Thursday, October 30, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church XCV

James I
Elizabeth was not only having trouble with her Catholic subjects—she was also having trouble with her Protestant ones.  The issue was that the Church of England had become rigidly Calvinist.  The clergy who had embraced Cranmer’s reforms during the reign of King Edward VI and fled to the continent to escape persecution under the Catholic Mary (aka Bloody Mary) had been exposed while on the continent to Calvinist doctrine and polity.  They had already been disposed to continental models of doctrine under the leadership of Archbishop Cranmer who had gradually drifted from Lutheran style Protestantism to the more radical Swiss ideas of Zwingli and Calvin, but Cranmer wanted to retain bishops (he was one, after all) and was in no way anxious to embrace the Presbyterian polity of the continental Reformed Churches.  But Cranmer was now dead (Mary had seen to that) and the Church was more Calvinist in doctrine than ever.  The Puritan faction saw bishops as a holdover from the Catholic era and were anxious to rid the Church of them.  Elizabeth, for her part, saw that the bishops were one of the strong props of the monarchy.  The Presbyterian model of Church government was a tad too democratic for her liking.  Indeed, Elizabeth was no Calvinist.  She had a liking for pomp and ceremony and the Reformed ideas coming from the continent were not to her taste at all.  As we mentioned in an earlier posting, in her revision of the prayerbook she made sure that the vestments and altar furnishings of her father’s day were retained.  For the most part, of course, they weren’t, except in her chapel and there was a constant tension between the Puritan faction (which controlled the House of Commons and thus the taxes that furnished the royal purse) and the Crown over the direction of the Church of England.  Elizabeth shut her eyes to the stark puritan worship followed in the parish churches; the puritans grumbled about the papist trappings in the chapel royal but in the end did nothing confrontational other than an occasional “in-your-face” sermon decrying the Queen’s tendencies towards romish idolatry.  In the end the Puritans knew they were fortunate to have a Queen like Elizabeth who would turn a blind eye to their divergent religious practices, but it also left the Church of England in a certain ambiguity of being neither fully Protestant nor sufficiently Catholic to please anyone.  
Elizabeth died March 24, 1603 and was buried five weeks later with Protestant ceremonial (such as it was) in Westminster Abbey.  She was succeeded by her 3rd cousin (some would say, and it is more proper but not common usage, “1st cousin, twice removed”) James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.  James was the nearest relative, but there were several others who could have made a claim for the throne, notably Lady Arabella Stuart.  A 1351 English law prohibited foreigners from inheriting England lands and titles—and thus the crown and its estates.  Moreover, in his 1547 will, Henry VIII had specifically excluded his Scots cousins from potential inheritance of the Crown.  Elizabeth, of course, died childless and had never named her heir before she died.  While Lady Arabella’s claim might have been a bit stronger—given that she was English born and thus neither a foreigner nor under Henry’s ban of a Scots heir—William Cecil (aka Lord Burghley) Elizabeth’s chief minister smoothly maneuvered the succession to James who had proven experience in governing and whose commitment to the Protestant faith was unquestioned.  James arrived in London on May 7th 1603 and was crowned the following July 25th.
The coronation is most interesting.  The Church of England had been purged of just about everything Catholic, including the use of consecrated oils for baptism, confirmation, and holy orders.  But what about the anointing of the monarch for his coronation?  The anointing of the monarch, even more than the crowning, is the conferral of Kingship in Christian theology.  Previous to James all the monarchs had been consecrated and crowned in Catholic rites—even Edward VI and Elizabeth, both of whom had inherited Catholic ritual and did away with it during their reigns.  James was the first monarch to be crowned according to the Protestant Book of Common Prayer.  It was decided that the use of chrism was too important to omit so even though it had been ruled out for every other use in the Church of England at the time, it was retained for the coronation of the king. It has remained part of the coronation rite until the present day.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church XCIV

