A Godfather’s Solemn Charge — The Coronation of King Edward VI

February 20, 2017 in News, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

By Beth von Staats

Edward VI granting the Royal Charter to Bridewell Hospital, 1553.

Edward VI granting the Royal Charter to Bridewell Hospital, 1553.

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Today marks the anniversary of the Coronation of Edward, Sixth of his name, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and also of Ireland, on earth the supreme head. That is a very heavy load for a nine-year-old child, but with King Henry VIII dead, the weight of the crown — a smaller jeweled variation crafted for the occasion — fell to a brilliant and precocious boy, supported first by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector and later John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and Lord President of the Council, along with an assortment of Privy Councillors jockeying for power and influence. The degree to which King Edward VI contributed to the management of his realm increased as he aged towards his majority, its depth a common debate among historians. One thing is certain, however. This genius intellect King, politically mentored by Somerset and far more pronouncedly by Northumberland, was not most influenced by either man — or even his father. Instead, King Edward’s moral center, religious faith, and understanding of his responsibilities of kingship were embedded through the mentoring and profound influence of his godfather, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Prince Edward Tudor (later King Edward VI) Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger

Prince Edward Tudor (later King Edward VI)
Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger

Although many of us today outside the Roman Catholic Church view selection as godparent as an honorary title afforded to cherished family members and close friends upon the christening of a new baby, in the 16th-century, religion was serious business. The selection of godparents was an important undertaking, especially for a reigning monarch. After all, religious tenant and church doctrine prescribed the role of godparentship as a solemn charge. First, godparents professed the faith of an infant at baptism. Thereafter, godparents were to show a living example of faith, providing spiritual guardianship for the child throughout their lives. The most serious responsibility of godparents was to make sure that the baptized infant was thereafter given proper instruction in the faith, particularly when the parents neglected this duty or are otherwise were unable to do so. If the parents died or became unable to teach their child the faith, it was the responsibility of the godparent to ensure that the child learned and loved the faith.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, by Gerlach Flicke

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, by Gerlach Flicke

With this all in mind, King Henry VIII carefully considered just whom he would trust with the solemn charge of godparentship of his long prayed for heir to the throne. His choices — Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk; Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Lady Mary Tudor — were striking for their diverging religious beliefs. This stated, despite any varying opinions of church theology, at the time King Edward VI was born, these were the people King Henry VIII most trusted with his heir’s religious mentorship. Also godfather of the Lady Elizabeth Tudor, Henry VIII’s trust in ‘mine chaplain’ Thomas Cranmer was especially profound and was proven to be well grounded. As Archbishop of Canterbury, religious theologian, and scholar, Thomas Cranmer took on his solemn charge of godparentship seriously indeed, especially in preparing Edward Tudor first as Prince and ultimately as “King …, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and… on earth the supreme head.”

Latimer preaches before Edward VI at St Paul's Cross.

Latimer preaches before Edward VI at St Paul’s Cross.

In World History’s most magnificent public display of the devotion and duty of a godparent towards his godchild, the coronation of King Edward VI on 20 February 1547 would set the tone of a truly Protestant England, and it did not disappoint. The ceremony shortened to avoid the “tedious length of the same which should wear and be hurtsome peradventure to the King’s majesty, being yet of tender age” and also to eliminate all trappings of previous Roman Catholic coronations, as Archbishop of Canterbury, and more profoundly as the King’s dutiful godfather, Thomas Cranmer counseled the child as to his role as monarch of England:

Most dread and royal sovereign; the promises your highness hath made here, at your coronation, to forsake the devil and all his works, are not to be taken in the bishop of Rome’s sense; when you commit anything distasteful to that see, to hit your majesty in the teeth, as pope Paul the third, late bishop of Rome, sent to your royal father, saying, ‘Didst thou not promise, at our permission of thy coronation, to forsake the devil and all his works, and dost thou run to heresy? For the breach of this thy promise, knowest thou not, that it is in our power to dispose of thy sword and sceptre to whom we please?’ We, your majesty’s clergy, do humbly conceive, that this promise reacheth not at your highness’s sword, spiritual or temporal, or in the least at your highness swaying the sceptre of this your dominion, as you and your predecessors have had them from God. Neither could your ancestors lawfully resign up their crowns to the bishop of Rome or his legates, according to their ancient oaths then taken upon that ceremony.

Cranmer for EHFW

The bishops of Canterbury, for the most part, have crowned your predecessors, and anointed them kings of this land; yet it was not in their power to receive or reject them; neither did it give them authority to prescribe them conditions to take or leave their crowns, although the bishops of Rome would encroach upon your predecessors, by their act and oil, that in the end, they might possess those bishops with an interest to dispose of their crowns at their pleasure. But the wiser sort will look to their claws and clip them.

The solemn rites of coronation have their ends and utility; yet neither direct force or necessity: they are good admonitions to put kings in mind of their duty to God, but no increasement of their dignity; for they are God’s anointed; not in respect of the oil which the bishop useth, but in consideration of their power, which is ordained; of the sword, which is authorized; of their persons, which are elected of God, and endued with the gifts of his Spirit, for the better ruling and guiding of his people.

The oil, if added, is but a ceremony: if it be wanting, that king is yet a perfect monarch notwithstanding, and God’s anointed, as well as if he was inoiled. Now for the person or bishop that doth anoint a king, it is proper to be done by the chiefest. But if they cannot, or will not, any bishop may perform this ceremony.

To condition with monarchs upon these ceremonies, the bishop of Rome (or other bishops owning his supremacy) hath no authority; but he may faithfully declare what God requires at the hands of kings and rulers, that is, religion and virtue. Therefore, not from the bishop of Rome, but as a messenger from my Saviour Jesus Christ, I shall most humbly admonish your royal majesty, what things your highness is to perform.

Your majesty is God’s vicegerent, and Christ’s vicar within your own dominions, and to see, with your predecessor Josiah, God truly worshiped, and idolatry destroyed; the tyranny of the bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed. These acts are signs of a second Josiah, who reformed the church of God in his days. You are to reward virtue, to revenge sin, to justify the innocent, to relieve the poor, to procure peace, to repress violence, and to execute justice throughout your realms. For precedents on those kings who performed not these things, the old law shows how the Lord revenged his quarrel; and on those kings who fulfilled these things, he poured forth his blessings in abundance. For example, it is written of Josiah, in the book of the Kings, thus: ‘Like unto him there was no king, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.’ This was to that prince a perpetual fame of dignity, to remain to the end of days.

Being bound by my function to lay these things before your royal highness; the one, as a reward if you fulfil; the other, as a judgment from God if you neglect them; yet I openly declare, before the living God, and before these nobles of the land, that I have no commission to denounce your majesty deprived, if your highness miss in part, or in whole, of these performances: much less to draw up indentures between God and your majesty; or to say you forfeit your crown, with a clause for the bishop of Rome, as have been done by your majesty’s predecessors, king John and his son Henry of this land. The Almighty God of his mercy let the light of his countenance shine upon your majesty, grant you a prosperous and happy reign, defend you, and save you; and let your subjects say, Amen.

God Save the King.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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"Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell" Final Blog Stop

Thomas Cranmer -mini-bio

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“Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer”, by Kyra Kramer

November 6, 2016 in Guest Writers by Beth von Staats

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Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer

by Kyra Kramer

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Thomas Cranmer was not only the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was possibly the most influential figure in King Edward VI’s brief life. Cranmer was the young king’s godfather, and the man who taught the boy king to be a staunch — even hard-line — Protestant. Cranmer was also one of the few men the Edward would continue to trust as he grew older. Where most other men sought some form of fiduciary reward or position of power from the king, Cranmer served Edward without the need or apparent desire for more personal gain. Cranmer and Edward give every indication that they were united in a sincere, disinterested quest to spread the reformist gospel throughout England.

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

The pinnacle of their joint efforts was the 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.  Although Thomas Cranmer was the author of the work and should receive all the credit for the haunting lyrical style of the writing, the book would have died aborning without the support and defense of his protege and sovereign. As I explain in my book, King Edward VI in a Nutshell:

The new Book of Common Prayer caused an uproar among the Catholic and less-Protestant subjects of Edward’s realm, who thought it was blasphemously Reformist. Among the hardened Reformists, it wasn’t quite Protestant enough. If the definition of a good compromise is indeed a situation in which no one is really happy, the 1552 Prayer prayer Book was a very good compromise. Edward, however, was king and he was determined that his godfather Cranmer’s liturgical compositions would become the bedrock of the Anglican service. In turn, Cranmer could not have been prouder of the young king, who he regarded as a veritable model of a Christian monarch.

Cranmer saw Edward as nothing less than the “English Josiah”, a child monarch in the mold of the Biblical king who devoted his reign to compelling his Hebrew subjects to worship Yahweh as the sole God of Israel. It was, for the devout and devoted Cranmer, the highest praise he could give the young king.

Edward VI

Edward VI

Thomas Cranmer was also one of the few people who had enough integrity to disagree with the king when there were ethical conundrums. For example, Cranmer was deeply concerned about Edward naming Lady Jane Grey his heir, even though he had to have known allowing the ultra-Catholic Mary Tudor to have the throne would have undone all the religious reform he and Edward had fought for. Nonetheless, Cranmer was genuinely troubled by conscience. He had promised to obey Henry VIII’s will and Mary was next in line by the terms of that document. Was it legal or ethical to set the old king’s will aside? First, the privy council talked to Cranmer and assured him that “the king was fully entitled to override his father’s settlement” (Ives, 2012:130). Not quite easy in his mind, the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted to talk to his godson about it personally. The king, who had less than three weeks to live, met with Cranmer and promised him face- to- face that “the judges and his learned council said, that the act of entailing the crown, made by his father, could not be prejudicial to him, but that he, being in possession of the crown, might make his will thereof” (Ives, 2012:131). Still uncertain, Cranmer begged the king to be allowed to talk to the judges and the attorney general, just to make sure. The king consented, and when Cranmer spoke with them they all confirmed “that he might lawfully subscribe to the king’s will by the laws of the realm” (Ives, 2012:131).

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

Sadly, Cranmer’s loyalty and honesty were rewarded with a horrific death after Edward VI passed away on 6 July 1553. Mary Tudor and her allies quickly usurped the throne from Queen Jane Grey and in spite of their promises of “tolerance” for Protestantism, soon made it clear that a return to Catholicism was in the offing. Thomas Cranmer, an elderly man and venerable scholar who was 67 years old, was burned alive at the stake at Mary’s insistence on 21 March 1556. From her perspective, she was riding her country of veritable sump of heresy. From the perspective of history, she slaughtered one of the best writers and theologians England has ever produced.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Kyra Kramer

Kyra Kramer

 

Editor’s note: Kyra’s biography is provided by her website, Krya Cornelius Kramer and is provided to us in her own words.

Kyra Cornelius Kramer is an author and freelance medical anthropologist. She holds BS degrees in both biology and anthropology from the University of Kentucky, as well as a MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She  and her beloved husband live in Bloomington, Indiana, USA with their three young daughters.

Kyra is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Kyra is high-functioning, meaning that most of the time Kyra can pass for “quirky” with a dash of “gauche”. As a function of being an “Aspy”, she has a deep and abiding love for facts, which she stuffs into her writings like chestnuts in a Christmas goose. Seriously, you will knee-deep in facts by the time you are three paragraphs into her work. Moreover, she has a sardonic sense of humor that flavors her writings, no matter how academic they are in nature. Her editors appreciate this, but the review board usually makes her take any humor out before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. Kyra hopes that the academic reviewers were at least amused before they crossed the sentence out with heavy red pencil marks. She suspects not.

Editor’s note: For more information about the remarkable accomplishments of Kyra Cornelius Kramer, do visit her website linked above.

