In this new study, Michael Mullett examines the social, political and religious development of Catholic communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland from the Reformation to the arrival of toleration in the nineteenth century. The story is a sequence from active persecution, through unofficial tolerance, to legal recognition. Dr Mullett brings together original research with the new insights of specialist monographs and articles over recent years and provides indispensable information on how Britain's and particularly Ireland's, present religious situation has evolved. The book also offers a timely updated review of the role religion has played in the emergence of collective identities in Britain and Ireland between 1558-1829. Controversial and shaking some long-held assumptions, the book is strongly argued on the basis of extensive research and a review of the existing literature.