Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Scholars and Scholarship, 1600–60 > Roman Catholic scholarship
  Influence of French and Dutch scholars Baronius’s Annales  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XIII. Scholars and Scholarship, 1600–60.

§ 4. Roman Catholic scholarship.

The influence of Roman Catholic scholarship perhaps constituted the most potent stimulus to the prodigious efforts of protestant erudition in this period. In the latter half of the sixteenth century, Jesuits had regained France and southern Germany for Rome, and protestants were in peril of their lives. Jesuits had taken the lead in polite letters and had trained themselves in classical style. Yet the whole course of their studies, “however deeply grounded in erudition or embellished by eloquence, had one perpetual aim—the propagation of the Catholic faith.” Jesuit colleges were the admiration of every scholar. Three years’ work was devoted to philosophy, and four years’ drill was given in theology. Thus were trained the combatants who gained back France and part of Germany to Rome, and bid fair, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, to extirpate protestantism everywhere. Towering above the army of disputants thus produced, cardinal Bellarmine swept the field in controversial theology. In these controversies, England was not unrepresented, but English writers found it increasingly necessary to equip themselves further in specialistic learning and dialectical skill in order to meet their opponents. The war was carried on in England by William Whitaker, the great Calvinistic scholarly churchman of queen Elizabeth’s reign, and, in the same reign, and in that of James I, by Matthew Sutcliffe, afterwards dean of Exeter; by John Rainolds, king James I, Lancelot Andrewes and Francis Mason. On the Catholic side, one of the most distinguished English disputants was William Rainolds, brother of John Rainolds.   7
  Inconsiderable in point of learning as some of these theological disputations may be, the controversies largely determined the line of direction of scholarly effort. It is significant that, in 1610, James I incorporated a college to be called by his name at Chelsea. Matthew Sutcliffe gave considerable funds to the project, and was appointed provost. Its occupants were to be “men of war,” reserved for polemical studies. Besides the study of divinity, two historians were to be maintained, “to record and publish to posterity all memorable passages in Church and Commonwealth.” The college, ultimately, was seized by parliament during the interregnum. Samuel Hartlib, in 1655, in a letter to John Worthington, master of Jesus college, Cambridge, laments its confiscation. “Bishops and Deans are gone,” he says. It would be a scandal, if “we betray or destroy an incomparable engine already prepared … for the defence of the Truth.”   8

  Influence of French and Dutch scholars Baronius’s Annales  

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