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“Recantations” — In Memory of Saint Thomas More, Executed July 6, 1535

July 6, 2016 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Y Writer's Group by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

st-thomas-more-rubens-12x14-2052212 (1)

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

— Book of John 20:27, King James Bible —

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“I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Over twenty years ago, Sir Thomas More spoke those words for all to hear just before the executioner swung the ax, just before his head rolled from his shoulders onto the straw, just before his self-serving martyrdom. For months beyond a year holed up in The Tower, he stoically embraced his fate, faithfully hung to his God, stubbornly held firm in his convictions, and refused to see the truth, no matter how hard dearest Cromwell, Audley and I tried to convince him, no matter how much his wife and children begged he compromise his self-righteous scruples. In scripture, there is no Pope. There is no purgatory. There are no idols, relics, or indulgences. Mary is the mother of Jesus, not a saint interceding on behalf of all who pray to her. It’s really that simple. What is not written in God’s word is not truth. Why could More not see the obvious? Was he blind? Was he daft? Was he of Satan?

And why after 20 years does More’s sorry fate still weigh my conscience down like a stone?

“More was not satisfied to be Lord Chancellor, Your Grace. His heresy burnings were not enough to fill his soul. More yearned for a higher calling than service to the realm and His Majesty. He yearned to be a martyred saint. He yearned for pilgrims to travel long journeys to touch his hair shirt and gaze upon his pickled head, disgusting as that be.”

Dearest Cromwell, I hear him ringing through my mind as if he were sitting in this dank horrid cell right alongside me. The Earl always found a way to rationalize quandaries, bless his soul. All we asked, all His Majesty wanted, all that was required to save his very life was for Sir Thomas More to take the oath, say the words out loud publicly, and do what he wanted in private. More could worship his Latin Mass, give confession, fondle his rosary, collect his idols, venerate his relics, wear his hair shirt, and whip his back bloody to his heart’s content.

“Just take the damn oath, and then do what you will.”

“No, and I will speak nothing of it.”

Again, again, again, the Earl pleaded for this simple sign of obedience to the King. Again, again, again, the same reply. My God in heaven, the Pope is the antichrist. To this day, I am still dumbfounded. The man was brilliant, scholarly, eloquent. So why was he such a fool?

After hours of mulling over my fate, I look down at the parchment. My couched recantations, written to baffle His Eminence and the Queen without sully to my conscience, baffled them not. Cardinal Pole then took a quill to parchment and wrote out another, and then an another and yet another, one that clearly says to all in the far more eloquent words of the papal whore, “The last twenty years of my life were heresy. The liturgy of the Church of England is heresy. The lyrical Evensong at Friday service is heresy. The Collects said in worship all through the year are heresy. The Book of Common Prayer is heresy. Holy Communion as a commemoration to the Lord’s Last Supper is heresy. I recant. I recant it all. The Eucharist correctly turns wine to Christ’s blood, turns bread to Christ’s body. The holy church in England and its clergy are led by His Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. Unless you purchase an indulgence, your mother will remain rotting to the bones in purgatory. There I said it. Now, you know my truth.”

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

If I want to live another day, die in my own bed, not burn pitifully as my beloved friends Ridley and Latimer, I must copy this in myne own hand, and sign my name to it. And, no, this is not the same challenge More faced. More was never forced to endure a trial for treason, found guilty, and yet a second trial for heresy, found guilty again. More did not have to debate at Oxford, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year with papist religious scholars wearing him down, chiding his every word. More did not have to watch his friends burn at the stake, poor Ridley lingering for hours due to a poor man’s misguided attempt to help. More did not have the entire Church of England and its future laying squarely on his shoulders. No, it is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not.

If I say it enough, I might believe it.

I confess Sir Thomas More’s writings so authored while he himself imprisoned give me strength. A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is just brilliant in all truth. Though they believed pushing More down my throat would wear me down, instead, his writings give me hope, nourish my soul. As More so correctly alluded through his story telling, persecution for one’s faith is a hazardous quandary indeed. It brings upon us at the same time both the lure and comfort rewarded for recantation — and the dread of torture and a painful death if we remain steadfast and true.

I look at the parchment yet again. No, I will not copy it in myne own hand. No, I will not sign it.

More conceded, and I agree, that it is not acceptable to escape persecution by compromising some of God’s truths, while keeping true to the rest. His err laid in not knowing what God’s truths truly are, by placing his faith and belief as defined by a papal authority instead of God’s word in scripture.

I look to the flickering candle, the only light in this stench laid cell and hold the parchment near. I will burn this parchment, and then I will burn. God, give me strength.

The cell door slams open, bashing the stone wall like a death knell.

“The recantation, is it ready Dr. Cranmer?!”

I startle upright. Damn, it be the Spaniard friar, Juan de Valligarcia, bellowing at me yet again. I look to the man wearily and hold out the parchment. He snatches it from me.

“No, I refuse to write it.”

This friar, I swear he is paid handsomely just to torment my soul. He saunters to the front of me and glares me down — evil incarnate, I do swear.

“I have word from Her Majesty. She desires I give you a message and one last chance to comply. Do you wish to hear it?”

I remain silent, mulling over how best to respond. The dirty dog drums his fingers impatiently on the table.

“Am I commanded to hear it? If not, I choose you leave with her words unsaid.”

“Yes, you are so commanded!”

“Carry on then.”

“As you so professed these many years, a monarch is supreme and heads the clergy is this realm. His Majesty King Henry chose to delegate to you and the heretic Emissary of Satan, Cromwell, while Her Majesty chooses to delegate to His Holy Father,” the friar scowls. He then holds out a parchment, its wax seal of the Queen made evident for myne benefit.

“Dr. Cranmer, as your monarch I command that you recant in writing as so drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign your name in full. I further command that you attend Latin Mass and recant publicly through a sermon approved in advance by His Eminence. From this day forward, you will attend Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, and worship the Roman Catholic faith with all humility.”

That bastard friar begins pacing to and fro. I say nothing. What be there to add to that?

“Will you abide Her Majesty’s command? If not, I need not remind that you will burn, mayhaps hanging in a giblet liken you and the concubine’s butcher did unto poor Friar Forest. The poor man be roasted hours on end like a chicken on a spit.”

Forest? He dares speak of the devil Forest?

I be in a rage now. “Forest’s burning fulfilled God’s prophecy! Saint Derfel burned with the forest as foretold from one to the next for many a moon — a suitable punishment for the evil Franciscan. He was both a sin-filled heretic and heinous treasoner of the King’s Majesty!”

I grab hold tight onto the table. Myne humors be in a twist, near to spew. The damn Spaniard steps up right close to me and leans into myne beard, so close his putrid rank breath near makes me faint.

“Cranmer, you are a hopeless, spineless, wretched, evil little man. God forgive you.”

My gout raging in my legs, I steady myself by the table, push him back and stand strong. What there be to lose? I am already a dead man. “No, I will not abide the damn command. Leave me to rot and be gone. You can light the fags another day.”

“But Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty is supremely your head as you define by scripture, eh? Are you not by your own interpretation of God’s Holy Word sinning through your treason?”

The man, he is of Satan and chides me mockingly, finding my greatest weakness yet again. This very issue, this very dilemma, has me confused and conflicted once more. This pitiful servant of the antichrist is right, but in my heart to recant is a larger sin, an unforgivable sin.

“I said, NO, I will not abide by the damn command.”

Unsteady of feet, I sit back down.

“Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty in her great benevolence wishes to extend this offer. Queen Mary, Regina remains steadfast in her vision to route this realm of all heresy, and will burn it all wherever it lays. Her Majesty desires to reassure you that should you recant, your Lutheran whore and bastard children will sleep safe. If not, they will burn as the heretics they are  — before you, as Ridley and Latimer did.”

Did myne heart just stop? Frozen in fear, I look at the Spanish friar, my blood frozen cold, just like that. Satan speaks through him as sure as Christ died for his sins. Mary, Regina — no one could be this evil, no one, especially a woman. De Villagarcia is trying to trick me. He must be. Margarete, my children, they fled to Nuremburg. Edmund promised me.

Aye, but Satan reached Tyndale. Why not them? My mind, it be cloudy, worn thin. I can’t concentrate. Think, Thomas – think. Would she really command my Margarete burned? Thomas and Marge? Would she really kill them before myne very eyes? Or is this man baffling me? Are they safe on the Continent or did Pole’s spies find them?

I gaze just beyond the Spaniard, and dearest Bishops Latimer and Ridley stand before me, burning pitifully, screaming in agony. Yes, the friar speaks truth. The Queen of England, Satan’s mistress, seeks revenge. This is hopeless. Either way I go, I be damned.

Broken, yes, after two long years, I am finally broken. I am sorry, Sir Thomas More. For this tribulation, there is no comfort. To route out this tribulation, I am willing to burn in hell so they don’t burn. Am I selfish? Or is that God’s will? Your writing, your gentle and humble wisdom, they tell me not.

I hold out my trembling hand, and the Spaniard hands back the parchment. My voice quivering, I say in complete surrender, “Come back in the ‘morrow. It shall be done.”

The friar sits down on the table before him, and holds out a fresh quill.

“Now, Dr. Cranmer, or Her Majesty’s offer is not guaranteed.”

I swallow hard, tears welling. O Lord forgive me.  I take the quill in my hand, and though shaking,  dip the quill in ink and seal my fate.

—– fade to black —–

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Given the overwhelming breadth of the magnificent life of Saint Thomas More, many people do not realize that he was an outstanding poet. In memory of Saint Thomas More, his poem, “The Words of Fortune to the People”:
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Lady Fortune and her Wheel. Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

The words of Fortune to the people.
~~ Master Thomas More — 1504 ~~

.Mine high estate, power, and authority
If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.

.Without my favour there is nothing won,
Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better ’tis to be fortunate than wise!
.And therefore have there some men been ere this
My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise.   And other cause there n’is4
But for me list not friendly on them look.5
Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and ‘gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6
.But let them write, their labour is in vain;
For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
The needy wretch that ling’reth in distress
Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8
.But he that by my favour may ascend
To mighty pow’r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
O! in how bless’d condition standeth he,
Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.
.Now in this point there is no more to say,
Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
And he that out of poverty and mischance
List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.

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Saint Thomas More “Prayer Card” of the Roman Catholic Faith

ThomasMorePrayerCard

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Tudor Martyr of Archbishop, King and Saint: John Frith

July 4, 2016 in The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

John Frith going to his martyrdom, July 4, 1533 (Credit: Universal Images Group)

John Frith going to his martyrdom, July 4, 1533
(Credit: Universal Images Group)

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Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Isrealites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord…

— Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer, 1549 —

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In 16th century Tudor Era England and Wales, religion was serious business. Unfortunately for the subjects of the realm, just what religion one was to adhere to changed with the theological whims of the reigning monarchs and was particularly confusing during the reign of King Henry VIII. Overstep the mark of the King’s ever changing religious philosophies, and a person would very quickly become the victim of judicial murder.

During the course of King Henry VIII’s reign, hundreds and perhaps thousands of people were executed for belief in their chosen faiths. Roman Catholics with one notable exception, Blessed John Forest, were executed for treason, while Evangelicals most commonly were executed for heresy.

Were convicted Roman Catholics actually traitors or convicted Evangelicals really heretics? Well that all depended on the King’s religious beliefs at any given point of his 37 year reign. What was treason or heresy today changed tomorrow.

Whether Saint Thomas More was Lord Chancellor or Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop was irrelevant. Revered by many as great martyrs themselves, people were executed for their religious beliefs at the hands of both men — those convicted of heresy typically burned at the stake, those convicted of treason, commonly hanged, drawn and quartered. Convicted women were burned at the stake to prevent the disrobing necessary of the “traitor’s death” or were simply hanged to death or decapitated.

Saint Thomas More (Holbein)

When we think of Saint Thomas More, his religious beliefs are straight forward, and thus his life choices and the rationale for his decisions are easily grasped and understood. A staunch Roman Catholic his entire life, there is no gray in any decision he made.

To More, Roman Catholicism was the one and only true religion. Those who did not accept the true religion and papal authority were heretics. It was that simple.

