Sunday, September 30, 2018

Our Lady and English Alabasters


From Hyperion Records:

This project is directed towards finding, and reclaiming through performance, a range of synergies between music and image. The result is intended to be vivid and immediate—experiential, as well as historical and documentary. We therefore approach our task recreatively, via a combination of research and performance. Through a shared exploration in partnership with museums, curators, scholars, artists and musicians, we have brought together traditions of English late-medieval alabaster carving and polyphonic singing from a period of more than a century (c1380-c1520). This was the era of the later Plantagenets: Edward III, the Lancastrians, the epic Hundred Years’ War, the Wars of the Roses. Artistically, politically and dynastically it was as brilliant and as culturally formative as that of the Tudors, yet to emerge from the end of Richard III’s brief, dramatic reign. (The new altar at Richard’s modern tomb in Leicester Cathedral is made from a large slab of alabaster from the same quarries as had supplied the workshops of Nottingham, Burton and Chellaston in the fifteenth century.)

As our project demonstrates, the two English traditions of music and alabaster were widely diffused and highly distinctive. In each case, their artistic style was recognized all the way across Continental Europe, and was highly valued for exactly what it was: English art that took a full part in the wider European cultural landscape while remaining distinctive. Beyond their intrinsic technical, material and aesthetic interest, both arts were socially and culturally grounded in a shared religious culture. Their common ground was marked out by their principal themes and subject matter: saintly, biblical, picturesque, theological. Such themes informed the visual imagery of painting, sculpture and stained glass alike, and were also present in the sung texts of the liturgy. As for spiritual life in general, the specific motifs of individual feasts and devotional ideas were closely mirrored in the art with which religious existence was enriched—this was as true in its way of popular religion as it was of clerical and liturgical thought, though there were naturally great differences of treatment and emphasis.


Please read the rest there and listen to samples here.

The album's contents:

DE BEATA VIRGINE MARIA—INTERCESSION AGAINST PLAGUE 1 - Stella celi extirpavit - John? Cooke (c1385-?1442) 2 - Salve sancta parens - Anonymous - liturgical 3 - Kyrie 'So ys emprentid' - Walter Frye (d1475) 4 - Gloria (Movement 1 of Missa Flos regalis) - Walter Frye (d1475) 5 - Stella celi extirpavit / [So ys emprentid] - Guillaume Le Rouge (fl c1450-1465) THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE VIRGIN 6 - Superno nunc emittitur - John Bedyngham (dc1459/60) 7 - Ave maris stella - John Dunstaple (c1390-1453) 8 - Credo (Movement 2 of Missa Flos regalis) - Walter Frye (d1475) 9 - Salve porta paradisi - [Thomas?] Damett (? 1389/90-between 15 July 1436 and 14 April 1437) 10 - Gaude virgo salutata / Gaude virgo singularis / Virgo mater comprobaris / Ave gemma celi - John Dunstaple (c1390-1453) THE ASSUMPTION AND CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN 11 - Sancta Maria, succurre miseris - John Bedyngham (dc1459/60) & Walter Frye (d1475) 12 - Sanctus & Benedictus (Movement 3 of Missa Flos regalis) - Walter Frye (d1475) 13 - O quam glorifica - [John?] Fowler (fl c1460-1460) 14 - Qualis est dilectus - Forest (fl 1400-1450) 15 - Sancta Maria, succurre miseris - John Dunstaple (c1390-1453) LINEAGE OF THE VIRGIN 16 - Virga Jesse floruit - Anonymous - Renaissance 17 - Matronarum hec matrona - Anonymous - liturgical 18 - Anna mater matris Christi - John Plummer (?c1410-c1484) 19 - Agnus Dei (Movement 4 of Missa Flos regalis) - Walter Frye (d1475)

More about English alabaster sculptures here. You may also see some samples of sculptures in alabaster honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary in the .pdf of the CD booklet.

As September, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, ends today, October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary, begins tomorrow. Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray the Holy Rosary, the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and the “Sub Tuum Praesidium”, an ancient prayer asking Mary's intercession every day in October:

“Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen”.

[Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen].


“Sub tuum praesidium confugimus Sancta Dei Genitrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo Gloriosa et Benedicta”.

[We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin].


Image Credit: The Wilton diptych; right-hand panel

Friday, September 28, 2018

Newman on Papal Infallibility and Theological Conflict

Here's a fascinating post from Commonweal on Newman, Papal Infallibility, the Development of Doctrine. I think that the response by Michael Hollerich is better than the first statement on the issue by Philip Porter because of the words I've bolded below from Hollerich's response:

Porter’s account of the development of doctrine sent me back to my marked-up copy of Newman’s Apologia, a book I once read with fascination and still find a stunning literary performance. I remember being especially struck with the fifth and concluding chapter containing Newman’s defense of papal infallibility, which has important and enduring insights. I don’t blame Porter for being drawn to Newman’s beguiling rhetoric. But it is rhetoric. Porter quotes it selectively. When he endorses Newman’s statement that the church “must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest,” one demurs and thinks of how Romans 13 has reconciled the church to all manner of brutal modern regimes, for the pragmatic sake of its own survival. Porter passes over the infamous passage that immediately follows, in which Newman goes on to say that the Catholic Church teaches that it were better for the world to end “and for all the many millions of human beings on it to die of starvation in extremest agony…than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” You don’t have to be a Benthamite utilitarian to find this objectionable.

Newman’s penchant for such antitheses reflects his vertigo in the face of modern atheism and unbelief. It turns parts of the
Apologia into a drumbeat of either/ors growing out of his dispiriting discovery that his idealized Anglican Via Media between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism was only a paper church, and that really-existing Anglicanism was being drained of vitality and substance. (Some of his modern readers worry that the same thing is now happening to Catholicism.) Yet his eloquent defense of the living process by which doctrine has been debated and defined in Catholicism still has plausibility. He is certainly right that we have to accept the “givenness” of tradition, be it the facticity of the biblical canon, or the unfolding of the ecumenical councils, or even the emergence of an ultimate court of appeal in the primacy of the pope. I don’t see how Catholic theology can exist without proceeding from this accumulation of tradition, always reviewing and reinterpreting it, sometimes selectively forgetting it (what else are we to do with Boniface VIII and Unam sanctam?), but never cutting off the branches on which we all sit. We’re stuck, for instance, with Vatican I, though the full story of its reception is hardly over. I recommend Francis Oakley’s account of the suppression and re-emergence of the conciliarist tradition: rather than shelved and forgotten once and for all at Vatican I, as its enemies thought, it was available to be brought out of cold storage a century later at Vatican II.

When quoting Newman you cannot be selective, unless you wish to twist his argument to your own point of view. You must always trace his argument precisely, either quoting him or paraphrasing him carefully.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Holy Bible in England Before and After the Reformation

Interesting that History Today has presented online two stories about the Holy Bible and how it was produced in England before and after the Reformation: illumination by monks in monasteries and on the printing press after Gutenberg:

"Secrets of Scriptoria" by Kate Wiles from June of 2014 begins:

The commonly accepted idea of a medieval scriptorium is of a low dark room dedicated to the purpose of producing manuscripts, with rows of highly trained scribes hunched over desks in alcoves working in serious silence. But the reality is that, while that set-up might be true of later medieval Britain, there is little evidence to support such a picture in the Anglo-Saxon or early post-Conquest period.

Instead the term ‘scriptorium’ encompassed a variety of situations, of which no two are the same. An early medieval scriptorium could be anything from a room or building in which scribes worked, a collection of scribes with a co-ordinated, organised structure or, more loosely, a general location where manuscripts were produced. At its most basic it might amount to two scribes working together on more than one manuscript. Very often this is the most we can confidently show to have existed at any so-called scriptorium.

