Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Protomartyr: St. Cuthbert Mayne

St. Cuthbert Mayne is the protomartyr of the seminary priests trained on the Continent who returned to England as missionaries. He was executed--hanged, drawn, and quartered--on November 30, 1577 on rather flimsy evidence, there being no laws yet against Catholic priests entering the country (that is that they weren't automatically traitors by being present in the country having been ordained abroad). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry, written before he was canonized among the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI:

Martyr, b. at Yorkston, near Barnstaple, Devonshire (baptized 20 March, 1543-4); d. at Launceston, Cornwall, 29 Nov., 1577. He was the son of William Mayne; his uncle was a schismatical priest, who had him educated at Barnstaple Grammar School, and he was ordained a Protestant minister at the age of eighteen or nineteen. He then went to Oxford, first to St. Alban's Hall, then to St. John's College, where he took the degree of M.A. in 1570. He there made the acquaintance of Blessed Edmund Campion, Gregory Martin, the controversialist, Humphrey Ely, Henry Shaw, Thomas Bramston, O.S.B., Henry Holland, Jonas Meredith, Roland Russell, and William Wiggs. The above list shows how strong a Catholic leaven was still working at Oxford. Late in 1570 a letter from Gregory Martin to Blessed Cuthbert fell into the Bishop of London's hands. He at once sent a pursuivant to arrest Blessed Cuthbert and others mentioned in the letter.

He was ordained in 1575 and came to England with St. John Payne (Payne and Mayne!) in 1576. When Father Cuthbert Mayne was arrested in June, 1577, authorities had some trouble in gathering evidence that corresponded with charges punishable by death:

He was brought to trial in September; meanwhile his imprisonment was of the harshest order. His indictment under statutes of 1 and 13 Elizabeth was under five counts: first, that he had obtained from the Roman See a "faculty", containing absolution of the queen's subjects; second, that he had published the same at Golden; third, that he had taught the ecclesiastical authority of the pope in Launceston Gaol; fourth, that he had brought into the kingdom an Agnus Dei and had delivered the same to Mr. Tregian; fifth, that he had said Mass.

As to the first and second counts, the martyr showed that the supposed "faculty" was merely a copy printed at Douai of an announcement of the Jubilee of 1575, and that its application having expired with the end of the jubilee, he certainly had not published it either at Golden or elsewhere. As to the third count, he maintained that he had said nothing definite on the subject to the three illiterate witnesses who asserted the contrary. As to the fourth count, he urged that the fact that he was wearing an Agnus Dei at the time of his arrest was no evidence that he had brought it into the kingdom or delivered it to Mr. Tregian. As to the fifth count, he contended that the finding of a Missal, a chalice, and vestments in his room did not prove that he had said Mass.

Nevertheless the jury found him guilty of high treason on all counts, and he was sentenced accordingly. His execution was delayed because one of the judges, Jeffries, altered his mind after sentence and sent a report to the Privy Council. They submitted the case to the whole Bench of Judges, which was inclined to Jeffries's view. Nevertheless, for motives of policy, the Council ordered the execution to proceed. On the night of 27 November his cell was seen by the other prisoners to be full of a strange bright light. The details of his martyrdom must be sought in the works hereinafter cited. It is enough to say that all agree that he was insensible, or almost so, when he was disembowelled.

Since he was arrested at Francis Tregian's house, that gentleman was punished:

Tregian was indicted under the Statute of Praemunire prohibiting dissemination of papal bulls. Mayne had a souvenir copy of a proclamation regarding the 1575 Holy Year dispensation, and it was supposed that he intended to give it to Tregian. Tregian was held in the Marshalsea for ten months before being returned to Cornwall for trial. At first the jury would return no verdict, but after threats from the judges a conviction was obtained.

Tregian's death sentence was remitted to imprisonment and his property confiscated. He was incarcerated at Windsor and then in various London prisons for twenty-eight years, eventually winding up at Fleet Prison, where his wife joined him. On the petition of his friends, he was released by King James I. . . .

After his pardon by King James, Tregian retired to Madrid, where he enjoyed a pension from King Philip III of Spain. He died at the Jesuit hospice at St Roque, Lisbon, where he was buried upright under the west pulpit, symbolic of his stand against Queen Elizabeth.

God bless Francis Tregian! St. Cuthbert Mayne, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Belloc Sums Up Clement and Cranmer

Anna Mitchell and I will be talking about Hilaire Belloc's chapters on Pope Clement VII and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in Characters of the Reformation on the Son Rise Morning show after 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central. Please listen live here.

Belloc notes something supernatural about Pope Clement VII's ultimate decision not to grant Henry VIII the annulment/divorce he requested:

We may sum up the situation by saying that if a stronger and more direct mind had been at work in the successor of St. Peter the English schism would have arrived with less loss of honour and moral authority to Rome. But we must add that much as Clement's weakness and shuffling must be regretted, he never passed the boundary beyond which there is abdication or denial of authority. He never compromised the fundamentals of the Papal power and of its awful claim to moral supremacy among men. There is something supernatural in all this. 

We always have to be careful in history not to exaggerate evidence of the supernatural, nor to ascribe to supernatural causes what may legitimately be ascribed to natural ones, but here there seems to be evidence of supernatural guidance. Just one step too far at one moment in Papal history would have compromised the Papacy in the eyes of posterity and have given solid argument against its claims. That moment fell in the reign .of Clement VII. And in that moment the Papacy did not fail, even though the Pope had sailed so very near the wind. Clement just might, at the most critical moment when he was being hardest pressed, bullied, not knowing what to do between the great contending forces of which he was the victim, he just might, I say, have overstepped the limit. He might, for instance, have issued a Bull in which he declared the original Papal power of dispensation for marriage with a sister-in-law to be void. He might have got out of his difficulties by allowing the verdict of the universities to be, not advisory to the Holy See, but upon an equality with it. He might have taken any one of half a dozen steps, each of which would have been, for the first time, an admission by a Pope that the Papacy was not what it was. And, by a sufficient margin, Clement happily was preserved from so fatal an excess of weakness. 

He was preserved from it by that Divine safeguarding of the Church which never fails; but he was also preserved from it by that element in him which, for all his faults, remained strong: a recognition of what was essential to his office.

On Cranmer's ultimate decision--his recantation of other recantations--Belloc is not so sympathetic:

Then, when he had been degraded from his episcopal office and function and condemned, he saw too late that they might really intend to put him to death, though hitherto to execute an Archbishop for heresy was a thing unheard of. He therefore made one recantation after another in the hope of saving his life. These recantations became stronger and stronger as he went along, until at last he wrote out and published one of great length, in which he stretched to the utmost his professions of remorse and penitence. He threw himself upon the Divine Mercy, declared he was not worthy to live, said he deserved his fate, especially as he had led so many into error; and compared himself to the penitent thief on the cross, declaring that he could rely upon nothing but the infinite charity of Christ for such a case as his. 

Up to the last moment he did not know whether these protestations of his had been effectual or not in deceiving the authorities. On the day fixed for the execution he was taken to St. Mary's Church in Oxford for his recantation to be made as public as possible and for a sermon to be preached upon it. The rule was, of course, that on such public recantation the prisoner for heresy was pardoned, and Cranmer had his recantation all ready to read. But while he sat there listening to the sermon preached about him, there came a phrase in that sermon which suddenly destroyed his hopes. The preacher had been told by the Government to announce their decision that they could not pardon Cranmer after all. 

