The Tudor Society

The Marprelate Controversy

One of the defending tracts

On this day in history, 23rd February 1601, Job Throckmorton, religious pamphleteer and Member of Parliament, was buried at Haseley in Warwickshire.

It is believed that Throckmorton was one of the men responsible for the "Martin Marprelate tracts". These religious tracts, which attacked the established church, were written under the pseudonym Martin Marprelate (and his sons) and published in 1588 and 1589 by John Penry and Robert Waldegrave. In his article on Throckmorton, Patrick Collinson, writes that a comparison of Throckmorton's The Defence of Job Throkmorton Against the Slaunders of Maister Sutcliffe (1594) with the Marprelate satires "has persuaded modern critical opinion that if these satires had a single author, that author was Throckmorton", although Throckmorton denied it. Other names linked to the tracts include the publisher John Penry, Sir Michael Hicks, Henry Barrow, Roger Williams, George Carleton and Patrick Collinson.

"The Marprelate Controversy" was a pamphlet war between the writers of the Marprelate tracts and defenders of the Church. Defenders included Thomas Cooper, Bishop of Winchester; writer and playwright John Lyly, writer and playwright Thomas Nashe, and dramatist Robert Greene.

The Marprelate tracts included:

You can find details of other tracts related to Martin Marprelate at

Defending tracts included:

You can see a chronology of the printing of the tracts at

You can read more about the Marprelate Controversy and the tracts at and in William Pierce's book An historical introduction to the Marprelate tracts; a chapter in the evolution of religious and civil liberty in England, which can be read online at

Picture: Title page of the Cavaliero Pasquill's "Countercuffe to Martin Junior," 1589, Wikipedia.

Notes and Sources

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