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The Tudor Society

8 April – A cat in priest’s clothing

In today's video, I talk about an act of rebellion in 1554, an act of defiance by someone opposed to Queen Mary I's religious changes.

It was on this day in Tudor history, 8th April 1554, that a cat dressed as a Catholic priest and holding a piece of paper to represent the communion wafer, was hanged at the gallows in Cheapside.

Find out more about what happened, the meaning behind it, and Queen Mary I's reaction to it, in my video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1580 – Birth of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, courtier, patron of the arts and son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and Mary Sidney, sister of Sir Philip Sidney.
  • 1586 – Death of Martin Chemnitz, Lutheran theologian and a man known as "Alter Martinus" or the "Second Martin" after Martin Luther.
  • 1608 – Death of Magdalen Browne (née Dacre), Viscountess Montagu and patron of Roman Catholics, at Battle following a stroke in January 1508. She was buried at Midhurst. Magdalen was the daughter of William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre of Gilsland and the second wife of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu. She served as Maid of Honour at Mary I's wedding and was a staunch Catholic. Even though she was Catholic, she had a good relationship with Elizabeth I, following her and her husband's declaration that they would be loyal to the Queen if the Pope invaded or caused trouble. When the Queen visited the Montagus in 1591, they kept their priests hidden.

There are 2 comments Go To Comment

  1. R /

    Oh the poor pussy cat! That is very cruel. There were all sorts of very weird things done as protests during the Reformation. This is very weird.

    1. R /

      I know the person was making a protest against the Mass being revived but really, couldn’t they have made an effigy and hung that, instead of the poor cat? I would have accepted the 40 nobles, but then I like Claire am an animal lover, so I wouldn’t have any problem being the informant. There is a book about these weird sort of things Agnes Boker’s Cat Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England which has the tale of a woman giving birth to a cat, but this tale is also in the book as are many other odd tales about the common people and the Reformation. There were drawings of the Pope with the head of an ass and of a reformer looking like a fish and really all kinds of very strange ways of getting the message across and vice versa.

      Again, poor 🐱

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8 April – A cat in priest’s clothing