|Subject: CoE and reform|
Posted Jun 24, 2005 by dim26trav
Thanks for the further information on Henry. The guide piece wasn't entirely done (just mostly)
The movement from "Defender of the faith" for his writing against Luther to the arch reformer because of some marriage problems may have been a slow one. But the situation in which he found himself "under" the Pope in so many different places chaffed at him. (Loyal Catholic or not)
Another issue was the fact that Henry started out such a dashing fellow, "a man of action", and after his injury in the joust, found that his abilities were restrained. I surmise he was a frustrated fellow on many counts (the greatest being the desire for a son).
I take the label of "Humanist" for those scholars versus those "post- Augustinian scholars," as a complement for them. None of the Oxford line of scholars who insisted on scripture instead of tradition was a humanist in the same way we modern people mean the term. Primarily the issue of everyone attempting to understand scripture instead of relying solely on the priests to tell us what scripture said is the form of humanist they were. Most of the priests were as ignorant of scripture as the public (there were a few who didn't fit this description). Modern humanism would place humans above God (if they could find a God to believe in anyway.)
Oxford plays such a large role in so many of these dramas. I am considering a piece on this institution in the future.
I don't know that Henry was ever a very frustrated fellow! He certainly chaffed at the Pope's handling of his annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon but this was for a number of reasons including:
1) the Pope was relatively stupid and a tool of the Emperor who was pro-Catherine (it would have been interesting is Emperor had raised Thomas Wolsey to the papacy instead but the Emperor was not stupid!)
2) the hearing into the annulment at Blackfiars handed down its findings just in time to miss the annual round of appeals Rome (this was a deliberate attempt to annoy Henry and in this it succeeded)
3) the Pope offered Henry a special dispensation to be bigamous (and Luther agreed). Henry, who was afraid of the Deuteronimical curse for marrying his brother's wife had been laid on him and England by God was not about agree that being bigamous as well would improve things. He never forgave the Pope or Luther for this.
You take 'humanism' to mean what I take it to mean (both then and now). I didn't mean it as a compliment but, for myself, I would prefer to be a humanist than just a scholar! However I am not a humanist in the modern sense that you define.
The priests were a mixed lot back then in much the same was they are now. I would have assumed that a very large number of them knew the bible reasonably well, at least those bits used in the church readings. However, it was a different world!
The Fransican order started out with deliberately chosing ignorant "common" folk for their friars. It was much later in England that the movement towards educated friars blossomed. This order suffered because of this and the leadership was all back in Italy telling the educated ones in England what to do.
For the most part the Benedictines were a higher class of monks mostly educated "second sons" of the nobility with a great deal of time on their hands but even they didn't all spend the time to read scripture.
Outside of the daily chapel routine, they were allowed to do basically whatever they were wanted to do. Their monasteries were immensely wealthy inspite of their rules of poverty.
It was the church hierarchy the Bishops and Cardinals who kept the forces of education burning (Wolsey was Oxford educated). But what can turn an educated person like Wolsey into a force for ignorance such as he seemed to be? The dreams of power, within the church structure. The church in its power relied upon the ignorance of the masses. Your characterization of the Pope as stupid may only be a point of view based upon the Pope's actions. We can both violently disagree with the catholic dogma but to call it stupid belies its power at that time.
It was the reformers who threatened that power. In the renaissance everywhere, including England, was a powerful movement towards knowledge and those who stood in the path to that knowledge,the church, fought hard against it.
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