This paper reconsiders the ‘rise of Arminianism’ by placing the events at the center of this canonical debate in the context of changing state policies toward English Catholics at the European dynastic conjuncture of the early 1620s. The early 1620s witnessed the rise of a Catholic revisionary interest which appeared to threaten what many people took to be the existing post-Reformation religious settlement. I argue that both the ‘Arminianism’ which emerged out of Bishop Richard Neile’s Durham House and the Calvinist entrenchment around Archbishop George Abbot’s Lambeth Palace were competitive responses within the Church of England to counter a real and perceptibly rising Catholic threat. As an entry point to the study of this dynamic, a series of interconfessional conferences between a notorious Jesuit and divines around both Durham House and Lambeth Palace across 1622-3 are examined. It is suggested that these conferences and the print exchange they generated served as the immediate context for Richard Montague’s infamous Arminian tracts of 1624-5. The polemical and political responses to Montague’s tracts are then considered in terms of competing styles of theology and religiosity, between different conceptualizations of the character of the Church of England in its relationship to the Church of Rome.
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