Religion is the lifeblood of Albion. A lack of faith - or at least, a lack of outwardly displayed faith - is the exception, not the rule; the State is the Church, and the King is the Head of both. Failing to keep approved religious practise isn't just blasphemous - it's treasonous.

Many of the political divisions of the time are along religious lines, and while members of the Church of England may work with Jews, other Christians and eve Pagans1), the events of the Civil War are still fresh in many memories, and there are many dark mutterings that toleration of any Dissenting practice can only lead to bloodshed.

Of course not everybody is over-zealous or holds extremely firm convictions, but there are fewer agnostics than zealots. Many European nations are still enthusiastically burning heretics, and fighting wars every few years because of it. Thus, Protestant England finds a natural enemy in Catholic Spain, and a natural friend in the Protestant Huguenots of France and Jewish city-state of Prague.

Religion Made Very Simple

  • Most of the big powers in Europe are Catholic;
  • Some countries in Europe are Protestant;
  • The Church of England tries to be a bit of both;
  • Judaism and Anglicanism are both accetable in the Archipelago;
  • Other religions generally aren't;
  • It's illegal not to attend Church or Synagogue at least once a week.

Catholics, Protestants and the Third Way

The differences between Catholics and Protestants (the two classic extremes of the age) are quite important and it is helpful for players to know these, especially if they are suddenly taken with playing religiously zealous characters (hooray!). This is a summary of what those differences are and how the odd bits (like the Church of England) fit in.

Give the opportunity, Catholics and Puritans (extreme adherents of Protestantism) would burn each other, burn Jews, Pagans and other 'heretics' (or convert them) and then both would gang up and burn the Church of England because the former believe they are too Protestant and the latter that they are too Catholic.

One of the major roles of diplomats and politicians in the world of Albion is to prevent this happening.

Catholics belive in the infallibility and leadership of the Pope, and sacrament and mystery play a central role in their beliefs. They have highly decorated and ornate churches, beautiful priestly garb (just look at that Popehat) and conceal the altar in the church behind a so-called 'rood screen' which divides the area between priests and flock. They believe in transubstantiation (that the wine and bread literally turn into the blood and body of Christ inside you). They revere the Latin bible.

Protestants and Puritans are a varied lot but have some common ground. They hold the delivery of sermons and reading of the Bible to be central in Christianity and some perform their services in bland, white-washed churches where the altar is placed in the middle, to be surrounded by the flock. Many hold the episcopal (bishop-based) system to be corrupt and unworthy and would prefer simple local appointments of preachers and priests with few higher 'officials'. The idea of a Pope breaks their minds and the turning of wine and bread into blood and body is quite obviously symbolic. They prefer their bibles in the language of the common people.

The Church of England hits every spot in between. The so-called 'High Church' holds near-Catholic beliefs, shedding only the concept of the Pope (and usually transubstantiation) and accepting specifically English rather than Catholic rites. The 'Low Church' on the other hand reluctantly accept episcopal authority, but follow the more Protestant teachings. Surprisingly this middle-ground or via media is acceptable to the majority of believers in Albion, resulting in a more moderate approach to religion at home and abroad.


Main article - Catholicism.

The Holy Roman Catholic Church, and - until 1517 - the only European denomination of any real power.

Catholics are theoretically allowed to practice in England, but since the Civil Wars, are required to make an Oath of Loyalty to the Crown above the Pope - something that no loyal Catholic can in all good conscience do. Therefore, the vast majority of Catholics in Albion are practising in secret or are part of one of the Embassies from a Catholic nation.

Most of the major European powers - Spain, France, and the Papal States - are under Catholic control.

The Church of England

Main article - Anglicanism. Organisation - Church of England

The majority Church in England and a unique melding of Catholic and Protestant ideas.

Other Protestant Churches

Most notable of these is the Presbyterian Church (or Kirk) of Scotland. The main difference between them and the Anglican church is the belief that the Episcopal structure is detrimental to the Church. They prefer the operation of a simply elected, minimal clergy whose main duty is to deliver sermons to their flock, rather than to run the Kirk itself, and are Puritan in many of their beliefs. Since the Second Civil War, the Presbyterians of Scotland have been grudgingly and gradually forced under the yoke of the Church of England; there is still a certain amount of resistance and dissent, particularly in the more distant Highlands.

The Protestant churches of the Continent are varied, but most countries adopt some variation of the Calvinist and Lutheran faith and the doctrine of Predestination. Most Protestant countries regard Protestant England as a natural ally in the war against Catholic aggressors.


Main article - Puritanism

The Puritans are Protestant extremist religions composed of many different sects which rarely agree on anything between them - except the need to burn more Catholics.


