The Correspondence and Unpublished Papers of Robert Persons, SJ, vol. 2: 1588–1597

Edited by
Victor Houliston, Thomas M. McCoog, SJ, Ana Sáez-Hidalgo, Javier Burrieza Sánchez, and Ginevra Crosignani

Studies and Texts 235; Catholic and Recusant Texts of the Late Medieval & Early Modern Periods 6 • xx, 916 pp. • ISBN 978-0-88844-235-2 • Cloth • $150

The rapid growth of early modern British Catholic studies, and its integration into the wider historiographical project, continues to focus attention on Robert Persons as one of the most significant public figures of the Reformation era in England. As the superior of the Jesuit English mission from 1580 until 1610, he was engaged in a controversial campaign for the reconversion of England that had wide political, ecclesiastical, pastoral, and polemical ramifications. Modern scholarship is engaged in lively debate over his role in international relations and conflicts within British Catholicism.

This volume of Robert Persons’s correspondence is centred on his eight-year sojourn in Spain following the failure of the Spanish armada of 1588. It was a period of incessant activity and constant travelling as he negotiated with the royal court and Spanish Jesuits, founded English seminaries in Valladolid and Seville, supervised the mission to England, and promoted the Catholic cause in printed works such as the Philopater and the Conference about the Next Succession. Increasing opposition amongst Catholic exiles in Flanders and Rome prompted him to return to Rome in 1597 to deal with disaffected students at the English College.

This is volume 2 of a projected three-volume edition. For more information on volume 1, please click here.


Victor Houliston is a Research Professor at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, and a visiting researcher at Campion Hall, Oxford. His edition and translation of Robert Persons’s De persecutione Anglicana was published in December 2023.

Thomas M. McCoog, SJ, sometime editor-in-chief at the Jesuit Historical Institute (Rome) and archivist of the British Province of the Society of Jesus (London), is superior of a Jesuit retirement home in Baltimore, Maryland. He is currently editing the proceedings of the conference commemorating the 400th anniversary of the English/British Province.

Ana Sáez‐Hidalgo is an Associate Professor of English at the Universidad de Valladolid. Her research focuses on Anglo-Spanish cultural and literary relations, exploring the cross-cultural dimensions of the textual and material exchanges between Spain and England and the circulation of knowledge, ideas, and objects through English Catholic exiles.

Javier Burrieza Sánchez is an Associate Professor of Modern History at the Universidad de Valladolid. He has published extensively on early modern Spanish history and is the author of Escultores y escultura procesional de la Semana Santa de Castilla y León (2017). His interest in the English Colleges in Spain is reflected in various works such as Una isla de Inglaterra in Castilla (2000).

Ginevra Crosignani, a graduate of the University of Rome, “La Sapienza,” is a specialist in religious history and in early modern Italian. She has taught at Caltech and at San Diego State University, and is now based in Rome, teaching at the Beda Pontifical College. Her research is focused on religious conformity in post-Reformation England and early modern Europe.

Review Quotes

“In a splendidly comprehensive introduction to this volume, the first of three, Victor Houliston asserts ‘the need for a scholarly edition of [Robert] Persons’s correspondence’ to supersede ‘the tendentious historiography of his career.’ He and his fellow editors have succeeded magnificently ... . This first volume constitutes not only a brilliant introduction to the impact on the Counter Reformation to the Atlantic Isles, but also an illuminating re-setting of the story in a European perspective through the lens of the Jesuit archives. ... It is a breathtaking achievement ... a major contribution to European history, and to our understanding of the complex personality and historical significance of Robert Persons.” — Dermot Fenlon, reviewing Volume 1 in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu


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