England’s Reformation

English Reformation

If we ask the question, what if Henry VIII had not taken Catherine of Aragon to be his wife, would England have been a happier place to live?

The twelve-year-old Catherine of Aragon, had been betrothed to Henry’s older brother; Arthur.  Catherine, aged sixteen, married the fifteen-year-old Arthur on the 14th November 1501 at St.Paul’s Cathedral.  Arthur died a few months later, leaving a young wife.

Henry became the next in line, to the English throne, and sought to take Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon as his wife.

Catherine stated that her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated, and the Pope gave her the permission she sought, to marry Arthur’s brother Henry, the new heir to the English throne.

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon married the new King of England; Henry VIII on the 11th June 1509 at Friary Church in Greenwich.

Henry became obsessed, a desire to have a son to carry on the House of Tudor.  This was not to be with Catherine, for she produced many children, and all but one died; Mary her daughter who would become heir to the English throne.

Henry felt he had no choice, but to cast his wife and Queen aside, and seek another wife…  Henry knew the Roman Catholic Church would not approve his request for a divorce.  Maybe an annulment, based on the grounds, that his entire marriage to Catherine his brother’s widow, would be deemed invalid in the eyes of God!

Men of God, argued about his request.  On one side, one group maintained a marriage is a marriage for life, whilst the other side believed; a marriage is only a marriage if it has been consummated.  Two quotations were put forward by men of God from the Bible.

Book of Leviticus: You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife: she is your brother’s nakedness…  If a man takes your brother’s wife, it is impurity: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

Book of Deuteronomy: If brother’s dwell together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go into her, and take her as his wife.

Henry opted for the side which suited him best, and the Pope took the other side.  A stalemate had come to pass, and Henry took advantage of the Reformation, as it gained ground in Europe, by making himself “Supreme Head of the Church of England,” in 1531.  In the year 1533, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared the marriage between Henry and Catherine was void.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

Barely three months earlier, Henry had secretly married Anne Boleyn.  She gave birth to a daughter; Elizabeth, and shortly thereafter was executed on Tower Hill, making way for him to marry Jane Seymour,  She who would bless Henry with a child, a long awaited son and heir; Edward VI.

Henry VIII, the Head of the Church of England, set about the destruction of England’s monasteries between 1536-1541.  So it was, the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” was so ordered by Henry VIII, for it was said, England’s monasteries owned a quarter of England’s wealth.

Finally it came to pass, the translation of the Bible into the English language, was officially sanctioned, with the first becoming available in 1539…  It was the duty of every church, to provide the English Bible for one and all to read.

King Henry VIII died on the 28th January 1547, and was succeeded by his nine year old son; Edward VI.

King Edward VI

King Edward VI

Edward’s advisers believed in the reform of England’s Parish Churches, and were responsible for a directive, calling for the destruction of all things of a corrupt nature.  So it was, altars were replaced with communion tables, paintings trashed, statues destroyed, glass smashed and shrines removed.

England became a truly Protestant land during the short reign of Edward VI (1547-1553).  Edward and his advisers will be remembered, for they pushed forward the use of the “Book of Common Prayer” in 1549, and church services in England.  The practice of Catholic trappings, such as clerical vestments, church decorations and feasts dedicated to saints were reformed or abolished.

A succession crisis loomed over England in the opening months of 1553, with the young King Edward VI seriously ill, and death seemed the only outcome.

If we refer to the Last Will and Testament of King Henry VIII, he left additional instructions within.  In the event that his son Edward VI should die without male heirs, England’s crown would pass first to Mary then Elizabeth.

On the 21st May 1553, Guildford Dudley the son of the Duke of Northumberland, took the King’s cousin; Lady Jane Grey as his wife.  On the 12th June the dying Edward VI, had letters drawn up and signed off by him on the 13th June, counter signed by 100 people (Councillors, Civic Dignitaries, Peers and Household Officers) on the 17th June detailing who his successor would be.

On Thursday the 6th July, the Tudor Monarch King Edward VI died at Greenwich.  Two prominent claimants existed to England’s throne; the Catholic Mary Tudor, heir by law according to Henry VIII’s last wishes and Lady Jane Grey according to the wishes of Edward VI.

The death of Edward VI was not announced for four days to enable preparations be made for the ascension of Lady Jane Grey, daughter-in-law of the Duke of Northumberland.  On the 9th July Bishop Ridley announced that both Elizabeth the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, along with Mary the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, were bastards in the eyes of Parliament.

Lady Jane Grey - Wikipedia

Lady Jane Grey

On the 10th July, the death of King Edward VI was announced, and Lady Jane Grey travelled by barge to the Tower of London where she was received as Queen.  That very same day she was proclaimed Queen at Cheapside.