And later states:

A different kind of scriptorium emerges from studying a group of manuscripts from 12th-century Malmesbury, produced by up to 54 different scribes, including the historian and chronicler William of Malmesbury (1115-c.1140). These manuscripts were made as part of a drive by Malmesbury’s abbot, Godfrey of Jumièges (1090-1105), to produce a complete library containing all the most important texts the abbey should own. While William himself started many of the books and evidently co-ordinated their production, the bulk of the work was by an array of different scribes. The ability of these men varies. William had three assistants who stand out as being well-trained, but most of them had limited skills and were probably not dedicated scribes. They worked in short stints, sometimes writing a few pages, sometimes only a few lines, occasionally coming back later to do more. It seems likely that William called on whichever monks he could find who were capable of copying a section of text and willing to do so in between carrying out other duties, but few stuck at it for long.

Please read the rest there. (Image credit: Saint Matthew in a mediæval scriptorium (Book of Prayers, 15th century)

The other article, "Gutenberg’s Bible: The Real Information Revolution" by Justin Champion, discusses the issues of authority and interpretation that arose after the Latin (Vulgate) version of the Holy Bible was printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1454:

The Catholic Church saw an opportunity in applying their textual erudition to claim that the written word of God might be fallible, without the supporting buttress of papal tradition. From the mid-16th century onwards a battle of Bibles was in full swing. The oppressed Protestants who fled the Marian persecutions produced a handbook of resistance in the form of the Geneva Bible of 1560. Replete with a full apparatus, especially an embedded marginal commentary, the godly were guided to a proper account of their duties as Christians. The Geneva Bible, itself a triumph of typological design, continued to be published into the late 17th century. James I and VI despised the ‘marginal notes that slight the text’ and encouraged the production of a ‘safe’ version, which instructed the laity to listen to their parish clergy rather than interpret revelation for themselves.

Alongside the authorised Bibles grew an increasingly sophisticated and profitable market in ancillary works: concordances, commentaries and annotations, which aided the reader’s encounter with the words of God. English Bibles came complete with instructions on how, when and why specific chapters and verses ought to be read. The printed format (the introduction of page numbers, chapter and verse divisions) enabled even the less learned to make sense of scripture. With this literary technology, readers could exchange and share their views of specific passages.

For those who could not read, domestic spirituality enabled collective understandings. Harnessing those encounters with the word of God enabled ministers, MPs and magistrates to justify their governments and rule. Oliver Cromwell ensured that his armies were sustained by a Souldier’s Pocket Bible(1642), legitimising their role in fighting ‘God’s Battles’.

The legacy of the Gutenberg Bible was a revolution in the relationship between reading and authority in the early modern period. This encompassed the practices of lowly men like Nehemiah Wallington, who experienced their world through the providential lens of the Bible, or at the other extreme, scholars such as Isaac Newton and John Locke, who owned multiple copies for forensic textual comparison and exchanged commentaries on their findings.

Please read the rest there. Image credit: (Early wooden printing press, depicted in 1568)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ritual Matters: Liturgy and Personality

In the 1990's I went through quite a Dietrich von Hildebrand phase. Sophia Institute Press was reprinting many of his works, including Transformation in Christ, The Art of Living, Man and Woman, Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven, and Liturgy and Personality. Other publishers and used bookstores supplied me with The Trojan Horse in the City of God, The Devastated Vineyard, and The New Tower of Babel, his series of books descrying problems in the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council. One of the problems that he saw was the reform of the liturgy that had sapped its Divine Mystery, downplayed the sacrificial aspect of the Mass, and of course, stripped it of the Latin that the Second Vatican Council required to be preserved and indeed, inculcated more firmly among the faithful, both in prayer and in chant in the other liturgical reforms mandated by Sacrosanctum concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. I remember hearing these issues discussed at the Newman School of Catholic Thought I attended in 1979, and von Hildebrand's works were mentioned then too.

But when I read Liturgy and Personality: The Healing Power of Formal Prayer the first time in the Sophia Institute Press edition, Latin in the liturgy was at its lowest point of usage in the Masses I attending. Monsignor William Carr at the Newman Center at WSU held a few Latin Masses in the Novus Ordo rite, but those may have been the only ones I'd ever attended. Now that I've attended Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite for about ten years since the 2007 issuance of Summorum Pontificum, however, re-reading von Hildebrand's study  in the Hildebrand Project edition has a much greater impact.

As in all of von Hildebrand's works, the basis of his exploration of the connection between Liturgy & Personality (I think that Sophia added the subtitle) is the appropriate response to the hierarchy of values. We are as human as we should be when we respond to the objective value of things: nature, works of art, God. God should receive our most exalted reaction and response: love, adoration, obedience, worship. When we offer Him what He deserves, with the Grace He has given us to do so, we fulfill our humanity: we will be authentically human. This structure of subjective response to objective value is also a theme in the philosophy of Karol Wojtyła and Edith Stein as a Phenomenological philosophy that acknowledges the objectivity of being while exploring the human response to being. When we respond correctly to objective goods and truth and beauty, we will have personality. The Hildebrand Project provides a substantial sample where you can read his argument.

Von Hildebrand uses this response-to-value framework through Liturgy & Personality. Chapters 4 though 11 describe the objective values of the Roman Rite: the Spirit of Communion, the Spirit of Reverence, the Spirit of Response to Value, the Spirit of Awakenedness, the Spirit of Discretio, the Spirit of Continuity, the Organic Element, and the Classical Spirit of the Liturgy. Then in each of those chapters, citing examples from the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite--it was published first in German in 1933, so it's not exactly the Mass of the Missal of 1962--he describes how the Mass or the Breviary exemplifies those qualities. Von Hildebrand further explains why we won't always respond to them: because of some defect (sin) in our personality. Our egocentrism, isolation, concupiscence, narrowness, unconsciousness, etc., prevent us from responding to the great spirits and elements of the liturgy.

I presume he would have acknowledge that the same spirit and elements are present in the Eastern Rites of the Church, but what he knew of course was the Latin Rite. Dietrich von Hildebrand obviously attended Mass often and must have prayed the Breviary throughout the day. He is completely attuned to the Latin Rite.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dorothy L. Sayers at Sisters of Sophia

I'll be the presenter for this month's meeting of the Sisters of the Sophia, held at The Ladder, the Eighth Day Institute's headquarters next door to Eighth Day Books. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month and the doors will open at 6:15 p.m., Tuesday, September 18. Sweet and savory snacks, water and iced tea will be provided; wine and beer are available for a donation. My presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Sayers offers some good material for a group working to renew culture through faith and learning. In my presentation I'm focusing first on her insights into work and how well-done work, after giving praise and glory to God, benefits culture.

Then I'll explore her input on how a free and humane primary education based on the Medieval Triduum creates men and women who can think clearly, speak and write effectively, and be able to avoid the snares of propaganda and cant.

The two works I'm referring to are "Why Work?" in her collection Creed or Chaos? and "The Lost Tools of Learning," a speech she gave in Oxford in 1947.

So if you are a woman in the Wichita area interested in "renewing culture through faith and learning" come to The Ladder, 2822 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67214, and meet like-minded women!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Chesterton on the "Smart Set" and Mr. McCabe

Our Greater Wichita area American Chesterton Society local group will discuss two more chapters from Chesterton's Heretics this evening. One of the ways that I prepare for these meetings is to research some of the authors and works he mentions. For example, in the chapter on "On Smart Novelists and the Smart Set" Chesterton describes the benefits of some fiction that was popular at the time:

In one sense, at any rate, it is more valuable to read bad literature than good literature. Good literature may tell us the mind of one man; but bad literature may tell us the mind of many men. A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. It does much more than that, it tells us the truth about its readers; and, oddly enough, it tells us this all the more the more cynical and immoral be the motive of its manufacture. The more dishonest a book is as a book the more honest it is as a public document. A sincere novel exhibits the simplicity of one particular man; an insincere novel exhibits the simplicity of mankind. The pedantic decisions and definable readjustments of man may be found in scrolls and statute books and scriptures; but men's basic assumptions and everlasting energies are to be found in penny dreadfuls and halfpenny novelettes. Thus a man, like many men of real culture in our day, might learn from good literature nothing except the power to appreciate good literature. But from bad literature he might learn to govern empires and look over the map of mankind.

