Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 6, No 1 (2017)

Popular Protests, the Public Sphere and Court Catholicism. The Insults to the Chapel of the Spanish Embassy in London, 1685-1688

Cristina Bravo Lozano
Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Departamento de Geografía, Historia y Filosofía, Spain


The coronation of James II, a Catholic, brought about a profound political change in religious matters in the British Isles. At court, a Catholicizing process was introduced, supported by the monarch and the European diplomats who opened chapels in different parts of the city. However, this missionary effort had an unequal reception and caused a popular rejection against this new religious culture, leading to demonstrations of a markedly confessional nature. The chapel of the Spanish Embassy suffered the insults of the crowd on two occasions: the main consequence of these altercations was its destruction during the revolution of 1688. Although, superficially, this protest movement can be interpreted as anti-Catholic, it must be understood in a political context. With each new royal ruling, the protests gained strength until finally exploding after the flight of the King to France. This paper focuses on the popular protests and the explicit remonstrance of English Protestants against these Catholic altars and places of worship, with particular emphasis on the residence of Pedro Ronquillo. This study looks at popular protests and the reaction of the authorities, perceptions of the English and the use of the public sphere, the reception and dissemination of news and the impact of popular religious violence on foreign affairs in this crucial phase of English and European history.


Chapels; Diplomacy; Protests; Disorder; James II; Pedro Ronquillo; Spain; London

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