Mary hearing Lady Jane Grey had been proclaimed Queen by England’s people mobilised her forces in East Anglia.

On the 12th July, the Duke of Northumberland’s forces left London to face Mary’s forces on the battlefield.  With Northumberland away from London, his councillors defected and proclaimed Mary as the true Queen of England on the 19th July.  Northumberland realised his cause was lost had no choice but to surrender.  On the 23rd July Northumberland surrendered at Cambridge to Mary… no blood had been spilt.

On the 8th August 1553 King Edward VI was buried at Westminster Abbey.  On the 10th August Mary held an obsequy (Medieval Latin funeral rites), and on the 11th held a requiem mass for him at the Tower of London.

On the 18th August, Mary issued a proclamation calling upon her subjects to follow her religion; Roman Catholic.  It wasn’t long before Mary became unpopular with her people; by burning Protestant martyrs to bring England under the rule of Rome.

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I

On the 1st October 1553, Mary was crowned Queen Mary I of England at Westminster Abbey.

On the 12th February 1554, Lady Jane and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were beheaded at the Tower of London.

The Execution of Lady Jane from the Chronicle of Queen Jane:

She being nothing at all abashed… neither with the sight of the dead carcass of her husband (Lord Guildford Dudley) she said…  “Good people, I am come hither to die, and by law condemned to the same.  The fact indeed, against the Queen’s highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and the desire thereof by me or on my (behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocence, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day,” and therewith she wrung her hands, in which she had her book…  Then she said the psalm of Miserere me i Deus, in English, in most devout manner, to the end…

Lady Jane Grey - Execution

Then the hangman kneeled down, and asked her forgiveness, whom she forgave most willingly.  Then he willed her to stand upon the straw; which doing, she saw the block.  Then she said “I pray you dispatch me quickly…”  She tied the kercher (handkerchief) about her eyes: then feel for the block said.  “What shall I do?  Where is it?”  One of the standers-by guiding her there unto, she laid her head upon the block, and stretched forth her body and said.  “Lord into thy hands I commend my spirit!”  And so she ended.

For a short time, Mary had achieved England’s reunion with Rome and the restoration of Catholic Worship.  Condemned by ardent Protestants, it was popular with many of her subjects.  Priests were permitted to perform Catholic rituals.  Mary’s burnings proved brutal but an effective means of bringing people back to the Catholic faith.

On the 17th November 1558, Queen Mary I of England died, and on the 13th December a requiem mass was held, and on the 14th December she was buried at Westminster Abbey.

With the death of Queen Mary I, Henry II of France made unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Pope to recognise Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth’s cousin as Queen of England.

Queen Elizabeth I

On the 12th January 1559, Elizabeth travelled from Whitehall to the Tower of London by barge along the River Thames.  On the 14th January, Elizabeth’s coronation procession travelled through the city of London, greeted by pageants that praised her dynasty and Protestant religion.  On the 15th January, Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth I of England at Westminster Abbey by Bishop Oglethorpe.

Elizabeth like her father; Henry VIII became Head of the Church of England.  She inherited a country divided over religion; Catholic and Protestant.  Elizabeth set about tearing down Catholicism in England and promoting Protestant beliefs during her reign.

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Tudors: Perkin Warbeck

Perkin Warbeck

Perkin Warbeck

In November of 1491, Pierrechan Werbecque from Tournai, better known as Perkin Warbeck turned up in Cork, Ireland.  He claimed to have been born in 1474, and that he was Richard, the Duke of York, son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, formerly imprisoned in the Tower of London by Richard III in 1483.

Warbeck, the son of a renegade Jew, was instructed by the Duchess of Burgundy, in the part he was to play.  Once fully trained, was dispatched to Portugal, and remain in the care of Lady Brampton, for the right time, to be presented to England and Europe.

In November of 1491 Perkin Warbeck arrived in Cork, and assumed the name and identity; Richard Plantagenet, Richard the Duke of York.

Early in 1492, Warbeck the pretender was recognised as Richard the Duke of York, and his sponsors sent out letter’s announcing his safe arrival on Irish soil.

Warbeck received an invitation from France, and a fleet of French ships escorts him into the arms of King Charles VIII of France.

News reached England in January 1493, that Richard the Duke of York lives, and disaffected Yorkists of Richard III’s reign offer this pretender support, if he made a bid for the English throne.

On the 14th March, Sir William Stanley and the Lord Chamberlain, stated if he be the true son of Edward, he would not take up arms against him.