Thomas Cranmer’s religious beliefs, on the other hand, are far more complex in sorting out, because this was a man whose religious theology evolved over time. While a young Cambridge don, he was a humanist Roman Catholic with similar beliefs to Thomas More.

Incrementally over time, however, Thomas Cranmer’s theology became increasingly Evangelical and ultimately Protestant. Thus, while Cranmer was Archbishop, people were convicted of heresy and burned at the stake for exercising the very same beliefs Cranmer would later embrace himself.

Though Saint Thomas More and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were steadfast rivals, disagreeing vehemently regarding the sanctity of marriage, the justification of papal authority, King Henry’s break with Rome, and the King’s ultimate Supremacy over the Church of England, the two men came together with their beloved King to defend the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and in so doing, hold joint responsibility with Henry VIII for the tragic martyrdom of Evangelical Reformer John Frith.

The story of John Frith began long before Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor and later Thomas Cranmer consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Educated at Eton College and later Cambridge University, John Frith was ordained a priest in 1525.

While still a student at Cambridge, Frith began meeting with Thomas Bilney, a graduate student at Trinity Hall. Bilney organized a group of scholars that met at the White Horse Inn to study scripture and theology through the reading of the Greek New Testament.

It is believed that John Frith first met William Tyndale in these group meetings. Tyndale greatly influenced Frith’s theological beliefs that became decidedly Evangelical in leaning.

Upon ordination, John Frith was recruited to became a junior canon at Thomas Wolsey’s new Cardinal College in Oxford. While at Oxford, he was arrested with nine other men hiding in a cellar that stored fish for possessing books considered “heretical” by the university. In close confinement in unsanitary conditions for six months, four of the men died.

John Frith survived the torment and was eventually released. He wisely fled to Europe, joining William Tyndale in Antwerp, Belgium in 1528. There, Frith assisted Tyndale in his scripture translations into English and subsequent publications.

While in Antwerp, John Frith translated the Latin work of the Scottish Evangelical martyr Patrick Hamilton. Patrick’s Places became the first explanation of Reformation Doctrine published in the English language.

Soon after, Frith translated an assortment of other religious articles, including A Pistle to the Christian Reader: The Revelation of the Anti-Christ and An Antithesis Between Christ and the Pope. These historic works originally penned by an unknown author were the first anti-papal works printed in the English language.

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

While completing these translations, both William Tyndale and John Frith secretly met with English merchant Stephen Vaughan, agent and suspected smuggler and spy to Thomas Cromwell. Authorized by King Henry VIII, Cromwell through Vaughan offered both Tyndale and Frith safe haven back in England. Suspecting a trap, neither man accepted the offer.

Unknown to both, some historians conjecture that Stephen Vaughan smuggled Evangelical and Lutheran works to Thomas Cromwell, both men highly Evangelical themselves. Cromwell’s admiration of Tyndale in particular is well documented. Whether this was actually a missed opportunity for both Tyndale and Frith is lost to history.

Instead, Frith stayed in Antwerp, married and entered with Tyndale into a spirited debate with Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher and John Rastell. His original work, Disputation of Purgatory Divided Into Three Books, disputed the existence of purgatory to each Roman Catholic scholar in turn.

Although neither More or Fisher were swayed, Rastell was so persuaded that he was won over to the Evangelical cause. Ironically, Rastell was More’s brother-in-law. More’s opinions of the conversion can be easily imagined.

In 1532, John Frith decided to return to England, while William Tyndale remained in Europe. Irrespective of their individual decisions, both men eventually perished for practice of their faith. Upon returning home, Frith was quickly arrested in Reading, mistaken for a vagabond. He was released with the assistance and persuasion of school master Leonard Cox, who was impressed with his obvious scholarship. From there, Frith traveled secretly from place to place, preaching the gospel.

Learning John Frith was in England, Saint Thomas More issued a warrant for Frith’s arrest, offering a large reward for his apprehension. On the run, Frith was ultimately arrested by More’s agents and local authorities while attempting to board a ship bound to Antwerp.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London, Frith was charged by Saint Thomas More in his role as Lord Chancellor with heresy. Against his mentor Tyndale’s advice and all reasonable caution, Frith began writing comprehensively of his views of purgatory and more alarmingly his denial of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Concurrent with Frith’s substantiated Evangelical writings becoming increasingly pronounced and obvious, Saint Thomas More resigned his Lord Chancellorship upon the clergy’s ultimate submission to King Henry VIII’s authority. Soon thereafter, Archbishop William Warham died.

It is within this context and timeline that Thomas Audley was appointed Lord Chancellor. Soon thereafter Thomas Cranmer was consecrated Archbishop, leaving both men to inherit the unenviable task of dealing with John Frith’s controversial theology, most pointedly Cranmer.

Although secretly married himself and becoming increasingly Reformist in theology, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1533 agreed with Saint Thomas More, King Henry VIII, Pope Clement V and Martin Luther of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Consequently, John Frith was summonsed to Cranmer’s palaces at Lambeth and Croydon for several intense interrogations about his “sacramentarian” Eucharist theology.

Thomas Cranmer attempted repeatedly to counsel John Frith to alter his Eucharist theology to those of the King to no avail. Per Cranmer in frustration, Frith “… looketh every day to go unto the fire.” 

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Gerlach Flicke)

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Gerlach Flicke)

Interestingly, Thomas Cranmer never labeled any Evangelical a heretic openly, but his opinion regarding John Frith’s religious interpretations was clearly documented in a letter to his friend Nicholas Hawkins.


“His said opinion is of such nature, that he thought it not necessary to be believed as an article of our faith, that there is a very corporal presence of Christ within the host and sacrament of the altar, and holdeth of this point… And surely I myself sent for him three or four times to persuade him to leave that to his imagination; but for all that we could do therein, he would not apply to any counsel.”

With Cranmer unable to convert John Frith’s views, the law of England inevitably proceeded in due course through the offices of the new Lord Chancellor Thomas Audley. On July 4, 1533, by command of King Henry VIII, John Frith was burned at the stake for heresy.

In 1535, Saint Thomas More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy in accordance with his religious beliefs. As a Roman Catholic, he was charged and convicted of treason, then executed. Though not charged with heresy or burned at the stake, he is a martyr to his faith, as were many Roman Catholics executed during the reigns of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

Already in agreement with John Frith’s views of the non-existence of purgatory, thirteen years after Frith burned at the stake, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s views of the Eucharist took a dramatic shift. Now Protestant in his beliefs, Cranmer’s views of the Eucharist ultimately mirrored those of the man he, King Henry VIII and Saint Thomas More together martyred.

King Henry VIII dead and no longer an impediment, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s sweeping Protestant reforms during the reign of King Edward VI personified the beliefs John Frith embodied. The premature death of the young king, however, resulted in a return of a Roman Catholic monarch.

In 1556, at the command of Queen Mary I, like John Frith before him, Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake for heresy, a martyr to the Protestant beliefs he ironically and ultimately shared with the man he once steadfastly attempted to convert.

Today, Thomas Cranmer and John Frith, once greatly divided in theological beliefs, together are considered among England’s most cherished Protestant Martyrs.

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 SOURCES

Ashdown, A.G., Roman Catholic and Protestant Martyrs Contrasted.


Author Unidentified, A Puritan’s Mind, John Frith.


Graves, Dan, John Frith Burned for Beliefs, Christianity.com.

MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Thomas Cranmer, A Life, Yale University Press, 1996.

Samworth, Dr. Herbert, John Firth: Forging the English Reformation, Grace Solar Foundation, Inc.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth vo

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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“Black Joan of the Dolphin” (Experimental Fiction — Deep Total 1st Person)

July 2, 2016 in Hampton Y Court, Historical Fiction, The Tudor Thomases by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Artwork by Susan Santiago

