Queen Elizabeth’s Oak

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Queen Elizabeth's Oak

Under the branches of this tree, it’s been said for centuries that Henry VIII danced with Anne Boleyn and enjoyed private time with her during their courtship. Years later as a girl, their daughter (the future Elizabeth I) enjoyed picnics in it’s shade.

This ancient tree was planted roughly around the 12th century, died in the late 19th century, and remained hollowed out until it finally fell in 1991.

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Alfred the Great (849-899)

Alfred the Great (849-899) was the fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. By the time of his death, he had become the dominant ruler in England after defending his kingdom against a major Viking attempt at conquest.

Statue of Alfred the Great, Wantage, Oxfordshire, England.

Statue of Alfred the Great, Wantage, Oxfordshire, England.

Alfred was born in Wantage in 849 and died in 899. Upon the death of his father, Aethelwulf, Alfred’s elder brothers first succeed their father in order of birth. This was Aethelwulf’s way of making sure the seat of power didn’t pass to someone who was too young to reign, amidst a very unstable time. Unstable it certainly was, as the Kingdom of Wessex was under the threat of Viking raids by the Danes.

Based on Stenton 'Anglo-Saxon England.' An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England' p40-1.

Based on Stenton ‘Anglo-Saxon England.’ An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England’ p40-1.

A map of Wessex and Danelaw, 870.

A map of Wessex and Danelaw, 870.

By 870, all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had fallen to the Vikings. The Vikings eventually established a territory that we refer to as ‘Danelaw.‘ Wessex alone was still standing, unconquered. As anticipated by Alfred and his older brother, King Aethelred, by the end of that very year, Wessex was under attack. Alfred and King Aethelred commanded the kingdom’s forces themselves. The following year, 871, has been historically described as “Alfred’s year of battles.” Nine recorded battles were fought with varying outcomes.

Alfred became king upon the death of his brother on April 23, 871. The raids ensued. The Danes were on a mission to take over the last Anglo-Saxon kingdom standing, and despite all odds, Alfred was on a mission to defend it and ward them off. While Alfred was preoccupied with burial ceremonies for his brother, the Vikings took a vicious victory at Wilton that May. This defeat smashed Alfred’s hope to drive the Danes from his kingdom. Instead, he was forced to make peace, the terms of which are unknown. According to Richard Abels in Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England, the result was that the Danes were probably paid cash to vacate the realm, much as the neighboring Mercians would do the following year. Still, this major loss at Wilton left Alfred in retreat for several years, and thanks to his likely peace treaty, the Danes occupied other parts of England for the next five years.

In 876, the Danes had a new leader, Guthrum, who intended to finish what his predecessor started. The Danes slipped past the English army and took control of Wareham in Dorset. Alfred tried to blockade them, but the battle was true to be a loss. According to the ancient Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he negotiated peace by exchanging hostages and oaths. The Danes swore on a “holy ring” associated with the worship of Thor. The Danes, however, broke their word. They killed their hostages and escaped to Devon in the middle of the night. Alfred blockaded them and they were forced to submit.

Plaque on the site of Chippenham today, where a museum is located. Visit their website at http://www.chippenham.gov.uk/museum.

Plaque on the site of Chippenham today, where a museum is located. Visit their website at http://www.chippenham.gov.uk/museum.

However, in January 878, the Danes made a surprise attack on a royal stronghold called Chippenham. Alfred had been staying there over Christmas. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dictates that “most of the people they [the Danes] killed, except the King Alfred, and he with a little band made his way by wood and swamp, and after Easter he made a fort at Athelney in the marshes of Somerset, and from that fort kept fighting against the foe.” From there, Alfred is known to have forged a massive resistance movement.

A popular legend originating in the 12th century states that Alfred took refuge in the home of a peasant woman who did not recognize him. She asked him to watch her cakes on the fire while she stepped out, but he let them burn as he was preoccupied with the struggles of his kingdom. Many paintings and sketches depict him getting scolded by the peasant.

A popular legend originating in the 12th century states that Alfred took refuge in the home of a peasant woman who did not recognize him. She asked him to watch her cakes on the fire while she stepped out, but he let them burn as he was preoccupied with the struggles of his kingdom. Many paintings and sketches depict him getting scolded by the peasant.

Around May 878, Alfred rode to Egbert’s Stone, where people of three neighboring provinces gathered to rejoice at his sight as he emerged from the hidden marshland stronghold he had been living in. Much like a hero right out of a Lord of the Rings novel, he rode in on a horse to visit people who viewed him as a symbol of hope, even though his survival after the January attack was likely debated.

King Alfred's Tower (1772) on the supposed site of Egbert's Stone, the mustering place before the Battle of Edington.

King Alfred’s Tower (1772) on the supposed site of Egbert’s Stone, the mustering place before the Battle of Edington.

Alfred’s emergence was part of a careful plan to unite the fyrds of three different shires. A fyrd was an army mobilized from freemen to defend their shire during a royal expedition. All of them swore their allegiance to him.

Somewhere between the 6th  and 12th of May 878, Alfred and his kingdom took a major victory at the Battle of Edington. According to Asser, a Welsh monk alive during the time of Alfred, described in his Life of King Alfred: “Fighting ferociously, forming a dense shield-wall against the whole army of the Pagans [the Danes/Vikings], and striving long and bravely…at last he [Alfred] gained the victory. He overthrew the Pagans with great slaughter, and smiting the fugitives, he pursued them as far as the fortress [i.e., Chippenham].”

Following Alfred’s 878 victory, the Danes took refuge in Chippenham, and the West Saxons removed all the food that their enemies might take from the area. Starving, the Danes begged for peace, and Alfred was given hostages and the oath that they would leave his kingdom immediately. Unlike the last treaty Alfred made with them (which they broke), they had been completely defeated this time, and were less likely to abandon their word.

Following his victory in defending England against “the Great Heathen Army” (as described by The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) and after signing the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum after another less-vicious confrontation in 884Alfred still had to fight off several other minor independent Viking raids, but he maintained his victorious status. He became the most powerful king in England at that time, and even had Guthrum (now king of East Anglia, ruled by his fellow vikings) convert to Christianity, which shows the major shift in power. He built up the defences of Wessex to ensure the Danes wouldn’t threaten it again. He reorganized his army and built extremely well defended settlements throughout southern England. He also established a navy to ward off the independent Viking raids that ensued across the coast.

A map of the territories clearly outlined by the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum.

A map of the territories clearly outlined by the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum.

Alfred advocated for justice and order and established a code of laws and reformed coinage. He also established many schools because of his belief that education was of the upmost importance (he himself even learned Latin in his late thirties). He arranged and even helped with the translation of books from Latin to Anglo-Saxon, or as we call it today, “Old English.”

A Family Tree showing the descent of St. Edward the Confessor from Alfred the Great. Courtesy of Her Majesty, The Queen and www.royal.co.uk.

A Family Tree showing the descent of St. Edward the Confessor from Alfred the Great. Courtesy of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and http://www.royal.co.uk.

By the time of his death in 899, Alfred’s charters and coinage were referring to him as ‘king of the English.’

Richard III (with his legendary twisted spine and all) was discovered underneath a modern-day parking lot in 2012, making global headlines. Richard III and Alfred the Great's bodies were buried in Catholic churches, which were dissolved and ruined following Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the early 16th century after he broke with Rome in order to divorce his wife.

Richard III (with his legendary twisted spine and all) was discovered underneath a modern-day parking lot in 2012, making global headlines. Richard III and Alfred the Great’s bodies were buried in Catholic churches, which were dissolved and ruined following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the early 16th century after he broke with Rome in order to divorce his wife.

He was buried at his capital, Winchester, and following the successful discovery of the body of Richard III, a search for his body is now under way.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the Protestant Reformation

In 1520, every church In Western Europe was a Roman Catholic Church. Yet by 1540, people of several new Christian denominations were found worshipping in many of the same churches. In that relatively small amount of time, Europe underwent a religious revolution- a protestant movement where people protested the ways of Catholicism. This is because many of Rome’s oppressive rules and regulations did not settle well with the new Renaissance era. People were thinking differently and began to question the ways of their governing system.