Then he names names:

This new aristocratic fiction must have caught the attention of everybody who has read the best fiction for the last fifteen years. It is that genuine or alleged literature of the Smart Set which represents that set as distinguished, not only by smart dresses, but by smart sayings. To the bad baronet, to the good baronet, to the romantic and misunderstood baronet who is supposed to be a bad baronet, but is a good baronet, this school has added a conception undreamed of in the former years—the conception of an amusing baronet. The aristocrat is not merely to be taller than mortal men and stronger and handsomer, he is also to be more witty. He is the long man with the short epigram. Many eminent, and deservedly eminent, modern novelists must accept some responsibility for having supported this worst form of snobbishness—an intellectual snobbishness. The talented author of "Dodo" is responsible for having in some sense created the fashion as a fashion. Mr. Hichens, in the "Green Carnation," reaffirmed the strange idea that young noblemen talk well; though his case had some vague biographical foundation, and in consequence an excuse. Mrs. Craigie is considerably guilty in the matter, although, or rather because, she has combined the aristocratic note with a note of some moral and even religious sincerity. When you are saving a man's soul, even in a novel, it is indecent to mention that he is a gentleman. Nor can blame in this matter be altogether removed from a man of much greater ability, and a man who has proved his possession of the highest of human instinct, the romantic instinct—I mean Mr. Anthony Hope. In a galloping, impossible melodrama like "The Prisoner of Zenda," the blood of kings fanned an excellent fantastic thread or theme. But the blood of kings is not a thing that can be taken seriously. And when, for example, Mr. Hope devotes so much serious and sympathetic study to the man called Tristram of Blent, a man who throughout burning boyhood thought of nothing but a silly old estate, we feel even in Mr. Hope the hint of this excessive concern about the oligarchic idea. It is hard for any ordinary person to feel so much interest in a young man whose whole aim is to own the house of Blent at the time when every other young man is owning the stars.

Mr. Hichens is Robert Smyth Hichens, and the Green Carnation was an anonymously published novel about Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas! Hichens also wrote The Garden of Allah and The Paradine Case, both made into movies. Hichens knew Wilde and Douglas; the dialogue in the novel recreated their conversations. 

Mrs. Craigie was Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie who wrote under the nom-de-plume of John Oliver Hobbes. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, she was an:

English novelist, dramatist, and convert; b. 3 November, 1867; d. 13 August, 1906. She was the eldest daughter of John Morgan Richards, a successful man of business in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., and of Laura Hortense Arnold, a lady of distinguished colonial descent. Her father came of an intensely Calvinistic stock long settled in and about New York and New Jersey; and her grandfather, the Rev. James Richards, D.D., was a preacher and theological writer of some distinction in his time. In February, 1887, before she had completed her twentieth year, Miss Richards was married to Mr. Reginald Walpole Craigie, an English gentleman of good connections. The union, however, proved an uncongenial one, and Mrs. Craigie soon sought and obtained a legal separation with the right to the custody of her child. In 1892, as the result, it would seem, of much private and independent reflection, she was received into the Church. She had begun to turn her thoughts seriously to literature some time before this event; for already in 1891 she had ventured before the public under the pseudonym which she insisted on retaining long after her identity was known, and challenged the puzzled critics by a book to which she gave the unconventional title of "Some Emotions and a Moral". Success waited upon her from the start: "The Sinner's Comedy" (1892); "A Study in Temptations" (1893); "A Bundle of Life" (1894); "The Gods, Some Mortals, and Lord Wickenham" (1895); "The Herb Moon" (1896); "The School for Saints" (1897); "Robert Orange" (1900); "A Serious Wooing" (1901); "Love and the Soul Hunters" (1902); "The Vineyard" (1904); "The Flute of Pan" (1905); "The Dream and the Business" (published after her death of 1906); - these with plays like "Journeys End in Lovers Meeting: Proverb," in one act, written for Miss Ellen Terry (1894); "the Ambassador", produced at the St. James's theatre in London (1898); "Osbern and Ursyne", a tragedy in three acts, published in the "Anglo-Saxon Review" (1899); "A Repentance", a drama in one act, produced at the St. James's Theatre and afterwards at Carisbrooke Castle (1899); "The Wisdom of the Wise", produced at the St. James's theatre (1900); and "The Bishop's Move" (1902), of which she was author only in part, represent the sum of her considered work, the output she preferred to be judged by. As she grew older in the wisdom of her art, the religious quality which seems to lie inevitably behind all her theory of life emerged more and more into prominence. It reached its height in "The School for Saints" and its sequel "Robert Orange". Whether in literary form or in artistic intention she never rose beyond the achievement of these two books. They are intensely serious, intensely human, and almost too religious; yet they are modern and alive. Mrs. Craigie was in the full enjoyment of a well deserved fame, yet hardly at the acme of her powers, when death came to her suddenly from heart disease.

Regarding Anthony Hope's novel Tristram of Blent, this website notes:

Tristram of Blent is a departure from Hope's normal adventure story. Subtitled "An Episode in the Story of an Ancient House," the protagonist is a man who throughout boyhood thinks of nothing but owning the House of Blent. This desire is beset on every side by family entanglements and complications, and provides Hope with the opportunity for a lively character study.

I am glad that Chesterton did enjoy The Prisoner of Zenda, which is an entertaining adventure novel.

Chesterton also mentions a Miss Fowler, who was Eileen Thorneycroft Fowler (1860-1929), the daughter of a Viscount; her novels were about Methodism and high society. One of her most popular novels was Concerning Isabel Carnaby.

In the next chapter, "On Mr. McCabe and a Divine Frivolity", Chesterton describes his conversation in print with Mr. Joseph McCabe (1867-1955), the former Franciscan priest (Father Anthony, 1890-1896) and staunch critic of Catholicism. McCabe wrote on free thought, contributing often to the Little Blue Book and Big Blue Book series published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951). The Haldeman-Julius Publishing Co. was based in Girard, Kansas (the county seat of Crawford County in southeast Kansas).

Girard, Kansas was a center of Socialist thought in the early twentieth century, with Eugene V. Debs launching one of his four presidential campaigns on the courthouse steps (1908) and carrying Crawford County in 1912 (the only county in the USA he won in 1912--but then he was campaigning from Federal Prison in Atlanta).

The University of Nebraska recently published a book about the Haldeman-Julius Publishing Co. and its name sake:

His admirers called him the “Barnum of Books” and the “Voltaire of Kansas” because of his ability to bring culture and education to the people.

R. Alton Lee brings to life Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889–1951), a writer-publisher-entrepreneur who was one of America’s most significant publishers and editorialists of the twentieth century. His company published a record 500,000,000 copies of 2,580 titles and was second only to the U.S. Government Printing Office in the quantity of publications it produced. Lee details Haldeman-Julius’s family origins in Russia and his formative years in Philadelphia, where he learned the book trade. As a writer and editor for the
Social Democrat, Sunday Call, and Western Comrade, Haldeman-Julius was already well known by the time he launched his own publishing company. Haldeman-Julius knew, was nurtured by, and published writers such as Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Jane Addams, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Carl Sandburg, Eugene V. Debs, Clarence Darrow, Job Harriman, Will Durant, and Bertrand Russell, among others.

Based in Girard, Kansas, his company, Haldeman-Julius Publications, covered socialist politics, the philosophy of free thought, and both new and classic books marketed to ordinary Americans, including the Little Blue Book series of classics in Western thought and literature.

