Religion and politics in Elizabethan England: The life of Sir Christopher Hatton

Younger, Neil (2022). Religion and politics in Elizabethan England: The life of Sir Christopher Hatton. Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain. Manchester: Manchester University Press.



This book reassesses the religious politics of Elizabethan England through a study of one of its most unusual but most neglected figures, Sir Christopher Hatton. Born in relative obscurity, Hatton rose to power through the court as the consummate royal favourite. As a privy councillor and later lord chancellor, Hatton was a key member of Elizabeth’s innermost circle, serving alongside Lord Burghley, the Earl of Leicester and Sir Francis Walsingham. Yet he stands out from his contemporaries in one crucial respect: throughout his life, he was the friend and patron of numerous Catholics, among his family, his servants, and his patronage network at court and in the country. He protected many within the English Catholic community, and his network extended even to Catholics involved in plots against the queen. Many of his contemporaries believed Hatton to be a Catholic himself, or at the very least something close to a Catholic. At the same time, he was a key ally of those within the Church of England who most vehemently opposed puritanism. Hatton thus stands out as a highly unusual Elizabethan minister, and this book contends that his powerful influence over the queen was a significant factor in restraining the policy preferences of Elizabeth’s more strongly Protestant advisors. _Religion and politics in Elizabethan England_ traces Hatton’s life and career, his relationship with Elizabeth, his networks, and his part in the major policy debates of the reign. Overall, it argues that Hatton’s career casts doubt on claims that Elizabeth’s regime was exclusively Protestant in character, and suggests that Catholics and Catholic sympathisers retained a voice in Elizabethan politics.

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