A great deal of recent scholarship has focused on the emergence in early modernity of one or more Atlantic worlds. These publications have explored — often in extraordinary detail and with exceptional nuance — he processes by which individuals, institutions, communities, and states expanded in power and prestige as a new continent gradually emerged on the other side of the Atlantic. Religion and religious identity have, of course, played an important role in many of these scholarly narratives. For many English Puritans, for example, the New World represented new opportunities for the reification of reformation, if not a site within which they might begin to experience the conditions of the millennium itself. For many Irish Catholics, by contrast, the New World became associated with the experience of defeat, forced transportation, indentured service, cultural and religious loss. And yet, as the chapters in this volume demonstrate, the Atlantic experience of Puritans and Catholics could be much less bifurcated than some of the established scholarly narratives have suggested. Puritans and Catholics could co-exist within the same trans-Atlantic families; Catholics could prosper, just as Puritans could experience financial decline; and Catholics and Puritans could adopt and exchange similar kinds of belief structures and practical arrangements. As Polly Ha and Philip Lockley illustrate in different periods and contexts, this could even reach to the level of being mistaken for each other. Of all the ‘odd couples’ represented in Francis J. Bremer’s contribution to this volume, Puritanism and Catholicism may have been the most strange in the early modern Atlantic world.
KeywordsReligious Identity Belief Structure Recent Scholarship Indenture Service Catholic Faith
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