This biography of the enigmatic and energetic Haldeman-Julius opens a window into the fascinating world of early twentieth-century radical politics and publishing.


If you want to come to our meeting, we'll convene about 6:30 p.m. at Eighth Day Books. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

John Leland and the Monasteries

John Leland, future antiquary, cataloger of monastic libraries, and absent pastor, was born on September 13, 1503. He had a peripatetic academic career and sought service with nobles, churchmen, and his monarch, according to the Dictionary of National Biography:

John was sent to St. Paul's School, London, under William Lily [q. v.] He found a patron in one Thomas Myles, whose generosity in paying all the expenses of his education he freely acknowledged in an ‘encomium’ inscribed ‘ad Thomam Milonem’ (Leland, Encomia, 1589). He removed in due course to Christ's College, Cambridge, and proceeded B.A. in 1522. Subsequently he studied at All Souls' College, Oxford, where he appears to have made the acquaintance of Thomas Caius. He ultimately completed his studies in Paris under Francis Sylvius, and became intimate with Budé (Budæus), Jacques le Febvre (Faber), Paolo Emilio (Paulus Emilius), and Jean Ruel (Ruellus) (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. v. 492). He returned home a finished scholar in both Latin and Greek, and with a good knowledge of French, Italian, and Spanish. After taking holy orders, he acted in 1525 as tutor to a younger son of Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, and wrote with much elegance Latin panegyrics on the king and his ministers of state, which appear to have recommended him to favour at court. At Christmas 1528 he was in receipt of a small annual income from the king (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, v. 305). Before 1530 Henry VIII made him his library keeper; and he frequently gave the king presents of books. He became a royal chaplain, and on 25 June 1530 was presented to the rectory of Pepeling in the marches of Calais (Lansd. MS. 980, f. 108). On 31 May 1533 he and Nicholas Uvedale or Udall [q. v.] wrote ‘verses and ditties’ recited and sung at Anne Boleyn's coronation (ib. vi. No. 564). On 19 July following Pope Clement VII granted him a dispensation to hold four benefices, of which the annual value was not to exceed one thousand ducats (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vi. App. No. 4). In 1537, on the birth of Edward VI, he composed an elaborate Latin poem.

From 1533 to 1543, he visited many monasteries in England, making a catalog of their books. He had his reasons, but Henry VIII and Thomas Wolsey had theirs, according to James Carley:

As early as the second half of the 1520s the libraries became seriously threatened. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an initiating player in the debacle that ensued. It was he who acted on the insight that libraries might well contain books relevant to the King’s ‘Great Matter’—‘libri de historiis antiquitatum ac diuinitate tractancium in librariis et domibusreligiosis’, as the compilers of a list of potentially useful manuscripts in Lincolnshire libraries put it—and oversaw the first movement of pertinent items to the libraries of King Henry VIII.

Beginning in 1533 John Leland (c. 1503–1552), armed with some sort of commission from the king, took it upon himself to visit as many libraries of religious houses as he could and to list significant titles in their collections, both as a means to bolster Henry’s case asserting independence from papal authority and to gather prima materia for the great bio-bibliographical history ‘de uiris illustribus’ he intended to write. Apart from those which he borrowed for his own use he also removed manuscripts to the royal libraries, which he increasingly saw as a kind of ‘national storehouse’ to use N. R. Ker’s phrase. During the actual dissolutions (1536–40) libraries were plundered, and it is at this period that so much was either destroyed or hidden underground by ex-religious or acquired by private collectors. For the most part what survived, what wandered to new homes, depended on who was at the right place at the right time.


From the DNB:

The havoc made among the monastic manuscripts at the dissolution of the monasteries caused Leland infinite distress, and he entreated Cromwell (16 July 1536) to extend his commission so as to enable him to collect the manuscripts for the king's library. ‘It would be a great profit to students and honour to this realm,’ he wrote: ‘whereas now the Germans, perceiving our desidiousness and negligence, do send daily young scholars hither that spoileth them and cutteth them out of libraries, returning home and putting them abroad as monuments of their own country.’ Leland's desire was only in part gratified, but he despatched some valuable manuscripts to London in 1537, the chief of which came from St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury (De Script. Brit. p. 299). After Leland's tour was finally concluded, he presented in 1545 an address to Henry VIII, entitled ‘A New Year's Gift,’ in which he briefly described the manner and aims of his researches. He had by that date prepared an account of early English writers, but he hoped to draw up within a year a full description or topography of England, with a map engraved in silver or brass; a work on the antiquities or civil history of the British Isles in fifty books; a survey of the islands adjoining Britain, including the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, and Isle of Man, in six books; and an account of the nobility in three. He also designed an account of Henry's palaces, in imitation of Procopius, who is said to have described the palaces of the emperor Justinian.

But the first work that he completed after his return home was a manuscript treatise dedicated to Henry VIII, and entitled ‘Antiphilarchia,’ in which he claimed to defend the king's supreme dignity in church matters, ‘closely leaning to the strong pillar of Holy Scripture against the whole college of the Romanists.’ The immediate object of his attack was the ‘Hierarchiæ Ecclesiasticæ Assertio’ of Albertus Pighius (Cologne, 1538, fol.) (Newe Yeare's Gifte, sig. F).

Leland soon applied to Archbishop Cranmer, who had already shown some interest in his labours, for church preferment. On 3 April 1542, accordingly, he was presented to the rectory of Haseley, Oxfordshire, and he held a canonry at King's College, Oxford, until 1545, when that institution was converted into Christ Church. He was also prebendary of East and West Knoll or Knoyle in the cathedral of Salisbury, but in his later years he spent most of his time in his house in the parish of St. Michael le Querne in London, where he occupied himself in arranging his notes. He wrote to a friend at Louvain to procure him as an assistant ‘a forward young man about the age of xx years, learned in the Latin tongue, and able sine cortice nare in Greek.’ He seems to have involved himself in some literary quarrel with Richard Croke [q. v.], whom he denounced as a slanderer (Collectanea, v. 161; Strype, Cranmer, iii. 738). In 1544, according to Craig's ‘Scotland's Sovereignty asserted,’ p. 9, Leland drew up the form of the declaration of war made by Henry VIII against the Scots. At length his antiquarian studies overtaxed his brain, and he became incurably insane. On 21 March 1550 the privy council gave him into the custody of his brother, John Le- land or Layland, senior, and directed that the income derived from the benefices of Haseley and Pepeling should be applied to his maintenance. Leland died without recovering his reason on 18 April 1552, and was buried in the church of St. Michael le Querne. His monument bore a long laudatory inscription in English, with some Latin elegiac verse. The church, which was destroyed at the Great Fire, and was not rebuilt, stood at the west end of Cheapside.



James Carley studies the history of the book and has written extensively about John Leland and his inventories of the monastic libraries, for example here and here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11 and 12

On September 11, 1683, the Battle of Vienna began, fought by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Ottomans, who were besieging Vienna. King Jan Sobieski of Poland-Lithuania led the battle, placing his kingdom under the protection of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowska. After the victory against the Ottomans on September 12:

. . . Pope Innocent XI extended the existing Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary to the universal Church to thank Our Lady for the victory of John Sobieski, king of Poland, over the forces of militant Islam. . . . Pope John Paul II restored the feast of the Holy Name of Mary with the publication of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in 2002, one year after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The memorial had been removed from the Roman Calendar by Pope Paul VI. Pope St. John Paul II also restored the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus in 2002, celebrated on January 3.


There's a musical celebration of this victory available, with performances of "Baroque organ music from the Hapsburg Empire", The Gates of Vienna:

Performed by Robert James Stove on the splendid organ of St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Melbourne suburb of Mentone, this recording includes works by Johann Jakob Froberger, Georg Muffat, Gérard Scronx, Jan Zach, and other composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Its title refers to the 1683 Siege of Vienna, where combined Austrian and Polish forces routed the invading Ottoman army. This victory is also commemorated by the engraving on the CD’s cover.