He then did a dramatic thing. He went up to read his recantation, but at the most critical point in it suddenly declared that all he had said in favour of the Church and against his former errors was insincere, and had merely been said in order to save his life! Now that he had to die anyhow he would confess that he was utterly opposed to the Catholic system and the Papacy and all the rest of it.

Of course, Cranmer had already been condemned to death as a traitor for supporting the succession of Lady Jane Grey to the throne. Mary I had delayed the executions of the usurper, her husband, and Cranmer. Belloc is clear that Cranmer would have renounced his Evangelical beliefs if it would have saved his life; only because he realized that renunciation would not save his life would he stand up for them.

Image Credit: Stained glass window depicting the Oxford Martyrs.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Belloc on Pope Clement and Archbishop Cranmer

It's time again to prepare for my every-other week discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation with Anna Mitchell on the Son Rise Morning Show. Tomorrow morning after the 7:45 a.m.Eastern time traffic check (6:45 a.m. Central) we will talk about Belloc's views of Pope Clement VII and Thomas Cranmer.

Of Pope Clement VII, Belloc notes:

Clement VII was the Pope of King Henry VIII's divorce. He was reigning over the whole space of that affair, being appointed before the King of England had any intention of getting rid of his wife, and dying after the English schism had been virtually completed and within a very short time of its final and formal completion by the Act of Supremacy. For Henry's idea of getting rid of his legitimate wife, Catherine of Aragon (which idea as we have seen was probably more Anne Boleyn's than his own), cannot have arisen, at the very earliest, before 1525. The first (not absolutely certain) documentary allusion to it is in 1526, and overt action only begins in 1527. Now Clement VII was elected to the Papal throne in 1523. . . . He is therefore the man in supreme authority during all the period of the divorce and of the schism.

Very quickly, Belloc comes to the main issue:

Now the prime historical question which his reign arouses is this. Could the position have been saved? Could the Pope, by the exercise of certain virtues or certain intellectual qualities in a fashion different from that which he actually showed, have prevented the loss of England to the unity of the Faith? It is a question of the very first importance to the whole history of Europe for, as I am never tired of repeating, if England had not gone Christendom would still be united and all Europe would be Catholic to-day. 

The answer to this question is not, I think, doubtful. Though Clement was guilty of great weakness and of tortuous policy, though he often sacrificed the spiritual to the temporal, yet he cannot be made responsible for the disaster. Nothing could have prevented the schism save the Pope's pronouncement in favour of a divorce, and that the Pope could not do without flying in the face of Christian law, of which he was the supreme guardian by the nature of his office.

Belloc's analysis of Pope Clement VII's character includes the fact that he was a Medici:

Julius de Medici was made Cardinal and was the right-hand man of his cousin Leo X during the reign. After the brief interval of that very fine reforming character Adrian VI (who, if he had lived, might well have reversed the current and re- united Europe), Julius de Medici was elected at the age of forty-five under the title of Clement VII. 

 He was a man of excellent morals, very great erudition, good manners, perfect refinement, if anything rather too much delicacy of mind and of taste, a splendid patron of the arts and a sure judge of excellence in them. He was also a remarkably hard worker, taking the tremendous duties of his office most seriously. Moreover he was as intelligent as any man in Europe. What he lacked was simplicity, also strength of initiative and power of direction. He lacked both those qualities which make for strong command through what may be called the "squareness" of a character, and those which make for successful command through the moral simplicity of a character. In the face of a difficult and involved position his policy became a tangle of secret and involved intrigues, and he had that fatal symptom of weakness which takes the form of always playing for time. There are, obviously, occasions when playing for time is wise, but Clement VII was one of those men who always play for time, and when they find a decision difficult, say to themselves that with sufficient delay anything may turn up in their favour, and who therefore create delay for its own sake. All his method, from the first mention of the desire for divorce expressed by the English Court up to the very last still hesitating and half tentative declarations against the actions of the English government, consisted in dependence on delay. For seven years he played delay as his only card.

Belloc opines that Clement's choice was to grant the annulment (the decree that Henry and Catherine's marriage had never occurred)--which he could not do with betraying his office--or to have stated absolutely and quickly that the marriage was valid and Henry was to remain with Catherine. Belloc notes that the latter choice would have led to the English Reformation just as surely as what Clement did, which was to delay and delay. In Belloc's opinion, Clement did the best he could--and he claims that Clement's final actions were more in support of Catherine of Aragon's standing as a devout Catholic and true wife than in fear of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and Catherine's nephew.

Belloc begins his chapter on Cranmer by comparing Cromwell and Cranmer, concluding:

Cromwell, by the scale of his intelligence, his under- standing of national and international affairs, his strength of will, tenacity of purpose, grasp of detail — all that marks a great statesman — was almost on the level of Bismarck or Richelieu. His extreme vileness and baseness, his brutality and gross cowardice at the end does not affect this judgment as to his capacity, which he put to such abominable uses. 

But Cranmer showed little intelligence or foresight, was devoid of initiative, accepted through fear the various tasks thrust upon him, was always subservient, and by nature hypocritical and wavering. He did not want to be Chaplain to Anne Boleyn in particular, though no doubt he was glad of the income: he did not want to plead for Henry VIII at Rome: he certainly did not want to be made Archbishop; he took but a petty part in the spoiling of the Church and allowed his own diocese to be spoiled unmercifully. 

After being the mere servant of Henry and ready to belie any conviction of his own at Henry's orders he became the servant of the tyrant Somerset after Henry's death, then the servant of the man who supplanted that tyrant, then it was he who pitifully attempted to save his life under Mary by the most abject denials and repudiation of all that he really had at heart. 

Belloc notes one great quality in Thomas Cranmer:

There was one quality indeed about Cranmer which many have mistaken for greatness; and it is the one which we must linger upon, because error in this matter is so common, not only in his case but in a hundred others. Cranmer had great artistic power. He could frame a sentence of rhythmical and exquisitely beautiful English as no man has been able to do before or since. It is to him that the Anglican Church owes those prayers, "The English Prayerbook", the diction and language of which have given it its strong hold upon the national mind. The Litany of the English Church is his — a wonderful document as far as artistry is concerned; presumably most of the Collects, the translation of the Prefaces of the Mass incorporated into the English service, and many other Catholic prayers similarly incorporated. 

His unique talent was not recognized in his lifetime; its effect upon men's minds came much later; the strong affection which the average Englishman feels for the Book of Common Prayer and its fine phrases dates, not from Cranmer's century but from the next. It is often the case with great artists in prose and verse; they need time to manifest their gifts and these are not apparent until long after they are dead.

But Belloc also warns us against thinking this makes Cranmer great:

Cranmer having such supreme talent, in this one line of writing exquisite prose, a modern habit of mind would make us confuse such talent with real greatness. And it is at this point that I beg the reader to pause and consider how false such an attitude is. Great artistic talent in any direction, as of a poet or a prose writer or a painter or a sculptor or anything else, is hardly inherent to the man; it comes and goes; it is often possessed only for a short phase in his life; it hardly ever colours his character as a whole and has nothing to do with  the moral and intellectual stuff of the mind and soul — by which alone men's intrinsic greatness can be measured. Many great artists, perhaps most great artists, have been poor fellows indeed, whom to know was to despise. 