Artwork by Susan Santiago

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“In the midst of life we are in death, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.”

~~~ Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer

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Joan Cranmer: For weeks now, I languish in this pitiful chamber. The walls, I do swear, they are closing me in. The window wide ajar, no air comes of it. My back aching, my belly bulging, my legs swollen, my lungs pushed small, the summer heat stifling, my nightgown glued to me with sweat, no comfort eases me. Bored, I yearn for company, yearn for Thomas, yearn for his lessons. I am desperate to learn to read, learn the scriptures, learn all the Greek scholars, learn of Erasmus, Aristotle, all the things rummaging in his mind — anything, just anything to pass the time. Day by day, the room gets smaller, the air staler, the bed harder, the candles dimmer… closing me in, closing me in, closing me in tight. Wide awake, unable to settle myself, distracted by his snoring, again I can’t sleep. All I want to do is sleep, Lord. I beg for respite. Can’t You just grant me that? I try to rise from bed to at least catch a breeze by the window, but it’s no use. For the last fortnight, Thomas has helped me in and out of our bed, and up from my favorite soft chair. God, please, I beg you. Bring this babe to us soon.

I look at my husband, and I’m angry. He did this to me. Yes, he calls himself a religious scholar, but he did this to me. What kind of man does this to a woman? Thomas, that’s who. How dare he sleep while I am so pitiful? Look at him, so peaceful, deep in dreams of God knows what, snoring like a sleeping sow. How dare he? How dare he? I look again, and guilt suddenly consumes me. Thomas is a good man, a gentle man. My God he is beautiful, just beautiful. I fill with love for him, this Godly man who will never be a priest. No longer the clergy’s, no longer the pilgrims’, no longer even God’s, he is mine, and I need not share him.  I nudge his shoulder. “Thomas?” I nudge him a little harder, and yet once again. “Thomas?!” Heavens is the man deaf?  ”THOMAS?!!…  THOMAS?!!”

Thomas Cranmer: Startled, stunned, I awaken, sit up straight, groggy, a tad dazed. Oh my… oh my… I shake the sleep out of my head. It must be time. ”Joan, shall I rush for the midwife?” My wife, she has been with child since the birth of Eve from Adam’s rib. It must be time.

Joan Cranmer: Men are daft. Soothingly, as I see his panic, I say simply. “No, not yet. Just help me out of bed, love.”

Thomas Cranmer: Joan woke me from the dead to help her out of bed? Even the birds sleep soundly. Why can’t she? “Yes, Joan. Of course, dear woman.” I rise, stagger to her side of things, and help her to sit up, move her body gently over the side, and raise her gently upward. Oh my, as my wife stands, I look to her belly. It’s huge and dropped low, so low I believe the babe will drop from it right now, on to the straw, just like that. Now what is that sound? What? I look down, my eyes wide as the moon is full. The ocean’s currents lay on the floor before me.

Joan Cranmer: “Thomas, I think I just passed the babe’s water.” I look to him and smile. “Do rise the midwife. I think it’s time.”

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Thomas Cranmer: All was planned since I was a babe in the cradle. As the second son, there would be no inherited title. As the second son, there would be no worldly goods passed from one generation to the next. As the second son, there would be no advantageously arranged marriage. So, as the second son, I would enter the clergy. Ordained from the womb, I knew my role in life. I accepted it. I welcomed it. I cherished it. I embraced it. At Cambridge twelve terms, I finally mastered it, finally was awarded a fellowship, finally grown in my knowledge and studies to begin doctoral work. Once completed, my family’s hopes, prayers and expectations — and my destiny — would be fulfilled, ordination into the priesthood. I was on my way. I could taste it. I could smell it. As I read the scriptures, Erasmus and Aristotle, I could see. I could touch it. Why am I here with all these rowdy men and barmaids at the Dolphin Inn then? Why do I nervously sit at a back table with the owner drinking stale ale? And why am I a lowly ostler shoveling horse dung, you ask? Well, my world changed on the flip of a crown. On cool autumn day I met her, the exquisitely blonde Joan Black — and now, here through the day and night, then day and now night again, I sit in stunned silence, frozen in fear.

Henry Black: A rowdy night, the revelers carry on, ale pouring freely, the barmaids entertaining the menfolk.  The singing, the merriment, the noise bounce off the large wooden ceiling beams, and bounce back along the long wooden tables, ring stained from reveler’s past. New straw Thomas needs toss upon the flooring, I note as I pick off a few pesky fleas.  Farthings fill the coffers, though, so ’tis a good night for mine taxes and tithes.  I look to poor Thomas, and he worries so. In truth, so do I. My wife long dead from child bed, this is taking too long, much too long. Lord God, I pray, don’t take my daughter, too.

“Thomas? Thomas? Have some more ale, lad. It will take the edge off.”

I motion over the men’s favorite wench, and as she pours the ale, her breasts spill before us.  I force a wide smile and nod. “Thomas, all will be fine lad. ‘Tis a first babe, so long we wait.”

I pause, and he looks at me, nods politely and says nothing, drinking the ale down in one long swig. There be thoughts, though, filling that head of his. There always be. That lad always be thinking, always be reading, always be writing on his books, all over the pages yet. I told Thomas once, “Don’t be doing that. How can you sell the thing once done?” He looked at me odd-like and said, “I never sell my books. They are part of me, like an arm, like a leg, like my heart, like my soul.” For a smart young man, he sure be daft.

“Thomas, pray tell me what is on your mind, lad? Let it out before it spills out your ears, before it spills out and asunder like Pandora’s Box.”

Thomas Cranmer: Should I tell him? There are no priests to confess to, and this man is gentle spirited and forgiving, so maybe so. I swallow hard. “When I became a father, I thought it would be to celebrate the Eucharist, hear confessions, counsel the downtrodden, christen infants, marry lovers and bury the dead. I misunderstood God’s will all these many years. He wants me to marry a wife, father children, raise them well. How could I not know? I am unprepared. I studied not for this.”

Henry Black: I laugh. “There be many Godly men who are not priests, Thomas. Look no farther than our glorious king. His Majesty is godly, a husband, and now a father. God will soon give us an heir by the Spanish queen, and a new king will carry on his glorious reign. What say you?” Smiling I chide before he can answer, “You be smart, but God needs to show you His will, as you are stubborn like the goats in the barn — and He did.”

Thomas Cranmer: I smile. This man humors me so. “All I know is scriptures. The church welcomes not a married man.”

Henry Black: I see now. The lad worries of livelihood. Reassuring I reply, “You tutor the school boys, and I will tutor you, Thomas. Look around lad. Once God calls me, all this be yours and Joan’s. I willed it.”

Thomas Cranmer: Christendom just lifted from my shoulders. “Thank you, good man.” We smile and rise our goblets in toast.

Oh my God in heaven, a crashing shriek cuts through the loud reveling and festivities, cuts straight to my very core. A woman’s voice cries out pathetically, “Noooooooooooooooo, nooooooooooo God!”

No man can stop me, though several try. I run up to the stairs, and head straight to our chambers. Oh Lord, the women are crying. I try to open the door, and it’s bolted, locked tight. I start banging on in, again, again. “Let me in! Damn it, let me in!” I begin slamming the side of my body against the door to try and force it, beginning to crack the threshold. As I try once again, knowing success is one jarring jolt away, Joan’s father and three other men, God knows who, I care not, hold me back.

He says gently, “Not yet, Thomas. Not yet.”

I look to him, tears streaming, both of us. I say meekly, “No baby cries, but women do.”

I drop down to the floor, huddled, waiting, Joan’s father beside me, helpless. God, please don’t foresake us, not now.

As I sit quietly, waiting… waiting… waiting, hoping, praying, my mind is filled with her, my whole body and soul consumed by her. “Yes, Lord, I fell fast. I fell hard. I’m in deep. Joan’s blonde hair flows long and glistens in the sunlight. Her blue, then green, then blue and green as one eyes look deep, straight through to my soul. Her lilting voice, accented from the south, soothes the demons within me. Her soft skin brushed up against me arouses every sense in my being, every feeling deep within. Yes, Lord, it’s helpless. It’s hopeless. She owns me. Your will? She must be. My will? She is. Yes, I confess as virgin as Christ’s mother, we learned together, exploring each other, molding one to the other, fading in to each other. Where Joan ends and I begin, I do not know. God, You did bless us before the parish priest did, my seed growing and the babe quickening within Joan’s belly as we said our vows. I am released from my fellowship. My doctoral studies are terminated. I’m disgraced by my family. Please, the penance is paid. It matters not, really. I will tend the inn’s horses, shovel their stable muck, tutor the town’s school boys, and die without a farthing to be with her. God please, I am happy to shovel the muck. I need crowns not. I need Cambridge not. I need ordination not. I need indulgences not. I just need her, nothing else, nothing ever.”

The door opens. I look up inquisitively. I venture, “My Joan?” Tears falling, the midwife shakes her head. Joan’s father, his voice cracking, asks, “The babe?” Her head looks to the floor, the answer clear. My heart stops beating. I can’t breathe. Joan’s father helps me rise, and we enter. I want to see, pray to see, afraid to see what I know in my heart now is God’s will. I look with dread and yet wonder. My Joan, my beloved agape, she lays peacefully as if sleeping, in her arms a babe, so tiny. It’s quiet, so quiet it’s deafening, only the sound of the women’s tears, my tears, my internal rage, my swirling thoughts of joining them in leaving this world, filling the room. I look on not knowing what to do. I want to jump into bed with them, hold them, love them. Is that proper? Would God frown? I do not know. At Cambridge, they never taught me. The scriptures, they do not say.

“Thomas…. Thomas,” I hear the midwife call me. “Sit down here, good man.”

I sit in a chair close beside the bed. I watch as she carefully picks up the baby, swaddled in a blanket Joan lovingly sewn.

“A girl Thomas. Look, she is pretty.”

Trembling, I ask the unthinkable. “Can I hold her? Please? I just want to hold her.”

She hands me the babe, my daughter, and I cradle her gently. I open the blanket, and she looks so perfect. She can’t be dead. I poke her gently once, and yes she is. I gaze up and see them leaving, the women, the midwife, and Joan’s father, who with graceful nobility nods and quietly closes the chamber door. Here with my family, with my thoughts, with my tears, with my God, I am but alone.

