The introduction sets out the methodological framework, and expounds the conceptual shift from exile to confessional mobility. Without summarily dismissing ‘exile’, it argues that adopting a wider term changes perspective, reshapes what we see in the sources, and opens up new questions. Rather than labelling people and reducing their entire identity to that label as their key characteristic, ‘confessional mobility’ focuses on the activity in which complex and conflicted people engage. In the process, it does justice to the broad spectrum of English Catholics who crossed the Channel, challenging scholarship that searches for a single ‘pure’ motivation for travel. Moreover, scrutinizing mobility forgoes an assumed separation and isolation, highlighting the constant cross-Channel communication. Links with the Counter-Reformation on the Continent were not important solely for those who travelled abroad, nor solely for their time abroad: they influenced the entire Catholic community.
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