Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Queen and I: A Supremacy and Survival Interview

Beth von Staats, owner and administrator of the Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers blog and I got in contact because of one of her posts on the English Historical Fiction Writers, on Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent. we exchanged comments and then emails about the Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation, and why Elizabeth Barton hasn't been included among those beatified or canonized. We discussed some other aspects of the English Reformation, and Beth offered to interview me for the QAB blog.

Here is that interview, which Beth illustrated with excellent portraits from the Tudor era to the nineteenth century. I enjoyed answering all of her questions, and was particularly happy to address this major issue about the reign of Mary I and the efforts of Reginald Cardinal Pole to re-establish the Catholic Church in England:

7. I was fascinated by your accounting of Mary Tudor’s and Archbishop Reginald Pole’s attempted counter-reformation. Can you share with readers and browsers why you believe they were unable to meet their goals in shifting England and Wales back to Roman Catholicism? 
I think it was a matter of time: they just did not have enough. They were successful in many of their endeavors. After I wrote S&S, Eamon Duffy published his Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor in which he details Pole’s catechetical, administrative, apologetic, and reform efforts. They were working, but when both Mary and Pole died the same day, the progress really ended. Elizabeth I was able to remove all the Catholic bishops Pole had appointed: only one of them would accept the new religious settlement passed by Parliament. The Convocation of Bishops had met and affirmed Catholic doctrine and therefore, this time, they did not swear the oaths of supremacy and uniformity. They were placed under house arrest, and the Marian exiles returned to replace them.

And, of course, I'm always thrilled to talk about Blessed John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement:

12. I was exceptionally fascinated with the resurgency of Roman Catholicism in England and Wales in the 19th and 20th centuries. Just how much of an influence and impact was John Henry Newman towards this aim?
He was a great influence and he is also the symbol of that resurgence since he was a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England. He became a Catholic just 16 years after Catholics had been emancipated and just five years before the restoration of Catholic hierarchy in England, with new bishops, dioceses, churches, convents, monasteries, schools, etc being started and built up. As he famously said, it was a Second Springtime for the Catholic Church in England. There was still prejudice and fear of Catholics in England, and he often helped explain Catholic Church teaching. He influenced other converts, including many in the 20th century.

13. What is the Oxford Movement? Why did it result in the divisions seen within the Anglican Communion today?

The Oxford Movement or the Tractarian Movement was an attempt to remind Englishmen that their Church was more than just a part of the State; Newman, Froude, Keble, Pusey and others wanted to convince Anglicans that the bishops of the Church of England had real authority, handed down from the Apostles, not just controlled by Parliament. It began when Parliament proposed to close down Church of Ireland dioceses. The Tractarians, as they became known (because they published the “Tracts for the Times” presenting their views) thought the Church should make those decisions. In some ways, the Oxford Movement reflected on divisions that had existed in the Church of England for a long time: High Church (like the Caroline divines, Laud, Andrewes, etc); Low Church (the Puritans), and Broad Church (the eighteenth century Latitudinarians). Once Newman and many of his followers left the Oxford Movement, it developed into a liturgical movement, emphasizing more sacramental views of the Book of Common Prayer, introducing candles, incense and vestments into services (again, reviving Laudian reforms)—Anglo-Catholicism (John Shelton Reed wrote Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism, a fascinating study of the era. I am not sure if the Oxford Movement contributed to the divisions we see today or if it was a manifestation of those divisions in the Victorian era, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Read the rest here and browse around the blog, which has many great book reviews and will feature an interview with Jessie Childs in the near future, to discuss her new book, God's Traitors: Terror & Faith in Elizabethan England.

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