Tristram Winslade: An Elizabethan Catholic in Exile

Author: Cheryl Hayden

Hayden, Cheryl, 2019 Tristram Winslade: An Elizabethan Catholic in Exile, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The propensity of popular culture to privilege a narrative of glorious victories and righteous progress in accounts of England’s Protestant Reformation is largely enabled by an unquestioning belief that the country was overwhelmingly anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish, and that its success was inherently a good thing. In recent times, the success of the Reformation has been used to assure Britons that in difficult times, such as the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, they have the strength to prevail. This trend is not only producing a sanitised, one- sided narrative that allows generalisations and incorrect assertions to flourish, but is also ensuring that the stories of those who were apparently so dangerous have been erased from history. The story of Cornwall in the sixteenth century is a case in point. Here, accounts of Cornwall during the reign of Elizabeth I assume that the violently Catholic response to the Reformation in 1549 had been crushed, that the population was pacified and the Catholic activists were rendered impotent.

The life story of Tristram Winslade challenges this assumption. Archival research and records and histories written from the ‘other side’, demonstrate the existence of an activist enclave of Cornish Catholics working for Spain and supporting a Catholic invasion of their homeland right up until the mid-1570s. It further shows that when this enclave was shut down, Winslade chose a life of exile and continued to work among the English Catholic exiles in Brussels, where he became close to the Spanish vice-regent and wrote a plan that may have led to the failed attempt to invade Cornwall in 1597. When peace brought the Anglo-Spanish conflict to an end, he appears to have rejected the Gunpowder plot in favour of another form of exile, this time in the form of a colony for English Catholics in north America.

Keywords: Catholic Elizabethans; Sixteenth Century Cornwall; Counter-Reformation in 16th Century England; English Catholics in Exile; English Catholics at the Spanish Court;

Subject: Creative Arts thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Dr Amy Matthews