Over a thousand years of unbroken Catholic domination of Christianity ended in Western Europe with a rebellion against the wealthiest and most powerful institution in the world. This movement is known today as the Protestant Reformation.  It was sparked and heavily influenced by the ideas of Martin Luther, a German monk who radically challenged the Church, particularly the unjust power of the Pope in Rome. Martin Luther’s influential writing resulted in the ultimate dissolution of the united Christendom into countless other religions, many of which are still practiced today.

Luther in 1533 by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Luther in 1533 by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The Pope in Rome had authority over the governments of Europe and therefore was a direct influence on peoples’ personal lives. For hundreds of years, people had been forced by the Catholic Church and obliging governments to accept Jesus as their savior and the Pope as their Earthly leader. Even to kings, the pope was considered a holy, untouchable figure of a sacred institution to which even they were subjects. He was the closest man to God, and God was the most feared creature in the universe, so his legislation was often unquestioned. This kind of power caused many tensions in Europe throughout the early part of the millennium- for example, the expensive Crusades, after which certain policies were invented to help the Church endure through donations.[1] The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries experienced both military and economic feudalism throughout Europe.[2] This means that there was a class system that put peasants at the bottom of society and kings, emperors, and the pope on top. The corruption in all of this, however, was the fact that the Church was a private entity not funded by the state, and the Pope had to come up with some money to support both the Church and his own lavish lifestyle.

Raphael's Portrait of Leo X with cardinals Giulio de Medici and Luigi de Rossi. Leo X reigned from 1531-1521.

Raphael’s Portrait of Leo X with cardinals Giulio de Medici and Luigi de Rossi. Leo X reigned from 1531-1521.

By the time that Martin Luther began to practice theology, Pope Leo X had become the richest man in Europe, and he collected assets through three predominant policies. The first was annate, where the first year of income of a new bishop went directly to the pope. The second was reservation, where the pope declared vacancy, delayed appointments, and continued to claim the income.[3] The last and most corrupt strategy was the indulgence policy, where a person could buy merits from God and the saints. This rapidly became, in modern language, a Christian business that had gotten way out of hand. In other words, forgiveness and merit were sold, not earned.[4]

An indulgence was a way of gaining merit from Christ to make up for sin. In other words, if you wanted God to forgive you, then you had to pay. John Dillenberger writes that “[in] consideration of the payment of a sum of money to the Church…a great deal, if not all, of the punishment for one’s sins was said to be remitted, and a written certification of this remission was provided by the Pope’s agent.”[5] According to Dillenberger, Indulgences had been declared for service in the Crusades. More recently, however, “they had been offered for gifts to the Church when special financial goals had to be met.”[6] He also writes that the indulgence policy stretched the power of the pope beyond death. The papacy proclaimed that such an indulgence was not only suited for living sinners, but also of great worth for the departed dead.[7] This policy is what inspired the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, to speak out against Rome.[8] His determination to keep a spiritual and personal connection between God and the sinner in repentance provoked him to attack this practice of the indulgence system through the publication of his Ninety-five Theses, which marked beginning of the Reformation.[9]

Luther was an incredibly influential writer. He inspired change among Europeans who were heavily oppressed by the pope’s authority through his clarity and daring writing. He was born in 1483 in Thuringian Saxony, or modern-day Germany.[10] After being sent to law school by his father, he decided to become a monk, an Austin Friar.[11] It was during his years as a monk where he began to feel a deep sense of guilt. He tried to praise God, but was troubled by the fact that one could fear him but not love him.[12]

Abraham Stoll writes that around 1518, Luther’s ideas of conscience and righteousness became key origins of his theology because the “role conscience plays marks the centrality of the faculty to the reformation itself.”[13] He found himself fighting for faith in quantities of doubt, but the guilt wore him down to the point where he felt compelled to begin writing about the corrupt nature of people’s relationship with God in the Christendom. Dealing with his inner struggles, Luther wrote:

For however irreproachable I lived as a monk, I felt myself in the presence of God to be a sinner with the most disturbed conscience… I did not love, and whether he did this just guard who punishes sinners, and with huge murmuring I was indignant against him- as if it were really not enough for God to oppress miserable sinners with the 10 Commandments, but he must bring sorrow upon sorrow and through the gospel reveal his justice and through the gospel reveal his wrath to bear. Thus I raged with a fierce and agitated conscience and yet I kept on marking at Singapore in that place, with a burning first to know what he really met.[14]

