Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The English Accident-Part 2

In 1547, Henry VIII died. He was succeeded by his young, sickly son Edward VI. Since he was only nine years old this was Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer's chance to de-Catholicize England.

In 1548, the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer was published. Of course, the book is entirely Protestant as he was. He sends a copy of it to both Luther and Calvin and they criticize it highly for still being "too Catholic." In 1552, his second edition is published. All references to the mass are now called "the Lord's Supper."

When Edward VI died at the age of 16, the populace was in favor of Mary Tudor (Catherine of Aragon's daughter) ascending to the throne. The people were Catholic and wanted a Catholic queen. They did not consider Ann Boleyn's marriage to Henry legitimate and so neither was her daughter Elizabeth. Parliament, however, was in favor of Lady Jane Grey. The populace revolted and Mary Tudor became queen in 1553. She felt it her mission to restore the Faith in England. Her first step was to send Cranmer to the Tower. In his place, Cardinal Reginald Pole, equally faithful to the Pope, was elected.

"Bloody Mary"

Thanks to anti-Catholic history textbooks, Mary Tudor is remembered in this unfair way. During her entire reign, she was very popular with her subjects. Without them, she would not have been able to take the throne. She did make the mistake of burning 300 heretics; however, her successor, Elizabeth I, burned over 700 Catholics and perhaps even more. Elizabeth, of course, is remembered as "Good Queen Bess."

Another mistake Mary made was to marry Phillip II. He was a very good man and loyal to the Church but he was a Spaniard and this did not sit well with the English people during a time of the increasing use of the vernacular languages and the rise of nationalism.

When both Mary and Archbishop Pole died in 1558 (on the same day!), so did any chance for Catholicism to survive in England.

Her legitimate successor was Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, who was Henry VIII's great-niece. However, through the political shenanigans of Parliament, Elizabeth I took the throne and reigned for 45 years. Raised thoroughly Protestant, she refused to attend mass on her first Christmas or receive the Eucharist at her own coronation mass. This "greatest English monarch" however, was merely a figurehead and was controlled by a man named William Cecil. He is known as the "architect of Protestant England." He wanted to protect his wealth and did so quite cleverly. He supported the Protestant movement in Scotland and in the Netherlands. In 1559, he was the impetus behind the Elizabethan Act of Supremacy and Oath of Loyalty. He was also behind the Act of Uniformity which abolished the mass, mandated Anglican services and reinstated Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. He made it a capital crime to be a Catholic. In 1563, the Anglican 39 Articles was released. It was also a crime to associate with the Jesuits.

Those who did, like St. Margaret Clitherow, were killed. She was hiding priests and was killed by suffocating from rocks and planks.

In 1570, Pope St. Pius V wrote Regnans in Excelsis. against Elizabeth and ex-communicated her in 1571.

Cecil used the ex-communication to his great political advantage. He called the Pope a "Roman prince" and suggested to the English people that one can not truly be English and Catholic. This idea begins to stick with the populace.

In 1603, Elizabeth died. The mass and the Catholic way of life is deteriorating and some do not know or remember what it was like. James I became King (He is famous for the King James Version of the Bible) in 1603. Although his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was a Catholic and was imprisoned for 20 years and executed because of it, he has been raised as a Protestant and under his reign is the complete eradication of the Faith in England.

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