SCHISM AND WAR: EARLY MODERN EUROPE
The history of the Reformation is unintelligible if its political causes are not taken into account. The desire for ecclesial reform was quite sincere among many Catholics and Protestants, but it would have remained unrealized had the cause of reform not served the interests of princes. Protestant churches were, by their nature, national establishments, subordinate to local rulers, and beyond the influence of pope and emperor alike. In the case of England, in fact, reformation was the result - and not the cause - of schism from the Roman Church.
[A statue at Trinity College, Cambridge of King Henry VIII, who founded the institution in 1546. Henry's rift with the Catholic Church was not occasioned by doctrinal differences, but by his paramount urge to secure the Tudor succession]
Moreover, Europe's early modern period was an age of extraordinary violence, during which the modern sovereign nation state was forged in the crucibles of war, civil strife and not a few massacres. It was inevitable that the new religious movements of the continent would be conscripted into those struggles, and the new religious divisions exploited by the powerful.
The Catholic Church in England
The Anglican Church was not born out of any great popular movement for reform in England; nor did it begin as a Protestant establishment. When King Henry VIII (1491-1547) had himself declared head of the Church in his dominions, he understood this to mean head of the Catholic Church in England. In breaking with the pope, he did not intend to adopt an Evangelical theology or Church discipline. He detested Martin Luther and took pride in his title 'Defender of the Faith', which the pope had granted him for writing an anti-Lutheran defence of Catholic sacramental theology entitled Assertio Septem Sacramentorum ('The Defence of the Seven Sacraments') in 1521.
Indeed, the hesitancy with which reform was embraced in England left its mark on the communion ever after: not only in its historical emphasis upon the need to preserve the 'Apostolic Succession' (the direct continuity of its bishops in a line of consecration going back to the Apostles), or in the existence today of Anglican monastic orders, but in the regularity with which 'High Church' movements have arisen that have been theologically, liturgically, and devotionally committed to the position that the Anglican Church is a Catholic communion.
Henry would not have broken with Rome at all had he been able to procure an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) - supposedly on biblical grounds - so that he might marry the younger Anne Boleyn (c. 1507—36) and so perhaps produce a male heir. The pope dared not grant such a request, however, since Catherine was the aunt of the Holy Roman emperor CharlesV (1500—58). In 1531, after seven years of waiting, Henry separated from Catherine; a year and a half later, he married Anne; and five months after that, he had the
[Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, won Henry VIII's favour by suggesting that the king circumvent papal authority in the matter of his annulment]
new archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) - Henry's own appointment in 1533 - officially declare the first marriage annulled.
The Monarch's Supremacy
Cranmer (who had Lutheran leanings) counselled Henry to note that, in scripture, it is kings - and not popes — who are God's anointed rulers over all spheres, spiritual no less than temporal. This suited both Henry's taste for the new, 'French' monarchical absolutism, and the political designs of Thomas Cromwell (c. 1485-1540), the powerful head of the king's Privy Council, who in 1534 convinced Parliament to pass the 'Act of Supremacy', which declared the English monarch the sole head of the Church in England. Cromwell had few discernible convictions, but he favoured Reformation for reasons of state, and he was largely responsible for the dissolution of the English monasteries and seizure of their property by the crown. Henry, however, remained Catholic by conviction; he insisted upon a celibate priesthood, retained the sacramental theology of the Roman Church and steadfastly resisted 'Lutheran' reforms to the end.
Only after Henry's death did Cranmer begin to introduce Protestant forms of worship into the English Church, principally through his exquisitely beautiful Book of Common Prayer, the first version of which appeared in 1549. He paid the price for this, though, under the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I (1516-58), who had him burned at the stake. When, however, Elizabeth I (1533— 1603) — Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn - became queen, she made the English Church a Protestant establishment. Elizabeth was not much more enthusiastic for reform than her father had been, but she recognized the political utility of the Act of Supremacy; in religion, she was a moderate traditionalist, who believed in Christ's real presence in the Eucharist, but who felt equal distaste for the overly elaborate ritualism of high churchmen and for the undisciplined Congregationalism of the English 'Puritan' party. And it was she who determined the shape the Church of England would assume: Catholic in hierarchical structure, Protestant in practice, and simultaneously Catholic and Protestant in constituency.
(HOW SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" RELIGION CAN TWIST THE MINDS OF ....WELL ANYONE .... BUT HERE CATHOLIC QUEEN MARY, WHO NOT LIKING "THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER" BY CRANMER, CAST HIM AS A HERETIC, AND HAD HIM BURNED AT THE STAKE - Keith Hunt)
The 'Wars of Religion'
The term 'wars of religion' has traditionally been used as a general designation for the monstrously brutal conflicts fought between and within the nations of western Europe from the early 16th to the middle of the 17th centuries - which suggests that these were wars fought along confessional lines, prompted by religious passions, and waged for religious ends. Both the term and the impression it conveys are wildly inaccurate. These wars were, in fact, the birth-pangs of the modern European nation-state, and were fought for political power and national sovereignty, and though religious allegiances and hatreds were exploited by regional princes, they were at most incidental, and determined neither the alliances nor the aggressions of the time.
The earliest of these conflicts were those waged by the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor CharlesV (1500-58)—who was at war, from 1521 to 1522, with Catholic France and, in 1527, with the pope (that year his armies even sacked Rome). It is true that Charles objected to the spread of Lutheranism in his vassal states, but this was because he correctly recognized it as part of a movement of national independence. And though the German wars that began in 1547 ended in 1555 with the 'Peace of Augsburg' - which granted each prince the right to determine the religion of his own state — this was a charter of national, not religious, autonomy. The Catholic princes of Germany did not fight alongside Charles, for they too desired the settlement of Augsburg.