Some of the works in this collection have not only never been released on CD before, they have never been recorded at all. The Gates of Vienna is captured in admirably vivid sound that conveys the opulence, powerful bass notes and piercing reeds of ‘the King of Instruments’. It serves as a fascinating guide to one of the richest and most enjoyable periods of music history.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Nicholas Lanier at the Courts of Charles I and II

Nicholas Lanier was baptized on September 10, 1588. He was a favorite musician and artist at the Court of Charles I:

English composer, lutenist, singer and painter. He was a descendant of a French family of musicians that settled in England in the mid-16th century. He served the Earl of Salisbury to 1607, and the Cecil family between 1605 and 1613 as a domestic musician. Lanier joined the King's Musick as Musician in Ordinary for the lutes and voices in 1616; in addition to his position as lutenist, Lanier was a singer, and performer on the viol. He was named Master of the Musick of Prince Charles in 1618, and in 1626 he became the first holder of the title 'Master of the King's Musick.' He was Singer in the King's Consorte 1625-42, and Groom in Ordinary for the Queen's Privy Chamber 1639. It was Lanier who convinced the King to bring Van Dyck to England. His own portrait was painted by Van Dyck and the work hangs in Vienna at the Kunsthistoiches Museum. Nicholas was sent abroad to acquire artworks for the King (see Gordon Callon's bio of Nicholas Lanier II) and he assembled a vast collection for the king-- all of which were later dispersed when Charles I was executed-- indeed, some of the paintings were purchased by Laniers, in order to save them-- his uncles Clement Lanier and Jerome Lanier bought several. John Evelyn, in his diary, noted seeing at "Old Jerome Laniere's, Greenwich, some pictures which surely had been the King's." Nicholas the Younger bought four of the paintings. Nicholas lost his position during the Civil War, but was restored by Charles II, serving as Musician in Ordinary 1660-66. He served as first Marshall (for life) of the Corporation for Regulating the Art and Science of Music.

According to Gramophone:

Nicholas Lanier fits like a glove into the haute couture of Charles I’s court. As the first ‘Master of the King’s Musicke’, Lanier had his finger on the pulse of sophisticated domestic and continental musical practices, understood the subtle relationship between literature and music, sang and played ravishingly and was truly cultivated in all the arts, as painter, engraver, curator, dealer and friend of painters like Rubens and Van Dyck. As the redoubtable Roger North reports, ‘King Charles had a very ingenious vertuoso, one Nicholas Laniere, whom he employed into Itally to buy capitall pictures … And after his returne, he composed a recitativo, which was a poem being the tragedy of Hero and Leander. The King was exceedingly pleased with this pathetick song and caused Lanier often to sing it, while he stood next with his hand upon his shoulder.’

Lanier's Hero & Leander was based upon Christopher Marlowe's mini-epic poem, continued by George Chapman. There is a recording of this favorite of Charles I and Gramophone reviewed it favorably in 1999:

Hero and Leander is a remarkable achievement for its time (c1628) and place. This is a truly theatrical scena of the sort which Monteverdi would have recognized and admired, not least for the brilliance of the dramatic pacing.

Coincidentally, while I was at the new downtown public library here in Wichita on Saturday, I purchased a volume of five Longer Elizabethan Poems from the Heinemann Poetry Bookshelf, selected and edited by Martin Seymour-Smith, including Marlowe's and Chapman's Hero and Leander:

On Hellespont, guilty of true love's blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin'd by Neptune's might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offer'd as a dower his burning throne,
Where she could sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and border'd with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reach'd to the ground beneath;
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives;
Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone,
Which lighten'd by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silver'd, used she,
And branch'd with blushing coral to the knee;
Where sparrows perch'd, of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold:
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which as she went, would chirrup through the bills.
Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin'd,
And looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true; so like was one the other,
As he imagin'd Hero was his mother;
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And with still panting rock'd there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus' nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft:
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer'd wrack,
Since Hero's time hath half the world been black.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar and Bishop: John Stokesley


John Stokesley, Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar, was born and died on the same day, September 8 (around 1475 to 1539). According to A. F. Pollard, Stokesley was deeply involved in helping Henry VIII get his first marriage declared null:

In 1529 Stokesley was sent with George Boleyn (afterwards Viscount Rochford) [q. v.] as ambassador to France in place of Sir Francis Bryan [q. v.] He was instructed to prevent Albany's return to Scotland and the formation of a league between France and Scotland. But the more important part of his mission was to induce Francis I to join Henry in preventing the assembling of a general council ‘considering the influence the emperor has over the pope,’ and to collect opinions from foreign universities in favour of Henry's divorce. He had already become a prominent advocate of this measure, and before his embassy had, with Edward Fox [q. v.], bishop of Hereford, and Nicholas de Burgo [see Nicholas], composed in Latin a book on the subject, which was translated into English with additions and alterations by Cranmer. It was published as ‘The Determinations of the most famous and most excellent Universities …,’ London, 1531, 8vo (Letters and Papers, viii. 1054). In pursuance of this object Stokesley proceeded in 1530 to Italy, spending the spring and summer in attempts to win over the universities of Bologna, Padua, Venice, and others. More than a hundred references to Stokesley in vol. iv. pt. iii. of the ‘Letters and Papers’ testify to his activity in this matter, and according to his own boast he ‘recovered’ the king's cause ‘when it had slipped through the ambassador's fingers and was despaired of’ (ib. vii. 15). His efforts satisfied Henry, and on the translation of Cuthbert Tunstal [q. v.] to Durham, Stokesley was during his absence nominated bishop of London in July 1530. He returned in October, and was consecrated on 27 Nov.

As bishop of London Stokesley shared in the further measures for the completion of the divorce, and concurred in the various enactments which abolished the papal authority in England. He was with Cranmer at Dunstable when the sentence of divorce was pronounced against Catherine, and on 10 Sept. 1533 he christened at the Greyfriars Church, Greenwich, Princess (afterwards Queen) Elizabeth. He took part in the dissolution of monasteries at Reading, Godstow, and others in Lincolnshire (Cotton MS. Cleopatra E. iv. ff. 223, 225, 235–7; Arundel MS. 249 ff. 82–4), and he induced the Carthusians of London to submit to Henry. Conjointly with Tunstal he wrote in 1537 a remonstrance to Pole on his book, ‘Pro Unitatis Ecclesiæ Defensione,’ and on his acceptance of the cardinalate; it is printed in Bernard Garter's ‘New Year's Gift,’ 1571.


Author Andrew A. Chibi wrote Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar: Bishop John Stokesley and the Divorce, Royal Supremacy and Doctrinal Reform, first published in 1997. In a review published in Moreana, Kevin Eastell notes that Stokesley framed and promoted the Levitical argument for the King's annulment:

By elevating the Levitical prohibitions to the status of both natural and moral law, Stokesley argued that the Deuteronomic requirement was technically judicial law limited by time, place and context. Chibi identifies problems within Stokesley's exegesis. For example, contrary to the Levitical curse, Henry's marriage to Catherine had been fruitful in the birth of Mary. Stokesley was undeterred by this detail and, in order better to reflect the original Hebrew, replaced the plural absque liberis erunt, "they will be without children", with the singular absque filiis erit, "he will be without heirs." This modification considerably enhanced the King's claim that a transgression of affinity had been committed. The Church traditionally had been the determiner of affinity and the efforts of the Stokesley coterie inevitably reduced the conflict to a questioning of the boundaries between royal, papal and Biblical authority.

These were the crucial passages:

Leviticus 18:16 "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness." Leviticus 20: 21 "If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless."

