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‘Have we any mother Juliana’s among us?’: The multiple identities of Julian of Norwich in Restoration England

  • Liam Temple (a1)
Abstract

The true identity of the fourteenth-century anchoress Julian of Norwich has been lost to history. Yet in the seventeenth century Catholic and Protestant polemicists created different ‘Julians’ to construct and contrast their own confessional positions. This article traces the different identities prescribed to Julian and argues that they allow us fresh insight into some of the most prevalent religious and political issues of Restoration England. It begins by tracing the positive reception of Julian’s theology among the Benedictine nuns of Paris and Cambrai, including the role of Augustine Baker in editing Julian’s text. It then explores how the Benedictine Serenus Cressy and the Anglican Edward Stillingfleet created different identities for Julian in their ongoing polemical battles in the Restoration period. For Cressy, Julian was proof of the strength of Catholic devotional and spiritual traditions, while Stillingfleet believed she was evidence of the religious melancholy encouraged by monasticism. By exploring these identities, this article offers new perspective on issues of Catholic loyalty, enthusiasm, sectarianism and doctrinal authority.

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I am grateful to Gaby Mahlberg and Neil Murphy for reading a draft version of this article. I am also indebted to Howard Wickes for introducing me to Julian of Norwich many moons ago when I was an eager undergraduate. My thanks also to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and pertinent remarks.

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1 The Book of Margery Kempe trans. Anthony Bale (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 41–2. For the various re-imaginings of Julian see Barratt Alexandra, ‘Julian of Norwich and Her Children Today: Editions, Translations, and Versions of her Revelations’, in Sarah Salih and Denise N. Baker, eds. Julian of Norwich’s Legacy: Medieval Mysticism and Post-Medieval Reception (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009), 1327 at 15–8. Current scholarship has settled on the idea of a ‘social Julian’ who was influential within her locality, see Alexandra Barratt, ‘Lordship, Service and Worship in Julian of Norwich’, in E.A. Jones, ed. The Medieval Mystical Tradition: Exeter Symposium VII, Papers read at Charney Manor, July 2004 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004), 177–88 at 188; Riddy Felicity, ‘“Publication” before print: the case of Julian of Norwich’, in Julia Crick and Alexandra Walsham, eds. The Uses of Script and Print, 1300–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 2949 ; Liz Herbert McAvoy, ‘Introduction: “God forbade…that I am a techere”: Who, or what, was Julian?’, in Liz Herbert McAvoy, ed. A Companion to Julian of Norwich (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2015), 1–18.

2 For more on these different manuscripts see Watson Nicholas, ‘The Composition of Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love ’, Speculum 68 (1993): 637683 ; Marleen Cré, ‘“This blessed beholding”: Reading the Fragments from Julian of Norwich’s A Revelation of Divine Love in London, Westminster Cathedral Treasury, MS. 4’ in McAvoy, ed. A Companion to Julian of Norwich, 116–26; Barry Windeatt, ‘Julian’s Second Thoughts: The Long Text Tradition’, in McAvoy, ed. A Companion to Julian of Norwich, 101–15; Elisabeth Dutton, ‘The Seventeenth-Century Manuscript Tradition and the Influence of Augustine Baker’, in McAvoy, ed. A Companion to Julian of Norwich, 127–39; idem., ‘Augustine Baker and Two Manuscripts of Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love’, Notes and Queries 52 (2005): 329–37 at 336.

3 McAvoy, ‘Introduction: “God forbade…that I am a techere”: Who, or what, was Julian?’, 8.

4 The only attention given to them so far is Summit Jennifer, ‘From Anchorhold to Closet: Julian of Norwich in 1670 and the Immanence of the Past’, in Salih and Baker, eds. Julian of Norwich’s Legacy, 2947 . See also ‘Appendix E’ of Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins, eds. The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 448–55.

5 Stillingfleet Edward, Irenicum. A weapon-salve for the Churches wounds (London, 1660).

6 Lake Peter, ‘Anti-Popery: The Structure of a Prejudice’, in Richard Cust and Ann Hughes, eds. Conflict in Early Stuart England: Studies in Religion and Politics 1603–1642 (London: Longman, 1989), 72106 ; Clifton Robin, ‘Fear of Popery’, in Conrad Russell, ed. The Origins of the English Civil War (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1973), 144167 ; Miller John, Popery & Politics in England, 1660–1688 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), ch. 4; Milton Anthony, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), ch. 1.

7 Stillingfleet Edward, A rational account of the grounds of Protestant religion being a vindication of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury’s relation of a conference, &c., from the pretended answer by T.C. (London, 1665), sig. A4r.

8 Bossy John, The English Catholic Community, 1570–1850 (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1975), 3741 ; Miller, Popery & Politics, 43.

9 Collins Jeffrey R., ‘Thomas Hobbes and the Blackloist Conspiracy of 1649’, The Historical Journal 45 (2002): 305331 at 311.

10 Packham Kendra, ‘Praising Catholics “Of Low Degree”: Literary Exemplarity, Popular Royalism, and Pro-Catholic Representations, 1660–1725’, Review of English Studies 65 (2014): 5877 .

