Free Online Bible Library | William Allen

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William Allen

1532-1594. Scholar and cardinal. Born in Rossall, Lancashire, he went to Oriel College, Oxford, and in 1556 was chosen principal of St. Mary's Hall. When Elizabeth acceded, Allen was deprived and left England in 1561 for refusing the Oath of Supremacy. He was an ardent Romanist and soon gathered around him, at Louvain, other English refugees to study theology and reestablish the Roman faith. Allen himself returned secretly to England to encourage the recusants. He moved from place to place to avoid arrest and finally left England in 1565 for Flanders. After ordination as priest he lectured at the Benedictine College in Malines. He established a college at Douai in 1568, in response to the call of the Council of Trent,* and became a professor there. In 1575 he founded the English College in Rome and in 1589 a further college at Valladolid. He was the overseer of the Douai version* of the Bible project. All the while Allen continued his theological study and writing, and he regarded Protestantism in England as a temporary and passing phase to be hurried on as quickly as possible. His meeting with the Jesuit Robert Parsons brought a new element to his activities-that of political intrigue. Parsons dominated Allen; they both went to Rome in 1585, where Allen remained for the rest of his life. The Jesuit mission to England begun in 1580 was now under Parsons' control. Allen was made cardinal in 1587 and was intended to be the first Roman Catholic archbishop of Canterbury if English Protestantism were undone. He took part in numerous intrigues, writing a defense of the traitorous surrender of Deventer to the Spaniards by Sir William Stanley. He urged Roman Catholics to rebel against Elizabeth, but lost his influence after the defeat of the Armada. Later he came to regret his intrigue and Parsons' methods. He ended his days as Vatican librarian and in revising the Vulgate. While his scholarship and integrity are not in dispute, it cannot be doubted that his activities, withthose of Parsons, gave the English real grounds for suspecting Jesuit institutions of sedition and treason.

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