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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Everything You Wanted To Know About The English Reformation

Everything You Wanted To Know About The English Reformation | HistoryExtra Podcast - HistoryExtra 

 "‘Female imagery disappeared from churches. Who missed it and how was this expressed?’...

‘That's a hugely interesting question to which there is no very good answer. Absolutely right. Female imagery disappeared from churches. The images of Our Lady which were so important, they went. Who missed it? Huge numbers of people must have done. But we’ve got very little of their reactions...

That might be because Protestants are a bit sort of embarrassed about losing Our Lady. They wanted to get rid of the cult, obviously, and the statues had to go, but they couldn't get rid of her because she is the mother of Jesus. And if they did, really, sort of what you might say slag her off, that would put them embarrassingly alongside very radical Christians. Anabaptists, for instance, who deny the humanity, the full humanity of Jesus alongside his divinity. And Mary, is the guarantee of humanity and reverence for Mary also ties the humanity into Christ's divinity. So there's a real problem for Protestants.

And the answer is sort of embarrassed silence. It's very interesting how Mary is missing from Protestant culture in England. Think of the first Protestant carol. While shepherds watched their flocks by night, written in the 1690s. And still sung. Now, where's Mary in that? And then you go on to that marvelous piece of Protestant music. Handel's Messiah. And you know, this is a part of the birth of Christ, most of it. Where’s Mary? Not there. So so there's a real problem for Protestants. But I think English culture simply went silent on her.’...

‘When were Roman Catholic churches permitted again after the Reformation?’

‘Under James the Second, some were open. Of course there were also embassies, foreign embassies, like the Sardinian Embassy in London, which were, of course tolerated for diplomatic reasons. You couldn't mess around with ambassadors. Henrietta Maria, Charles the First’s wife had a private chapel, and all these are deeply offensive to Protestants. And as a result of that, when James the Second left the throne, Roman Catholic chapels were very, very marginal. Gentry households would have them. And tenants could slip into that. But really, it's the late 18th century, when it was made reluctantly, legal to build Catholic chapels. They would have to be very discreet, and they could be the subject of mob violence. And so the first major buildings that we've got apart from private chapels in gentry households are from the very late 18th century.’

‘Why do you think it took so long before this was accepted again? Nearly 300 years’

‘Because the essence of English identity from the late 16th century to the 19th century is hating Roman Catholicism. It had become part of the English way of life. It was encouraged by Queen Mary's folly in burning Protestants and the way in which that was written up so brilliantly by John Fox in Acts and Monuments, Fox’s Book of Martyrs. And the very real threat from Roman Catholic powers in Elizabeth’s reign from Catholic Spain and possibly France later and the Louis the 14th, huge threat to Protestant England, and subverting the Stuart monarchy. So again and again, this idea of Catholicism being alien and a threat and this island. And the fact that Irish threats are Roman Catholic threats.

In 1641 Catholics did massacre Protestants. The English hugely exaggerated those massacres, but they were real. So in all sorts of ways, it would be very easy to fear Catholics right up to the French Revolution. When suddenly Catholics were obviously victims and you’ve got you know, terrified monks and nuns finding refuge in England and suddenly the English softened. It was the beginning of a more balanced attitude to Roman Catholicism...

The United Kingdom was a Protestant project between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland who pooled their mutual interests, partly against the existing Catholic threat of great powers in mainland Europe. And now we're in a situation where England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland have different views on the great issue of our time, how we relate to the European Union, and that's exposed. The fact is that the Protestant project of the United Kingdom doesn't have much pull now. Protestantism is a private occupation. Now it is not a national identity and in that sense, we are beginning to face up to the aftermath of the reformations in Scotland, England and Ireland.'"

Once again, proscribing religious offence threatens freedom of religion

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