Staging the old faith

Queen Henrietta Maria and the theatre of Caroline England, 1625-1642

By Rebecca Bailey

Staging the old faith


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3433-2
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: October 2018
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Literary theory, Early Modern Literature, Religion, Literature, Jacobean & Early Stuart era (1603–1649), Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Plays, playscripts, Theatre studies, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, Literary theory


Staging the Old Faith is the first book length study to examine Caroline theatre as a space where the concerns of the English Roman Catholic community are staged.

Rebecca Bailey juxtaposes a detailed analysis of Queen Henrietta Maria's ground-breaking performances which showcased to an elite audience her role as defender of English Catholics, against an exploration of how this community responded to such a startling vision, in particular through the politically charged texts of James Shirley and William Davenant.

This engagement on the stage with the anxieties and hopes of the English Catholic community (properly contextualised within the wider and increasingly fragmented religious landscape in the years leading to civil war) opens up Caroline commercial theatre as a site which energetically discussed the explosive religio-political topics of the cultural moment.


'In this energetically argued and imaginatively illustrated book Rebecca Bailey examines the interplay of religion, politics and theatre in the England of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Her study explores in unprecedented depth and with rich archival contextualisation the 'fears and hopes' of the English recusant community following the arrival of the French Catholic queen consort.'
Sophie Tomlinson, Literature & History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (October 2010)

'In six tightly argued chapters Bailey sets out the case for Henrietta Maria's effectiveness, directly and indirectly, in pursuing her religious goals. While paying some attention to the Caroline masques, the main thrust of the argument is centred on plays [.]no future discussion of Caroline drama, particularly that of Shirley and of the 1630s, should ignore this finely written and innovative study.'
Kenneth Richards, University of Manchester, Theatre Research International, Vol. 35, No. 2 (July 2010)

'Rebecca Bailey's reading of Henrietta Maria's Catholic influence on Caroline public and court drama complements rather than contradicts earlier work on patronage, faction, and the intricate political negotiations refracted in the drama of the 1630s initiated by Martin Butler. At the same time, it extends the studies by Erica Veevers, Sophie Tomlinson, and Karen Britland of the Queen's role in the Caroline court and the translation of its feminocentric culture into play and masque. One of the strengths of this work is Bailey's detailed and nuanced exploration, through corres - pondence and reading matter, of the identities of the English Catholic community in the decades leading to the civil wars. As such, not only does Staging the Old Faith expand the range of meaning of Caroline drama, it offers the historian fresh in - sights into the religious dynamics of court culture.'
Janet Clare, New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3 (August 2011)


Introduction - Counter-Reformation politics and the Caroline stage
1. The public discourse of religion in Stuart England
2. James Shirley: the early texts, 1625-29
3. 'A case for conscience': Issues of allegiance and identity, 1630-33
4. William Davenant: the chimera of religious reunion, 1634-37
5. 'A broken time': The tempering of an international Catholicism, 1637-40


Rebecca Bailey is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University . Prior to this, she was employed by the BBC as a Broadcast Media Researcher

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