The English Reformation;
a perfect example of:
The hatred of the State for the Church
It is the greatest mystery of the World, since the coming of Christ and the Redemption that there is a continuing war of, what might be described, as attrition against the Church by the State. The Pagan Roman Empire until the coming of Constantine and his subsequent embracing of Christianity, first for the Empire and then for himself, shows at times a bitter and violent hostility to the Faith. Why? What is so dangerous about Christianity that fills its critics with such loathing? I think that part of the problem is aptly summed up in that peculiarly vulgar phrase “control freak”. Those who rule usually do so by ambition; the attainment of power by such people comes through, either intellectual brilliance, or native cunning on the one hand, and on the other by brilliance on the battlefield, or the use of violence as a way of dominating others, or by a combination of all these things.
A superb example of brilliance, ruthlessness, intellectual acumen, and the use of terror would be Thomas Cromwell. He had imbibed the philosophy of Machiavelli’s The Prince to perfection while he was living in Italy. He was convinced by Machiavelli that the ruthlessness of the Prince would mean a secure state, and that the end justifies the means, which is too often accredited to the Jesuit education; such a proposition is mere fiction. like Pygmalion Cromwell makes the brilliant, charming and egocentric Henry VIII into Machiavelli’s Prince, and thus creates a monster, whose impact still weighs heavily on the English people today if they but knew it. In Cromwell’s vision the state really becomes simply an extension of the ruler’s personality, and the ordinary people, who make up the largest section of the population are simply there to do the bidding of the ruler, and were certainly terrorized into doing so by Henry, by Edward’s government and by Elizabeth. In William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and Sir Francis Walsingham, spy-master extraordinaire, Cromwell had, worthy successors in propagating the myth of a state, which had supposedly always been isolationist and at odds with continental Europe, and was never part of the Catholic Church, but had been founded apart from Rome. If Belloc is right, and it may be that he was, in his book ‘Characters of the Reformation’ (In fairness it must be added that it is hardly a scholarly work, but no less inspired for that.) then Elizabeth was nothing but the pawn of Cecil. She certainly was very un-original compared to her half sister Mary, who realized that the Church needed reforming, and in so doing would reform society. Elizabeth with her shaky claim to the throne, as compared to her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, had to rely on her brilliant personality, wonderfully histrionic behaviour, and ruthless henchmen to keep her throne secure. She was a woman whose throne was always threatened, which may go a long way to explaining why she was so cruel and vindictive; also if your father has chopped off your mother’s head, and the head of your uncle, there would be real possibilities of paranoia dominating such a personality. And so many men, not from the ancient aristocratic families (Many of whom had destroyed each other in the fratricidal “War of the Roses”), had come to power through the amassing of wealth given to them by Henry from the destruction of the monasteries which brought about the destruction of the Medieval world. This world revolved around God in every aspect of its life. Henry, however the proverbial bull in the china shop, unwittingly created a new society, which revolved around the state, mainly in the person of the ruler, and it was the ruler who invented the rules. No-one was better at making up the rules than Henry, with the exception of his servile tool Cranmer. Now Protestant Erastianism, the invention of Thomas Cromwell, is so impervious to the truth, precisely because both Henry and Cromwell wanted one thing; the exaltation of the State in the person of the King into something approaching semi divinity. Henry wanted a son, and Cromwell wanted power, so lies and force were all that mattered. Indeed “The end justifies the means”. Eamon Duffy comments on this re-writing of history succinctly in his book Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition where he speaks of the Act in restraint of Appeals.
The Act in Restraint of Appeals had insisted that it was clear from ‘divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles’ that ‘this realm of England’ was and always had been ‘an Empire....governed by one supreme head and king having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same.’ To that one supreme head all subjects, clerical or lay, owed absolute obedience, in spiritual as well as temporal matters. England, in other words, was a closed system, complete in itself, answerable to no external law and recognizing no legitimate external authority. It would be anachronistic to speak of a nation state in the sixteenth century, but here was an insistence on the legal and spiritual autonomy which drove a dagger deep into the heart of the medieval interconnectedness of all Christian realms, and their common answerability to a transcendent Christian world order represented by pope and emperor.(p.17)
It would be interesting in the light of the above statement to muse on whether the creation of the EU was a subconscious desire on the part of its founding fathers, (These were men of great integrity; most notably being de Gaulle, Adenauer, and de Gasperi,.) to remove the English dagger from the heart of modern Europe and so discover something of that medieval connectedness.