11 Walker Claire, ‘Prayer, Patronage, and Political Conspiracy: English Nuns and the Restoration’, The Historical Journal 43 (2000): 123 ; Bowden Caroline, ‘The abbess and Mrs Brown: Lady Mary Knatchbull and Royalist Politics in Flanders in the late 1650s’, Recusant History 24 (1999): 288308 .

12 Miller, Popery & Politics, 25.

13 Patricia Brückmann, ‘Virgins visited by angel powers: The Rape of the Lock, platonick love, sylphs and some mysticks’, in George Sebastian Rousseau and Pat Rogers, eds. The Enduring Legacy: Alexander Pope Tercentenary Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 3–20 at 14.

14 Glickman Gabriel, ‘Christian Reunion, the Anglo-French Alliance and the English Catholic Imagination, 1660–72’, English Historical Review 128 (2013): 263291 .

15 Collins Jeffrey, ‘Restoration Anti-Catholicism: A Prejudice in Motion’, in Charles W. A. Prior and Glenn Burgess, eds. England’s Wars of Religion, Revisited (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 281306 at 292.

16 Dolan Frances E., Whores of Babylon: Catholicism, Gender and Seventeenth-Century Print Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), 16 .

17 Summit, ‘From Anchorhold to Closet’, 32.

18 Julian of Norwich, XVI revelations of divine love shewed to a devout servant of our Lord called Mother Juliana, an anchorete of Norwich (n.p., 1670), sig. A2v.

19 Wormald B. H. G., Clarendon: Politics, History & Religion, 1640–1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951), 248251 ; H. J. McLachlan, Socinianism in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951); Sarah Mortimer, Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge of Socinianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), ch. 3.

20 Wood Anthony, Athenae Oxonienses an exact history of all the writers and bishops who have had their education in the most ancient and famous University of Oxford, (London, 1692), 387 ; Hugh Trevor-Roper, Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans: Seventeenth Century Essays (London: Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, 1987), 184.

21 Cressy Serenus, Exomologesis, or, A faithfull narration of the occaision and motives of the conversion unto Catholick unity of Hugh-Paulin de Cressy (Paris, 1653), 411 .

22 Ibid., 459.

23 Ibid., 463.

24 Clark John, ed. Alphabet and Order (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 2001), 38 .

25 Victoria Van Hyning, ‘Augustine Baker: Discerning the “Call” and Fashioning Dead Disciples’, in Clare Copeland and Jan Machielsen, eds. Angels of Light? Sanctity and the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 143–68 at 157; Rhodes J. T., ‘Dom Augustine Baker’s Reading Lists’, The Downside Review 111 (1993): 157173 at 157.

26 For the textual influence of Julian on the nuns see Nancy Bradley Warren, The Embodied Word: Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350–1700 (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), ch. 2.

27 Bibliothèque Mazarine MS 4058, fols. 31v, 206v. The catalogue has been recently transcribed with useful background notes, see Rhodes Jan, ‘The Library Catalogue of the English Benedictine Nuns of Our Lady of Good Hope in Paris’, The Downside Review 130 (2012): 5486 .

28 Rhodes J. T., ed. Book list of the English Benedictine Nuns of Cambrai c. 1739 (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 2013), 81 .

29 For more on the voluminous writings by nuns in early modern convents, see Nicky Hallett, ed. Lives of Spirit: English Carmelite Self-Writing of the Early Modern Period (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

30 Clark John, ed. Five Treatises; The Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne; Treatise of Confession (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 2006), 66 .

31 Clark John, ed. Letters and Translations from Thomas à Kempis in the Lille Archives and elsewhere; The Devotions of Dame Margaret Gascoigne (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 2007), 61 .

32 Clark, ed. Five Treatises; The Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne; Treatise of Confession, 66.

33 Watson and Jenkins, The Writings of Julian of Norwich, 133.

34 Bodleian Library Oxford MS Rawl. C. 460, fol. 435.

35 Laurence Lux-Sterritt and Carmen M. Mangion, ‘Introduction: Gender, Catholicism and Women’s Spirituality over the Longue Durée’, in Laurence Lux-Sterritt and Carmen M. Mangion, eds. Gender, Catholicism, and Spirituality: Women and the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011), 1–18 at 4; Alison Weber, ‘Little Women: Counter-Reformation Misogyny’, in David M. Luebke, ed. The Counter-Reformation (Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999), 143–62.

36 Baker’s MS works featured over one million words in total. Cressy digested this down to two hundred thousand. Clark J.P.H, ‘Augustine Baker, O.S.B: Towards a Re-Assessment’, Studies in Spirituality 14 (2004): 209224 at 211. For more on this process see Lunn David, ‘Augustine Baker (1575–1641) and the English Mystical Tradition’, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 26 (1975): 267277 .

37 Walker Claire, ‘Spiritual Property: The English Benedictine Nuns of Cambrai and the Dispute over the Baker Manuscripts’, in Nancy E. Wright, Margaret W. Ferguson and A. R. Buck, eds. Women, Property, and the Letters of the Law in Early Modern England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 237255 at 250–1.

38 Peter Salvin, The Kingdom of God in the Soule (Paris, 1657); Gertrude More, The holy practises of a devine lover, or, The sainctly Ideots Devotions (Paris, 1657); idem., The spiritual exercises of the most vertuous and religious D. Gertrude More of the holy order of S. Bennet and English congregation of Our Ladies of Comfort in Cambray (Paris, 1658).

39 Baker Augustine, Sancta Sophia, or, Directions for the prayer of contemplation (Douai, 1657), iv .

40 Ibid., xv.

41 Spurr John, The Restoration Church of England, 1646-1689 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991), 11 .

42 Cressy, Exomologesis, 4; Stillingfleet Edward, A rational account of the grounds of Protestant religion (London, 1665), sig. A3v.

43 Edward Stillingfleet, An answer to several late treatises, occasioned by a book entituled A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome (London, 1673), 6.

44 Heyd Michael, ‘Robert Burton’s Sources on Enthusiasm and Melancholy: From a Medical Tradition to Religious Controversy’, History of European Ideas 5 (1984): 1744 .

45 Lawlor Clark, ‘Fashionable Melancholy’, in Allan Ingram, Stuart Sim, Clark Lawlor, Richard Terry, John Baker and Leigh Wetherall-Dickson, eds. Melancholy Experience in Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century: Before Depression, 1660-1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 2551 at 27.

46 Lund Mary Ann, Melancholy, Medicine and Religion in Early Modern England: Reading The Anatomy of Melancholy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 91 . See also Kaara L. Peterson, ‘Re-Anatomizing Melancholy: Burton and the Logic of Humoralism’, in Elizabeth Lane Furdell, ed. Textual Healing: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Medicine (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 139–67; Hodgkin Katharine, ‘Scurvy Vapors and the Devil’s Claw: Religion and the Body in Seventeenth-Century Women’s Melancholy’, Studies in the Literary Imagination 44 (2011): 121 .

47 Greg Peters, Reforming the Monastery: Protestant Theologies of the Religious Life (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014), 27, 45. There was a more positive attitude towards asceticism forming among Protestants in the seventeenth century however, see Sarah Apetrei, ‘“The Life of Angels”: Celibacy and Asceticism in Anglicanism, 1660- c. 1700’, Reformation & Renaissance Review 13 (2011): 247–74.

48 Gowland Angus, The Worlds of Renaissance Melancholy: Robert Burton in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 159 .

49 Burton Robert, The anatomy of melancholy what it is. With all the kindes, causes, symptomes, prognostickes, and severall cures of it (Oxford, 1621), 86 .

50 Ibid., 92.

51 Ibid., 735.

52 de Saint-Joseph Madeleine, La vie de soeur Catherine de Jesus religieuse de l’ordre de Nostre-Dame du Mont-Carmel, établi en France selon la réformation de sainte Thérèse de Jésus (Paris, 1628). Further details on the contents of this work can be found in Barbara B. Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), ch. 5.

53 Casaubon Meric, A treatise concerning enthusiasme, as it is an effect of nature, but is mistaken by many for either divine inspiration, or diabolical possession (London, 1655), sig. ¶7.

54 Ibid., 66.

55 Ibid.

56 Edward Stillingfleet, A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome (London, 1671), 258. ‘H.N.’ is a reference to Hendrik Niclaes, the German founder of the Family of Love, while ‘Jacob Behmen’ is a reference to Jacob Boehme, the German alchemical mystic.

57 Ibid., 266.

58 Ibid., 261.

59 Burton, The anatomy of melancholy, 738.

60 Quantin Jean-Louis, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 397400 ; English John C., ‘The Duration of the Primitive Church: An Issue for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Anglicans’, Anglican and Episcopal History 73 (2004): 3552 .

61 Stillingfleet, A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome, 481.

62 Cressy, Exomologesis, 14.

63 Quantin, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity, 397–400; Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 93; Tavard George H., The Seventeenth-Century Tradition: A Study in Recusant Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 1 . See also idem., Holy Writ or Holy Church: The crisis of the Protestant Reformation (London: Burns & Oates, 1959).

64 Stillingfleet, A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome, 257–8.

65 Stillingfleet, An answer to several late treatises, 11.

66 Ibid., 57–8.

67 Stillingfleet, A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome, 244

68 Ibid., 248.

69 Ibid., 543.

70 Ibid., 324.

71 Ibid., 340.

72 Ibid., 260.

73 Edward Stillingfleet, A defence of the discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome in answer to a book entituled, Catholicks no idolators (London, 1676), sig. A4r.

74 Stillingfleet, A discourse concerning the idolatry practised in the Church of Rome, 258.

* I am grateful to Gaby Mahlberg and Neil Murphy for reading a draft version of this article. I am also indebted to Howard Wickes for introducing me to Julian of Norwich many moons ago when I was an eager undergraduate. My thanks also to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and pertinent remarks.

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