10 Monks Orchard…cont

From my next book: 10 Monks Orchard:

“In my country, England, Henry VI gave way to Edward IV formally ending the 100 years war in 1475. Henry VII, from the House of Tudor, would reign supreme over us as he emerged victorious from that English civil war that was known as the War of the Roses – a conflict between two major houses of England – Lancaster and York. I am not entirely cognizant of the whys and wherefores of this conflict only to say that the House of Lancaster won out and Henry VII reigned over his kingdom, our land, us, with fortitude, resolve and without challenge. There will be another one, a bloody civil in England, as all civil wars are bloody affairs I can tell you, but later as you shall see. Yet these conflicts were important in some respects due to the naturally defined evolutionary growth that occurred over a span of a hundred plus years in weapons, tactics, discipline, loyalties and untold cruelty. Unintentionally, the consequences of such a long and protracted conflict as the 100 Years War saw the emergence of a new, hard working and imaginative middle class of merchants and skilled tradesmen. This was a new working order or middle class that relied upon innovative thought, imaginative discourse and a new work ethic.  The age of chivalry, knighted knights of armour and feudalism was over. It was as if a humanistic approach to our meagre existence was beginning to take shape. And out of a religious and territorial war no less!

“Interestingly, what came about out of the wake of this 100 year conflict between France and my country England was an awakening of thought and essence, not in a spiritual context but more of a secular nature. It would emerge out of the Papal States, and ironically, the city of Rome. For this era would prove to be an age of enlightenment; a renaissance of spirit; a new life-force; and an exciting but equally dangerous time for one’s personal well being. But we did not know that at the time. For life was cheap and for the holy Catholic Church, intolerant. From cradle to grave the local clergy of the Roman Catholic Church was omnipresent, controlling every aspect of our lives. For these priests with their black robes and thick black cloaks of heavenly woven fabric represented to us a fearful existence. They were anything but a beacon of light. More-so a dark and impervious lead mark to death and damnation for anyone that considered a break from the centuries old traditions of the Catholic Church. Work and pray, worship and pay, submit your tithe, sacrifice with good deeds, were the hallmarks of salvation. Anything else was heresy.

“The Italian led Renaissance was truly enlightenment after centuries of intellectual darkness.  Humanism: Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Copernicus, Michelangelo, the printing press, philosophical rediscovery, was making huge inroads in art, culture, architecture and politics. Classical philosophy was rediscovered. The Greek philosopher Protagoras came to light with his “Man is the measurement of all things,” which in reality was a manifestation of everything that was beginning to take hold in this day and age.. This renewal of thought and new age thinking would have a profound impact on all of Europe. It would have a huge impact on us working and peasant classes as well as the nobility and rulers.

“But equally important, especially to the great unwashed hordes like myself, was the beginning of a religious reformation or liturgical reform of the Catholic faith itself. This would have a significant and profound impact on the lives and well being of all of Europe. Protestantism would soon take hold: slowly and gradually but with a surety; at first snaking and winding its way across the land until its revolutionary doctrine began to reverberate through the various kingdoms of Catholic Europe. The new religious awakening of Luther and Calvin would bring the Catholic hierarchy to their knees and shake Catholic liturgy and doctrine to its very core. The foundation of Catholicism was beginning to crack.

Who would have thought? Salvation being a gift from God based on individual faith and not on some nefarious righteousness or a bevy of good deeds that one had to achieve through personal sacrifice, confession, atonement, absolution and penance. And only from the third party intervention of a priest no doubt. No, salvation lay between God and the individual himself. It was time, or so men like Luther thought, to rid oneself of the middle man. Trappings such as the Church, priests, religious icons, the Virgin Mary and all of the saints were distractions and were anathema to one’s personal salvation and personal dialogue with God himself through his son Jesus Christ. The only true word was the word of God. The only true laws were those laws found in the Holy Bible. All other church laws, canon law, that fell under the yoke of Catholic Christendom were man’s law and not God’s law and therefore irrelevant to man’s salvation and rebirth in Christianity. This notion of salvation was unbelievable to someone like me.

“As you can imagine this new religious orthodoxy did not go over well with the Catholic Church. That some unknown, obscure, fanatical and spiritually troubled German monk by the name of Martin Luther would inscribe and nail to a church’s door in Wittenberg a list of some 95 Theses or talking points that were meant for religious liturgical and theological debate. It would spark a debate of course but one that no one ever expected or anticipated, least of all Luther. These Theses represented a radical departure from traditional theological ideas of faith and worship. A departure and divorce from accepted religious doctrine that would radiate and resonate like some theological poison, a liturgical plague or a spiritual Black Death, throughout the papacy’s areas of influence. An area of influence that was considerable as it encompassed much of the known world. But the time of reform had come. The Renaissance made sure of that even if it played to a secular crowd. The invention of the printing press about 1439 [1] brought the revolutionary word of God to the masses. At least to those who could read.  Gutenberg’s invention became the internet of our day. Martin Luther, the German monk who started it all, became an international star.

[1] 1439 – Gutenberg’s First Moveable Type. By 1450 presses were in operation

Have a great Navy Day