Monday, August 22, 2016

Coincidences on August 22

On August 22nd, 1553, John Dudley, the First Duke of Northumberland, was executed for his role in the attempted coup d'etat to place his daughter-in-law, Jane Dudley (nee Grey) on the throne, diverting the succession from Mary Tudor as Queen of England and Ireland. 

On August 22nd, 1572, Thomas Percy, Seventh Earl of Northumberland, was executed for his role in the Northern Rebellion, which might have had the result of deposing Elizabeth I and placing Mary, the erstwhile Queen of Scots on the throne of England and Ireland (and Scotland). 

What a fascinating coincidence, that two scions of the same household would die on the same date, with 19 years separating their executions! These two men have another thing in common: at the block both of them spoke strongly of their Catholic faith. John Dudley reverted to Catholicism while in the Tower of London--perhaps he hoped for mercy from Mary--and he publicly retracted and regretted the efforts of the Edwardine government to introduce Calvinist reforms, warning the people against listening to deceptive preachers teaching new things:

And one thing more good people I have to say unto you, which I am chiefly moved to do for discharge of my conscience; that is to warn you and exhort you to beware of these seditious preachers, and teachers of new doctrine, which pretend to preach God's word, but in very deed they preach their own fancies, who were never able to explicate themselves, they know not today what they would have tomorrow, there is no stay in their teaching; doctrine, they open the book, but they cannot shut it again. Take heed how you enter into strange opinions or new doctrine, which hath done no small hurt in this realm, and hath justly procured the ire and wrath of god upon us, as well may appear who so list to call to remembrance the manyfold plagues that this realm hath been touched with all since we dissevered ourselves from the catholic church of Christ, and from the doctrine which hath been received by the holy apostles, martyrs, and all saints, and used through all realms christened since Christ.

And I verily believe, that all the plagues that have chanced to this realm of late years since afore the death of king Henry the eight, hath justly fallen upon us, for that we have deuvded [divided] ourself from the rest of Christendom whereof we be but as a spark in comparison: Have we not had war, famine, pestilence, the death of our king, rebellion, sedition among ourselves, conspiracies? Have we not had sundry erroneous opinions sprung up among us in this realm, since we have forsaken the unity of the catholic Church? and what other plagues be there that we have not felt?

Thomas Percy was stubbornly recalcitrant, in the Elizabethan government's view, as a Catholic, not repenting of his betrayal of Elizabeth, but warning the English that they were schismatic. While he was in prison, and on the scaffold, he was urged to conform to the Church of England and thus save his life, but he declared himself a lifelong Catholic and would not budge. In defiance of the norms of executions, he did not repent of his sins against the queen or warn others against committing such sins after him--his only regret was for the common people who suffered for their zeal in defending the Catholic Church. He is one of the Ten Blessed Martyrs of Sussex and a stained glass window honors him in Sacred Heart Church, Petworth. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895.

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