~~~~~~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~~~~~~

/
Someday we’ll all be gone;
But lullabies go on and on;
They never die;
That’s how you and I will be.
~~~ Billy Joel ~~~

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Meet Susan Santiago and see her beautiful art. She is amazing. The Art of Susan Santiago

Note: Very little is known of Thomas Cranmer’s two marriages, particularly his first. All that is known is that Cranmer married a woman named Joan, surname stated at his heresy trial to be either Black or Brown, between 1515 and 1519. Ralph Morice, Cranmer’s devoted secretary and biographer, details that they were married “within one year” and that Joan died, along with their baby, in child bed. Due to an association undefined with the Dolphin Inn, and the short length of marriage, Roman Catholic detractors labeled Cranmer “an ostler” (a person who takes care of horses stabled at an inn), and scornfully referred to his wife as “Black Joan of the Dolphin”, inferring she was pregnant before marriage.

Recantations

March 21, 2015 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), The Tudor Thomases by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

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thomas cranmer beard (456x575)

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

— Book of John 20:27, King James Bible —

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“I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Over twenty years ago, Sir Thomas More spoke those words for all to hear just before the executioner swung the ax, just before his head rolled from his shoulders onto the straw, just before his self-serving martyrdom. For months beyond a year holed up in The Tower, he stoically embraced his fate, faithfully hung to his God, stubbornly held firm in his convictions, and refused to see the truth, no matter how hard dearest Cromwell, Audley and I tried to convince him, no matter how much his wife and children begged he compromise his self-righteous scruples. In scripture, there is no Pope. There is no purgatory. There are no idols, relics, or indulgences. Mary is the mother of Jesus, not a saint interceding on behalf of all who pray to her. It’s really that simple. What is not written in God’s word is not truth. Why could More not see the obvious? Was he blind? Was he daft? Was he of Satan? And why after 20 years does More’s sorry fate still weigh my conscience down like a stone?

thomas more statue

“More was not satisfied to be Lord Chancellor, Your Grace. His heresy burnings of those of the new religion were not enough to fill his soul. More yearned for a higher calling than service to the realm and His Majesty. He yearned to be a martyred saint. He yearned for pilgrims to travel long journeys to touch his hair shirt and gaze upon his pickled head.”

Dearest Cromwell, I hear him ringing through my mind as if he were sitting in this dank horrid cell right beside me. The Earl always found a way to rationalize quandaries, bless his soul. All we asked, all His Majesty wanted, all that was required to save his very life, was for Sir Thomas More to take the oath, say the words out loud publicly, and do what he wanted in private. More could worship his Latin Mass, give confession, fondle his rosary, collect his idols, venerate his relics, wear his hair shirt, and whip his back to his heart’s content. “Just take the damn oath, and then do what you will,” said Cromwell. “No and I will speak nothing of it,” replied misguided More. Again, again, again, the Earl pleaded for this simple sign of obedience to the King. Again, again, again, the same reply. My God in heaven, the Pope is the Anti-Christ. To this day, I am still dumbfounded. The man was brilliant, scholarly, eloquent. So why was he such a fool?

After hours of mulling over my fate, I look down at the parchment. My couched recantations, written to baffle His Eminence and the Queen without sully to my conscience, baffled them not, so Cardinal Pole took a quill and wrote out a third, and then a fouth, one that clearly says to all in the far more eloquent words of the papal whore, “The last twenty years of my life were heresy. The liturgy of the Church of England is heresy. The lyrical Evensong at Friday service is heresy. The Collects said in worship all through the year are heresy. The Book of Common Prayer is heresy. Holy Communion as a commemoration to the Lord’s Last Supper is heresy. I recant. I recant it all. The Eucharist correctly turns wine to Christ’s blood, turns bread to Christ’s body. The holy church in England and it’s clergy are led by His Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. Unless you purchase an indulgence, your mother will remain rotting in purgatory. There I said it. Now, you know my truth.”

If I want to live another day, die in my own bed, not burn pitifully as my beloved friends Ridley and Latimer, I must copy this in mine own hand, and sign my name to it. And, no, this is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not. More was never forced to endure a trial for treason, found guilty, and yet a second trial for heresy, found guilty again. More did not have to debate at Oxford, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month with multitudes of religious scholars wearing him down, chiding his every word. More did not have to watch his friends burn at the stake, poor Ridley lingering for hours due to a poor man’s misguided attempt to help. More did not have the entire Church of England and it’s future laying squarely on his shoulders. No, it is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not. If I say it enough, I might believe it.

Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein

I confess Sir Thomas More’s writings so authored while imprisoned give me strength. A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is just brilliant in all truth. Though they believed pushing More down my throat would wear me down, instead his writings give me hope, nourish my soul. As More so correctly alludes through his story telling, persecution for one’s faith is a hazardous quandary indeed, because it brings upon us at the same time both the lure and comfort resulting from recantation, and the dread of torture and a painful death if we remain steadfast and true. I look at the parchment yet again. No, I will not copy it in mine own hand. No, I will not sign it. More concedes, and I agree, that it is not acceptable to escape persecution by compromising some of God’s truths, while keeping true to the rest. His err laid in not knowing what God’s truths truly are, by placing his faith and belief as defined by a papal authority instead of God’s word in scripture. I look to the flickering candle, the only light in this stench laid cell, and hold the parchment near. I will burn this parchment, and then I will burn. God, give me strength.

As I lean the parchment towards the flame, I am started upright by the slamming of the cell door and that damned Spaniard friar, Juan de Valligarcia bellowing at me yet again. “The recantation, is it ready Dr. Cranmer?!”

I look to the man wearily and hold out the parchment. He snatches it from me. “No, I refuse to write it.”

This friar, I swear he is paid handsomely just to torment my soul. He saunters to the front of me and glares me down. He is evil incarnate, I do swear. “I have word from Her Majesty. She desires I give you a message and one last chance to comply. Do you wish to hear it?”

I remain silent, mulling over how best to respond. As the man drums his fingers impatiently on the table, I finally ask, “Am I commanded to hear it? If not, I choose you leave with her words unsaid.”

“Yes, you are so commanded,” the man barks.

I say flatly, “Carry on then.”

“As you so professed these many years, a monarch is supreme and heads the clergy is this realm. His Majesty King Henry chose to delegate to you and the heretic Emissary of Satan, Cromwell, while Her Majesty chooses to delegate to His Holy Father,” the friar scowls. He then holds out a parchment, it’s wax seal of the Queen made evident for mine benefit.

“Dr. Cranmer, as your monarch I command that you recant in writing as so drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign your name in full. I further command that you attend Latin Mass, and recant publicly through a sermon approved in advance by His Eminence. From this day forward, you will attend Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, and worship the Roman Catholic faith with all humility.”

That bastard friar begins pacing to and fro. I say nothing. What be there to add to that?

“Will you abide Her Majesty’s command?”, he finally asks. “If not, I need not remind that you will burn as you so witnessed Latimer and Ridley.”

My gout raging in my legs, I find my courage, steady myself by the table, and stand strong. “No, I will not abide the command. Leave me to rot and be gone.”

Thomas Cranmer Jesus College

“But Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty is supremely your head as you personally define by scripture, eh? Are you not by your own interpretation of God’s Holy Word sinning through your treason?”

The man, he is of the devil and chides me mockingly, finding my greatest weakness yet again. This very issue, this very dilemma, has me confused and conflicted once more. This pitiful servant of the Anti-Christ is right, but in my heart to recant is a larger sin, an unforgivable sin. “I said, NO, I will not abide by the command.” Unsteady of feet, I sit back down.

“Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty in her great benevolence wishes to extend this offer. Queen Mary, Regina remains steadfast in her vision to route this realm of all heresy, and will burn it all wherever it lays. Her Majesty desires to reassure you that should you recant, your illegal Lutheran wife and bastard children will sleep safe. If not, they will burn as the heretics they are before you.”

Did mine heart just stop? Frozen in fear, I look at the Spanish friar, my blood frozen cold, just like that. Satan speaks through him as sure as Christ died for his sins. Mary, Regina — no one could be this evil, no one, especially a woman. de Villagarcia is trying to trick me. He must be. Margarete, my children, they fled to Nuremburg. They must have. Aye, but Satan reached Tyndale. Why not them? My mind, ’tis cloudy, worn thin. I can’t concentrate. Think, Thomas – think. Would she really command my Margarete burned? Thomas and Marge? Would she really kill them before mine very eyes? Or is this man baffling me? Are they safe on the Continent or did Pole’s spies find them?

I gaze just beyond the Spaniard, and dearest Bishops Latimer and Ridley stand before me, burning pitifully, screaming in agony. Yes, the friar speaks truth. The Queen of England, Satan’s mistress, seeks revenge. This is hopeless. Either way I go, I be damned. Broken, yes, after two long years, I am finally broken in shards. I am sorry, Sir Thomas More. For this tribulation, there is no comfort. To route out this tribulation, I am willing to burn in hell so they don’t burn. Am I selfish? Or is that God’s will? Your writing, your gentle and humble wisdom, they tell me not.

I hold out my trembling hand, and the Spaniard hands back the parchment. My voice quivering, I say in complete surrender, “Come back in the ‘morrow. It shall be done.”

The friar sits down on the table before him, and holds out a fresh quill.”Now, Dr. Cranmer, or Her Majesty’s offer is not guaranteed.”

I swallow hard, tears welling. O Lord forgive me.  I take the quill in my hand, and though shaking,  dip the quill in ink and seal my fate.

—– fade to black —–

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The Burning of Cranmer

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JUSTIFIED

*

In the Church of St. Mary’s, I stand close beside her;

She weeps as her our blessed Archbishop speaks his mind;

His recantations coerced, the lies said then are laid bare now;

Her prayers, her love, her pride, her fears, her sorrow multiplied.

Justified. The wise man of common prayers, uncommon. 

*

Confidences kept close, he risked all for the cherished Earl’s beloved;

Promises kept always, he stepped forward, and loved with all;

Gentle and reluctant, he made his way through life committed;

Pious and steadfast, he shared the scripture as his God defined;

Justified. The wise man of common prayers, uncommon.

*

True to his dearest friendships, he pleaded for the King’s mercy;

While the Lords and papists cruelly undermined for the kill.

Godfather to the departed boy King and soon Virgin Regina;

He faithfully mentored us all with his gentle wisdom and mirth;

Justified. The wise man of common prayers, uncommon. 

*

Stunned, the poor woman  follows him, dragged pitifully to the fire;

“to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”, his words, her heart;

For my father, I watch horrified to lay witness as the torches light;

True to his vow, his right hand is thrust to be burned, charred and melting;

Justified. The wise man of common prayers, uncommon. 

*

The stench of his burning flesh churns inside me, death unfolding;

Tears flowing as I place my hand upon her shaking shoulder;

His spirit rises to the heavens, my God’s and his God’s arms awaiting;

While the bloody Queen lays barren, now cursed to hell we made sure;

Justified. The wise man of common prayers, uncommon. 

*

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Composed in English by Thomas Tallis During the Reign of King Edward VI
*
Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Ecumenical Celebration at Westminster Abbey, 17 September 2010
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“Gentle Wyatt ~ Goodbye ~ Pray For Me!” (Thomas Cromwell, Executed July 28, 1540)

July 28, 2014 in Tudor Y Writer's Group by Gregory Cromwell

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“Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.” 

 ~~Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex~~

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Heresy. Damned to hell for heresy, so the attainder says, so Audley says, so Gardiner says, so Norfolk says, so Rich says and due to their evilness, so his Majesty, the God here on earth my father slaved to says. The bastards, for years they were determined to make it so, and today they get their way. My wife, my Elizabeth, she is distraught, overwhelmed, disgusted. Always at my side, today she carries me. Always tolerant of my shortcomings, today she forgives all. For the last seven years, I carried his secret, their secret… and today the promises made begin in earnest. She knew of my promises not, and agrees to them anyway. “Come here, dear.” I draw her in close, and she gives me a warm hug. “Elizabeth, I am heading to The Tower. I pray they allow me to see him. I need to reassure my father that we are prepared to carry forward.” My wife gently weeps, and I wipe her tears. “Wait here, love. After he goes to God, we need to ride out.”  How will I find the words? How do I look them in the eyes, without breaking in two? My heart bleeds, my stomach turns, and my soul blackens at the thought of what I must do. Oh my God, give me strength. This situation is hopeless all but for Your benevolent intervention.

As I enter The Tower, all eyes are upon me, and Sir William Kingston accompanies me to father’s cell. The man looks near to meet his maker, prematurely aged by the dampness and death of this place. “This must be quick, Gregory. Within the hour, the execution will commence. I pray the ax falls swift and true, though nothing goes easy for your father.” Kingston is right, far more so than he even knows. Low born, my father worked exhaustively and clawed his way up to the power he held so close to His Majesty. Now stripped of all titles, he is low once again. Was it all worth it? Most would say no, but they know him not… they know his life, his dreams, his love for his family not. All they see is the monster in their mind created by the hate of his enemies, not the man I know, not the man I love. More the pity.  The sound of the lock unbolting churns in my mind as Sir Kingston opens the door, and I look over. There he is, the man who molded me, raised me as any a father could, unshaven, disheveled, his eyes circled black from lack of sleep. Sir Kingston remains, so all hope of speaking freely is gone. I walk towards him, and my father hugs me close.

I look at my father in the eye, and near tears say gently, “I will keep all my promises, father, from this moment forward.”

My father, the man I thought the strongest man in Christendom, nods meekly. “Thank you, Gregory.” He takes off his gold chain and band from beneath his shirt, and hands to me. “You know.”

I look in my hand, and recognize immediately what was handed to me. ‘Tis my mother’s wedding band.  “Yes, father.”

My father places his dirty hand on gently my face and says quietly, “Be strong, Gregory. Stay away from court, and have courage.”

As I nod at my father, Sir Kingston places his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time, Gregory. Go on down to Tower Hill.” As I attempt to hug my father, Sir Kingston pulls me way, “Now Gregory.” I follow his commands. What choice do I have? As I exit out to Tower Hill, my heart freezes. The scaffold lay in the center, with people crowded all about it, pushing forward, with a sickening gleeful desire to see the deed done. Obviously, His Majesty desires to make an example of my father, as a more public death could not be imagined.  A guard escorts me down to the front, and I stand between the only two friends to my father in this hellish place, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Sir Thomas Wyatt. I look back, and see him, his hands chained as if there was any chance on escape, being pulled through the masses. People spit, jeer and pull at him. Behind me, I hear Norfolk and Surrey laughing, as if those bastards have some magical power of avoiding a similar fate. My eyes burn, and tears come. As my father climbs the stairs to the scaffold, I become a little weak at the knees, and Dearest Thomas Cranmer grabs a hold of me.

Thomas Cromwell:  I am racked with fear, but I will show these bastards not. I try to calm my nerves and look out at the crowd, all jeering, many screaming for the executioner to move forward before I have made my peace with His Majesty and with God.  Is she here? No, God willing she will know not until I’m gone. I look over and see my son, and nod to him and His Grace, who is holding onto Gregory with all his might. Thank God for him, making sure my son does not collapse in from of these bastards… my dearest friend in this life, my only friend that knows all. With them I see that gentlest of men, whose words will live on to eternity. I cry out, “Gentle Wyatt ~~ Good Bye ~~ Pray for me!” Oh my, I should have said nothing. The pour gentle soul is  now crying. I try and reassure this blessed poet. “Do not weep for if I were no more guilty than you were when they took you, I should not be in this pass”.

I take a deep breath and begin…  “I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche.* Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.”  Source: Edward Hall

Thomas Cramner: Oh Thomas, faithful to his death, Our Lord will welcome him. I whisper to Gregory, “Your father quotes the Niceen Creed, as did Luther, and refers to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Most of these heretics know what he speaks of not.”

Gregory Cromwell: I am frozen in fear of what comes next, but I find the words I feel my father would share. “Ah, yes. I pray you are careful, Your Grace. Wait, be patient. Your time will come. We need quiet reformists who wait for opportunity, not dead martyrs.”

Thomas Cranmer: I nod. Gregory is right. I need to wait for a better day. It will come, if not with His Majesty than later with his son. I look to Thomas, and our eyes lock. I mouth to him, us so used to hushed tones, I know he’ll hear my message clear. “I’ll carry on. I promise.”

Man From Crowd: “Kill the heretic! Spike his head! Death is not good enough for the likes of him!”

Crowd: A wave of chants flow through the crowd. “Kill him! … Kill him! … Kill him! …  Kill him! … Kill him!”

Thomas Cromwell: I look out at the crowd. There they are, my judge, jury and executioners, Nolfolk, Gardiner and Rich. They stand smugly, Norfolk laughing as the crowd chants, Gardiner and Rich snickering. I glare them down cold and then walk up to the man paid to do the deed. I hand him his payment of crowns, and state, Pray, if possible, cut off the head with one blow, so that I may not suffer much.” 

Gregory Cromwell: I pray silently. “God, give my father strength. Give me strength. Take him home, with you. All he ever did was for His Majesty’s glory, for your glory. As my father walks up to the block, and kneels before it, Sir Wyatt, His Grace and I kneel. I quickly look about to see if this will be a respectful death. No, most remain standing, an insult to my father and all he stood for. My eyes burn through the tears.

Thomas Cranmer: As I kneel, I look down and begin praying. I can’t watch this. I just can’t.  “I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. KNOW that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. HE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Source: Book of Common Prayer.

Thomas Cromwell: As I kneel at the block, in my mind in deadening silence. Instead, visions of my life pass through my mind… my life with her, my life with them.   If she speaks truth, we will be eternally joined. God make it so.  Before I lay my head on the block, I pray earnestly, “O Lord Jesu! which art the only health of all men living, and the everlasting life of them which die in thee, I, wretched sinner, do submit myself wholly unto thy most blessed will; and being sure that the thing cannot perish which is committed unto thy mercy, willingly now I leave this frail and wicked flesh, in sure hope that thou wilt, in better wise, restore it to me again at the last day, in the resurrection of the just. I beseech thee, most merciful Lord Jesu Christ! that thou wilt, by thy grace, make strong my soul against all temptations, and defend me with the buckler of thy mercy against all the assaults of the devil. I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope, and trust, is in, thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits nor good works which I may allege before thee. Of sins and evil works, alas! I see a great heap; but yet, through thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but wilt take and accept me for righteous and just, and to be the inheritor of everlasting life. Thou, merciful Lord! wast born for my sake; thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake; thou didst teach, pray, and fast for my sake; all thy holy actions and works thou wroughtest for my sake; thou sufferedst most grievous pains and torments for my sake: finally, thou gavest thy most precious body and thy blood to be shed on the cross for my sake. Now, most merciful Saviour! let all these things profit me, that thou freely hast done for me, which hast given thyself also for me. Let thy blood cleanse and wash away the spots and foulness of my sins. Let thy righteousness hide and cover my unrighteousness. Let the merits of thy passion and blood-shedding be satisfaction for my sins. Give me, Lord, Thy Grace!, that the faith of my salvation in thy blood waver not in me, but may ever be firm and constant: that the hope of thy mercy and life everlasting never decay in me: that love wax not cold in me; and finally, that the weakness of my flesh be not overcome with the fear of death. Grant me, merciful Saviour! that when death bath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon thee; and when death bath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto thee, Lord! into thy hands I commend my soul; Lord Jesu I receive my spirit. Amen.”  Source: Foxe’s Book of Protestant Martyrs 195. Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell: I lay my head on the block, close my eyes with only thoughts of her, of them, and await my fate. Out of nervousness, I open them once more. Tears come as I look upon a woman right before me, draped and hidden in her long black cape, just as when I met her first. I mouth silently, “I love you, always.” Our eyes lock, and with her strength filling me, I find my courage and hold firm.

Gregory Crowmell: “Oh my god, nooooo!

Thomas Wyatt: Though stunned, my body shocked, my stomach churning as the executioner repeatedly completes his office, blood spewing,  I catch poor Gregory as he faints. A kindness from God, he missed most.

Thomas Howard: Oh how fitting, it’s botched!! I elbow Gardiner, “So much for the merciful death, eh?” I listen to my son and smile widely. Who better with words than him? Surely not Cromwell’s man, Wyatt.

Henry Howard: I look on smugly, the common base-born bastard dead at last. “Now is the false churl dead, so ambitious of others’  blood. These new erected men would, by their wills, leave no noble man a life. Now he is stricken with his own staff!” Source: “Thomas Cromwell,” by Geoffrey Robertson.

Thomas Cranmer: My heart breaks in two, my soul torn asunder. God, why? Why so hard for him? My thoughts are jarred as a caped woman collapses to the ground before the scaffold, wailing pitifully. God tells me. I hear Him clear. “Rush to her, now, Thomas before the heretics. Bring her home, and I’ll bring him.”

