10 Monks Orchard….cont


“For Henry, spiritual divorce from the Roman Catholic Church and Rome was not likely for he was adamantly, violently opposed to the Lutheran, Protestant Doctrine and the new ways of worship. Physical divorce? Now that was another matter and Henry pursued this path with vigour when it became clear that Rome under Pope Clement would not grant him an annulment from his wife Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn.

“Without a male heir with Catherine of Aragon and enamoured by the charms, wit and class of French educated Anne Boleyn, Henry was determined to win a divorce from Catherine and marry Anne. When Rome refused to grant Henry an annulment Henry sought out the counsel of the intellectual sect and the intelligentsia of Oxford and the religious order from Canterbury. Canterbury in itself was an interesting ally for Henry because the Archbishop and his religious cohorts were beginning to lean toward Protestantism but dared not to do so publicly while Henry was still betrothed to Catherine. Of equal importance however was the threat of death through execution if one disagreed with or refused to publicly support Henry in his quest for divorce. And Henry was a master in the art of intimidation. The executioner was literally and figuratively Henry’s right hand man. Off with his or her head became the brand of Henry’s reign. Thousands would die.

“Backed by his own counsel Henry broke away from Catholicism and papal control by establishing himself, that is by his position as the King of England, as the head to the new Church of England. This new church with its basis in Canterbury was not Catholic in name but it was not quite Protestant either. Henry just couldn’t seem to rid himself of the religious icons, some of the liturgical doctrine or the ceremonial and ritual nuances of the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps he was a bit paranoid and riding the theological fence on this one.

“Rome would not capitulate on this issue. Consequently, the Church of England was born by a Reformation Parliament. In 1536 the Act of Supremacy was legislated thereby emasculating all of the power of Rome over England. Henry, through his hand picked Archbishop of Canterbury, was now king of the new Church of England. And with any reforms, or revolution / evolution of newness the bloodbath began. Henry went off on a religious rampage to oust or destroy and execute all of those who disagreed with his Act of Supremacy. Thousands were killed. Most notably was Thomas More, Lord High Chancellor of England, in essence Henry’s Chief of Staff, who refused to agree to Henry’s Act of Supremacy and his break with the Church. Henry’s Act of Treason legislation in the same year ensured compliancy of the rigours of his new church with fear of death. Death came to Thomas More in 1534. He was canonized as a saint in your day for his stance against a King and a Country that challenged God himself. Such arrogance!

“Interestingly, Henry swept across this land and laid waste to all of the religious “Priories, Abby’s, Monasteries,” citing a fear of disloyalty to the Supremacy Act. Thus, under the threat of the Treason Act, Henry destroyed a way of life that invoked religious traditions over a thousand years. No matter to Henry. Their infrastructure – abodes, buildings and agrarian machines were burned to the ground, destroyed and their lands confiscated without compensation. Land titles were reassigned through sales to the highest bidders. This had a two fold consequence. On the one hand it ensured compliance and loyalty to the new Church of England by rooting out all dissenters to Henry’s acclamations while on the other hand it filled the royal coffers of much needed funds for Henry’s indulgences and interests. One of the Priories that was destroyed by Royal Decree would play some part, not insignificant mind you, in my own story of my own kin and their ancestors. Tillmore Gardens, which encompassed the working orchards of some Franciscan monks, was one of these Priories. Nestled among the hills and valleys of the so named South Downs of the Hampshire County, near Winchester, it would fall into the hands of a distant relative. This would have a profound impact on my own sense and sensibilities, and loyalties to my King and Country, as you shall soon see.

Clocks by Coldplay.

Have a great Navy day.