It is also important to remember that the greatest English historian of the English nation, and all but unacknowledged outside Catholic circles until recently, namely John Lingard, gives a very different view of the supposed isolationist view of the English nation with regard to that other Henry, namely Henry II, who gave over England as a fief to Pope Alexander III albeit secretly. He was also happy to ask Hadrian VI, the only English Pope to make Ireland a fief of the English Crown.
There was nothing egalitarian about English society, under Henry. It was nothing but a police state, nor did it have the vitality of the Italian city states, whose very republican make-up meant that though there was a much power invested in the system of government, it would not allow the government to remain too long a tyranny. Wars with neighbouring city states, and revolts from within would not allow power to dominate in one person, nor blossom into a monolithic state. Also with their geographical proximity to Rome, the Italian city states, were caught between the power of the Papal States, and the Holy Roman Empire. They also were aware of the spiritual power of the Papacy, even though they were well aware of the increasing worldliness of the Papacy from the Avignon Captivity onwards. That is why such people as Catherine of Siena and Bridget of Sweden could be heard as true prophets of the Lord, for they condemned the vices of the clergy, religious, and laity alike. No one could evade the authenticity of prophetic denunciations. Sadly England had no Catherine or Bridget. Their voices cutting through the corruption of the Papal Court, and religious politics was seen as true. However with the state subsuming the Church and the supernatural into the person of the ruler, the whole process of the secularisation of the Church begins; an alien body of people trying to run something that they do not understand rather like the present N.H.S., being administered by businessmen, or managing to turn nurses and doctors into bureaucrats. The Kingdom of God on earth, is not a department of State, but when the ruler and the State become all important, there is no room for a competing system, especially one which is not about efficiency, and Empire building, but one where the utterly unpredictable life of God is wildly turning men’s lives upside down, and challenging the state, which is all about the ruler, and his cronies. Henry’s court, Elizabeth’s court, and Louis XIV’s courts had nothing of the excitement and unpredictability of Viking rulers, the Celtic rulers, or the Anglo Saxon rulers. These warrior kings and princes, might have been blood thirsty, cruel, greedy, drunken, and sexually immoral, but they had by turns superstition, religiosity, and true piety, and they were acutely aware of an unseen world more powerful than their own, which ultimately would have their allegiance.
What happens with the Reformation, the discovery of the Americas, the growth of the English Navy and more discoveries of the world, especially in the East, is the greater possibility of trade and making greater amounts of money, but alongside this is that blindness and delusion that misinforms rulers that they are truly invincible, and almost all powerful. If Man sees himself as godlike, he will soon worship himself, and not believe in God at all. He will be seduced by his brilliance, his never ending possibilities for self improvement. This is what happened to Henry and Elizabeth, and to the Whigs at the Glorious Revolution. By that time Parliament, buttressed by a new version of English History, and a recent civil war, was now paramount, and the Monarch was there to do it’s bidding, and the present Queen, is in an even more servile position than were William and Mary.
From the emergence and real flourishing of the merchant class in the 13th century, and its gradual ascendancy, and final triumph in the 19th century, this apparent infallibility of human power, in whatever discipline that it takes on, is indeed dazzling and deceptive. The professional man, and especially the professional scientist sees endless horizons of power. He forgets however that all that he has done is open Pandora’s box.
Turning from Henry’s disastrous sex life, which had appalling repercussions for England and the World (It was at least in the main about having children), we now turn to the myth of the joys of infertile sex. Let us look at the myth of the population problem. We will not be looking at the dangerously low birth rates in France, Spain, or Italy, but we will look at the simple effect of China’s population control, whereby for years a husband and wife can only have one child. What has this produced? It has produced a massive demographic crisis. For every twelve children born, 10 are male and 2 are female. The effects of this will be incalculable. How will the Chinese be able to reproduce themselves? Will there be a pure Chinese race any longer? Will the need for sex drive most Chinese men to become homosexual, or will the huge male army which is over three hundred million strong, the female army being only several million less, be involved in a rape, not of the Sabine Women, but the rape of most of the women of Asia. The whole situation is a nightmare of sterility. Those who ignore God’s laws will suffer for their own disastrous folly.
Let us go back to the destruction of the monasteries in England during the Reformation. Henry by destroying the monasteries, destroyed the social infrastructure of the country. He managed to destroy what were the social services and good landlords. The poor and the refugees from all these monasteries were then at the mercy of the new rich, who were the ones who had taken the monastic lands, and were invariably greedy, grasping and unfair landlords. There was a huge increase in vagrancy, and the imposition of harsh poor laws under Elizabeth. All that these new creatures of Henry VIII wanted was land, wealth, and power. It was not only the emergence of the state and nationalism, it was the rise of the individual, such a Thomas Cromwell, a Richard Rich, and a William and Robert Cecil. At least a Cardinal Wolsey and some of the great bishops, who were servants of the state, were at the end of the day aware that their loyalty to the King came after their loyalty to God.
