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Tudor Minute February 21, 1595: RIP Robert Southwell

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for February 21.

Today in 1595 Robert Southwell was executed. He was a Jesuit priest who had been arrested three years earlier, had been tortured, and finally executed today. Though his family had always had Catholic leanings, they profited from the Suppression of the Monastaries. In 1576 when he was about 15, he was sent abroad to one of the new Jesuit colleges springing up to teach young English Catholics. In 1584 he was ordained a priest in Rome. This was the same year that England passed an act expelling the Catholic priests, saying that English-born subject of Queen Elizabeth, who had entered into priests’ orders in the Catholic Church since she became Queen, had only 40 days to remain in England on pain of death.

In 1586 Robert came back to England as a Jesuit missionary. After six years working in England with various recusant Catholic families, he got caught up with a Richard Bellamy, who had been involved in the Babington Plot. He was arrested, and executed. His writing was known to playwrights like Ben Johnson and Shakespeare who used him for inspiration. One of his most famous quotes is, “May never was the month of love, For May is full of flowers; But rather April, wet by kind, For love is full of showers.”

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there is an episode on the Catholic experience in Elizabethan England.

Catholic Experience in Elizabethan England