~~~~~~~~~~ FADE TO BLACK ~~~~~~~~~~

Note: All text in italics above are direct historical quotations, sourced when appropriate.

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The pillar perished is whereto I leant,

Whereon the strongest stay of mine unquiet mind—

The like of it no man again can find,

From east to west, still seeking though he went: always;

To mine unhap! for hap away hath rent misfortune fortune;

Of all my joy the very bark and rind;

And I, alas, by chance am thus assigned;

Dearly to mourn till death do it relent. keenly;

But since that thus it is by destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart—

My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry, lamentation;

My mind in woe, my body full of smart,

And I my self, my self always to hate;

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state?

~~ Sir Thomas Wyatt ~~

“Historia Richardi Tertii…” Saint Thomas More — 7 February, 1478 to 6 July 1535

July 6, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Tudor Y Writer's Group, Wars of the Roses by Saint Thomas More

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Richard III

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Men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble; and who so doth us a good turn, we write it in dust.

— Saint Thomas More, History of King Richard III 

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Sir Thomas More

Here at Chelsea, I find my refuge. Now resigned from His Grace’s service, I find my peace. This evening I entertain my dear friend, Bishop John Fisher. I need to be near men of like mind, like conscience, and like values. The stench of court is overwhelming, the corruption raised to the very right and left of the King, the devilry all around him, like a thick, dense fog. I raise my goblet in toast and smile. “Fortune changes with character, dear friend. Fortune often changes with character.”

The Bishop nods back with a smile. I pause and reflect a moment. “So what do you think? I wrote that years ago, and yet only my dear Erasmus and now you have laid eyes upon it. My heart bleeds infinitely as although unfinished, it foretells our sorry state.”

Bishop John Fisher

Sir Thomas More, such a learned man, such a wise man, such a Godly man. I fear we will martyr together, along with my dearest Maid of Kent, yet I pray if God’s will, it be done to celebrate His glory, to celebrate our beloved Bishop of Rome, for in this realm Satan curses them both. Here at Chelsea, with this man’s gentle wisdom and his loving family, I feel our Virgin Mary close, so close my heart fills with love for her. I hold up the parchments along with my goblet of ale. “Thomas, Historia Richardi Tertii is magnificent, though damning… and aye, yes, much vision it provides. I trust the words on the parchment were written with divine intervention.”

Sir Thomas More:

I look to the fire, my mind full. Free finally to speak my conscience with a man I trust, I venture, “Your Grace, you are too kind.”

I decide to lighten the mood. God knows we both need it. “Did you hear Cardinal Pole’s latest missive?” The Bishop shakes his head no. “He declares Cromwell the ‘Emissary of Satan’. His Eminence speaks truth.”

We both laugh lightly, and I say in all seriousness as I point to the parchments, “Can you imagine what the King’s Secretary would do with that retelling of the sinfulness of the child killer, the monster King Richard the Third and the corrupt men around him? The man would crucify me, nail me straight to the cross. Cromwell is so full of himself, the man would think this all be an allegory of dear Harry, the sinful Archbishop and him.”

Bishop John Fisher

I snicker and nod in agreement. “Yes, I fear so. Best this be well hidden, good man. Your commentary on the failures of kingship, the corruption inherent in nobles and the clergy to gain advantage, your profession that the people need reign in truth by Parliament, is damning. Power corrupts, and absolute power especially so, I dare say.”

I point to the parchments. “You lay that bare here. ‘The lamb is given to the wolf’.”

I lay the parchments down on my lap and sigh deep. “I will never take the oaths, Thomas. A king supreme over God’s clergy as if God himself? Never. ‘Tis devilry personified.”

Sir Thomas More

I rise and stoke the fire, speaking as I do. “Me either, Your Grace, but it best we comment on our opinions not. Then by law we should be safe, but we will not I do fear. His Majesty and Cromwell make the laws or change the laws to suit their purpose. What be law today be treason tomorrow.”

I turn, look at Bishop Fisher, anxiety suddenly filling me whole. “Cromwell and the Archbishop, they are like King Richard’s secret second council, but spinning their evil web for all to see, His Majesty stuck within it, like an angry wasp. We will be stung, and stung deep, either by their attacks on the Holy Maid of Kent, God keep her — or their insistence all take an oath that the King is now God Himself.”

I take a deep breath, and rest back into my favorite chair, worn thin. “I am ready to martyr if need be, but my family suffers at the thought of it, my Alice wailing at every turn. Only my dear Margaret understands me, Lord God bless her. It is with she I will trust those parchments, no one else. If there ever be a day it is safe to promulgate, my Margaret knows to do so.”

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King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

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Bishop John Fisher

“I will pray for you all, dear friend. I have no family I need so worry, just my conscience.  Though God’s will is clear, you suffer more. May the Virgin Mary protect you all through these days of misery.”

I draw a deep breath and drink some ale, my throat parched. “Thomas do listen. The Archbishop, he knows how close I am with the Holy Maid of Kent, how I revere her and the priests that so take charge of her care, but you have been more cautious in your dealings. I suggest you keep quiet. What Lord God knows, they need not know.”

Sir Thomas More

I smile awkwardly, my full truth known but to me, the Maid and God. “Aye, the Archbishop is a two headed serpent, good man. As he burned the heretic Frith for denying the presence, a sin even obvious to him, so Canterbury will burn our beloved Maid. Anyone who oversteps his arbitrary mark, heretic or God’s messenger, is doomed.”

Bishop John Fisher

I drink some ale and ponder his words of Canterbury. “As I read of Queen Elizabeth on these parchments, may she rest with the angels, I wondered why she did so allow the Cardinal with the care of her sons? Was she too trusting? Did she lack judgment? Was she blinded somehow, leading to a poor twist of fate? A quandary, yes, a quandary.”

I pause, and then continue. “And, was His Eminence King Richard’s unwitting dupe? Or as Archbishop Cranmer is for King Henry, his knowing accomplice?” I sigh. “You leave many questions unanswered, dear friend, but this much of our current plight is clear. The Archbishop’s treatment of our rightful Queen Catherine and the Princess Mary is of Satan. May his heresy be laid bare and burnt out from him.”

I cross myself, and dearest Thomas does likewise. “God make it so.”

Sir Thomas More

I nod and rub my the crucifix around my neck, so long there ’tis worn thin. “Yes, God make it so. Burn the heresy out, I do pray.”

I say pointedly, “The Archbishop, the Lord Chancellor, Wiltshire, and Cromwell — they are fools, more so than the bonny Will Somers. As I wrote to you, ‘If the lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.’ Your Grace, the lion now roars. So long as he keeps the love of the people, Harry will stomp his way across this blessed realm, killing all we know as dear. I blame the heretics for turning him, the pretend queen, the Archbishop and Cromwell most pointedly — a whorish concubine, a chaplain of Luther, and a low born rogue — all Satan’s clergy.”

Bishop John Fisher

“Your speak truth, dear man. Satan’s clergy indeed.”

I attempt to rise, my gout aching to my bones as I do. Thomas rushes to me, guiding me to my feet. I place my hand on his shoulder to steady myself and speak plain.”Thomas, I grow frail. Perhaps the Saints will intercede, God calling me home before the henchman, eh?”

He nods, and rests his head for a moment on my shoulder, as a son to his father. “I do need your help to find my courage. Pray for me, Thomas. I fear I will waver. I wish to die in my bed, truth be told.”

Sir Thomas More

I place my hands on the shoulders of this dear and holy man of God. “May we find the simple and innocent grace of children, the simple and innocent grace of the boy King and the blessed imp Duke — and with all humility, may we move forward, as God’s lesson in conscience, God’s lesson in His ultimate truth.”

—– Fade To Black —–

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This video focusing on the life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More is part of a video series from Wordonfire.org. Father Robert Barron comments on subjects from modern day culture from a Roman Catholic perspective. For more information and videos visit http://www.wordonfire.org/

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NOTE:  The History of King Richard III, though unfinished, is widely considered to highlight Saint Thomas More’s veiled views of the perils of excessive power and political corruption. More “historical fiction” than “accurate history”, this work greatly influenced the writing of William Shakespeare. To read “Historia Richardi Tertii” click here: http://www.thomasmorestudies.org/docs/Richard.pdf

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St_Thomas_More__card_ (600x488)
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The Coronation of Anne Boleyn, Queen of England (Tudor Y Writer’s Group)

June 1, 2014 in Coronation of Anne Boleyn by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

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Trumpets announce the King’s arrival!

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Anne Boleyn: I was helped down from under the canopy. My mind was filled with excitement and anticipation. I stared ahead deep in thought, as we walked to the Abbey. I knew everyone would have all of their eyes on me. I turn and look at my husband lovingly. God and my King has made this all possible. I give him a small smile and continue walking with grace and elegance. I know I have the queenly air that I ought to. My heart is filled with joy.