Deuteronomy 25: 5-10:“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. And if the man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother's wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’

Nevertheless, as Pollard describes him, Stokesley was otherwise not in favor of "Protestant" reforms in Henry VIII's Church of England:

Stokesley, however, was strenuously opposed to all doctrinal changes; even the royal supremacy he accepted only with a proviso safeguarding ‘the laws of the church of Christ,’ and he became a strenuous persecutor of gospellers. On 3 July 1533 he reported to Henry that he had condemned John Frith [q. v.] for heresy, and handed him over for execution to the lord mayor (Letters and Papers, vi. 761; Foxe, v. 16). He attacked Alexander Alesius [q. v.] in the convocation of 1537, and argued against John Lambert (d. 1538) [q. v.] According to Foxe he boasted on his deathbed of having been the means of executing over thirty heretics (Foxe, iii. 104; cf. Laurentius Humfredus, Vita Juelli, p. 268). Similarly he refused to revise the translation of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ which Cranmer had entrusted to him when preparing an English version of the Bible, declaring that reading it in English infected the people with heresy (Narr. of the Reformation, Camden Soc. pp. 277–278). He also resisted Cranmer's metropolitical visitation of his diocese, and joined with Tunstal in giving as catholic a colour as possible to the ‘Institution of a Christian Man,’ 1537.

This attitude laid Stokesley open to Cromwell's hostility, and he was subjected to various vexatious proceedings. In 1535 he was required to send the king a written copy of a certain sermon he had preached; he excused himself by saying that he never wrote out his sermons. ‘If I were to write my sermons, I could not deliver them as they are written, for much would come to me without premeditation much better than what was premeditated’ (Letters and Papers, viii. 1054). On 29 May 1538 the attorney-general, Sir John Baker [q. v.], instituted proceedings against Stokesley on the king's behalf, accusing him of infringing statutes 16 Richard II and 28 Henry VIII by executing a bull of Martin V. The bishop, who was brought into court in the marshal's custody, confessed his offence and was admitted to bail; when called upon to receive judgment he produced a pardon from Henry VIII (ib. xiii. i. 1095). He also complained bitterly of the way in which the king assumed the right of presenting to prebends in his diocese, and declared that he could have no learned men about him because he had no means of providing for them.

Stokesley died on the anniversary of his birthday, on 8 Sept. 1539, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, St. Paul's Cathedral, on the 14th.

Friday, September 7, 2018

John Shakespeare, RIP

John Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's father, died in Stratford-upon-Avon on September 7, 1601. Whether or not John Shakespeare was a Catholic and a Recusant Catholic at that is a great matter of contention. Some of the discussion relies upon the authenticity of a "Spiritual Testament" of John Shakespeare found during the eighteenth century in the rafters of William Shakespeare's birthplace. Shakespeare's father was certainly involved in the changes brought about by the Elizabethan religious settlements, as the British Library recounts:

In January 1564, three months before the birth of his son William, John Shakespeare noted in his accounts as chamberlain of the town of Stratford-upon-Avon that two shillings had been ‘paid for defacing images in the Chapel of the Holy Cross’. It may seem strange for us now living in the 21st century for someone to be paid by the town council to damage a church. However, the Protestant Reformation, like similar movements within Judaism and Islam at different periods, banned the use of religious imagery, often violently. In 1559, the new government of Queen Elizabeth I passed a Royal Injunction demanding the removal of ‘all signs of superstition and idolatry’ from places of worship, ‘so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glasses, windows or elsewhere within their churches and houses’.

More detail about religion in Stratford:

In Stratford itself, at the level of town government, conformity was naturally the rule. Because of this, it reflected the way that the monarch and Parliament in London kept reversing religious policy, so that what was orthodox one year became illegal the next. Thus in 1553, the town corporation was granted ownership of the Holy Cross Chapel and became responsible for caring for the almshouse poor, and for paying and housing the vicar and his assistant chaplain, as well as the schoolmaster. But not all Reformation proclamations were carried out to the letter. The images in the church were merely whitewashed over in 1564, allowing them to be recovered later, and the rood loft (the ornate partition between the nave and the choir of the church) was only taken down four years late. The ‘Dance of Death’ on the north wall was allowed to remain. While Stratford after 1558 was outwardly Protestant, many townsmen and women remained Catholic at heart. Some of them would become what are known as ‘recusants’: those who refused to go to the established Church out of commitment to another faith; others, known as ‘Church papists’, hid their religion behind conformity. After the Jesuit Mission of 1580–81 to reconvert England to Rome, there is evidence of Warwickshire being a prominent centre of recusancy, including militant recusancy, from the Throckmorton Plot of 1584 to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Writing for the British Library, Brian Cummings accepts the claim that John Shakespeare was a Recusant: "Evidence exists that his father John was a recusant, and his mother’s family, the Ardens, had visibly Catholic relatives."

He was buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity (image credit). May he rest in peace.

Brad S. Gregory at Franciscan University

Franciscan University Presents is a monthly program on EWTN, broadcast on cable Sunday night. On Sunday, September 2, it presented an interview with Brad S. Gregory of Notre Dame, discussing his book Rebel in the Ranks. 

There's one more broadcast today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (1:00 p.m. Central) and then eventually the program will be loaded to EWTN's YouTube channel:

What were the consequences of the Protestant Reformation, both intended and unintended? And what good fruit has come from the Reformation?

Dr. Brad Gregory, author of Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World, addressed these and other questions with Franciscan University Presents host Dr. Bob Rice, theology and catechetics professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and panelists Dr. Regis Martin and Dr. Scott Hahn of Franciscan University’s Theology Department.


There's a handout (very small print) by Professor Gregory and it's a good discussion. Professor Regis Martin tries to "put the blame" on Martin Luther for the consequences of the Protestant Reformation, but Gregory disagrees. Well worthwhile viewing, especially for the discussion of consumerism and prosperity and what that means for the worldwide economy and ecology: can Planet Earth really sustain a consumerist economy like we have in the United States of America in China and India? Is there anything we can do to stop it? Can we change our ways here in the USA?

Please remember that I interviewed Professor Gregory last year for The National Catholic Register!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

James I's "Historian Royal", Thomas Dempster, RIP

Thomas Dempster, a Scottish Catholic, sometime seminarian, scholar, exile, antiquarian, lecturer, and even James I's "Historian Royal" for a brief time, died on September 6, 1625. According to his entry in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, he was peripatetic. There is some debate about the year of his birth, either in 1574/5 or 1579; he preferred the latter because it made his academic achievements seem more prodigious!

While he was a serious scholar on many matters, Dempster seems to have exaggerated many details in his own life (including the number of his siblings!). Nevertheless, the sketches of his life in the available on-line materials reflects the travels he undertook, the sponsors and protectors he found as part of the life of a scholar in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As a Catholic in Scotland or England he had to go into exile to study and teach. Among his patrons are James I of England, Cosimo de Medici of Tuscany, and Pope Urban VIII:

[He] was born at Cliftbog, Aberdeenshire, the son of Thomas Dempster of Muresk, Auchterless and Killesmont, sheriff of Banff and Buchan. According to his own account, he was the twenty-fourth of twenty-nine children, and was early remarkable for precocious talent. He obtained his early education in Aberdeenshire, and at ten entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; after a short while he went to Paris, and, driven thence by the plague, to Louvain, whence by order of the pope he was transferred with several other Scottish students to the papal seminary at Rome. Being soon forced by ill health to leave, he went to the English college at Douai, where he remained three years and took his M.A. degree.

While at Douai he wrote a scurrilous attack on Queen Elizabeth, which caused a riot among the English students. But, if his truculent character was thus early displayed, his abilities were no less conspicuous; and, though still in his teens, he became lecturer on the Humanities at Tournai, whence, after but a short stay, he returned to Paris, to take his degree of doctor of canon law, and become regent of the college of Navarre. He soon left Paris for Toulouse, which in turn he was forced to leave owing to the hostility of the city authorities, aroused by his violent assertion of university rights. He was now elected professor of eloquence at the university or academy of Nîmes, but not without a murderous attack upon him by one of the defeated candidates and his supporters, followed by a suit for libel, which, though he ultimately won his case, forced him to leave the town. A short engagement in Spain, as tutor to the son of Marshal de Saint Luc, was terminated by another quarrel; and Dempster now returned to Scotland with the intention of asserting a claim to his father’s estates.