This inner guilt and questioning forced Luther into prayer and meditation on Scripture. The doubt that he experienced was because of a conscience tarnished by the artificiality of the Church. According to Stoll, he was dissatisfied with the orthodox confidence that human action could establish righteousness. He found himself resisting a proper Monk’s life in the monastery and even God himself, but in his final step of the conversion, he had an epiphany and understood that true righteousness comes from faith, not works.[15] He wrote:

There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.[16]

This was the discovery that made Luther begin to go out and preach to the public with his new insight. He gave the justification of faith a new importance upon a new Protestant agenda.[17] Faith and the mercy of God were not viewed as they had been in the Middle Ages, but that “[salvation] is a divine gift, that God’s forgiveness is free and undeserved, these are truths which the words ‘by faith alone’ were intended to safeguard against an over-reliance on human achievement or ritual observances.”[18]

Luther’s outlook and ideas revolved around the notion of salvation, which he believed was attainable by God who would accept a sinner without any merits or good works.[19] To Luther, the sacrifice of Christ was central to the redemption and all religious thinking of men.[20] He also expanded far beyond his Augustinian roots in preaching justification by faith alone.[21] This allowed him to explain that justification was not just a gradual cleansing of the believer by divine grace, but as an instantaneous act, where a believer in Christ earns justification that he has earned.[22] Above all, Luther re-envisioned the way that we view morality. He condemned the idea of man-made morality where people were awarded ‘credit points’ for every good deed performed.[23]

In 1517, all of his protests against clerical abuses and the sale of indulgences were compiled into his Ninety-Five Theses.[24] By nailing them to the door of a church in Germany, he guaranteed his writing a fair amount of immediate publicity.[25] He also wanted to make sure that the local churches knew what he was up to.

According to one account, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, sparking the Reformation. The original wooden door has not been preserved; Luther's theses were engraved into today's bronze gate.

According to one account, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, sparking the Reformation. The original wooden door has not been preserved; Luther’s theses were engraved into today’s bronze gate.

Luther quickly grew in popularity and support with his fresh, new understanding of God in a world that was trying to stray from the religious oppression of the Dark Ages. His writing appealed to people at the bottom of the feudal society and even upwards. There was an overall sense of unity. The Theses were issued after Luther was especially irked by the notion of fear instilled by the Middle Ages, and the Church’s ways of forgiveness. The Theses were particularly against indulgences, which was a major policy in the Church’s scheme to make a profit. His Ninety-five Theses was ultimately about the forgiveness of sins and is what truly sparked the beginning of the Reformation.[26] People saw for the first time in plain, simple writing that the system was indeed corrupt.

The Ninety-Five Theses were presented to indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel in 1517, who was even accused of selling forgiveness for sins not yet committed.[27] He was working on behalf of Pope Leo X, a rich leader who was a son of the notorious Medici family of the Renaissance who became pope at the age of 38 in the year 1513.[28] He reigned until 1521. This pope is known for his wild spending sprees after having ascended the papal throne (or in a sense, all of the thrones in Europe) at the expense of his people.[29] His most prominent economic issue, despite his lavish lifestyle, was his intent to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica.[30] The costs were expected to range over one million ducats, the golden currency of most European countries at that time. Given that the pope had exhausted the papal treasury of over seven million ducats, Pope Leo X was in a state of embarrassment and relied on indulgences.[31] Needless to say, when Luther spoke out against these sales by presenting Tetzel with his Theses, he considered this a huge bout of treason.

Martin Luther also addressed the indulgences, among other oppressing factors, in An Appeal to the Ruling Class. He wrote to question the ruling class about how such a religious institution founded on faith could revolve their actions around money, asking “what value is the pope to Christendom, if he only uses his power for defending and practising [sic] such arch-wickedness?”[32] This is a very bold statement for the Reformation, as it was a very radical thing to point out the pope’s flaws. Again, it was considered a high treason for anyone to question the pope. He made it absolutely clear that he believed these ways had to change.

