Was Shakespeare Catholic?

If Queen Elizabeth knew about it, would his head have come off?

The best hiding place is out in the open?


We should not forget that Shakespeare's time was a politically volatile period in British history. Upon her ascension to the throne, Queen Elizabeth I outlawed Catholicism and employed a secret police to smoke out religious rebels. Catholicism was therefore driven underground and those found practicing the religion could be fined or even executed. If Shakespeare was Catholic, then he would have done his best to conceal it.


4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    “The And thus I clothe my naked villany With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ, And seem a saint when most I play the devil.”


    (psst - I love the 40 English martyrs, especially St. Margaret Clitherow)

    Source(s): Catholic
  • 1 decade ago

    Highly doubtful.

    Elizabeth had a vested interest in eradicating the Catholic/Protestant nonsense from England, and she did a great job. Her sister, Mary, evidently felt it necessary to execute a few hundred Protestants to make up for the quashing of her Catholicism during her father and brother's reigns. Elizabeth, although she was also imprisoned by Mary for her supposed Protestantism, was far too intelligent for "revenge". She risked a great deal to bring an end to the whole mess (and completely end Rome's influence in England), and was ultimately successful.

    Shakespeare was a popular playwright -- not a rival or even a courtier. His beliefs simply didn't matter.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There is no direct evidence of William Shakespeare's religious affiliation, however over the years there have been many speculations about the personal religious beliefs that he may have held. These speculations are based on circumstantial evidence from historical records and on analysis of his published work. Some evidence suggests that Shakespeare's family had Catholic sympathies and that he himself was a secret Catholic; although there is disagreement over whether he in fact was so, many scholars maintain the former consensus position that he was a member of the established Anglican Church.

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually, from Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the time of the Gunpowder Plot, Catholics in England enjoyed a policy of religious tolerance, albeit one that put them at a third class level, behind Dissenting Protestants.

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