June 11

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1540 Birth of an anti-Catholic poet

June 11 is St Barnabas’ Day and thus it was natural for Robert and Margaret Googe of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire to name their new-born son Barnabe. Young Barnabe grew to be a well-connected lawyer and politician during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I but his chief fame is as a poet, not necessarily a very good poet but an influential one. In literary circles he was renowned as one of the first English pastoral poets and to historians of Tudor Protestantism he is famed for his religious commentary, particularly that found in his translation of Thomas Kirchmeyer’s Regnum papisticum of 1555, a compendium of attacks on Roman Catholicism — in 1570 Googe rendered this as The Popish Kingdome, or reign of Antichrist.

To give you a flavour of his artistry, here is his description of the Catholic celebration of St John’s Day, December 27:

Nexte John, the sonne of Zebedee hath his appointed day,

Who once by cruell tyraunts will, constrayned was they say 

Strong poison up to drinke, therefore the papistes doe beleeve

That whoso puts their trust in him, no poyson them can greeve.

The wine beside that halowed is in worship of his name,

The prestes doe give the people that bring money for the same.

And after with the self same wine are little manchets made

Agaynst the boysterous winter stormes and sundrie such like trade.

The men upon this solemne day do take this holy wine

To make them strong. So do the maydes to make them faire and fine.

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