Those wild and crazy 1500s: 2-23/24-19
February 23, 2019
A few days ago, here on the blog, I wrote about a new book, Hot Protestants, that traces the history of the Puritans from England, starting about 1540, to the New World, ending with the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692.
It got me to thinking again about what a lively, fascinating, scary, brutal, crazy time the 16th Century was when it came to religious history, especially Christian history in Europe and in what would become the U.S.
I won't take the space to run through everything that happened in those 100 years, but I'll just hit a few highlights of what transpired in the various Februaries of the 1500s. And I'll go chronologically by dates in February, not year by year. Which means starting with:
-- Feb. 3, 1518. Pope Leo X imposed silence on Augustinian monks in the Catholic Church. Were they ever heard from again? Well, in 1517, the year before this action, one of them, Martin Luther, published his 95 points of debate with the church, thus inadvertently starting the Protestant Reformation. And Luther was never silent after that.
-- Feb. 7, 1528. Bern, the strong canton (state) in southern Switzerland, officially embraced Protestantism, as defined by the great reformer Ulrich Zwingli.
-- Feb. 8, 1587. Mary Queen of Scots, raised a Catholic in France, was beheaded in England. This is a long, complicated, even vile and brutal story that you can read at the link I've given you. Just know it took more than one whack to off her head.
-- Feb. 18, 1546. Martin Luther, whom I mentioned in the Feb. 3 entry above, died. So it's not true, exactly, what I wrote above that "Luther was never silent after that." He was quiet after Feb. 18, 1546.
-- Feb. 19, 1568. Miles Coverdale, translator and publisher of the first complete Bible printed in English, died. Lots of Bible history died with him.
-- Feb. 24, 1500. The man who would become Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was born at Ghent in Flanders. He reigned from 1519 to 1556 and officially pronounced Luther an outlaw and heretic. Luther didn't seem to mind.
-- Feb. 25, 1570. Pope Pius V excommunicated Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England. Pius also allegedly deposed the queen, but she didn't seem to notice and reigned until March of 1603.
-- Feb. 29, 1528. The first martyr of the Scottish reformation, Patrick Hamilton, was burned at the stake. In the end, the reformation in Scotland succeeded and led to Presbyterians, including me. Thanks, Pat.
Well, lots of other stuff happened in the 1500s, including Henry VIII creating the Church of England in 1534, but it didn't happen in February, so I'm ignoring it.
(I found the image shown today here.)
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THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT ABUSE IN ROME
The current Vatican summit on sex abuse at least is making sure that the subject doesn't get ignored. It's the church's previous inattention to the matter -- or its active avoidance -- that has led to so many problems. If you want to follow the meeting on a timely basis this weekend, I suggest you visit the National Catholic Reporter's website regularly.
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P.S.: The United Methodists are also talking about sexuality matters in a special session this weekend in St. Louis. You can watch the proceedings live here.