So it was with Cranmer, and it is further to be remarked that he was one of those artists who can only work in a very limited frame. He wrote great masses of stuff both in Latin and English, plenty of letters, disputations, reports and the rest, most of them turgid and none of them remarkable. He only produced this astonishing prose when he sat down to do it with great care, thinking about every word and concentrating upon the narrow task before him. And, as is always the case with this kind of talent, he only excelled in short passages. With all this it must be remembered that Cranmer stands at the origin of great English prose. He was not only the highest master of it but he was also the chief originator of it. By that alone has he any claims to fame. 

Listen live tomorrow here a little after 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How the French Never Quite Colonized Arkansas

Last year I read this author's study of how different legal systems and codes were administrated in Colonial Arkansas under the French, the Spanish, and during the transition to the United States after the Louisiana Purchase. This book is more comprehensive in its coverage of the colonial era in Arkansas. We are staying far from the location of the Arkansas Post which was always near the Mississippi, but it is still fascinating to read about how the French started moving south from their original settlements near the Saint Lawrence River.

They never quite got the Arkansas Post established and the Jesuits who served there particularly never had the facilities or the time and stability to make any great progress in either serving the settlers or converting the nearby natives, the Quapaw. The Quapaw were good allies of the French, however, because they saw the Chicksaws as common enemies. The settlers at the Arkansas Post were often trappers and hunters; the farmers struggled because of flooding; attacks by the Chickasaws and other tribes caused losses among the military and the settlers, including women and children taken as prisoners.

Arnold is at his best as a writer when discussing law enforcement and administration. He provides fascinating detail, for example, about the differences between notaries public in the U.S.A. today and on the Continent in the colonial era. As a former notary public at a corporation I am familiar with the process of apostille and consulate authentication, often required by foreign governments because they don't recognized the limited authority of the notary public. Arnold points out that notaries in Louisiana have greater legal authority than in the other 49 states.

He does not, however, provide much background on the government representatives mentioned through the years but the book is well illustrated with portraits of them, maps, and other pictures and drawings. Some of the portraits depict men and women of great nobility and personality.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Speaking of the Second Spring

Joseph Pearce highlighted Blessed John Henry Newman's 1852 sermon "The Second Spring" in his first lecture at the the Fall Forum last weekend. He cited this passage:

A great change, an awful contrast, between the time-honoured Church of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, and the poor remnant of their children in the beginning of the nineteenth century! It was a miracle, I might say, to have pulled down that lordly power; but there was a greater and a truer one in store. No one could have prophesied its fall, but still less would any one have ventured to prophesy its rise again. The fall was wonderful; still after all it was in the order of nature;—all things come to nought: its rise again would be a different sort of wonder, for it is in the order of grace,—and who can hope for miracles, and such a miracle as this? Has the whole course of history a like to show? I must speak cautiously and according to my knowledge, but I recollect no parallel to it. Augustine, indeed, came to the same island to which the early missionaries had come already; but they came to Britons, and he to Saxons. The Arian Goths and Lombards, too, cast off their heresy in St. Augustine's age, and joined the Church; but they had never fallen away from her. The inspired word seems to imply the almost impossibility of such a grace as the renovation of those who have crucified to themselves again, and trodden under foot, the Son of God. Who then could have dared to hope that, out of so sacrilegious a nation as this is, a people would have been formed again unto their Saviour? What signs did it show that it was to be singled out from among the nations? Had it been prophesied some fifty years ago, would not the very notion have seemed preposterous and wild?

Pearce noted that Newman's conversion in 1845 brought more converts during his lifetime and then that more converts followed in in the 20th century: some great literary converts: Gerard Manley Hopkins, G.K. Chesterton, Robert Hugh Benson, Siegfried Sassoon, etc.

Henry VIII biographer J.J. Scarisbrick (Dr. James Scarisbrick) proposes that England needs a Third Spring of Catholicism in The Catholic World Report--and not just a literary revival, but a moral, spiritual, and cultural revival to fill the gap of religion in England:

The overall collapse of the Anglican Church and the near-disappearance of Methodism and the other non-Conformists from the national religious scene in recent times have left a huge spiritual vacuum at the heart of English society. Ours is indeed a post-Christian one. An increasingly arrogant neo-paganism is engulfing us.

This is lamentable. But is it not also a God-given opportunity for the English Catholic community to come out of its post-Vatican II diffidence, deference, introversion (call it what you like) and resume what our forefathers began again in 1850: that is, to reclaim our beloved country for the true Church?

Famously, in 1852 John Henry Newman, preaching at a celebration of that restoration of our Hierarchy, spoke of a ‘Second Spring’. This yielded a rich harvest. But now we need a third.

How will this come about?

It will be the apostolate of every Catholic priest, deacon, lay woman and man. We all have to take up this challenge.

Above all it will be the responsibility of our bishops. Hitherto unseen and unheard by the outside world, they have to come out from the sidelines – to become the nation’s spiritual leaders, heirs to the likes of Anselm, Becket, and John Fisher.

They must proclaim the good news that God loves us and longs for us to love him; that his Son has re-opened the gates of Heaven for and we can all pass through them if we want to; that the seven sacraments have been given to us to enable us to do so.
The same is true of the USA and every nation where Catholics live. We have Good News to tell and we should tell it!

Image: bust/shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman in New York City, copyright 2011-2017 Stephanie A. Mann.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Meeting Mister Pearce

Things have been hectic lately and I haven't mentioned two events I attended in the past two months: The Eighth Day Institute Inklings Oktoberfest in October and the Spiritual Life Fall Forum just concluded this month. These events had in common the keynote speaker: author and editor Joseph Pearce.

At the Inklings Oktoberfest his lectures were focused on World War I, since we are still remembering the centenary of the War to End All Wars. Pearce offered three lectures: one on the great poets of World War I, including Sassoon and Owen as featured in one of Pearce's most recent books, Death Comes for The War Poets, and one each on the wartime experiences of Tolkien and Lewis. Here's an excerpt from an essay Pearce submitted for the EDI blog:

It would have been very easy for Tolkien and Lewis to have become embittered by their experience of the trenches in the first world war. Both men lost close friends in the war, and both men experienced horrors that would be difficult for most of us to even imagine. And yet they emerged from their world on fire with imaginations that would set the world ablaze with the flame of divine light and love. Tolkien began working in earnest on the invention of his elvish language in 1915 and 1916, only months before the “animal horror” of the Somme, and this would serve as the inspirational launching pad for the creation of Middle-earth in which his world-changing stories are set. Meanwhile, C. S. Lewis discovered the works of G. K. Chesterton in early 1918, while serving in the British Army and recovering from trench fever, an encounter that would set his soul on the road to recovery. Reading Chesterton helped baptize Lewis’s imagination, contributing to his transition from cynical atheism to Christian conversion. And so it was that Lewis and Tolkien received priceless inklings of light amid the darkness of war. From the very ashes of the World on Fire these great writers would enkindle the power and the glory of the Word on Fire!   

Another poet whom Pearce featured in his first lecture was the American Joyce Kilmer, most famous for "Trees". Pearce recited this poem,"Prayer of a Soldier in France":

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

The Oktoberfest was combined with the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the opening of Eighth Day Books, and there was a fun reception at the store after the Friday night lecture. Pearce will be returning to Wichita in late January 2018 for the Eighth Institute's Eighth Annual Symposium titled "STRANGERS & SOCIETY: Cultivating Friendship in a Fractured Age".

Mr. Pearce came back to Wichita this past weekend for the Spiritual Life Center's first Fall Forum, focused on Catholic liturgy,  “Memory & Mystery: Perspectives on the Sacred Liturgy”, at which he gave two lectures: “The Liturgy and the Second Spring” and “The Death & Resurrection of the Mass: Modernism versus Tradition”. In the first lecture he addressed the efforts of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI to reform the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, restoring reverence, silence, and Latin to the celebration of the Mass. Pearce used Blessed John Henry Newman's great homily from the Westminster Diocesan Synod in 1852, "The Second Spring" as his inspiration and also quoted extensively from Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. Eighth Day Books provided a book table at the forum and Mr. Pearce was busy signing copies of his books.

He and I had some opportunities to discuss submissions I've made previously to the St. Austin Review and another journal he is editing, so I'll have more announcements about those publications soon. 

By the way, Joseph Pearce will be back in Kansas early in 2018 for the Third Annual Prairie Troubadour Symposium in February: "Field and Family: Reflections on a Healthy Human Ecology"! That's held in Fort Scott.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tunstall's "Passive Obedience"

Cuthbert Tunstall, the former Bishop of Durham, who refused to take Elizabeth I's Oath of Supremacy, died under house arrest at Lambeth Palace, the "guest" of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury on November 18, 1559. He had survived the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary I by accepting royal decisions on religion. Tunstall might at first oppose religious changes under Henry and Edward, but then he would accept the king's decision and enact it completely, as Albert Frederick Pollard explains in the Dictionary of National Biography:

Throughout the ensuing ecclesiastical revolution Tunstall's attitude was one of ‘invincible moderation.’ He retained till his death unshaken belief in catholic dogma, and he opposed with varying resolution all measures calculated to destroy it; but at the same time he seems to have believed in ‘passive obedience’ to the civil power, and even under Edward VI carried out ecclesiastical changes when sanctioned by parliament which he opposed before their enactment. Thus he protested against Henry VIII's assumption of the title of ‘supreme head’ even with the saving clause about the rights of the church (Wilkins, Concilia, vol. iii.; cf. Stowe MS. 141, f. 36), but he subsequently adopted it without reservation, remonstrated with Cardinal Pole on his attitude towards the royal supremacy, preached against the pope's authority in his diocese, and was selected to preach on Quinquagesima Sunday 1536 before four Carthusian monks condemned to death for refusing the oath of supremacy (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 34). He maintained it also in a sermon preached before the king on Palm Sunday 1539, which was published by Berthelet in the same year (London, 8vo), and reissued in 1633 (London, 4to). Tunstall's acquiescence in this and the other measures which completed the severance between the English church and Rome was of material service to Henry VIII, for, after the death of Warham and Fisher, Tunstall was beyond doubt the most widely respected of English bishops. Pole wrote in 1536 to Giberti that Tunstall was then considered the greatest of English scholars (Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1534–54, No. 116). His influence was, however, occasionally feared by Henry, and previous to the parliament of 1536 which sanctioned the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, Tunstall was prevented from attending it, first by a letter from Henry excusing him from being present on account of his age, and secondly, when Tunstall was already near London, by a peremptory order from Cromwell to return (Gasquet, Henry VIII and the Monasteries, i. 151, 294).

He did not escape trouble during the reign of Edward VI, however, although the accusations against him were political, not religious, and he ended up in the Tower of London:

In September 1550 he was accused by Ninian Menvile, a Scot, of encouraging a rebellion in the north and a Scottish invasion. The precise nature of the accusation never transpired, and it is probable that the real causes of the proceedings against him were his friendship for Somerset, sympathy with his endeavours to check Warwick's persecution of the catholics, and Warwick's plans for dissolving the bishopric of Durham and erecting on its ruins an impregnable position for himself on the borders. On 15 May 1551 he was summoned to London (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 33), and on the 20th was confined to his house ‘by Coldharbor in Thames Streete’ (Acts P. C. iii. 277; Wriothesley, ii. 65). During his enforced leisure he composed his ‘De Veritate Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi in Eucharistia,’ perhaps the best contemporary statement of the catholic doctrine of the eucharist. It was completed in 1551, the author being then, as he states, in his seventy-seventh year. Canon Dixon asserts that it was published in the same year, but the fact is extremely improbable, and no copy of such an edition has been traced. The first known edition was issued at Paris in 1554; a second edition appeared at Paris in the same year. On 5 Oct. 1551 Cecil and Sir John Mason [q. v.] were directed to examine Tunstall, probably with the object of obtaining evidence against Somerset, whose arrest had already been arranged. Nothing resulted from the inquiry, but some weeks later a letter from Tunstall to Ninian Menvile, containing, it is said, the requisite evidence of his treason, was found in a casket belonging to Somerset. On 20 Dec. he was consequently removed to the Tower, and Northumberland determined to proceed against him in the approaching session of parliament. On 28 March 1552 a bill for his deprivation was introduced into the House of Lords; it passed its third reading, and was sent down to the commons on the 31st. There, being described as ‘a bill against the bishop of Durham for misprision of treason,’ it was read a first time on 4 April. But, in spite of Northumberland's elaborate efforts to pack it, the House of Commons showed many signs of independence, and before proceeding further demanded the attendance of the bishop ‘and his accessories.’ This was apparently refused, and the bill fell through. Tunstall, was, however, detained in the Tower, and subsequently in the king's bench prison, and on 21 Sept. 1552 the chief justice and other laymen were commissioned to try him. He was tried at the Whitefriars on Tower Hill on 4 and 5 Oct., and deprived on the 14th of his bishopric, which was dissolved by act of parliament in March 1552–3.

After being released from the Tower after the accession of Mary, Tunstall again became Bishop of Durham, and deprived various Edwardine bishops from their offices. Pollard emphasizes that Tunstall would not participate in the prosecution of Protestants or heretics. 

He finally opposed the religious changes under Elizabeth I:

Immediately after her accession Elizabeth wrote to Tunstall on 19 Dec. 1558, dispensing with his services in parliament and at her coronation. He refused to take the oath of supremacy, and was summoned to London, where he arrived on 20 July 1559, lodging ‘with one Dolman, a tallow chandler in Southwark’ (Machyn, p. 204). On 19 Aug. he wrote to Cecil, saying he could not consent to the visitation of his diocese if it extended to pulling down altars, defacing churches, and taking away crucifixes; but on 9 Sept. he was ordered to consecrate Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury. He refused, and on the 28th he was deprived, in order, says Machyn, that ‘he should not reseyff the rentes for that quarter’ (Diary, p. 214). He was committed to the custody of Parker, who treated him with every consideration at Lambeth Palace.

I think his career, even though Edward Burton accepts Pollard's assessment of Tunstall in the Catholic Encyclopedia (Despite his weakness under Henry VIII, we may endorse the verdict of the Anglican historian, Pollard, who writes: "Tunstall's long career of eighty-five years, for thirty-seven of which he was a Bishop, is one of the most consistent and honourable in the sixteenth century. The extent of the religious revolution under Edward VI caused him to reverse his views on the royal supremacy and he refused to change them again under Elizabeth".) demonstrates consistent weakness and compliance with the royal will on matters too important to acquiesce to until it was too late. 

Pollard makes much of Tunstall's refusal to prosecute Protestants and heretics in his diocese under the laws passed by Mary I's Parliament (revivals of earlier laws), but Tunstall was willing to stand by as Thomas and the Carthusians were prosecuted and martyred. He preached a sermon against the Pope's spiritual authority knowing that men who would suffer execution were forced to be present; he encouraged Thomas More to attend Anne Boleyn's coronation, knowing what a position that placed More in. He obviously had influence--Henry VIII wanted him away from Parliament during crucial votes--but he did not use it to protect the truth until it was too late. 

It's perhaps ironic to note that he died on November 18, since that is the anniversary of Pope Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctum in 1302, declaring that the papacy's spiritual authority was greater than any monarch's temporal authority.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Belloc on Cromwell's Sudden Fall; More's Extraordinary Case

Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell and I will be discussing Hilaire Belloc's views of Thomas Cromwell and St. Thomas More this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show--a little after 6:45 a.m. Central; 7:45 a.m. Eastern. Listen live here.

Belloc notes that Cromwell had achieved great stature and wealth--and then it all came crashing down and he lost it all because of Henry's unhappiness with the marriage Cromwell had arranged with Anne of Cleves:

What with Henry's raging bad temper at having been bamboozled into the Anne of Cleves marriage, what with his irritation in feeling that Cromwell acted as though he were supreme in the State, and what with the Howards and the Seymours pushing the King on, the determination was taken to get rid of Cromwell at last, and in the early summer of 1540, when he was a man of well over fifty and at the height of his power and wealth, he was suddenly arrested at the Council board. 

He was condemned to death by attainder without trial and made the few days between the condemnation and his death both pitiable and memorable by the imploring letters which he wrote the King begging and even screaming for life. He ended one of them with the famous cry, "Mercy ! Mercy! Mercy!" He fawned and cringed, using the most extraordinary phrases, comparing Henry to God and saying that the perfume of the royal hand would waft him to Heaven if he were allowed to kiss it again. 

But it was all in vain : he was to die, and die he did on July 28, 1540. 

Then on the scaffold a strange thing happened. Cromwell had the reputation of being perfectly indifferent to religion, an atheist concerned only with this world and therefore utterly without scruple. He had supported the anti-Catholic movement with all his might because it made his loot secure. Now that he was about to die he declared himself, to the astonishment of everybody, a firm adherent of the national and traditional faith. His sincerity has been doubted, but without sufficient grounds. I think the matter is clear enough. He had been horribly afraid of death all his life — a trait, by the way, which you also find in his great-nephew, Oliver. He therefore would never contemplate death, and therefore also put religion out of his mind. But when he was face to face with death and had to deal with it somehow he admitted Catholic truth and confessed his acceptance of it. . . .

Of St. Thomas More, Belloc emphasizes 

In order to understand how extraordinary the case is, and what a marvellous example it is of resolution and vision combined, let us appreciate exactly what it was that St. Thomas More defended at the cost of his life. 

He died for the principle, that ultimately, in spiritual matters, the Pope was the Head of Christendom — a principle which all Christendom was debating, and had been debating for more than a hundred years, and on which all his lay world in England differed from him. 

He did not die for the Real Presence, as did many another after him. He did not die, as many another might have done, out of loyalty to Queen Catherine. He did not die as a protest against a doctrine generally held heretical. Still less did he die rather than give up some old fixed habit of mind, attached to the ancient civilization of his country. He was not a man merely angry against change. On the contrary, he had been all for change. He did not die, even, at the end of a long public protest against the way in which things were drifting. He did not die for the Mass or for the sanctity of the clerical order. 

He died only for that one point of the Papal Supremacy, then universally doubted and one on which it was common-sense to compromise. To us today it seems an obvious thing to say, "Oh, but the Papal Supremacy is the very test of Catholicism! " 

So Sir Thomas More himself saw; but so did not see the mass of his contemporaries, and so had he himself not seen a very short time before. 

Belloc almost seems to admit that More died in vain and that his death was foolhardy--and he seems to ignore the influence of grace in More's martyrdom, positing that it was a supreme act of will:

He had what is called "Heroic Faith." . . . But this much is certain, that of all those, and they were many, who bore witness in the five generations it took to root out their age-long religion from among the English, his would seem to have been the most complete passion; for he had nothing whatever to uphold him except resolve. 

I think that St. Thomas More's long Lenten period--from the day he was brought into the Tower and the day he left it for the block--was a prayerful and grace-filled preparation for his martyrdom. He had more than resolve; he had the Passion of Christ to strengthen him. I think Belloc goes too far.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Tale of Two Thomases: Belloc on Cromwell and More

Tomorrow morning, Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation on the Son Rise Morning Show, looking at his views of Thomas Cromwell and St. Thomas More, who had been canonized the year before this book was published.

Hilaire Belloc begins his discussion of Cromwell acknowledging his importance in a way that Hilary Mantel might agree with:

Thomas Cromwell is one of those figures in. history, not numerous, of which we may say that they are never presented in their full stature. 

He was, in his own line, a genius of the first order, and fortune allowed him to play a part of the first magnitude. He is the true creator of the English Reformation, and therefore of the general catastrophe which overwhelmed the secure and ancient civilization of Christendom. 

Yet for a dozen men who could tell you a fair amount about his master, Henry VIII, or about any other of the prominent figures of the time there is barely one who could give you much more than the name of Thomas Cromwell, or, perhaps, add to it the fact that it was he who undertook the destruction of the English monasteries.

Belloc describes Cromwell's creation of the English Reformation as the method of achieving Henry VIII's stated desire to "divorce" his Queen Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn and then notes how Cromwell ended up with so much power--and how he used it:

Cromwell made of his master Henry a local lay Pope. And how true this is you can see from the fact that Henry insisted on Papal tides being given to himself; he called himself the Vicar of Christ on earth so far as the Realm of England was concerned and had formulas used to him which were the same as those hitherto used to the Pope by those who addressed him official letters. 
Thomas Cromwell by the time all this was accomplished — that is, by the time Cranmer had pronounced the divorce between Henry and Catherine of Aragon, by the time Henry had married Anne Boleyn, by the time Anne Boleyn's child, Elizabeth, had been born and declared heir to the throne — was completely master of England and wholly controlled and managed Henry himself. 

Cromwell was not only the lay head of the country — a despotic minister with absolute power doing what he willed — but he was also the spiritual head, for Henry delegated to him all his own spiritual power. And Cromwell exercised that spiritual power very thoroughly indeed. He made the Bishops understand that they were nobodies compared with himself, he sent his officials throughout their dioceses adjudicating and settling and punishing and the rest, as though he were a universal bishop whose power superseded that of all others. Yet all the time Cromwell was only a layman. 

Within a year of Cromwell's having worked the schism with Rome — that is, in 1535 — he began two things side by side. One was a reign of terror, which was inaugurated by the arrest and at last the execution of very highly placed people, laymen and clerics, who withstood the schism; the other was the dissolution of the monasteries.

(Speaking of the dissolution of the monasteries, please note that tomorrow will also be the anniversary o the martyrdoms of six Benedictines who had refused to surrender their abbeys to Cromwell: the National Catholic Register will post my article about them here.)

One of the victims of Cromwell's reign of terror was St. Thomas More. Of More, Belloc writes:

. . . Saint Thomas More is badly misunderstood; and through misunderstanding him we misunderstand the nature of the English Reformation itself as well as the peculiar and individual greatness of this individual martyr. . . .

Belloc notes two essential things to remember about More:

The whole point of the true story is twofold: 1. The great Martyr whom we venerate had all the intellectual and moral difficulties which attach to genius of his kind. 2. He acted alone. He was unsupported. 

As to the first point: He had the temptations which beset the intellectual man, the sensitive scholar, the successful worldly figure. To these temptations he was in danger of yielding, and had partly yielded. He triumphed over them, and that in a fashion quite peculiar to himself. That is why he is so glorious, and that is why he is so great an example. Sir Thomas More was not simply a Catholic withstanding a movement towards Protestantism. Had he been that he would have been like almost any other Englishman of his time. He was not simply a man determined on defending Catholic doctrine and boldly proclaiming it at all risks because it was his nature thus to challenge and to combat. Had he been of such a sort his victory over himself would have been far less than it was. 

As to the second point: Let us note this all-important matter, which is the very core of his great sacrifice: he acted in complete isolation, and he laid down his life for one small strict point of Catholic doctrine only; and, what is more, a point of doctrine on which he had himself long doubted. He was not supported by the military spirit, the combative energy which delights in challenge and in counter affirmation. He was not supported by any sympathy for himself even among his nearest. He was not supported by the nature of his own mind, which had been hesitant and, even in essential matters, changeable. He gave him- self up as a victim in spite of all those things which would make nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand deceive themselves that they might be doing right in yielding. 

This is the heroic and almost unique quality in More.

Belloc even notes that More had great ambition, just like Cromwell. More wanted to change the world, reform the Church, improve society--but he didn't want to destroy the world he knew, divide the Church, or rend the common good, which is what Belloc sees Cromwell as doing to fulfill his ambitions. If, at the Frick Museum in New York City, Henry VIII's portrait was between More's and Cromwell's instead of St. Jerome's (as it is on the cover of the Ignatius Press edition), it would be a perfect depiction of the different positions these men held in Henry VIII's Court. More wanted to make improvements in the Church and society based on Catholic and Humanist ideals; Cromwell wanted to make improvements in his own status based on what would please the King. 

When Thomas More was beheaded in 1535, Thomas Cromwell seemed to have won the contest between them for influence on Henry VIII; but five years later, Cromwell stood before a block of wood on a scaffold just as More had.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Book Review: "The Mass of Brother Michel"

This is a novel set in 16th century France with a slight backdrop of the religious conflict between Catholics and Huguenots. It's partially a family story and partially a vocation story. The book was originally published in the 1940's and Kirkus Review noted that it was perfect for Catholic readership. According to the current publisher, Angelico Press:

The Mass of Brother Michel, set in the tranquil countryside of southern France during the Reformation, is the story of a young man who “has it all”—until a fateful series of events leads him to a monastery. As Huguenot violence mounts, the characters of the story are pushed to extremes of hatred and love. The reader is swept along by a narrative as twisting and turbulent as a mountain stream, which culminates in a sovereign sacrifice as unforgettable as it was unforeseen. This is a story that shows with utter vividness the power of romantic love to cripple and deform, the power of suffering to undermine illusions and induce the labor of self-discovery, the power of prayer to reassemble the shards of the shattered image of God in the soul, and the power of the priest as the divine Physician’s privileged instrument.
At the center of the novel is the awesome mystery, scandal, consolation, and provocation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To it some of the characters are irresistibly drawn; against it, others are violently arrayed. Here is a passionately told tale of their inner struggle and outward confrontation. No reader will fail to be astonished at its outcome and touched by its inspiring and miraculous climax.
The trouble I had while reading the novel was that the time period was never very clear--the characters were well-drawn and fleshed out, especially the villains--but I could not really tell that France was torn by religious civil war. The action of the novel is so domestic and insular that the Wars of Religion faded to the background. It also troubled me that the crucial event of the novel, the one action that set all the complications of the family into motion and led to the central conflict of the plot, was reported at second hand. It was a scene that merited a first-hand description in my opinion. The novel was so focused on the interior life of the characters that historical and fictional events were all at a remove. I always expect fiction to show me action, to describe and depict events. Michael Kent focuses so much on the thoughts and internal struggles of the hero and heroine, and to lesser extent, the villains of the story, that it's more of a meditation than a novel. 

The subjects of its meditation, the monastic vocation, marriage, the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist, are all worthy of the detail and care the author takes. As a novel, I'd have to give it three stars; as a religious meditation and exploration of good and evil, I'd gift it four stars.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Martinmas!

Today is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, one of the first non-martyr saints, a confessor for Christ. He is best known and most frequently depicted as a soldier mounted on a horse, handing half of his cloak to a beggar. I've chosen a different image: St Martin leaves the life of chivalry and renounces the army (fresco by Simone Martini). After his conversion, brought about by a visit from Jesus revealing Himself to have been that beggar, Martin left the Roman army, became a hermit, and eventually was ordained priest and bishop. We have an early life written by Sulpicius Severus, who knew him!

More about Martinmas, one of those feasts that anchored the Medieval year in custom and liturgical observance:

Famous for his generosity towards a drunken beggar, with whom he shared his cloak, St Martin is the patron saint of beggars, drunkards and the poor. As his feast day falls during the wine harvest in Europe, he is also the patron saint of wine growers and innkeepers.

As Martinmas coincided with the gathering in of the harvest, during the Middle Ages it was a time for feasting, to celebrate the end of autumn and the start of preparations for winter. Martlemass beef, salted to preserve it for the winter, was produced from cattle slaughtered at this time. Traditionally, goose and beef were the meats of choice for the celebrations, along with foods such as black pudding and haggis.

Martinmas is also a Scottish term day. The Scottish legal year is divided into four term and quarter days: Candlemas, Whitsunday, Lammas and Martinmas. On these days servants would be hired, rent would be due and contracts would begin or end. Traditionally therefore, Martinmas was also the time of hiring fairs, at which agricultural labourers and farm hands would seek employment.

Liturgically, the feast of St. Martin of Tours ended the Octave of All Souls Day, an intense period of prayer for our beloved dead. Today, I'll be attending the funeral of the sister of a high school classmate. He is a priest and will be officiating at her Funeral Mass. Her parents serve as lector and sacristan at our home parish--he was the lector at my mother's funeral while she prepared the Altar that day. In your kindness, please pray for the repose of the soul of Karen. 

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her. 

May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.


In the USA, today is Veterans Day. In Europe, today is Armistice Day: at the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918, the War to End All Wars ended--and as we know, probably sowed the seeds that blossomed into World War II. Peace!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Peter Wentworth, RIP in the Tower

Peter Wentworth, MP for Northampton, argued often on matters of Church and State in Elizabethan Parliaments. He also ended up in prison for those arguments because they displeased Queen Elizabeth I. According to the History of Parliament website, he displeased her one more time, by reminding her that she should make it clear who would succeed her when she died:

In 1587, after the death of Mary Queen of Scots, he had drafted A Pithie Exhortation of her Majestie for establishing her successor to the crowne, a tract published by a friend after his death. Its language was forthright, his admonitions to the Queen at times needlessly and shockingly frank. In a letter to Burghley he later defended the sharpness of his language by quoting 'the spirit of God in Solomon': 'The wounds of a lover are faithful, and kisses of an enemy are deceitful'.