As for the 'religious' wars fought in France during the latter half of the century, these were struggles for the crown of France among three noble houses during the last years of the Valois monarchy.Various factions may have associated their causes with Reformed or Catholic interests, when it served their purposes, but rarely with inflexible zeal. The Valois regent Catherine de Medicis was equally capable of issuing an edict of toleration of French Protestants in 1562 and of instigating the massacre of thousands of Huguenot Protestants in and around Paris in 1572, as the situation dictated. And those Catholic parties that favoured absolute monarchy and a subordinate 'Gallican' Catholic Church were often supporters of the Huguenot cause and enemies of the champions of a free Catholic Church and
[There is a print showing the slaughter that ensued following the long siege of Magdeburg in 1630-1. The Thirty Years' War visited terrible depredations upon the civilian population of central Europe. Just ten years after the Edict of Toleration that granted France's Huguenot community freedom from persecution, bitter rivalry at the French court between political factions sparked the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in August 1572]
a limited monarchy. When Philip II of Spain (1527—98), moreover, became involved in the struggle for succession, in league with the Catholic house of Guise, a brief alliance was forged between the Catholic French king Henri III (1551-89) and his Protestant heir, Henri de Bourbon (1553-1610), king of Navarre. And though, in 1593, this same Henri de Bourbon - King Henri IV of France since 1589 — became Catholic, this did not deter Philip.
The most protracted and devastating of these conflicts was the Thirty Years' War, which began in 1618, when King Ferdinand of Bohemia (1578-1637) - later Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II — provoked a Protestant uprising in Bohemia by attempting to enforce religious uniformity in his dominions. But Ferdinand certainly had no objection to the aid provided by the Protestant Elector of Saxony in quelling the rebellion. And though, during the first half of the wars that ensued in the German states, foreign Protestant powers entered the fray on the side of the seditious princes, this was hardly a result of religious principle. Nor could religious motives plausibly account for the way in which these wars were absorbed into the struggle between the Catholic Habsburgs and the Catholic Bourbons during the last dozen years of the war (by far, the bloodiest phase of the fighting), or for the subventions supplied in 1630 by Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) to the Lutheran king of Sweden Gustavus II Adolphus (1594—1632) — with the blessing of the pope — so that the latter could send troops into Germany, or for France's direct entry into the war in 1635 on the side of the Protestant powers.
This is not to deny that Catholics and Protestants often hated one another quite sincerely in the early modern period, but that hatred was impotent to move armies. Simply stated, the European wars of the early modern period were not in any meaningful sense 'wars of religion'.
(BUT IT IS OBVIOUS EACH SIDE HAD "RELIGION" OF ROMANISM OR PROTESTANTISM WITH THEM. NO MATTER HOW YOU WANT TO WORD IT, ALL THE LITERAL FIGHTING, WAS FRAMED IN A SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" FRAMEWORK. THIS WHOLE SCENE WAS NOT A PART OF THE REAL TRUE CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH - Keith Hunt)
THE ST BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY MASSACRE
The most notorious atrocity committed during the French wars of succession in the late 16th century was the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572 - which actually lasted for two days (23-24 August) - in the course of which thousands of Huguenot Protestants were slaughtered in Paris and the surrounding countryside. Often cited as a prime instance of extreme religious intolerance, the massacre is better understood as one of European history's more horrifying examples of heartless political machination.
The occasion of the violence was the marriage of Henri de Bourbon (1553-1610), king of Navarre, to Princess Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), sister of the French king Charles IX (1550-74). A great many Huguenots, both noble and common, had come from Navarre to celebrate the nuptials and were still in the city on 22 August, four days after the wedding, when an attempt was made to assassinate Gaspard II de Coligny, admiral of France, a Huguenot but also a close confidant of the king.The attempt failed, and the king promised an investigation.
The conspiracy against Coligny, however, was almost certainly concocted by the House of Guise and Charles' mother Catherine de Medicis. Both resented Coligny's influence on the king and both opposed his plan to send a combined Huguenot and French Catholic army against Spain in the Netherlands. Fearing discovery, Catherine apparently convinced her son that Coligny and the other Huguenot leaders were plotting against him; at least, the order to kill Coligny and the other Huguenot leaders probably came from Charles. But it was to Catherine's benefit that all the Huguenots in the city be killed, to make Coligny's death seem like one among many, and to hide her complicity in an ocean of blood.
Even so, religious hatred fed upon the tale. The royal court in Spain and the papal court in Rome reportedly rejoiced at the news of the slaughter — though, one should note, for political as much as for religious reasons.
'I was awakened about three hours after midnight by the sound of all the bells and the confused cries of the populace. Upon entering the street I was seized with horror at the sight of the furies, who rushed from all parts, bawling out, "Slaughter, slaughter, massacre the Hugeuenots".'
Maximilien de Bethune, Memoires, August 1572
AND SO WE SEE ONCE MORE THE DEMONIC MADNESS OF ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER, AGAINST THE OTHER, ALL WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF "CHRISTIANITY" - BUT IT WAS A FALSE CHRISTIANITY THAT WAS WILLING TO KILL OTHERS, FOR POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS REASONS - MAKES NO DIFFERENCE WHICH YOU WANT TO PICK [POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS] IT WAS AND STILL IS MADNESS, EVIL AND SINFUL, JUST LIKE THE KILLINGS BETWEEN "CATHOLICS" AND "PROTESTANTS" IN THE DECADES LONG FUED THAT HAPPENED IN IRELAND IN THE LATTER HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY. SUCH PARTICIPANTS WERE AND ARE NEVER A PART OF THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH.