Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Second of July: A Collection of Events

On July 2, 1489, Thomas Cranmer was born.

On July 2, 1644, Parliamentary forces defeated the Royalists in the Battle of Marston Moor.

On July 2, 1681, Charles II ordered that Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury be arrested and charged with high treason.

On July 2, 1687, James II disbanded Parliament.

What significance do these dates have to the subject of this blog?

The first is obvious: Thomas Cranmer supported Henry VIII's efforts to obtain the objects of his desire (marriage to Anne Boleyn and hopes for a male heir); he became Henry's Archbishop of Canterbury and pronounced his marriage to Catherine of Aragon null and void after having officiated at the (then bigamous) wedding of Henry and Anne. During the reign of Henry's son, Edward the Sixth of that name, he compiled the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine/Forty-Two Articles of the Protestant Church of England. During the reign of Henry and Catherine's daughter, Mary, the First of that name, he was arrested, tried and convicted of treason against the rightful heir; then he was tried, convicted and burned at the stake in Oxford for Heresy.

The Battle of Marston Moor is significant because it established the reputation of Oliver Cromwell as a great military leader. His influence over the events of the English Civil War and over Parliament would continue to grow--including the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the dismissal of the Long Parliament in 1653. A staunch Calvinist/Protestant, he would lead his New Model Army on campaigns in Ireland; he was dedicated to preventing the celebration of the Catholic Mass and justified the massacre of noncombatants at Drogheda as "a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches". He ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658; his son Richard succeeded him, but General Monck brought the New Model Army to London, supported by Anthony Ashley Cooper, to make the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II possible. That Restoration Parliament also restored the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, which Interregnum Parliaments had proscribed.

Charles II arrested his erstwhile friend the Earl of Shaftesbury because he opposed the succession of James, the Duke of York, who was Catholic. Shaftesbury supported the Exclusion Bill and argued that Charles should divorce the Catholic Catherine of Braganza and marry again to guarantee a legitimate Protestant male heir. He had become the leader of the Whig Party in Parliament and prosecuted those accused by the perjurer Titus Oates. Although the charges were dropped, Shaftesbury fled England when the Tory Party--who supported the succession of James, even though he was a Catholic--gained a majority in Parliament again. He feared that a Tory Court would find him guilty; he died on January 21, 1683 in Amsterdam.

James II dismissed Parliament in 1687 because he wanted new elections held and he sought to influence those elections so that Parliament would support his efforts to proclaim religious liberty for Catholics and Dissenters in his kingdoms (England, Ireland, and Scotland). He sought the revocation of the Test Act--which the Earl of Shaftesbury had supported in the attempt to prevent James from inheriting the Crown--and the end of the Penal Laws, as he proclaimed in his Declaration of Indulgence. The next Parliament was called by William of Orange after his invasion of England on November 5, 1688: the Convention Parliament, which would pronounce that James II effectively abdicated by fleeing England and would name William and Mary as King and Queen, victors of the so-called Glorious Revolution.

So four seemingly random dates are revealed to be most relevant to the subject of this blog: the history of the English Reformation as demonstrated through the relationship between the Church and the State, particularly as it effected Catholics in England!

No comments:

Post a Comment