Wentworth intended to present his tract in the Parliament of 1589 and launch a campaign for settling the succession; but he evidently found the time unpropitious. He tried to persuade Burghley to approach the Queen on the subject, and again in 1590 came to London to renew this quixotic plan. Next year he turned to the Earl of Essex, hoping that he would present his tract to the Queen. But copies of the tract were leaked to the Privy Council, and in August 1591 they committed him prisoner, this time to the Gatehouse. He was incorrigible. Instead of seeking pardon, he tried once more to get Burghley to approach the Queen, convinced that this statesman believed as he did: which may, indeed, have been true. Wentworth was released from the Gatehouse in November, confined for a time in a private house, and finally set at liberty in February 1592. . . .

Wentworth was imprisoned in the Tower, where he remained till his death four-and-a-half years later. It is clear from several surviving petitions and letters that he could have secured his freedom within a reasonable time if he had been prepared to acknowledge his fault and give pledge of future silence, without which he remained a potential focus of unrest and disturber if the Queen's delicately poised policy for the peaceful transition of the crown at her death. Instead of repentance, in every petition he reiterated the argument of his "Pithie Exhortation": to do otherwise, he declared, would be to 'give her Highness a most detestable Judas-kiss'. In 1594, when Doleman's "Conference about the Next Succession to the Crown of England" was published—a disturbing Catholic tract—he was reckless enough, at the instance of some friends, to write an answer, entitled "A Discourse containing the Author's opinion of the true and lawful successor to her Majesty". It was published after his death along with his "Pithie Exhortation" and, fortunately for Wentworth, seems to have been kept secret from the authorities. Wentworth pronounced in favour of James VI's title to the succession—a judgement he would have strongly opposed earlier, thus, incidentally, vindicating the Queen in her policy of letting time simplify the problem. Doleman had been led to exalt the rights of Parliament. Thus, ironically enough, Wentworth found himself expounding the limitations of those rights.

To keep Wentworth where he could do no harm to the state was the main concern of Queen and Council. As he put it himself: 'The causes if my long imprisonment ... a truth plainly delivered. His second wife was permitted to live with him in the Tower, and there she died, July 1596, 'my chiefest comfort in this life, even the best wife that ever poor gentleman enjoyed' There was a proposal to release him on the pledges of sureties in July 1597, when he asked not to be sent home to Lillingstone Lovell, where memories of his wife would be too much for him. On 10 Nov. that year he died. An inquisition post mortem taken at Oxford in 1599 was concerned with his manor of Lillingstone Lovell and house, woods, etc. in the parish and in Lillingstone Dayrell. Wentworth's children married into puritan families, and one of his sons, Thomas, emulated his father in Parliament in James I's reign.

Elizabeth I did not want to name a successor! Since she had not married she had no children, but there was a line of succession either in England (the Grey sisters), or in Scotland (James VI). Leanda de Lisle has written two books about the choices Elizabeth I faced. It's ironic, isn't it, that her father's greatest concern was a stable and orderly succession--that her half-brother changed their father's will about the succession--that Mary I acknowledged that Elizabeth would succeed her, but Elizabeth would not name her successor until she was on her deathbed, and then only with a nod.

Father Robert Parsons, SJ, was likely the author of "Doleman's Conference". More about it here from the British Library.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sir Philip Sidney and St. Edmund Campion

Sir Philip Sidney, courtier, diplomat, poet, and soldier, is known as the great champion of Elizabethan, Protestant England. But he had connections to someone who would become the most hunted man in England, Edmund Campion.

As this biography of Campion notes, Sidney met with Campion when visiting Prague, while the latter was studying for the priesthood in April, 1577:

Meanwhile Rudolph II had succeeded to the imperial throne; and the “magnificently provided” Envoy who was sent to[67] Prague, bearing the congratulations of Queen Elizabeth, was none other than Sir Philip Sidney. Sidney’s mind was set upon seeing his old friend Campion, and talking with him; but he managed only with difficulty to carry out his wishes. He went officially in the Emperor’s train to hear his friend (not yet in priest’s orders) preach, and on his return to England unguardedly spoke with delight of the sermon. Whenever Sidney visited the Continent he was supposed to become tainted with a hankering after Catholicism, though in all his public actions he was conspicuously Protestant. Campion, who knew him from boyhood and was not given to misjudgment, believed that he had almost won over the star of English chivalry: “this young man so wonderfully beloved and admired,” he calls him in 1576; a testimony doubly interesting, when we remember that Philip Sidney was then but three-and-twenty, to the effect which his short life made upon all his contemporaries. “He had much conversation with me,” Campion’s letter goes on, “and I hope not in vain, for to all appearances[68] he was most keen about it. I commend him to your remembrances at Mass, since he asked the prayers of all good men, and at the same time put into my hands alms to be distributed to the poor for him; this trust I have discharged.” He ends by hoping that some of the missionaries then going back to England from Douay will have “opportunity of watering this plant . . . poor wavering soul!” Fr. Parsons in his Life of Campion tells us that Sidney “professed himself convinced, but said that it was necessary for him to hold on the course which he had hitherto followed.” Such was the sad answer of Felix to St. Paul.

Sidney and Campion had met before, of course, since Sidney had accompanied Elizabeth to Oxford when Campion had made his great impression on the queen and had earned the patronage of Sidney's uncle, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Sidney had also studied at Oxford while Campion was a Fellow at St. John's and Proctor. Edmund Campion had served in Sidney's father's household in Ireland, where Sir Henry Sidney served as Elizabeth's Lord Deputy. Campion wrote his History of Ireland while in Sidney's service and had dedicated it to Leicester.

Katherine Duncan-Jones, a Somerville College Shakespeare Scholar, wrote a biography of Sidney in 1991 that Blair Worden appreciated in the London Review of Books (subscription required) in a review essay about Philip and Algernon Sidney:

Katherine Duncan-Jones’s Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet is the first major biography of its subject since 1915. Rarely is a scholarly book so spirited, or a spirited book so scholarly. Duncan-Jones’s learning, always profound and never advertised, is communicated with elegance and lightness of touch. She aims ‘not to debunk’ Sidney but to ‘summon him to life, spots and all’. Like so many of his family – not least Algernon – Philip had a querulous, at times violent character. He could also be a prig and a snob. And he could be deeply devious, a characteristic ruefully observed by a victim of it who remarked that Sidney had been bred up ‘at a bad school’, the school of the unscrupulous Leicester. On the credit side are his undoubted charm and affability and the breadth and discernment of his artistic and literary patronage. There is also a bottomless generosity, although here Duncan-Jones seems less clear-eyed than usual. He was indeed wonderfully generous, but with whose money? His mentor Hubert Languet apparently ate into his lifesavings to assist Philip’s gift-giving. On his deathbed Philip willed away endless possessions, and left Sir Francis Walsingham, his father-in-law and executor, to sink beneath the burden of Philip’s debts. . . .

Sidney’s religious beliefs interest Duncan-Jones more than his political ones. They nonetheless remain elusive. Her principal contribution is to emphasise his contacts and friendships with Roman Catholics, which appear to contradict the conventional picture of zealous Protestantism. Much is made of his ties with Edmund Campion, who hoped for Sidney’s conversion. I suspect that Sidney followed Leicester’s example and sought a power base across the religious boundaries even as he backed the party of forward Protestantism. Both in his life and in his art Duncan-Jones detects a growing religious intensity in the final years of Sidney’s life. When he went to the Netherlands the intensity acquired an apocalyptic strain, which seems to sit oddly beside his doctrinally liberal Platonism. How little we sometimes understand the theological equipment of the political thinkers of Early Modern England. The same puzzling combination would appear a century later, with so many of Philip’s characteristics, in his great-nephew Algernon.