Finding his relatives unsympathetic, and falling into heated controversy with the Presbyterian clergy, he made no long stay, but returned to Paris, where he remained for seven years, becoming professor in several colleges successively. At last, however, his temporary connexion with the collège de Beauvais was ended by a feat of arms which proved him as stout a fighter with his sword as with his pen; and, since his victory was won over officers of the king’s guard, it again became expedient for him to change his place of residence. The dedication of his edition of Rosinus’
Antiquitatum Romanorum corpus absolutissimum to King James I. had won him an invitation to the English court; and in 1615 he went to London. His reception by the king was flattering enough; but his hopes of preferment were dashed by the opposition of the Anglican clergy to the promotion of a papist. He left for Rome, where, after a short imprisonment on suspicion of being a spy, he gained the favour of Pope Paul V., through whose influence with Cosimo II., grand duke of Tuscany, he was appointed to the professorship of the Pandects at Pisa. 

According to Henry Bradley in the Dictionary of National Biography, Cosimo de Medici also sponsored Dempster's great work on the Etruscans:

The duke appointed him professor of civil law in the university of Pisa, with a handsome stipend, and defrayed the expenses of his journey to England for the purpose of bringing home his wife. It appears that on his return he ventured, notwithstanding his recent troubles, to pass through Paris, for Rossi tells the story that his wife, walking through the streets of that city with her shoulders bare, attracted such a crowd of gazers that she and her husband had to take refuge in a house to avoid being crushed to death. In the same year (1616) Dempster made a second visit to London, partly to purchase books which the grand duke authorised him to obtain at his cost for use in the preparation of his great work on ‘Etruria,’ and on 9 Nov. he delivered his inaugural lecture.

Dempster continued to hold the Pisan professorship for three years, during which he completed the ‘Etruria,’ and presented the manuscript to the grand duke.

His marriage caused him some difficulties:

He had married while in London, but ere long had reason to suspect his wife’s relations with a certain Englishman. Violent accusations followed, indignantly repudiated; a diplomatic correspondence ensued, and a demand was made, and supported by the grand duke, for an apology, which the professor refused to make, preferring rather to lose his chair. He now set out once more for Scotland, but was intercepted by the Florentine cardinal Luigi Capponi, who induced him to remain at Bologna as professor of Humanity. This was the most distinguished post in the most famous of continental universities, and Dempster was now at the height of his fame. Though his Roman Antiquities and Scotia illustrior had been placed on the Index pending correction, Pope Urban VIII. made him a knight and gave him a pension. He was not, however, to enjoy his honours long. His wife eloped with a student, and Dempster, pursuing the fugitives in the heat of summer, caught a fever, and died at Bologna on the 6th of September 1625.

Dempster owed his great position in the history of scholarship to his extraordinary memory, and to the versatility which made him equally at home in philology, criticism, law, biography and history. His style is, however, often barbarous; and the obvious defects of his works are due to his restlessness and impetuosity, and to a patriotic and personal vanity which led him in Scottish questions into absurd exaggerations, and in matters affecting his own life into an incurable habit of romancing. The best known of his works is the
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotorum (Bologna, 1627). In this book he tries to prove that Bernard (Sapiens), Alcuin, Boniface and Joannes Scotus Erigena were all Scots, and even Boadicea becomes a Scottish author. This criticism is not applicable to his works on antiquarian subjects, and his edition of Benedetto Accolti’s De bello a Christianis contra barbaros (1623) has great merits.

Author Ingrid D. Rowland mentions Dempster in the context of the fraudulent representation of some Etruscan documents in her book The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery:

A precocious teenager, bored with life at his family’s Tuscan villa Scornello, Curzio Inghirami staged perhaps the most outlandish prank of the seventeenth century. Born in the age of Galileo to an illustrious family with ties to the Medici, and thus an educated and privileged young man, Curzio concocted a wild scheme that would in the end catch the attention of the Vatican and scandalize all of Rome.

As recounted here with relish by Ingrid D. Rowland, Curzio preyed on the Italian fixation with ancestry to forge an array of ancient Latin and Etruscan documents. For authenticity’s sake, he stashed the counterfeit treasure in scarith (capsules made of hair and mud) near Scornello. To the seventeenth-century Tuscans who were so eager to establish proof of their heritage and history, the scarith symbolized a link to the prestigious culture of their past. But because none of these proud Italians could actually read the ancient Etruscan language, they couldn’t know for certain that the documents were frauds.
The Scarith of Scornello traces the career of this young scam artist whose "discoveries" reached the Vatican shortly after Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition, inspiring participants on both sides of the affair to clash again—this time over Etruscan history.

An expert on the Italian Renaissance and one of only a few people in the world to work with the Etruscan language, Rowland writes a tale so enchanting it seems it could only be fiction. In her investigation of this seventeenth-century caper, Rowland will captivate readers with her sense of humor and obvious delight in Curzio’s far-reaching prank. And even long after the inauthenticity of Curzio’s creation had been established, this practical joke endured: the scarith were stolen in the 1980s by a thief who mistook them for the real thing.


Rowland almost makes it seem that Dempster's work on the Etruscans was as fraudulent as Curzio's!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bishop Edmund Bonner, RIP

Bishop Edmund Bonner, who at first accepted Henry VIII's supremacy and takeover of the Church in England, died on September 5, 1569 in Marshalsea Prison. As the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica describes his career during the latter part of Henry's reign and Edward VI's more radical Reformation:

Hitherto Bonner had been known as a somewhat coarse and unscrupulous tool of Cromwell, a sort of ecclesiastical Wriothesley, He is not known to have protested against any of the changes effected by his masters; he professed to be no theologian, and was wont, when asked theological questions, to refer his interrogators to the divines. He had graduated in law, and not in theology. There was nothing in the Reformation to appeal to him, except the repudiation of papal control; and he was one of those numerous Englishmen whose views were faithfully reflected in the Six Articles. He became a staunch Conservative, and, apart from his embassy to the emperor in 1524–1543, was mainly occupied during the last years of Henry's reign in brandishing the “whip with six strings.”

The accession of Edward VI opened a fresh and more creditable chapter in Bonner's career. Like Gardiner, he could hardly repudiate that royal supremacy, in the establishment of which he had been so active an agent; but he began to doubt that supremacy when he saw to what uses it could be put by a Protestant council, and either he or Gardiner evolved the theory that the royal supremacy was in abeyance during a royal minority. The ground was skilfully chosen, but it was not legally nor constitutionally tenable. Both he and Gardiner had in fact sought fresh licences to exercise their ecclesiastical jurisdiction from the young king; and, if he was supreme enough to confer jurisdiction, he was supreme enough to issue the injunctions and order the visitation to which Bonner objected. Moreover, if a minority involved an abeyance of the royal supremacy in the ecclesiastical sphere, it must do the same in the temporal sphere, and there could be nothing but anarchy. It was on this question that Bonner came into conflict with Edward's government. He resisted the visitation of August 1547, and was committed to the Fleet; but he withdrew his opposition, and was released in time to take an active part against the government in the parliament of November 1547. In the next session, November 1548-March 1549, he was a leading opponent of the first Act of Uniformity and Book of Common Prayer. When these became law, he neglected to enforce them, and on the 1st of September 1549 he was required by the council to maintain at St Paul's Cross that the royal authority was as great as if the king were forty years of age. He failed to comply, and after a seven days' trial he was deprived of his bishopric by an ecclesiastical court over which Cranmer presided, and was sent to the Marshalsea. The fall of Somerset in the following month raised Bonner's hopes, and he appealed from Cranmer to the council. After a struggle the Protestant faction gained the upper hand, and on the 7th of February 1550 Bonner's deprivation was confirmed by the council sitting in the Star Chamber, and he was further condemned to perpetual imprisonment.

