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The Jesuit Library at the English College of St. Alban's: Inquisitional Issues

Thu, March 22, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hilton Riverside Complex, Quarter Deck Room C

Abstract

The library of St Alban’s English College in Valladolid is to our days a rare historical witness of a Jesuit space for learning. Since its foundation in 1589, the collection has combined volumes intended for study with those donated by students and staff, including its founder, Robert Persons. Thus, the book collection has contributed to shape the religious and missionary identity of English Catholic exiles at St Alban’s. Although the recusants’ purpose to reconvert England back to Catholicism was dear to the Spanish authorities, both their activities and –particularly– their books were under surveillance. The purpose of my paper is to examine the Inquisition’s control of orthodoxy at the library of St Alban’s: from the regular “visits” or inspections, and the permissions granted to read forbidden books, to complications faced when books were not in the index librorum prohibitorum or were in English, a language that inquisitors could rarely read.

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