Philip II, say what you 
will, a snappy dresser

Another follow-up on the saga of Mary, Queen of Scots.  I am grateful to all who sent me messages that they do like the postings that deal with more distant history and in particular for those who like the series on the history of the Anglican Church.  I must admit that I have found it very beneficial myself to work on this series as my own understanding of the history of Anglicanism and, in particular the issue of continuity in the Church of England before and after the various reformations of the sixteenth century, has helped me think more clearly about complex issues such as the Apostolic Succession and the “validity” of sacraments.   And we have a long way to go in the history of the Church of England as we still have the Jacobean Church, the Civil War and the Dissenters, the Restoration, the Enlightenment, the Hanoverians, the Oxford Movement and a long string of complicated and at times contradictory histories. 
Be that as it may.  Let’s look at the impact that the execution of Mary Stuart, the Catholic Queen of Scots, had on England and English Society—Society, of course, including the Church of England. 
The Spanish monarch, Philip II, was deeply involved with the plots to overthrow Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne—plots that led to Mary’s 1587 execution.  Elizabeth’s England—Protestant of the Calvinist variation, though Episcopal in structure—supported the Dutch rebels—Protestant of the Calvinist variation, though Presbyterian in structure—in their revolt against Philip who, in addition to being King of Spain, was the ruler of the Netherlands.  Philip needed to remove the English support for the rebels if he was to secure his authority in the Netherlands and so wanted to replace Protestant Elizabeth with Catholic Mary.  It was not unreasonable.  The old nobility (pre-Tudor) was still overwhelmingly Catholic (and resentful of the loss of power and influence to the new nobility created by the Tudors and overwhelmingly Protestant) and were anxious to support Mary’s ascendency to the throne.  In addition to the nobility, Catholicism survived strongly—even perhaps a majority among the gentry and peasantry—in the North and the West. These Catholics were anxious to see the old religion restored and they were encouraged in their rebellion by the Papal Bull, Regnans in Excelcis, of Pius V that absolved them of any loyalty to Elizabeth.   This Catholic commitment to regime change led to a number of plots, most especially the Ridolfi and Babington Plots, all of which failed and which ultimately led to Mary’s execution to put down the threat of a Catholic rebellion that would put Mary on the throne in place of Elizabeth.  When Mary’s death put her out of the way, Philip had no choice in his campaign to end England’s aid to the Dutch rebels but to invade England and get rid of Elizabeth and her Protestant government.
As if the execution of  Mary were not sufficient grounds in and of itself for Philip to want to strike against England, the English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, raided the Spanish port of Cadiz only two months after Mary’s death, burning ships and seizing supplies. 
Philip drew up bold plans for the retaliatory invasion of England but some of his advisors had strong reservations about their likelihood to be successful.  Anti-English courtiers prevented the critiques from reaching Philip, however, confident that this Catholic mission against Protestant England was God-ordained.   This was a crusade.  In fact, Pope Sixtus V permitted Philip to levy crusade-taxes to finance the expedition and the expedition’s banner was consecrated in a ceremony modeled on the blessing of the banner of the Christian forces against the Turks in the 1571 Battle of Lepanto.  Regardless of the political issues of English support for the Dutch rebels, this was a religious war. 
The Spanish fleet consisted of 130 ships, 8,000 sailors, 18,000 soldiers, and 2,500 canon.  They were to be joined by the Duke of Parma’s armies from the Netherlands for the invasion.  This was a serious threat to England. 
In the event, the English bested the much larger and better-equipped Spanish fleet in a series of initial battles.  On August 2, 1588, Elizabeth herself rode out to Tilbury to encourage her army preparing to resist Spanish attempts at invasion and, wearing a somewhat ridiculous breastplate of silver and equally ridiculous, with a page holding her silver helmet, gave her famous speech. 
My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but, I do assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself, that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and, therefore, I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all – to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king – and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms – I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns, and, we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.
 This is considered one of the best speeches in the English language.  It certainly served its purpose and rallied the English people.  But note her: to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust.
And we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.
This was for Elizabeth, and for the English, a battle of religion.  To be English was to be Protestant; to be Catholic was to be Spanish.  This marks a turning point in English religious history where not only by law, but in the English political imagination, to be Catholic was to be something other than English.  And so Lord Grantham would say in season 4 of Downton Abbey: "There seems to be something of the Johnny Foreigner about Catholics."  Yes, there does—ever since the Armada.  In many ways the Armada was the deathblow to English Catholicism as the surviving faithful in the rural areas of the North and the West gradually shifted from their foreign religion to the far more English Church of England.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church XCIII

Sir Francis Walsingham
Elizabeth's spymaster
I have noticed that when I write about the synod or about our friends among the katholic krazies, I get four times as many visits to my blog as when I deal with the more distant history.  While I must admit it is more fun to write about history in the making than in the past, and obviously more readers find it more fun to read about current developments in the life of the Church, I am disappointed that my ardent love for the past doesn’t translate into blog popularity.  Nevertheless, I write this for my satisfaction, and not yours, beloved readers, so let me return—at least occasionally—to our saga of the Church of England.
In this posting I want to pick up on Garrett Mattingly’s essay on the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.  I really am sorry that relatively few readers looked at that entry as it is, I believe and as I wrote in the introduction, the single best written piece of historical narrative that I have come across.  Mattingly knows how to make serious history read like a dime-store novel.  Mattingly honed his literary style writing sonnets.  Supposedly he wrote a sonnet every day of his adult life.  It taught him the discipline of saying as much as possible in as few words as were probable to the sonnet format.  But it isn’t his style that I want to comment on today but his thesis that Mary was, alas, no Catholic martyr. 
Yes she died in the faith but, despite her efforts to appear the martyr, she did not die for it.  Her cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England and daughter of Henry VIII has a reputation for being a rabidly blood-thirsty Protestant hell-bent on exterminating English Catholicism by hunting down and judicially murdering each and every adherent to the “old faith” in England.  But that simply was not the truth.  Elizabeth had a number of Catholics in her court and employ.  William Byrd, the composer and organist in her chapel, was a devout Roman Catholic and she granted him and fellow Catholic composer, Thomas Tallis, a monopoly on the publication of polyphonic music. Her attempts to secure her control over Ireland meant that she needed to have good relationship with the Irish nobles, most of whom remained in the “old faith.”  Several of the foreign princes with whom she flirted about marriage were Catholics.  Moreover many of the peers of her own realm, especially in the North, were Catholics as were many of the wealthier gentry families—it was fashionable to be Catholic to show you were an “old blood” family and not Tudor parvenus.  Elizabeth had no interest in troubling the consciences of her subjects and was, by and large, willing to let sleeping dogs lie in the comfort of their own preferred religion as long as they were politically loyal to her.   The problem was that many Catholics, instead of being content to remain in the background under a Protestant Queen, wanted to replace her with a Catholic one and regain the political ascendency.  The Bull of Pius V, Regnans in Excelcis, which absolved English Catholics of their allegiance to their Protestant Queen, threw fuel on this fire.   The convenience of Mary Stuart being both a Catholic and the next, by blood, in line to the English throne proved to be too great a temptation and in the 1570’s and 1580’ several plots were hatched to assassinate Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne.  Mary was foolish enough to get herself involved in some of these plots and it led to Elizabeth’s Council demanding Mary’s execution. 
The final straw was a plot led by Sir Anthony Babington to murder Elizabeth and replace her with Mary.  Mary wrote a letter explicitly condoning the assassination.  The letter was intercepted by Thomas Phelippes, an agent of Sir Francis Walsingham who directed Elizabeth’s spy network.  Unfortunately for the integrity of their case, Phelippes, who was a master forger, was also instructed to add a forged document to the letter, but Mary’s complicity in the plot was established (and for historians remains established) nonetheless. 
Elizabeth asked Sir Amias Paulet, Mary’s gaoler to dispose of Mary’s discreetly, but Paulet—a convinced Calvinist and a man of the highest integrity—refused to be involved in a murder.  It forced Elizabeth to consider a trial, conviction, and judicial execution.  Mary was tried and convicted in October 1586, but Elizabeth remained reluctant to sign the warrant for her execution.  Mary was an anointed Queen and it would not be a good precedent for the Lord’s Anointed—even a Catholic Lord’s Anointed—to be put to death.  Both Parliament and the Privy Council pushed Elizabeth to sign the warrant and yet she hesitated.  Finally she was convinced to sign it but not to authorize its being carried out so that, should something untoward happen to her (Elizabeth), Mary would be executed and prevented from ascending the throne.  On February 1, Elizabeth signed the death warrant.  Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth’s chief advisor, summoned the Privy Counci without Elizabeth’s knowledge and the Council decided to have Mary executed.  On February 7, 1587 Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle as Mattingly so well described in this blog’s entry of October 21st.  Elizabeth claimed to be most angry that the warrant was carried out contrary to her instructions that it be held until such time that she should decide.
Was Elizabeth sincere or was she playing a double game?  Most historians—as indeed thought also most of Elizabeth’s contemporaries—think that Elizabeth was attempting to play innocent in Mary’s execution.  Yet, Elizabeth did have strong qualms about where this would lead.  Mary’s grandson, Charles I of England and Scotland would end up being beheaded (1649) after being tried for treason by the Parliamentary party in the English Civil War.  The French would bring to trial and execution their King and Queen in 1793.  The Russian Imperial Family would be murdered in 1918.  The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, would also bring danger to Elizabeth and to her England, but she would prevail and the Protestant faith would remain the established religion.

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Why I Call 'Em Krazies

Give up all this to be Pope???

OK.  Here is one of my favorite stories, courtesy of John Julius Norwich and his book Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (Random House Paperbacks, 2011).  Norwich is not the writer that Mattingly was when it comes to style, but if you want the ups and downs of the papacy between the covers of a single book he is your man. 

On September 5, 1159, the day after the body of Pope Hadrian had been laid to rest in St. Peter’s, about thirty cardinals assembled in conclave behind the high altar of the basilica.  Two days later, all but three of them had cast their votes for the former chancellor, Cardinal Roland of Siena, who was therefore declared to have been elected.  One of the three, however, was the violently pro-imperialist Cardinal Octavian of Santa Cecilia, and just as the scarlet mantle of the Papacy was brought forward and Roland, after the customary displays of reluctance, bent his head to receive it, Octavian dived at him, snatched the mantle, and tried to don it himself.  A scuffle followed, during which he lost it again; but his chaplain instantly produced another—presumably brought along for just such an eventuality—which Octavian this time managed to put on, unfortunately back to front, before anyone could stop him. 
There followed a scene of scarcely believable confusion.  Wrenching himself free from the furious supporters of Roland, who were trying to tear the mantle forcibly from his back, Octavian—whose frantic efforts to turn it the right way around had resulted only in getting the fringes tangled around his neck—made a dash for the papal throne, sat on it, and proclaimed himself Pope Victor IV.  He then charged off through St. Peter’s until he found a group of minor clergy, whom he ordered to give him their acclamation—which seeing the doors suddenly burst open and a band of armed cutthroats swarming into the basilica, they hastily did.  For the time being at least, the opposition was silenced; Roland and his adherents slipped out while they could and took refuge in St. Peter’s Tower, a fortified corner of the Vatican.  Meanwhile, with the cutthroats looking on, Octavian was enthroned a little more formally than on the previous occasion and escorted in triumph to the Lateran—having been at some pains, we are told, to adjust his dress before leaving. 

Sounds bizarre doesn’t it?  A Cardinal declaring himself to be Pope in place of the canonically elected one and seizing the papal insignia and running around St Peter’s getting people to recognize him as the legitimate pontiff!   Well look at one reader of Eponymous Flower, a krazy’s blog that attracts the even krazier:  

 It is time for his Eminence Cardinal Burke to take advantage of the wind of the Holy Ghost at his back and step up to the Throne of Peter.
He has the support to send this Pope into retirement and when he makes his move, more people will step up to support him.
He needs to create TWO retired "ex-popes". Send this one back to a comfortable retirement in Argentina with a one-way ticket.

What do they want Cardinal Burke to do?  Go and seat himself in Saint Peter’s Basilica and declare himself Pope like Victor IV?  Do they really think that the Catholic faithful are going to “step up to support him” over Pope Francis?  I know that “recreational” marijuana is now legal in several states but I think statements like the above take even more seriously mind-altering drugs to make someone that delusional.   What the krazies don’t realize because they become self-consciously fixated on one another like a bunch of adolescents engaged in a certain group sex-game, is that there is larger Church out there that is not only highly supportive of Pope Francis and his agenda but that the Catholic Church has long ago crossed the Rubicon into modernity and, to all appearances, the Holy Spirit has no intention of leading it back.  Less than 1% of the Church-going Catholics in this country show any interest in the pre-conciliar liturgy.  The rate is much lower through most of the rest of the world.  There is almost no interest in the old liturgy in Africa or Asia.  In our own parishes, over 90% of the faithful receive Holy Communion in their hands.  Most parishes administer Holy Communion in both kinds.  All but one diocese permit girls and women to serve at the altar and that one diocese and its bishop emeritus have been the punchline for more than one clerical joke.  Lay extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are ubiquitous and permit the sick and shut-ins to receive Holy Communion much more frequently.  There is still much work to be done to bring better quality to the liturgy, but thanks to musicians and professional liturgists in most parishes it gets better and better.  Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have slowed down in most places, but we are still far ahead of where we were before Vatican II and, in fact, most Catholics are comfortable in Protestant churches and most Protestants feel very welcome in Catholic churches. The Church’s commitment to social progress has been amazing and more and more Catholics see the connection between their faith and the political choices we are faced with in our society. In fact, the polls show that when it comes to social issues, Catholics are more progressive in their opinions than their Protestant neighbors. The krazies count a victory every time some bishop celebrates a “Pontifical High Mass” in the pre-conciliar rite but at the end of the day, toothpaste simply doesn’t go back in the tube and with Pope Francis it doesn’t appear that it ever will.  The days of The Bells of Saint Mary’s are over forever and even if he were inclined to the delusional fantasies of many of his admirers in the anti-Francis faction, Cardinal Burke wouldn’t want to be pope.  As a Cardinal he gets to wear that fur-trimmed 27 foot long silk cape; papal haberdashery is not nearly so camp.