John Bossy Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair.
Yale University Press, 294 pages, $29.95
John Bossy, Professor of History at the University of York, is a distinguished historian of Catholicism in England whose Christianity in the West,1400-1700 (1985) was a remarkably original survey of the continuities of practice and feeling across centuries of confessional strife. His latest book is something of a dark jeu d’esprit, plunging readers into the murky waters of Elizabethan politico-religious espionage (waters swum elsewhere by Marlowe). Bossy first sketches the career of the pseudonymous spy “Henry Fagot,” a Catholic chaplain in the house of the French Ambassador in London from 1583 to 1585. “Fagot”—the name alluding to the stacked firewood atop which heretics were...