Main article - Judaism. Organisation - Kabal of Yehudim

The Jewish presence in the Archipelago is higher than in any other European state except the Rabbinical state of Prague. Jews are considered equal citizens with Christians, and free to worship as they will. This infuriates a great many Christians outside Albion, who consider Judaism to be little better than devil-worship.

Other Religions

The other religions likely to appear in the game include Orthodox (or Eastern) Christianity, Islam and Paganism. The first is similar to the Catholic or Anglican High Church, and is on the whole tolerated - largely because it has very little presence in Europe, and is not involved in the main religious contention.

Islam, the religion of the Ottoman Empire and Northern Africa, is met with suspicion by almost every Church. There is outright hostility, not to mention occasional border wars, between Christianity and Islam during this period.

Pagan religions are similarly viewed with intelorance by almost everybody, though in Albion, occasional good deeds from the Sisters of Hecate has made them slightly more acceptable. Pagans of all stripes are still viewed as heretics, however, and are prime targets for a little burning.

Secret Societies

Religious war has made covert religious operations and operatives necessary. Both the Protestants and Catholics have developed a sort of 'Religious Police' of their own - the main aim of each being to subvert the opposing religion and ensure total conversion. Members of both organisations have a little more leeway than their more official brethren, and rumours of dark wizardry, assassination and diabolism dog their footsteps.

The Order of Arundel, the Albion branch of the Jesuits, aim to turn the Archipelago into the Catholic nation it once was. They are largely considered responsible for inciting the Civil War, and bear the blame proudly - after all, they named themselves after a Regicide!

The Rosicrucians aim to protect England's Protestantism and eradicate the Catholic blight from it.

There are occasional rumours that the Kabal of Yehudim have some secret society of their own, or that Prague has littered spies throughout the country. As yet, no concrete evidence has presented itself.

Religion and Magic

Religion and Magic are generally not incompatible in the Archipelago. Many priests and rabbis endeavour to study Theurgy to try and understand the nature of the Godhead, while others study Sorcery in order to protect themselves and others against Demons; there are few problems with a priest studying Conjuration, Alchemy or Invention. Indeed, some the greatest of Golems, homunculi, and the new-fangled “clock-work men”, come from the studious Rabbi-Magicians of Prague, and their students in Albion.

Witchcraft is disliked by the Anglican church, primarily because of its association with Familiar Spirits, and there are likely only one or two Witch-Priests in the whole of England. (The character is a common one in satirical pamphlets and plays, however!)

The common believer would be able to find compatibility between religion and magic fairly easily. Hardline Catholics and Puritans, however, generally believe that magic is ultimately the work of the devil and must be shunned; though some Catholics are allowed special dispensation for Theurgy. They are the sort of people who like to burn people. For whatever reason.

Priests and Rabbis

Can offer up a prayer each turn.

Priests and Rabbis may also Bless items or people. This may have Magical effects, and may also have other effects at GM discretion.

If a Priest or Rabbi is discovered to be abusing their power, they risk defrocking, excommunication and, in extreme cases, being burned for heresy.

Lay Worship

'Lay' persons are those not Ordained or Appointed as clergy of a church or members of a monastic order. Therefore these are essentially the common people - they go to church or Shul, receive sacraments (or not), hear readings (or not), keep kosher (or not) and absorb aspects of their religion (or not). There are many theologians or other experts on religion who are not Ordained that also fall in this category and can be involved in theological debate and so on.

Recusancy Laws

If the promise of Heaven is the carrot, then the Recusancy Laws are the stick. Under the law of Albion, it is illegal not to attend either a Church of England Eucharist or Jewish synagogue service on one or other Sabbath day.

What does this mean for the ordinary man? Very little, since the ordinary man in Albion should have no trouble attending Shul or Church regularly, usually with his family. But the PCs are extraordinary people, and thus likely to fall outside normal circumstances! There are many reasons to play a Dissenter of one stripe or another - not least of which, “it makes for an exciting game”!

As a Dissenting resident of Albion - whether you be Puritan, Pagan, even Atheist - if you can bring yourself to sit through a service and convince your local parish priest that you're a faithful and God-fearing fellow, then you can probably get away with it. If not, then you are a Recusant, and - if caught - may be subject to fines, imprisonment and even execution. Priests and Rabbis can suffer harsh penalties for sheltering Recusants, so tend to be zealous in keeping watch for them - but there is always one here or there who can be convinced to turn a blind eye, for the right price…

Those wishing to play a recusant should look into taking the Heretic Quirk.

1) The word 'Pagan' in Albion has a much wider meaning than it does today; it's generally used to mean 'any non-Christian', and is often applied to Muslims from the Ottoman Empire.
religion.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/03 20:37 by innokenti