This corrupt issue had become a trademark of Lutheran theology and was widespread as early as 1525, where it had been used almost as a base for the Twelve Articles. These were part of German peasants’ demands raised towards the Swabian League in the German Peasants’ War in Germany that same year.[33] This very movement was very tenuous in relationship to the Reformation since the reasons for the peasants’ discontent revolved around the abuses of the church. Writing of the Reformers such as those by Luther, Erasmus and Calvin appealed to peasants because they had been following man-made religious laws, many of which aimed to collect their hard-earned money, and the rest of which had little to do with scripture or the life of Christ. The very first article appealed to Luther, as it implied that every municipality should have the right to elect and remove a preacher if he behaves improperly, further stating that he should only preach the gospel without any human amendment.[34]

Luther Before the Diet of Worms" by Anton von Werner (1843–1915).

Luther Before the Diet of Worms” by Anton von Werner (1843–1915).

In May of 1521 in the town of Worms in the Holy Roman Empire, Martin Luther had to appear before figures of high authority, including Emperor Charles V. This convention is known as the Diet of Worms, where Luther stood by his conscience in refusing to retract his writings.[35] This is where the Emperor declared him an outlaw, meaning essentially that his writing would be banned and that it would not be illegal for a commoner to kill him.[36] The pope also excommunicated him for his persistent radicalism. Following the meeting, Frederick III, Elector of Saxony had Luther intercepted on his way home by masked horsemen.[37] He was then escorted to Wartburg Castle at Eisenach, where he eventually translated the New Testament from Greek into German and produced tens of writings, shaming other religious authorities for their promotion of indulgences.[38]

The Wartburg room where Luther translated the New Testament into German. An original first edition is kept in the case on the desk.

The Wartburg room where Luther translated the New Testament into German. An original first edition is kept in the case on the desk.

By sparking the Reformation, Luther had inspired anti-papal sentiments across Europe with his inspirational writing, which may have contributed to one of the most profound moments in British history. Luther’s writings reached England between 1517 and 1529 and continued to reach people despite all efforts to ban them from entering the country.[39] Needless to say, there was a lot of personal thought and reflection in England in terms of religion. During this time, Henry VIII sought to divorce Queen Catherine (otherwise known as Catherine of Aragon, a former Spanish princess, mother of Queen Mary I of England, and the aunt of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor). She could not produce a male heir to carry on Henry’s lineage, and so the King intended to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn.

King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

There were several obstacles that jumped in front of Henry’s plans, which turned him from a complete opponent of Martin Luther to a radical supporter of the Reformation. First and foremost was the fact that by January of 1533, he knew that Anne Boleyn was pregnant.[40] He had to divorce Catherine immediately and marry Anne in order for the child to be a legitimate heir to the English throne. One problem was that in the Catholic faith, you could not marry if the first spouse was still living. Catherine stood no grounds for execution or exile. Being the aunt of the closest sovereign to the now Pope Clement VII (pope from 1523-1534), she may not have been able to stop Henry’s plans to marry Anne, but she certainly was able to make things difficult for him.

Before Henry knew that Anne was pregnant, the Pope was hesitant to allow the nullification of Henry and Catherine’s marriage, as he feared he would lose the valued support of Charles V (Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor).[41] In December of 1530, the Pope heavily interfered and forbade the Archbishop of Canterbury from taking the cognizance of the cause and barred Henry from cohabiting with any other woman except Catherine.[42] The Queen, however, refused to give consent to have the cause tried in England, making the situation increasingly difficult for her husband as he continually wrote to Rome for papal advice and consent.[43]

Ultimately, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn privately in January of 1533, only days after learning of her pregnancy.[44] To his dismay, the new Queen Anne gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, a daughter whom he fondly loved, but one who’s gender infuriated him.[45] Henry VIII was ultimately excommunicated from the Catholic Church and thus the early days of the Church of England (Anglican Church) began, which still exists today as it did during his reign.

Henry VIII did in fact dispute with Luther originally. In fact, when Henry supported Catholicism, he was granted the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ because of his opposition to Luther. He only originally supported the Pope because he thought if people challenged papal authority, they would also challenge the monarchy. However, after his break from the Church, he became a sort of pioneer during the Reformation era. He continued to differ from Martin Luther in a sense that he forced all of his people to adhere to his form of Protestantism, supporting only some of Luther’s claims.