King Henry Tudor:  We arrive at the Abbey and make entry. We begin our march down the aisle. Feeling proud, Mister Cromwell has indeed done well.

Thomas Tallis: As His Majesty, King Henry VIII and Marquess of Pembroke, Anne Boleyn enter Westminster Abbey, all in attendance rise. I begin conducting the choir, and the royal couple begin walking slowly down the center aisle, his hand holding hers outward. We have been rehearsing for weeks, and the choir sounds beautiful.

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Thomas Cranmer: As I watch His Majesty and my beloved Queen walk slowly down the aisle, I out stretch my arms to the heavens… tears welling. I feel God all around me, and I feel humbled to be leading the Queen’s coronation this day. “God, I pray to share your word most abundantly.”

Anne Boleyn: -~I can hardly breathe as I enter the Abbey. Yet, my face displays a calm persona for I stand tall and bold. God is leading me to this place. It is His plan for me and I thank him wholeheartedly. I have waited years for this moment. My people shall know who the True Queen is.  I look ahead, as I walk down the aisle. My dark eyes shine and I walk with every grace and elegance that the True Queen would have. I know how splendid I look. My cloth of gold gown and crimson robe display my status and show that I am with child. God is so good to me. I know how he has blessed me and my family. I know the congregation here are pleased with the sight. My mother and sister are with me here and I know my father and brother look proudly on. I praise God for my good fortune. I am married to the man I love, carry his son, and I am now being crowned Queen of England!  I want for nothing and I know in my heart that I truly am the Most Happy.~

Thomas Boleyn: Westminster Abbey is beautifully decorated for this momentous occasion. My daughter Anne, England’s true Queen, is to be crowned. No father could be any more proud than what I am!

Jane Seymour: *Here I am, Maid of Honor of Queen Anne; walking behind her and I am having a battle with myself to avoid looking at the King; God, please help me to do my duty; to be strong and get rid of thoughts and desires that are not allowed for me. She is the queen and he loves her; I must learn to live with that fact and stop dreaming.*

Mary Boleyn: *I feel so happy for my sister, and for me too. I am sure my life will change and…I also hope that my family will understand me better and forgive my past actions. I know I can do better, and I will. Anne will be so proud of me. Suddenly, I look at Jane, who is walking beside me. She looks so sad, like if she is forcing herself to do her duty… like if she were walking towards her death. She is so strange.*

Elizabeth Boleyn, Queen Mother: *I talk to the young usher behind me for a second to make sure he is handling the Bible correctly. I do not want mistakes. I continue walking, and I watch Anne’s ladies closely, all is working well and I am the happiest mother in the entire world; finally, my daughter will be formally crowned, and all our enemies will bow before her. God Bless my Anne, now and for always.*

Anne Parr: ~ We have entered into the cathedral … and it is the most beautiful site I have ever seen. The vaulted ceilings and stain glass windows leave me feeling enamored. All of the Nobles in the audience look so glamorous, but I am most nerved. All eyes will be on the queen, which means as she passes them all eyes will fall back to myself and the other ladies. I pray Dear Lord do not let me stumble or fall. I must straighten up as every move I make represents My Lord Brother and Lady Sister. ~

George Boleyn: As I stand in my Order of the Garter regalia alongside my father, Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Lady Nicoleen Sedena, I puff with pride as my sister, our rightful Queen, walks by with His Majesty. Oh how I love her… how I respect her… how I will always honor her.

Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: ~ I have never seen my King glow more than he is at this moment. Anne, she is beautiful. She is stunning. ~

Thomas Cromwell: I am out by the side entrance of the abbey speaking with the street cleaners. “I want all the horse dung cleaned up quickly so the coach rolls through it not on the way back to Whitehall. Now then.” I call a eager looking guardsman over. “Listen, I have ten crowns for you if you go to all the taverns and shoppes along the route and tell the patrons the King commands they be present outside and cheer Queen Anne as they pass by. Go now…” Okay, now let me slip through this back door quickly, and watch the services from the side clergy’s entrance by the altar. There is no way to enter by the front entrance now the ceremony began.

Thomas Audley: What a joyous day to be Lord Chancellor of this realm. I look around.  I still don’t see More or Fisher. I will direct Cromwell deal with this, tomorrow. Ahhh… My Lady Elizabeth, she looks ravishing.

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High Altar at Westminster Abbey

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Thomas Cranmer: As His Majesty and my beloved Queen arrive to the altar and stand before me, I speak in a strong and even voice and inquire, “Sirs, I here present unto you …, your undoubted Queen. Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, are you willing to do the same?” The congregation states in unison, “We will.” His Majesty takes a seat at his thrown, and my beloved Queen remains standing. I begin speaking out, and discretely gesture to her for each response.

Thomas Cranmer: I take a deep breath and begin.“Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of England, Wales, Ireland and France to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?”

Anne Boleyn:  ~My eyes look at Archbishop Cranmer, and I am determined and serious. My heart flutters with happiness and I steady myself and speak carefully and clearly, “I solemnly promise so to do.”

Thomas Cranmer: I look reassuringly to my beloved Queen and ask, “Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?”

Anne Boleyn: This is such a dream come true. I listen carefully to his words and speak firmly, “I will.”

Thomas Cranmer: My Queen, she looks so regal. Heavens, I hope I do not forget the words here. “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”

Anne Boleyn: ~”All this I promise to do. The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.”~

Thomas Tallis: The Archbishop looks over to me and nods, his cue for me to conduct the choir once again so they may sing reverently as he prepares to anoint our new Queen.

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Thomas Cranmer: As the choir is led by Thomas Tallis in joyous song, coronation tradition dictates that I begin the anointing of my beloved Queen. Her maids come forward and assist in removing Her Majesty’s coronation robe, and she steps forward and kneels at her faldstool. I go to the altar to retrieve the Ampulla filled with blessed oil and the Spoon, and when the choir concludes singing, begin the anointing prayer.

“O Lord and heavenly Father,
the exalter of the humble and the strength of thy chosen,
who by anointing with Oil didst of old
make and consecrate kings, priests, and prophets,
to teach and govern thy people Israel:
Bless and sanctify thy chosen servant ANNE,
who by our office and ministry
is now to be anointed with this Oil,
and consecrated Queen:
Strengthen her, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter;
Confirm and stablish her with thy free and princely Spirit,
the Spirit of wisdom and government,
the Spirit of counsel and ghostly strength,
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness,
and fill her, O Lord, with the Spirit of thy holy fear,
now and for ever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The Entire Congregation: “Amen.”

I stand before Her Majesty and place oil with the spoon on the palms of both hands. I look at her with comfort and reassurane and say,  “Be thy Hands anointed with holy Oil.”

Quite carefully as not to stain her magnificent gown crafted of cloth of gold, I place oil on her Majesty’s breast,  and say,  “Be thy Breast anointed with holy Oil.”

I place oil on the crown of Her Majesty’s head, and say, “Be thy Head anointed with holy Oil as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed: And as Solomon was anointed king by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, so be thou anointed, blessed, and consecrated Queen over the Peoples, whom the Lord thy God hath given thee to rule and govern, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

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Coronation Ampulla and Spoon

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I hand the Ampulla and Spoon to the Dean of Westminster, who lays them back upon the altar and lay my hands on the Queen’s as she remains kneeling down at the faldstool, and recite from the depths of my soul this blessing:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
who by his Father was anointed with the Oil of gladness
above his fellows,
by his holy Anointing pour down upon your Head and Heart
the blessing of the Holy Ghost,
and prosper the work of your Hands:
that by the assistance of his heavenly grace
you may govern and preserve
the Peoples committed to your charge
in wealth, peace, and godliness;
and after a long and glorious course
of ruling a temporal kingdom
wisely, justly, and religiously,
you may at last be made partaker of an eternal kingdom,
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The Entire Congregation: “Amen.”

Thomas Cranmer: Upon concluding the blessing, I reach out and take my beloved Queen’s hand and escort her to St. Edward’s Chair, where she sits and looks proudly out to the congregation.

Thomas Howard: I look over and watch my niece as she sits upon the thrown of monarchs. Oh yes, the Howards and Boleyns have risen to the zenith of power this day. My sister, Queen Mother… my niece Queen and mother to the heir to the throne.

Goerge Boleyn: My heart is beating so fast it will burst out of my chest. I look on intently. Within minutes my sister will be crowned after seven long years, Anne, Queen of England.

Thomas Boleyn: Many thoughts run through my mind on this glorious day. My family and the Howard’s fortunes and status are now sealed for the good. My dear Anne, my pride and joy, is giving the King a son that he so craves! I am the happiest and most proud father in all of England!

Anne Boleyn: I listen with great interest and admiration of my friend, Archbishop Cranmery. I cannot feel more pleased that he is doing this for me. Everything makes me light-hearted and joyful, but I know I have a great task on my hands and I know I shall not fail.

Anne Parr: ~As much as I could listen to Cranmer talk forever; as his voice is ever so enchanting. Standing in once place for so long is very tiring. I do hope it ends soon. I feel as though I have been up here forever !!!!~

Lady Elizabeth Boleyny, the Queen Mother: I boldly walk to my daughter, curtsy to her as my Queen, hand her our family Bible, and state “Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.” *I smile to my daughter; then I stand up and slowly walk away, not without looking at my brother, and give him a proud smile; now I can return satisfied to my place among my daughter’s ladies.*

Thomas Audley: As I watch my beautiful mistress, Lady Elizabeth give her daughter the Queen the Bible and speak, I beam with pride.

Thomas Boleyn: As I watch my beautiful wife, Lady Elizabeth give my daughter the Queen the Bible and speak, I beam with pride.

Anne Boleyn: I look at my mother and watch her as she brings up the Holy Bible.  I will hold true to the Word of God and follow it as I ought to. I am most honoured to have my mother here as my greatest support and ally. God shall preserve us.

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This replica of the original St. Edwards Crown is on display at Hampton Court Palace. Anne Boleyn is the only Queen Consort to wear the crown of the monarch.

This replica of the original St. Edwards Crown is on display at Hampton Court Palace. Anne Boleyn is the only Queen Consort to wear the crown of the monarch.

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Thomas Cranmer: “Veni sancti spiritus et visitabo nobis.” (Come oh holy spirit and visit us.)

Thomas Cranmer: “Ingeneravit animis, quod fecisti gratia.” (Implant our hearts, that which You have made, Your Grace.)

Thomas Cranmer:  “Per te sciamus Patrem. Hoc quod sit tali procedunt.” (Through you we know the Father. Be this our constant belief that you proceed from Him.)

Thomas Cranmer: (raises hands and then lowers them in prayer) “Illuminant sensus; replete amorem cordibus; diminuit corporis desideria confirma virtutum semper.” (Illuminate our senses; fill our hearts with love; diminish our bodily desires; strengthen our virtues always.)

The Entire Congregation: “Amen.”

Anne Parr: ~I am listening very intensely. My sister would be ever so proud of me; since I can make out most of what he is saying. Ever since I was a young girl growing, Catherine has always been fervent in teaching me Latin. Trying so hard to make out what Cranmer is saying is taking a blessing as pain is begging to diminish in my feet. I do ever so hope that Her Majesty will be crowned soon!!! ~

Thomas Cromwell: At the invitation of His Majesty, I look into the abbey through a side door by the altar. My eyes immediately gaze over Thomas and George Boleyn. Two seats beside them, next to Sir Thomas Wyatt, there she is… My Goddess, Nicoleen… She is exquisite.

Thomas Wyatt: Tears well as I watch my beloved Anne become Queen. Oh, what could have been.

King Henry Tudor: As the Archbishop of Canterbury goes over to my best friend Charles to receive the crown, I state clear and strong, “Wait!”

