Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Henry Constable’s other writings were political and religious prose works. While still a Protestant, he wrote a pamphlet called A Short View of a Large Examination of Cardinall Allen His Trayterous Justification of Sir W. Stanley and Yorck (c. 1588). This was an answer to a work of 1587 in which the Roman Catholic cardinal had justified the surrender of Daventer to the Spaniards by Stanley, one of Leicester’s chief officers. Constable answered specific arguments of Allen’s work with arguments based on justice and Protestant theology. He mocked the cardinal, implying that he was a “purple whore.” He also wrote the Examen pacifique de la doctrine des Huguenots (1589, The Catholike Moderator: Or, A Moderate Examination of the Doctrine of the Protestants, 1623), published anonymously in Paris. The work was pro-Huguenot, but in it, the author pretended to be a Catholic. The work was an enlargement of a response that he wrote to another tract. Again, Constable was concerned with politics, theology, and justice, but he also indicated that he desired the union of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Constable was soon to become a Catholic. He wrote an unpublished theological work (c. 1596) that has been lost, and another work on English affairs (c. 1597). He is presumed to be the author or coauthor of an anonymous book in defense of King James’s title in 1600, which was an answer to another work supporting Spain that was erroneously attributed to him. He also collaborated with Dr. W. Percy on a work against the Spanish and Jesuits in 1601. It is clear that Constable was deeply involved in the political and religious matters of his day. His religious interests were to affect greatly his life and his poetry, and he wrote an important group of religious sonnets after his conversion to Catholicism. As the prose works mentioned above showed his commitment to the Protestant cause, his religious sonnets showed his strong feelings for the Catholic faith.