The Supposed Burning of the Racovian Catechism in 1614: A Historiographical Myth Exposed

Hessayon, Ariel and Lucci, Diego. 2022. The Supposed Burning of the Racovian Catechism in 1614: A Historiographical Myth Exposed. History: The Journal of the Historical Association, 107(374), pp. 25-50. ISSN 0018-2648 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
Racovian_Catechism_paper_x_History_ds edits AH DL WITHOUT FIGURES.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 27 September 2023.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (307kB)

Abstract or Description

The Racovian catechism is a famous summary treatise of Socinian thought. It was written in the early seventeenth century by several members of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland. It is a common misconception that, upon reading the Latin edition of the Racovian catechism, which was dedicated to him, King James VI & I consigned it to the flames in 1614. Indeed, a comprehensive list of scholars who have repeated this mistake would take up too much space. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is first and foremost to demonstrate that the Racovian catechism was not burnt in England in 1614. This historiographical myth originated and was transmitted because of a series of misunderstandings occurring since the 1670s, whereas not one primary source testifies to the burning of the catechism in England during James's reign. In the process, we will provide essential context, examining relevant developments not only in the British Isles, but also in the Dutch Republic and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Moreover, we will argue that there is no evidence to support the claim that an edition of the Racovian catechism was secretly printed in England shortly after the supposed burning of 1614, although some subsequent editions of the catechism bore a false imprint and had a connected publishing history. Finally, we will explain how these erroneous assumptions entered the historical record together with their subsequent transmission. Our conclusion is that the early history of anti-Trinitarianism and Socinianism in England must be rewritten.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



10 August 2021Accepted
27 September 2021Published Online
January 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Jan 2022 12:36

Last Modified:

27 Jan 2022 11:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)