Season 1 – Episode 7

The Anti-Popish Grand Tour: Defining Protestantism through Travel

Ep. 7 Grand Tour Catholics with Nathan Rohrer

Based on analysis of an anonymous early eighteenth century pamphlet describing a Grand Tour of Europe, this project explores the ways in which English critiques of Catholicism surfaced among Englishmen abroad. The eighteenth century was the age of the Grand Tour, or, the travel of aristocratic Englishmen to continental Europe to experience its culture, history, and pleasures.

Yet, travel to the Continent and experience of the glories of art, history, and culture in places like Rome also meant encountering the heartland of Catholic Europe. Tales of this encounter by travelers reveals the continued depth of England’s strident Protestantism in the eighteenth century as well as the development of a cultural of ridicule surrounding Catholic belief. 

Thomas Rowlandson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Primary Sources

A. F. The travels of an English gentleman from London to Rome, on foot. Containing, a comical

description of what he met with remarkable in every city, town, and religious house in his whole journey. Also An Account of their Ridiculous Religious Processions and Ceremonies, in their Churches, thro’ their Streets, and in the Woods. Likewise The Debauch’d Lives, and Amorous Intrigues of the Lustful Priests, and Leacherous Nuns. With A Pleasant Account of the opening the Holy Gate of St. Peters Church; also Reflections upon the Superstition and Poppish Pageantry of the whole Ceremony of the last Grand Jubilee at Rome. Now Published for the Diversion and Information of the Protestants of England. The second edition, with additions. London, 1704

Secondary Sources

Jeremy Black. The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century. Sparkford: Sutton Publishing Limited, 2003.

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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