This is a study of the political, religious, social and mental worlds of the Catholic aristocracy from 1550 to 1640. Michael Questier examines the familial and patronage networks of the English Catholic community and their relationship to the later Tudors and Stuarts. He shows how the local history of the Reformation can be used to rewrite mainstream accounts of national politics and religious conflict in this period. The book takes in the various crises of mid- and late Elizabeth politics, the accession of James VI, the Gunpowder Plot, religious toleration and the start of the Thirty Years War and finally the rise of Laudianism, leading up to the civil war. It challenges recent historical notions of Catholicism as fundamentally sectarian and demonstrates the extent to which sections of the Catholic community had come to an understanding with both the local and national State by the later 1620s and 1630s.