Saturday, September 22, 2012

The English Reformation Today: Episode Eight

The last five episodes of "The English Reformation" cover highlights from four centuries of English religious history, as the attention on the Tudors and all the religious changes have ben my focus thus far. With the new dynasty in power, I'll begin with the reign of James VI and I of Scotland and England and start telling the story of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore and Maryland:

The Stuarts of Scotland come to England: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England--his religious background in Scotland and expectations in England. The Authorized Version of the Holy Bible: The King James Version and its impact. The Gunpowder Plot: Catholic reaction to James I's treatment of Catholics and the government's reaction to the Plot--the Fifth of November. Highlight the story of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore--his service to King James I; his reversion to Catholicism; his establishment of the Maryland Colony in New England and his great experiment in religious freedom and tolerance.

James I saw that the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics in England was not really a matter of punishing treason, but an attempt to enforce the orthodoxy of the Church of England: it was religious persecution. He thought that religious persecution was a sign of weakness of the Church of England and he wished to reduce the number of executions--while he was definitely ready to collect the fines and seize the property of those who refused to attend Church of England services. There are still martyrs during his reign, but the pattern of execution is more irregular. As I've discussed before:

James VI of Scotland and I of England and Ireland executed fewer priests and laity under his predecessor's treason and felony laws. Although terrified after the near miss, James was really rather restrained in his reaction to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. At least, he was restrained if you compare the numbers of Catholics executed for their faith in the years after the November 5, 1605 discovery of the plot to the brutal reaction of Elizabeth I's government after the failed Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1606, there were three martyrs (including Nicholas Owen by torture); one in 1607; three in 1608 (including Thomas Garnet, SJ); none in 1609. Compare that to the executions of 1588 alone: eight on August 28; six on August 30; seven more on October 1 and three on October 5--and the martyrdoms continued through the end of Elizabeth I's reign.

In 1610, however, in reaction to the assassination of King Henry IV of France by Francois Ravillac in May, James' fears were revived. The Oath of Allegiance, which he thought perfectly reasonable and limited to temporal loyalties, had not been accepted by Catholics as well as he hoped, and thus there was a slight uptick in executions--still only four (the others were Roger Cadwallador and George Napper, the latter in Oxford).

In 1611, George Abbott became Archbishop of Canterbury--he was more zealous in his suppression of Catholicism, but still only two martyrs in 1612; none from 1613 to 1615 (one that year, Robert Edmonds); six in 1616 and one in 1618. So that's 21 martyrs from 1606 to 1618 compared to 24 martyrs from August 28 to October 5, 1588!

Then things settled down again until the reign of Charles I.

I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website. Next week: Charles I and Cromwell!

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