Thomas Cromwell: My gaze at my wife is startled by the voice of His Majesty. What is he doing? This wasn’t in the plan. No matter, I continue to gaze over at Nicosa. She takes my breath away.

Anne Boleyn: I turn to my husband and listen to his words. I wonder what is happening. Perhaps, my love has a special surprise for me. My heart almost stopped as he spoke those words, but I maintain my dignity and poise.

Thomas Cranmer: The King took the sacred Saint Edward’s Crown from my hands. What he is planning to do? It is so hard to understand his actions… God only knows what will be his point this time.

King Henry Tudor: It is time to crown my Queen. I step forward “Your Grace, I shall Crown her.” I state as the air grows silent; a King has never done this, but I am no mere King. I am their beloved Emperor, above all other Kings on the Earth. I take the crown of St. Edward and place it upon her head, and look out to see a most pleased Kingdom.  “Let us all celebrate the long life of the Queen Anne.”

The Entire Congregation: “Long live the Queen!”

Anne, the Quene: As my husband places the crown on my head, I feel any weight and fear lifted from me. Every has been completed. I am truly the Queen of England. It is no longer just by my marriage, but I have been recognized completely. I look at my husband and  my dark eyes shine with happiness. His Majesty steps aside so all can behold me as their Queen. I look ahead feeling every bit of my title. I know all eyes are on me. I am feeling so proud knowing that God’s will was done. I take a deep breath to steady myself. No one would know how I was feeling truly. I have hidden it well. Everything that I have ever dreamed about has come true. There is a peace deep inside of me. I know this is what I am truly meant to do.

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Thomas Cranmer: I walk up to Sir Charles Brandon and accept the septre and orb, hold them up triumphantly and say, “Ubi sunt duo sceptors principis. Anna regina, nostra honoris gratia. Bene prospere procede, et novum te peperit filium regis sanguine.” (Here are the two sceptors of the sovereign. Honor and grace be to our Queen Anne. May you prosper, go forward, and may you bare a new son of the King’s blood.) I place the orb and septre into my beloved Queen’s hands, and she looks out at the congregation, now Queen of England.

Thomas Tallis: How joyful I am as I begin conducting the choir, with the congregation joins us in song. His Majesty and Queen Anne, so regal, so majestic, rise for all to see and begin walking in step with the music as if rehearsed.

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Anne, The Quene: ~I stand tall and graceful. My heart is filled with pride and happiness. I helped down from my thrown. I am wearing a beautiful, sparkling gown. The jewels and gems that adorn me are fitting to my status. I turn lovingly to my husband and give him my sweet, small smile. My eyes glimmer with the grandeur of the True Queen. Everything is so formal and perfect. I carefully notice the eyes of my adoring family and friends. I know they are most honoured to be in my presence. I quietly thank God for his blessings and we start to walk down the velvet steps. My heart beating so fast, but not wanting these moments to end. I want everyone to know the truth and I want to be shining in front of them.~

King Henry Tudor: I take her hand and notice she is trembling slightly. I place my other hand over hers for a brief moment so that she knows I am with her. She is a true Queen. We begin our exit down the isle. All the Kingdom bows so low to her, us as we past that I see no faces. The Queen, the true Queen now has the respect that she has long deserved. Dear God, I will honor this woman, our son and the more children to come with my unrelenting and undying love and faithfulness. As we exit the bells toll in honor of her. Us. I hold her hand high. “Long live the Queen!” I say with love and pride. I turn to her, kiss her long and lovingly for all to see. I brush her face and whisper to her, “I love you now more than, my Queen.” Still holding her hand, I step back and give her a gentleman’s bow.

Anne, The Quene: ~I try to calm myself, but I know my love notices. He holds my hand tightly and I feel so safe in his hands. Everyone begins to lower themselves deeply whether be a bow or curtsy. I feel myself glowing. In a moment, my husband raises my hand and shouts “Long live the Queen!” I smile and squeeze his hand. We passionately kiss and for a moment, I am completely lost in his loving embrace. I am melting into him once more. He whispers of his love for me and I reply in an equal whisper, “I shall love you forever and I am truly your Queen…” I kiss his cheek softly. He bows to me and I stand so elegant and graceful. We continue walking down the aisle. I am beginning to feel the admiration and respect that I deserve. I am wanting for nothing…~

King Henry Tudor: We leave the abbey to see the masses all bowing. I nod and smile. “Anne, this is the happiest moment of my life,” I say quietly as we begin to walk to the carriage. I help her in the carriage, and we make our way to the festivities. “Even the skies will re-joyous for you tonight my love. And you, you my beauty deserve every moment of it.”

The bells of Westminster Abbey peal in celebration as His Majesty King Henry Tudor and Her Majesty Queen Anne depart for the procession back to Whitehall!

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The Legacy of Queen Anne, Consort of King Henry VIII: Elizabeth, Regina

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_______________________________________________________

Abundant Blessings, Your Grace

March 20, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), News by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Gerlach Flicke)

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Gerlach Flicke)

Who would have ever thought? All I did was try to run far from the sweat ravaging Cambridge, and with one major coincidence, one simple idea, one philosophical question answered, my life changed forever. What does His Majesty see in me? I am just a simple man, a humble man, a shy man. All I do is point out the obvious to Bishops Foxe and Gardiner over dinner that His Majesty’s marriage to Queen Catherine can be nullified by the ordinary ecclesiastical courts, and you would think I was Desiderius Erasmus himself. One idea, one concept, one simple thought so easily attained, and now I am commanded to devote my life, my knowledge, my research, my every being to securing the Defender of the Faith an annulment from his wife, mayhaps an annulment from the very papacy itself. And King Henry, long may he reign, does not make it easy. First, he sends me off to reside with the Boleyns at Durham Place, then appoints me one of His Royal Chaplains, and after yet ships me off to Rome with Lord Wiltshire to defend my treatise arguing the King’s valid cause, where the matter of the annulment was disputed and ventilated. Yes, I met the Bishop of Rome. Yes, the Roman Catholic Pope named me “Grand Penitentiary of England”, but no, we got no further. Still, His Majesty shows me favor anyway. I am not worthy. Listen, seriously, I am not worthy. Now, God save me I pray, His Majesty appointed me an ambassador. By a cruel twist of fate, the man believes me most appropriate to be ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor himself. I, Thomas Cranmer, largest proponent of His Majesty’s “Great Matter”, am ambassador of England to Queen Catherine’s nephew. I, Thomas Cranmer, the most timid man in Christendom, must face down politely the Holy Roman Emperor, him knowing my views. Is there not a single man in England and Wales besides me who speaks Spanish and Latin? What was His Majesty thinking?

King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Well, His Majesty’s appointments in Europe turned out to be a blessing I do admit. Living among the like-minded in Nuremberg, I know in my every being now the evilness of the Roman Catholic Church, it’s pagan roots, the sinfulness of the papal authority. Andreas Osiander, noble reformer, cherished friend, I gained my knowledge from his wisdom, and now I endeavor my life’s work to following the truth of the scriptures. His niece, my beautiful wife, Margarete — yes, that is right, my wife — fills me soul. God blessed us abundantly. No longer shackled by the pagan customs governing imposed celibacy, we married with the support of God’s love within the freedom of her Lutheran community. Though now traveling with the Holy Roman Emperor as he battles the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, I know we shall be together again soon. Yes, once my mission is over, I shall resign His Majesty’s service and worship the Lord, work towards our long awaited reformation, and live with my beloved Margarete and the family we will raise here in Europe. Henry, Eighth of His Name, King of England, Wales and France, Defender of the Faith, Supreme Head of the Church of England will have his annulment. Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke will be Queen of England. Through His Majesty’s new Secretary, Thomas Cromwell and Bishop Stephen Gardiner, I will see to it. God, I see your path for me now most vividly, and I thank Thee with all humility.

Tonight, like is usual each Tuesday, I have an audience with the King Charles. Given the stress of the battles he commands, I believe he enjoys the diversion of intelligent discourse. I walk towards his tent and breathe in the cool, crisp evening air, the smoke from nearby camp fires sweetening my senses. As I approach, I realize there is something wrong, and the hair goes up on the back of my neck. The Spanish Lords, they bend a knee — not to him, but to me. Is this his idea of a joke? As long as I live, I will never sort out the Spanish. They baffle me, pagans all of them. Once announced, I enter the royal tent and bend a knee, near caught up in my cape. The Emperor speaks and motions I rise. I join him as commanded at his dining table. The servants pour us wine, and I eye a parchment in his hand with King Henry’s Seal, a letter to me intercepted yet again.

King Charles looks at me, smiling broadly. His snicker unnerves me, but I compose quickly. After much practice, I am getting good at that. “Ambassador, do enjoy the claret… my best, long aged. The grapes date back to King Solomon.” Well this is unusual. The Emperor rarely speaks English, but the wine is quite good, I do admit. I force a laugh as he continues. “I have word from England, a missive here from Enrique himself,” he tells me. So what else is new?

I feign a surprised look. “Su Majestad, I would be most delighted to have word from home, especially from my most benevolent King. Though it is an honor to serve your court, I do pine for England. What say he then?”

King Charles bends over and places his hand gently on my arm. “Well, my friend, I am sorry to say Enrique is in deep grief. It seems your dear Archbishop, the leader of your diocese in Canterbury, passed on to purgatory. May his stay be brief.”

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury

His voice is gentle in tone, but did he just smirk? I swear, King Charles just wiped off a smirk from that ugly face. God forgive my evil thoughts of him. The Emperor thinks me daft, a fool unbeknownst. The man, he is chiding me, teasing me. I am sure of it. I drink down some wine and then some more, my nerves raw. What is he leading to?

“Archbishop Warham died? This is not unexpected, Su Majestad. The poor man was aged and suffered much from gout and lameness. I am certain His Majesty will appoint a worthy replacement, and the Papal Bulls sent to Rome soon.” Gardiner is Archbishop. There will be no living with Cromwell now. O Lord, thanks be to You I will be staying in Europe.

King Charles is snickering, laughing. What is so humorous about the Archbishop’s death? Yes, the man was stubborn, sworn to the papacy, unyielding to His Majesty’s supremacy, but he was still a child of God. The King slaps me on the back hard, but good-naturedly. “Oh, your great king made his choice, my friend. In fact, Enrique lays all bare right here in this missive.”

He laughs heartily now, enjoying himself at my torment. “Enrique commands you return to England immediately. Abundant blessings, Your Grace.”

Your Grace? Oh my God, no. He can’t be serious. Oh my God, no… not me, not NOW. What do I tell my wife? What do I do with her? Hide her in Lambeth’s wine cellars? In stunned disbelief, I offer, “Su Majestad, you must be mistaken. I am merely a Cambridge don, a scholar.”

I fumble on, my words like stones in my mouth. “I’ve yet to lead a church parish, let alone the realm’s congregation.” I pause awkwardly, trying to convince myself with mine words. “Bishop Gardiner is Archbishop now. He must be. All knew it to be coming. Yes, it is he.”

King Charles begins laughing heartily once more, that ugly chin wagging like a duck in flight. My face flushes red. “Here, Your Grace. Do read this, good man.” He then tosses the parchment into mine lap. My hands trembling, I pick up the missive and begin reading.

Thomas,

Warham is dead, and I command you return to England

in all haste. The Papal Bulls are on route to Rome for confirmation,

and upon your arrival to London, you shall be consecrated

Archbishop of Canterbury.  

Henry Rex

Oh my God, this is a blasted nightmare straight from Satan. No, not me. Lord, I just married, a Lutheran yet. If the heretic hungry Thomas More finds out, I will be burnt at the stake like the smugglers of dearest Tyndale’s scriptures. What a blasted mess this be.

I look up to the Holy Roman Emperor. In all sincerity, I say meekly,  “Su Majestad, God knows my heart. This is not His doing. Pray for me.”

~~~~~~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~~~~~~

The Lord’s Prayer, with King Henry VIII’s Doxology
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