Key Anti-Catholic Text

Foulis, Henry. The History of Romish Treasons and Usurpations... Together with a Particular Account of Many Gross Corruptions and Impostures in the Church of Rome... To Which Is Prefixt a Large Preface to the Romanists. The Second Edition. Carefully Collected Out of a Great Number of Their Own Approved Authors.

London: Printed for Thomas Basset et. al., 1681. 320 by 200mm (12½ by 7¾ inches). Folio; [44], 100, [85] — 266, [271], ‑534, [8] pp. Complete as published. Index. Contemporary calf, nicely rebacked, red morocco spine label. This copy with the half-title, on which the book is identified as: The History of Popish Treasons and Usurpations”.

Good plus with wear to boards; outer leaves lightly foxed.

Henry Foulis (1638–1669) was an English academic theologian and controversial author. On behalf of the Church of England he attacked both Presbyterians and Catholics. This is his major anti-Catholic work.

A comprehensive and entertaining treatise. Chapter titles are often bombastic, such as: Their filthy Stories, Utopian Saints, and Lying Wonders” or Tales of Brutes, Devils, Hell, Purgatory, Paradise”. The book covers an extremely broad range of topics — from the alleged sins in Their fancying that the Pope can depose Emperors” to extensive writings on The Plots in Scotland against King James VI” and conspiracies in numerous other countries including Ireland, Spain and France. The book is divided into 10 books”, each with their own title page.

Not to be missing in such an extensive anti-Catholic text is the legend of Pope Joan, the purported female pope” (a.k.a. she-pope”) who allegedly reigned during the Middle Ages. On page 132, Foulis directs us to 5 other texts that support the existence of a female Pope and 5 other texts that argue against the legend. Foulis informs us that he personally is inclined to believe the story. He concludes the section:

“[S]o much for our Pope or No-Pope Joane, a story that hath drawn forth to open Battalia, and siding, the greatest Pens in Europe; some to vindicate, others to annihilate the sitting of such a Lady in the Porphyrie Chair, as Infallible Head of the Romish Church: nor to this day will either party give ground or yield, but still fight it out; and which is more, both singing Victoria, and triumphing as Conquerors: and thus it hath the happiness or misfortune to fare, as some other Articles of the greatest consequence in Religion, never to want Friends and Enemies.”

For more on the alleged first and only female pope see Peter Stanford’s 1999 book, The Legend of Pope Joan. In Search of the Truth. The story found its way into popular historical fiction with works such as Donna Woolfolk Cross’ 1996 novel, Pope Joan. It is worth noting that most scholars today dismiss the idea of a female pope as fiction.

Bibliographic reference: Wing F1641.


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Stock Code: 1068B17 Collection:


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