This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about the activities and mental world of William Blundell, a seventeenth-century Catholic gentleman in Lancashire, England. The first part of this book considers the extent to which his public activities corroborate his claims of passive victimhood and the second examines Blundell's reading practices as documented in his commonplace books Adversaria and Historica. This volume also evaluates the extent to which Blundell's reputation was justified by his actions and suggests that he was neither the passive victim nor the entirely loyal subject that he and others have claimed.
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