More from the introduction of the book I am working on:
“You should also know that the Holy Roman Empire in 1500, of which Luther belonged, was comprised primarily of a hodgepodge of small, some large, Duchies, Kingdoms, Archbishoprics, Dioceses and Free City states. All Catholic. Some small city states of Northern Italy, the Lowlands and Austria / Hungary were also part of this empire. This myriad of states were held together surreptitiously by the strong arm rulers of Spain such as Charles V and the Habsburgs. A real piece of work that Charles but he was in many aspects religiously fair minded and wise but his successor, Phillip II, in 1556, proved to be the embodiment of hell itself but in an earthly reality. Just ask my Dutch friends. It took them 80 years of war to rid their nation state of the Spanish religious yoke and unique reign of terror imposed by Phillip. As luck would have it, especially for the Dutch, Phillip had a very long life for the times and an equally long reign of terror of 42 years. I say unique because only the Spanish with divine heavenly grace and papal intervention could dream up something called the “Inquisition.”
“Phillip II arose near the beginning of this conflict known as the 80 Years War and made it known to all of the Dutch people, including William “The Silent,” who was the founding father of this new republic, this nation of hard working souls, that the Catholic Church and Rome would not stand for Dutch insolence, Calvinism, or the audacity and challenge they and their new found religious beliefs presented to the integrity and holiness of the Roman Catholic faith. Such a lack of respect for God and the Holy See, God’s representative on earth, could not go unpunished. Indeed, and this shows the absolute arrogance of Spain and the papacy in that the entire Dutch population was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to death by burning at the stake. I would have loved to see how they were going to carry out that edict.
“The Spanish Inquisition arose in the late 1400s by Ferdinand and Isabella, primarily in Spain. It came to the fore in Europe in the early 1500s to address the religious reformation and anti catholic, anti papal and anti liturgical fervour that was evident in Spain but also beginning to take hold over much of Europe. This religious terrorist organization was responsible for a least a few thousand deaths and was omnipresent in the form of the Inquisition of the Netherlands. Heresy, heretical thought was a prime motivator of this religious tool but other forms of sinful activity were subjected to this unique form of justice. Sodomy being one of them. Interestingly, 19% of all sodomites brought under this code of religious discipline were clergy. We had a good chuckle over that one.
“Thousands of deaths permeated from this inquisition as it spread across our lands like some form of ecclesiastical virus. It was also cause for consternation among us working folk with its promise of eternal damnation in hell or purgatory. Or worse! This held sway over us, although like France and England the peasant and working classes of the Holy Roman Empire were slowly evolving. Almost ungovernable in what you would know as Germany today. But in my day every one of those little Kingdoms and regions had their own Prince, King, Queen, Duke or Duchess held together with the threat and the guilt penitent riddled proclamations of God through his papal representative on earth within the hierarchical tenets of the Holy Catholic Church. And I can tell you with certainty that those tenets were brutally harsh.
“Brutally harsh? Now that was an understatement. Even Luther chastised us peasant classes whereas, as his reformation was beginning to take hold in Germany, some 100,000 of us clashed with our noble overseers only to lose by the end of the sword, the rack or the stake. Luther even had a dislike for the Jews and vilified them in one of his treatises or pamphlets. Yes, his anti-Semitic stance became a black mark on his incredible legacy. But his reforms transformed all aspects of life in Germany. For all of the classes. Not just for the noblemen and women or rulers. Indeed, one of Luther’s protectors, Frederic The Wise, Elector of Saxony and one of the founders of Wittenberg University, saw the potential and notoriety that Luther would bring to his university. Frederick the Wise was very wise indeed and a medieval entrepreneur without equal because for every indiscretion that the Catholic Church undertook to fleece the flock, Frederic saw an opportunity. In Martin Luther, Frederic saw the entrepreneurial potential of this man as a reformation magnet to his University at Wittenberg and as another way and means to replenish his own personal coffers. Consider this: Frederic collected many relics in his castle church; his inventory of 1518 listed 17,443 items, including a thumb from St. Anne, a twig from Moses’ burning bush, hay of the holy manger, and milk from the Virgin Mary. Money was paid in order to venerate these relics and thus escape years in purgatory. A diligent and pious person who rendered appropriate devotion to each of these relics could merit 1,902,202 years worth of penance (an earthly equivalent of time otherwise spent in Purgatory, removed by indulgences). Two years later, the collection exceeded 19,000 pieces. Frederic the Wise was a happy man. And we were fools. But why not? Good on Frederic for it was the Church’s arrogance that a man could be saved solely by indulgences even if he was deemed to have had sex figuratively with the Virgin Mary. Evan a poor peasant such as me saw the humour in that one.
“This may all seem laughable, incredulous to you but for the times this was extremely serious business. For one’s salvation or damnation was held in the cards by the Holy Catholic Church by way of the Holy Roman Emperor, France and even my own abode, England as well as Wales and Ireland. The Scots in those early pre reformation days did not matter to us in the least.
 Wikipedia: Frederic the Wise of Saxony
We became religious zombies.
Sad! Delores O’Riordan died too young. From Alcohol intoxication. Substance abuse is killing too many.
Play this loud.
Have a great Navy day.