The “Whig Theory of History” popularised by such 19thc British historians as T.B. Macaulay (a “Whig”, or Liberal, MP) celebrated the gradual evolution of uniquely English legal traditions and institutions as a grand narrative of progress -- the triumph of parliamentary government over the arbitrary powers of the crown. This talk by Dr Andrea McKenzie will tell a different and darker story about the seventeenth-century origins of this self-congratulatory view of English history, one in which anti-Catholic prejudices played a critical role. As we shall see, the widespread belief in a Catholic conspiracy to subvert the English constitution and the Protestant religion was a central component in the rise of parliamentary opposition and the beginnings of modern party politics. Moral panics about real and imagined “popish” plots and assassinations not only resulted in the persecution of hundreds of Catholic priests and laypeople, but played a pivotal role in the major political events of the seventeenth century: the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81 and the deposition of the last Catholic monarch, James II, in 1688 -- the so-called “Glorious Revolution”.