Life After Exile: Former Catholic Emigres and the Legacy of Flight in Marian England
Over the last twenty years, a wealth of studies into Early Modern exile movements across Europe have emphasised the many difficulties involved with dislocation, in particular the problems emigres experienced in justifying their flight in the eyes of their compatriots back home. However, most of these studies see such difficulties coming to an end upon the emigres’ return to their native lands. Homecoming exiles were supposedly treated as quasi-martyrs for the faith and lauded as heroes. Taking as its case study those English Catholic emigres who returned home in Mary I’s reign, having left England during the reigns of Henry VIII and his son Edward VI on account of their religious beliefs, this article challenges the idea that the difficulties of dislocation ended abruptly upon repatriation. It suggests that, whilst on the face of it they were awarded unparalleled levels of patronage for their sacrifices for the faith, former emigres continued to grapple with the baggage of exile status long after they set foot on English soil. In this way, this study not only highlights a need to reconsider some recent assessments regarding the success of the Marian Counter-Reformation, but it also suggests that prevailing historical narratives regarding the heroic homecomings of early modern exiles may themselves be the legacy of emigre self-fashioning designed to mitigate the very real difficulties they continued to face following repatriation.
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