments that included fines and death. By the time that James I ascended to the throne, persecution of Catholics had risen to such a pitch that a group of Catholic conspirators, including most famously Guy Fawkes, hatched a plot to blow up Parliament. Hogge provides a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of the priests-such as Edmund Campion, John Gerard and Henry Garnet-who made martyrs of themselves in their efforts to reinstate Catholicism in England. Hogge deftly narrates the seething world of religious conflict in late 16th- and early 17th-century England, as well as the intra-Catholic conflicts that arose in the face of persecutions by the throne. Anyone interested in vibrant details of the Gunpowder Plot will have to look elsewhere, since the event plays a small role in Hogge's book, but for a detailed sketch of the religious conflict that led to the plot, Hogge's book provides a starting point. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

England was spared the massive bloodletting of the religious wars that shredded the Continent after the Protestant Reformation, yet the intensity of the religious hostility engendered by the revolution of Henry VIII cannot be minimized. That hostility is best symbolized by the fabled Gunpowder Plot, in which Roman Catholics, purportedly led by Guy Fawkes, conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The precise details of the plot were always murky, but the effects were clear; Catholicism in England was viewed as a form of treason, suggesting allegiance to foreign powers (Spain and the papacy). Hogge, who is descended from a family of devout Catholics, has written a tense, taut, real-life political thriller that examines the plot and the motivations of the plotters and those who thwarted them. She effectively re-creates a world of religious fanaticism in which seemingly trivial theological disputes are matters of life and death. Hogge combines first-rate analytical skills and a flair for conveying irony and high drama to present an excellent examination of this famous episode in English history. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2005 Booklist