England’s break with the Papacy is far more serious than even some of the best of the revisionist historians of the Tudor period could imagine. The mediator between God and man is no longer the Pope, a holy religious, a holy man or woman, it is a secular head of state, about whom there is nothing sacred. He might have been anointed by the rites of the Church, but such an anointing is not sacramental. Even as I said earlier, the pagan Celtic, Anglo Saxon, Germanic, and Viking rulers would have respected spiritual power and would have been terrified by the Druid, the magician and the shaman. With the new secular rulers sprung from the neo paganism of the Renaissance, which would soon become be transformed into an agnostic humanism and then into a militant atheism in the French Revolution, we have a fearless ruler, who is bound only by his own likes and dislikes, his own loves and his own hatreds. Henry VIII, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao, are far more dangerous than Hitler who, though evil, was dominated by some knowledge of the supernatural, even though it was mediated by Wagner and the demonic. He might have lost his faith in the Catholicism of his childhood, but there was a superstition there. Admittedly Henry would have seen himself as a Catholic, but he had been duped by Cromwell, as his daughter Elizabeth would be in thrall to Cecil, and her counsellors; she had to, in order to survive. From now on God is there to do the monarch’s bidding or the bidding of their chief counsellors of state. They were the centre of the Universe in a way that Tamburlaine, Genghis Khan, and other tyrants were not; for the holy man and woman were a threat to so many bloodthirsty tyrants in a way that they were not to the movers and shakers of Henry’s Reformation England, and Elizabeth’s settlement. The monarch becomes a mediator, but if after centuries the monarch really doesn’t believe authentically in Christian fundamental doctrines, then the mediation goes on, and the people accept the mediator as being necessary and possibly infallible, because they have been there for so long. Thus we have a head of state namely Elizabeth II, who does what her ministers tells her, and begins by signing anti Christian acts to destroy the very church, which her namesake installed, and which she has vowed to defend at her coronation. Henry destroys the Catholic Church in England, Elizabeth erects an ersatz church, which is puritan in essence and Catholic in appearance, and then the head of the Church in 2012 looks to be instrumental in destroying it. The irony is colossal, if irony can be such.
At this point it is good to reflect how this came about on a spiritual level. With the accession of the highly puritanical boy king, Edward VI (This is ironic as his mother Jane Seymour was very Catholic in her beliefs), we see the ripping down of the great crucifixes on the rood screens. Now given the horror of idols that all reformers felt, with the exception of Luther, one can imagine them taking body off the Cross, but why remove the Cross and put the Royal Coat of Arms there? This surely smacks of blasphemy, and makes the whole English Reformation look far more sinister and evil than its protestant advocates have realized. Edward a dupe of his counsellors, sincerely puts forward a programme that will make his people more and more the slaves of the State.
The State, in trying to control or destroy the Church, invariably is convinced of its ultimate success. I think though we should reflect on the destruction of St. Saviours Cathedral in Moscow in the early part of Stalin’s reign. It was blown up with dynamite in the 1920’s, and a swimming pool was constructed where the cathedral had been. The swimming pool always had problems. In the 1990’s the great Cathedral was rebuilt. The Saviour triumphs and the atheistic ruler is conquered. It is the Cross of Christ that saves, the supposed criminal who triumphs. The heart of the Law is mercy. Finally mercy will triumph, and all those heartless regimes, who have taken supposed parliamentary democracy as their form of government, or proletarian, or libertarian forms, will find out to their cost, that the unlimited use of power usually damns its master, either in this world hopefully, or in the next which is terror beyond all imagining. It is also good to remember that it was Athens the creator of democracy that killed Socrates; something that the Bushes, Clinton, Blair, Obama, and Cameron should reflect upon.
Let us however be very clear what happened at the Reformation and what is happening now, and how the links between the Henrician Reformation and our own cultural and moral reformation/deformation are remarkably similar. First it must be stated that it was really all to do with sex, and in Henry’s favour to do with procreation, which as we can see is the exact opposite of the Chinese as we have seen above, or the Spanish or the Italians, who have disastrously low birth rates. However both Henry and the modern Western Man and Woman have one thing in common, greed. If the Church would not give Henry a divorce and so deny him an heir, he would become head of state, and destroy all the monasteries, and use the money for himself and his favourites. Modern Westerners want sex, and no children or few children so they can have a nice comfortable life. That life of comfort, will mercifully soon be taken away from them, because of the terrible economic collapse which has still not finished, and a possible World War, and then they will hopefully realise that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 3: 4). More curiously when we explore the dark and terrifying world of sexual immorality, there is another twist to Henry’s sex life provided by one of St. John Fisher’s earliest biographers, Dr. Bayley, who is used as a witness to Henry’s incest by none other than William Cobbett, that great social activist and journalist.