Because Edward VI died in 1553, that perpetual imprisonment did not last that long. He participated in the ecclesiastical investigations of heresy, but the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the image of him as "Bloody Bonner", presented by Foxe and Bale, had been corrected in later centuries:

Tardy justice is now being done to his memory by historians, Catholic and Protestant alike, yet there remains immense prejudice against his memory in the popular mind. Nor could this be otherwise in face of the calumnies that have been. repeated by tradition. The reckless charges of Bale and Foxe were repeated by Burnet Hume, and others, who join in representing him as an inhuman persecutor, "a man of profligate manners and of a brutal character, who seemed to rejoice in the torments of the unhappy sufferers" (Hume c. xxxvii). The first historian of note to challenge this verdict was the Catholic, Lingard, though even he wrote in a very tentative way and it was by an Anglican historian, S.R. Maitland, that anything like justice was first done to Bonner. This writer's analysis remains the most discriminating summary of the bishop's character. "Setting aside declamation and looking at the details of facts left by those who may be called, if people please, Bonner's victims, and their friends, we find, very consistently maintained, the character of a man, straightforward and hearty, familiar and humorous, sometimes rough, perhaps coarse, naturally hot tempered, but obviously (by the testimony of his enemies) placable and easily intreated, capable of bearing most patiently much intemperate and insolent language, much reviling and low abuse directed against himself personally, against his order, and against those peculiar doctrines and practices of his church for maintaining which he had himself suffered the loss of all things, and borne long imprisonment. At the same time not incapable of being provoked into saying harsh and passionate things, but much more frequently meaning nothing by the threatenings and slaughter which he breathed out, than to intimidate those on whose ignorance and simplicity argument seemed to be thrown away-in short, we can scarcely read with attention any one of the cases detailed by those who were no friends of Bonner, without seeing in him a judge who (even if we grant that he was dispensing bad laws badly) was obviously desirous to save the prisoner's life." This verdict has been generally followed by later historians, and the last word has been added, for the present, in. the recently published volume on the Reformation, in the "Cambridge Modern History" planned by Lord Acton (1903) where the statement is expressly made: "It is now generally admitted that the part played by Bonner was not that attributed to him by Foxe, of a cruel bigot who exulted in sending his victims to the stake. The number of those put to death in his diocese of London was undoubtedly disproportionately large, but this would seem to have been more the result of the strength of the reforming element in the capital and in Essex than of the employment of exceptional rigor; while the evidence also shows that he himself patiently dealt with many of the Protestants, and did his best to induce them to renounce what he conscientiously believed to be their errors."

Even A.F. Pollard, a definite Whig historian, in the Encyclopedia Britannica tries to be more balanced in his view of Bishop Bonner:

On the other hand, Bonner did not go out of his way to persecute; many of his victims were forced upon him by the council, which sometimes thought that he had not been severe enough (see Acts of the P.C. 1554–1556, pp. 115, 139; 1556–1558, pp. 18, 19, 216, 276). So completely had the state dominated the church that religious persecutions had become state persecutions, and Bonner was acting as an ecclesiastical sheriff in the most refractory district of the realm. Even Foxe records instances in which Bonner failed to persecute. But he had no mercy for a fallen foe; and he is seen at his worst in his brutal jeers at Cranmer, when he was entrusted with the duty of degrading his former chief. It is a more remarkable fact that, in spite of his prominence, neither Henry VIII. nor Mary should ever have admitted him to the privy council. He seems to have been regarded by his own party as a useful instrument, especially in disagreeable work, rather than as a desirable colleague.

Pollard describes Bonner's last years:

On her accession Elizabeth refused to allow him to kiss her hand; but he sat and voted in the parliament and convocation of 1559. In May he refused to take the oath of supremacy, acquiring like his colleagues consistency with old age. He was sent to the Marshalsea, and a few years later was indicted on a charge of praemunire on refusing the oath when tendered him by his diocesan, Bishop Horne of Winchester. He challenged the legality of Horne's consecration, and a special act of parliament was passed to meet the point, while the charge against Bonner was withdrawn. He died in the Marshalsea on the 5th of September 1569, and was buried in St George's, Southwark, at midnight to avoid the risk of a hostile demonstration.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

King James I's Grandfather, RIP


On September 4, 1571, King James I/VI's paternal grandfather died. His son Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, consort of Mary, Queen of Scots, had been murdered almost four and a half years earlier--this image depicts his younger son, Charles, himself, and his wife Margaret (Douglas), and young James VI (who was not even a year old when his father died) praying for the soul of Henry.

Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox was the 4th Earl of Lennox (sic), and leader of the Catholic nobility in Scotland. He was the son of John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox. His grandson was James VI of Scotland.

The Lennox Stewart lands lay mostly north of the Clyde, but the family also had close connections with nobles from the west highlands and the Isles. Matthew´s younger brother Robert Stewart was nominated bishop of Caithness in 1541, though he was never consecrated. They had also gained renown in France; Lennox´s uncle Robert Stewart, seigneur d´Aubigny (c.1470–1544), had moved to France in the 1490s and there enjoyed a distinguished military career.


He had various marriage prospects:

Although Lennox had come to Scotland possibly with the prospect of marriage to Mary of Guise, by September Lennox had been offered the chance to marry Margaret Douglas, daughter of Margaret Tudor and half-sister of the deceased James V. Meanwhile François I continued to regard him as an ambassador of France, and when the French king finally sent representatives (Jacques de la Brosse and Jules de Menage) to Scotland they were strictly instructed to liaise with Lennox and to place all their trust in him. Thus they went to Dumbarton in late September and unloaded the entire contents (weapons, powder, presents, and money) of their seven vessels into the castle´s keeping. Just how much was brought by them is not certain, but during their embassy they promised pensions of over 2500 crowns of the sun and their total costs came to 41,700 livres tournois. None of the money was ever seen again: Lennox was becoming a very rich and well-armed man. The money and supplies were not intended for the earl´s personal use, however, and by commandeering them he was weakening the French cause in Scotland, faced as it was by a party backed by England. Lennox´s reluctance to co-operate with potential allies in Scotland itself worked to the same effect. Presumably it was in the hope of retaining his loyalty that Mary of Guise proposed that he should marry her daughter, Queen Mary, on condition of his handing over the French money and supporting the Franco-Scottish alliance. It was not until November 1543 that the French appreciated how damaging to their cause his actions had become.

He finally arranged the marriage of his son to Mary:

He returned to Scotland upon Elizabeth I of England´s urging during the marriage negotiations of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1564. He quickly took up his position as the most powerful lord in the Glasgow area and was instrumental in the marriage of his son, Lord Darnley, to Mary. Whether Elizabeth had intended this (in order to eliminate the threat of a continental marriage), as is sometimes conjectured, remains doubtful. Elizabeth reacted with disapproval and had Lennox´s wife confined in the Tower of London. By August 1565, William Cecil had heard that Darnley´s insolence had driven Lennox from the Scottish court.

After Darnley was murdered early in 1567, Lennox was the most ardent pursuant of justice against the lords who had conspired in the murder. He also became the main witness against Mary.

In 1570, Lennox became regent for his grandson, James VI, but the queen´s party declared war against him. He was shot dead next year in a skirmish when the queen´s party attacked Stirling. The raid on Stirling on 4 September 1571 was led by the Earl of Huntly, Claude Hamilton, and the lairds of Buccleuch and Ferniehurst. Early reports said he was killed by his own side. William Kirkcaldy of Grange said the shot was fired by the queen´s party, and another account names David Bochinant as the assassin.