Duncan-Jones also contributed an essay on Campion and Sidney to a collection edited by Thomas M. McCoog, SJ, The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Interview with Phillip Campbell on "Heroes & Heretics"

Available now from TAN Books, Heroes & Heretics of the Reformation tells the story of the Reformation from about 1517 to 1581 through the Martin Luther to Thomas More, Charles V to Pope St. Pius V, and many more. I interviewed the author, Phillip Campbell:

Why did you choose to tell the story of the Protestant, English, and Catholic Reformations through biographical chapters? 

The Reformation is not an easy story to tell chronologically because there were so many things happening in so many different places. In order to stop the narrative from spiraling out of control and having to backtrack continually, I thought it would be an easier read to select a series of characters who exemplify different aspects of the era and tell the story through their experiences.

How did you choose which heroes and heretics to feature? 

Well obviously there are some you simply have to include by virtue of their importance; no story about the Reformation can omit Luther or Thomas More. But for some of the other characters, I tried to select people who really were emblematic of the conflicts of the age. For example, St. Edmund Campion was certainly not one of the big movers and shakers of the Reformation; he was just a simple priest who was caught and killed. However, his life and death really exemplify the struggle thousands of Catholics wrestled with under Queen Elizabeth, so his story was an apt symbol of that phase of English history.

Isn’t there really a third category? What would you call Erasmus, Charles V, Philip II of Spain, Catherine d’Medici? Are they heroes? 

The title Heroes and Heretics is not meant to suggest everyone in the book is either a hero or a heretic. Rather, this title represents two poles on a spectrum. As you noted, there are many people caught in between, people such as Erasmus, Catherine de Medici, and probably thousands of regular Christians whose allegiance was muddled or whose devotion to one side or the other was less than total. And the reason I included some of those folks was to demonstrate that, while from the point of view of Catholic doctrine there were undoubtedly right and wrong sides, the actual experience of the Reformation as lived by the people of the 16th century could sometimes be much more complex.

Why did you choose St. Peter Canisius to begin the book? He’s not the first Reformation-era saint who comes to mind! 

I chose St. Peter to open the book because his life was contiguous with all the great events of the era. He was born the year Luther was excommunicated, was a foundational member of the Jesuits, worked through the sessions of the Council of Trent, implemented Trent throughout Europe, founded numerous universities, and died as the French Wars of Religion were coming to a close. He literally was a witness to everything the book discusses. And he is also a great example because he was able to take the disorders of the age and use them as an occasion for sanctity, which is an example all Catholics can follow.

In chapter two, “The Exhaustion of Christendom”, you speak of people becoming “weary of the intellectual precision it took to keep the medieval world in harmony” or balance. Is that what we are seeing today in our country and/or other countries? People are tired of thinking about what it means to be a free citizen when the government offers to take over all those decisions for the sake of peace and security? Or, people are tired of maintaining true freedom of speech when some speech offends them? Are we weary? 

Absolutely. Especially in places where there is a de facto two-party political system whose politics inundates the media, we slowly transform from people who merely have a two party system to binary thinkers who can only conceive of two potential points of view, both opposed to each other. Everything is either-or. People lose the ability to harmonize things. This sort of thinking is what led to the erosion of the the medieval synthesis.

I appreciated your comment in the introduction about the balance between believing the Catholic Church is the one, true Church founded by Jesus and yet being able to see the failures and successes of the members of the Church. Why did you think it important to make that distinction? 

It's another one of those syntheses the faith requires us to make. The Church has a divine constitution, but its made up of fallible human beings. We will really never really understand the Catholic Church rightly unless we can maintain this distinction.

You ended your book with the Edict of Nantes. There’s also a common view of “the Long Reformation” that lasts well into the seventeenth century. Why did you choose 1598 as your stopping point? 

Well, the short answer is that TAN only wanted a book of a certain length and no more. But, a more substantial answer would be that while obviously there is still religious conflict going into the 17th century (many point to 1648 as the "real" end of the Reformation), nevertheless by 1598 the main contours of the Reformation had already been sketched out. The major schools of thought had all been established, political alliances sorted out, and the essential religious framework that would define Europe until the modern age was more or less established.

How has the “Black Legend” of Spain influenced even Catholics’ common view of how Spain, her bishops, her monarchs, and her saints responded to the Protestant Reformation and the need for reform within the Church? 

The "Black Legend" is the idea of a villainous, evil Spain imposing Catholicism in a tyrannical and authoritarian manner. It is largely accepted in the English-speaking world because it is essentially the echo of English propaganda that has come down to us from the Elizabethan era. Obviously castigating Spain while holding Elizabethan England up as a paragon of religious tolerance is ridiculous. But it is just part and parcel of being an English-speaker that you inherit these prejudices. It is really unfortunate because Spain is a great example of how a regional Church was able to reform itself prior to the revolt of Luther. I think a lot more work needs to be done by Catholic authors and historians on Spain and Spanish Catholicism, because what people know currently is just a mixture of prejudice and myth.

According to this on-line biography:

Phillip Campbell holds a BA in European History from Ave Maria University and a certificate in Secondary Education through Madonna University. He taught history and Scripture for the St. Augustine Homeschool Enrichment Program for ten years. Mr. Campbell is the author of the popular " Story of Civilization" series by TAN Books. He recently joined the Catholic History Textbook Project. Mr. Campbell's writings have appeared in the St. Austin Review and The Distributist Review. He is also the star of the YouTube sensation History in a Minute. Mr. Campbell served as the Mayor of Howell, MI from 2011 to 2015 and has been involved in homeschooling for more than 15 years.

He also publishes books at Cruachan Hill Press.

I have submitted a review of Heroes & Heretics of the Reformation to the St. Austin Review; publication date TBA.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A "What If" for November the Fifth

Dr John Cooper, senior lecturer in early modern history at the University of York, writes about what could have happened if Guy Fawkes had set off all that gunpowder under the House of Lords for the BBC History Magazine:

Two totally different scenarios could then have played out. Everything pivoted on the person of Prince Charles, Duke of York. At just four years old, Charles was the next heir to Prince Henry. The gunpowder plotters were unsure how to factor Charles into their plans, probably because they couldn’t be certain whether he would have been present at the opening of parliament. Charles was not a robust child (he had only just learned to walk), and might not have been capable of attending a long and tiring day of royal ceremony. If he escaped the explosion at Westminster, then Charles would be king by inheritance. Thomas Percy was deputed to kidnap him from his household in London.

With the Prince of Wales dead and both Charles and Elizabeth in the hands of the rebels, loyalists to the monarchy would have had no figurehead around whom to rally. But if Charles had been moved to safety, to Scotland or to his mother’s native Denmark, then the Protestant establishment might have been able to regroup. Faced with the demand to proclaim Elizabeth as queen, many towns would probably have played for time until their corporations could establish which side was likely to win, just as they had done in 1553 during the attempted Protestant coup to put Lady Jane Grey on the English throne.

What next? A religious civil war, like those which had crippled France during the later 16th century? The break-up of the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, barely two years old and wholly dependent on the person of James VI and I? Instead of the Flight of the Earls from Ulster [when a large proportion of Ulster’s Gaelic aristocracy fled Ireland for the continent], a resurgence of Catholic forces in Ireland and the overwhelming of the Protestant plantations? All of this is speculation; but sometimes taking a counterfactual perspective can reveal the deep forces underlying the accidents of history.

Please read the rest there.