Henry VII saw his throne slipping from his grasp, and duly sent troops to Ireland to discover the truth and stamp out these rumours.

English gentleman, Sir George Nevill and Sir John Taylor travelled to France, to see for themselves if he be an imposter or the true King… they were convinced of his identity, and he received the title: the “White Rose of England.”

When relations between England and France were showing signs of improvement, Warbeck headed for the Court of Margaret of Burgundy, seeking safety and avoids being sent to England.  She first showed a suspicious mind, questioning how he survived death, but when able to answer confidently, she threw her arms around his neck… the sole heir to the Plantagenet Dynasty and true heir of the English throne.

When news reached English shores, that Richard the Duke of York is alive and living in Flanders, and his story believed by the Duchess of Burgundy, England lost its affection to their King.

Warbeck landed on the Kent coast, and 150 of his men were taken prisoner, by those loyal to Henry VII.

Warbeck heads for Scotland, and assumes the title: King Richard IV of England, his presence foiled peace between England and Scotland.

Warbeck landed at Bodmin in Cornwall, and supporters flocked to his banner offering support.  They lay siege to Exeter, and the King arrived at the head of his army, which dwarfed Warbeck’s force of 7,000 men.

Perkin Warbeck became the prisoner of Henry VII and confessed to being an imposter, in a public confession at Palace Court, Westminster and at the Cross on Cheapside.

On the 23rd November 1499, Perkin Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn, London.

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Tudor Chancellor: Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey was born in 1473, son of Robert Wolsey in Ipswich, Suffolk.  Educated at Ipswich School, Magdalen College School and Magdalen College (Oxford University) where he studied theology.

On the 10th March 1498 Thomas Wolsey was ordained, and in 1502 became chaplain to Henry Deane; Archbishop of Canterbury, then in 1507 royal chaplain to King Henry VII.

When Henry VIII succeeded his father as King of England, Wolsey rose rapidly through the ranks.  In 1514, became Archbishop of York, and in 1515 the Pope made him a Cardinal.

Wolsey showed Henry VIII, how talented he was during the 1512-1514 war with France, and his experience in diplomacy; which led to the marriage of Mary Tudor and King Louis XII of France.

Thomas Wolsey; a man of great wealth, who had the King’s ear.  He indulged himself, in a passion of building; York Palace in Whitehall and Hampton Court.

His downfall started, when Henry VIII asked Wolsey to influence the Pope to arrange an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, for failure to bear a son and heir.

Wolsey returned from seeing the Pope, informing his King, the request of an annulment had been refused.

King Henry VIII had Thomas Wolsey arrested in November 1530, on the charge of treason.  Before he could face trial, he died on the 29th November on route from York to London, and was buried at Leicester Abbey.

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Rebel Princess: Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor Queen of France

Mary Tudor

Mary, the baby of the Tudor Dynasty, was born on the 18th March 1496 at Richmond Palace.  She being the youngest child of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

As a child, she was close to her brother, Henry, the future King Henry VIII.  She loved life, becoming the star of court, enjoying dancing and parties.

In 1507, the eleven-year-old Princess Mary was betrothed in an arranged marriage with the young Charles of Castile, the future Holy Roman Emperor.  Charles being the nephew of Mary’s sister-in-law, Catherine of Aragon.  Changes in political alliances between European powers, meant the planned wedding of May 1514, was off.

Mary breathed a sigh of relief, not wanting to marry one, four years her junior.

On the 21st April 1509, Henry VII her father dies, and her brother Henry becomes King Henry VIII of England.

Mary had developed a crush for the charming and attractive Charles Brandon, her brother’s best friend.  In 1514, the nineteen-year-old princess had developed romantic feelings for Charles.

Cardinal Wolsey negotiated a peace treaty with France, which required Mary would marry King Louis XII of France.  An unhappy Mary, demanded of her brother, once the marriage was over, she would be free to marry one of her choice.

Henry loved his sister, and reluctantly agreed to her demands without question.

On the 9th October 1514, Mary married Louis XII of France, acquiring the title Queen Mary of France.  Her marriage was short lived, for Louis died on the 1st January 1515.

Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk married Mary Tudor, the Queen Dowager of France, secretly at the Palais de Cluny in France, much to the annoyance of Mary’s brother; King Henry VIII.  On the 15th May 1515, Mary and Charles were publicly married in a family service, and they had four children:

Henry Brandon             (1516-1522)

Frances Brandon         (1517-1559)

Eleanor Brandon         (1519-1547)

Henry Brandon             (1523-1534)

On the 25th June 1533, Mary died at Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk.  The funeral took place on the 20th July 1533, when she was interred at Abbey Church, Bury St.Edmunds.

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