Martin Mar-prelate, Controversy of

Martin Mar-Prelate, Controversy Of.

About 1580, the year of the Armada, there appeared in Egland a number of tracts — "a series of scurrilous libels in which the queen, the bishops, and the rest of the conforming clergy, were assailed with every kind of contumely" (Hardwick, Ch. Hist. p. 256) — written probably by some radicals of the Puritan camp when the controversy between the Church and the Puritans was waxing hot. Marsden says "there is some reason to believe that the whole was a contrivance of the Jesuits." The charge against the latter is based, however, only upon supposition, and deserves no encouragement. The public printing-presses being at the time shut against the Puritans, all their printing had to be done secretly, and it is therefore difficult to determine the origin of the "Martin Mar-Prelate" tracts. The Puritan divines Udal and Penry, on their trials, were charged with the authorship, or with a willful knowledge of the authors; but they refused to make any revelations, and the real authorship of these once dreaded and proscribed, but now ludicrous lampoons, remains a mystery. Their titles and contents are given somewhat in detail by Neale, Hist. of the Puritans (Harpers' edit. 1:190 sq.). They were reprinted as Puritant Disc. Tracts (Lond. 1843). See also Maskell, Hist. of the Martin Mar-Prelate Controversy (Lond. 1845); Marsden, Early Puritans, p. 198 sq.; id. Hist. of Christian Churches and Sects, 1:131; Hunt, Religious Thought of England, 1:72. (J. H. W.)

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