And here let me state that in Dr. Bayley’s Life of Bishop Fisher it is positively asserted, that Anne Boleyn was the King’s daughter, and that Lady Boleyn, her mother, said to the King, when he was about to marry Anne, “Sir, for reverence of God, take heed what you do in marrying my daughter, for, if you record your own conscience well, she is your own daughter as well as mine.” To which the King replied, “Whose daughter soever she is, she shall be my wife.”(William Cobbett, A History of the Protestant Reformation, Fisher Press,1994 p.26)
Cobbett said he believed it to be true, but could not be absolutely certain. It is good to know that there are very few golden ages, only golden people. Since the reign of Henry, this terrible hatred of the Catholic Church manifests itself in the State saying what the Church should do. This desire to control and manipulate the Church has found its full flowering in Britain and the States in the advocacy of homosexual marriage, cloning, and transgender unions. It is a question of Man dictating to God, and here I mean Male, not female. I do not think that women, on the whole, are as vociferous as men, though I am sure many a feminist would disagree with me, but in many ways feminism is very possibly a male plot that has somewhat backfired, be that as it may. It is men who want this strange thing, namely homosexual marriage, which is almost a kind of moral oxymoron, if there can be such a thing. It is certainly a total contradiction in terms, for the reason for marriage is procreation. Marriage without children is a sadness, if not a tragedy, and therein lies the problem. However bad Henry was, his sheer vain-glory, and a need for a male heir, made marriage an absolute necessity for him, and if it was not sanctioned by the Church, he would simply take over the Church, and change the rules.
We now have what can only be described as something approaching tragicomedy with our present monarch, Elizabeth shorn of almost all the power that her namesake Elizabeth I had. The present government is a sort of corporate Henry VIII. It is determined to bully Parliament much as Henry bullied the Parliament to get them to accept the Oath of Supremacy, and get both houses to validate homosexual marriage. The Anglican Church, like the Catholic bishops with the Act of Succession, hope to just save their integrity by not having to have their clergy officiate at such marriages, just as the Catholic bishops said that they could accept Henry VIII as head of the Church “in so far as the law of God allows”. However the Anglican bishops, like their Catholic predecessors will be disappointed, for this is a new reformation. The governments of the West have no interest in the Church, or churches, for these depressing liberal politicians, who seem to know nothing of morals, ethics, or even what life is about, want a new World Order, based on population control, i.e. contraception, enforced sterilization, economic slavery, and good old fashioned slavery, and a lunatic combination of Evolution, pseudo Ecology, and a deification of the animal world. They do not want to be subject to God.
Now though there is only a minority who want to change marriage, in not a few countries in the West, just as there were very few Bolsheviks and they managed the Russian revolution, so most people i.e. the majority will succumb as they did in the Henrician Reformation, either through fear of imprisonment, or fear of torture and death, which might not be far away, or through considerable disinterest, something that would be unknown in England in the 1530’s. The same totalitarianism is at work, and the same spirit of rebellion is at work. The submission of the Anglican Church to the present Government will soon be upon us. If the Catholic bishops succumbed to Henry VIII in 1532, this present most strange theological hotch-potch of men and women, known as the Anglican Church will certainly crumble beneath the law, and why? For this simple reason that the Anglican Church has been doing the bidding of the Government since the Submission of the Clergy in 1532, and the Act of Supremacy in 1534. Caesar has abrogated to himself what belongs to God, and he has been doing it for nearly 500 years. Old habits die hard.
And so the Reformation in England, unlike the Reformation in Europe was the template on which all future revolutions were to be formed. Henry had given the laymen the right to change the things of God into the things of Caesar. The English Civil War destroyed the semi sacerdotal Kingship of Charles I, which was at least sincere, but wrongheaded, but the Parliamentarians once again were deciding the things of God. The American Revolution, the work of men who would have been quite at home with the secular aims of Henry’s parvenu aristocrats and gentry, which was all about the comfort of the ruling class, be they the Deist plutocrats of America, or their counterparts in the England of Henry or Elizabeth, accentuated the drift away from orthodox Christianity. Not surprisingly America became host to some of the weirdest religious groups imaginable, some heretical Christian sects, others simply the ravings of mad
men. The subjective world of Protestant belief becomes exaggerated in America into “Anything goes” as long as it makes a fast buck or two.