Ideally, had Luther not jump-started the Reformation, the United Kingdom might very well be a Catholic nation today.

The people of Europe presented the most radical idea that anyone could conjure in the sixteenth century- to break from the Catholic Church and remove all allegiance to papal authority. Try to imagine it this way, through a small re-cap. King Henry VIII of England sticks out in our minds today as a man of extreme power and wealth. Since it is so complicated of a history, we understand not why Anne Boleyn was eventually beheaded, but simply that she was, leaving a bitter taste in our understanding of what he was truly like. Now to gain a greater sense of just why the Reformers such as Martin Luther were so radical, try to imagine personally challenging a much more feared ruler than Henry VIII, with almost double the power and wealth, a much wider band of support, and a history of torturing those who suggest otherwise.

The Reformation, much thanks to Luther, resulted in dissociations from the Catholic Church to form churches and sects that relied on a less man-made image of God.[46] Some of these churches and sects aimed to restore Christianity to its roots by strict reference to documented facts, others focused on new rules and regulations.[47] Despite often disagreements, the movement continued to focus on Luther’s justificatory issue- raised during the earlier years of his revolt.[48]

These factors and contributions to the church were in fact executed radically. The Renaissance had only just begun to re-shape the mentality of Europe when Luther spread it into faith, causing people to think more carefully about the Christendom that governed their own leaders. Had the Ninety-Five Theses not been written, changes would likely not have been made, and the course of history would look much different. According to A.G. Dickens, without the Protestant Reformation, we would never have been able to see the work of Milton, Rembrandt, Newton and Bach.[49] Religion was the core of society in the early sixteenth century and were it not reformed, Europe would have remained in the Middle Ages- and the New World would have followed its example. After all, how could we enjoy the science and art of the splendid Baroque era in a world that was not culturally diversified? Catholics and Protestants agree that Luther was right on many points and that the world was changed for the better. Ultimately and most importantly, Luther’s life-long, brave and radical work resulted in changes not only in society and culture but in the pope’s authority, making religion a much more accessible center of people’s lives, and the pope much less of a despot.


  • [1] John Dillenberger. Martin Luther: Selections From His Writing. Edited by John Dillenberger. New York: Anchor Books, 1962. Introduction, xx.
  • [2] A.G. Dickens. The German Nation and Martin Luther. London: Harper & Row, 1974. 16.
  • [3] Dillenberger, Martin Luther, Introduction, xx.
  • [4] Joel Hurstfield. The Reformation Crisis. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966. 24.
  • [5] Dillenberger, Martin Luther, Introduction, xx.
  • [6] Dillenberger, Martin Luther, Introduction, xx
  • [7] Ibid.
  • [8] Ibid.
  • [9] Ibid.
  • [10] Hurstfield, The Reformation Crisis, 22.
  • [11] Ibid.
  • [12] Ibid.
  • [13] Abraham Stoll. “Thus Conscience : Synderesis and the Destructuring of Conscience in Reformation England” 24 (2012): 62–77. 69.
  • [14] Hurstfield, The Reformation Crisis, 23.
  • [15] Stoll, “Thus Conscience,” 69.
  • [16] Ibid.
  • [17] Hurstfield, The Reformation Crisis, 23.
  • [18] Hurstfield, The Reformation Crisis, 23.
  • [19] Dickens, The German Nation and Martin Luther, 52.
  • [20] Ibid., 55.
  • [21] Ibid., 56.
  • [22] Ibid.
  • [23] Dickens, The German Nation and Martin Luther, 57.
  • [24] L. Roper. “‘To His Most Learned and Dearest Friend’: Reading Luther’s Letters.” German History 28, no. 3 (August 5, 2010): 283–295. 284.
  • [25] Ibid.
  • [26] Hursfield, The Reformation Crisis, 24.
  • 12/10/12 4:18 PM[27] Paul Thigpen. “Friends and Enemies.” Christian History 11, no. 2 (1992): 38.
  • [28] Ibid.
  • [29] Ibid.
  • [30] Ibid.
  • [31] Ibid.
  • [32] Ibid.12/10/12 4:18 PM
  • [33] H.J. Hillerbrand. The Protestant Reformation. London: Macmillan, 1968. 63.
  • [34] Ibid., 64.
  • [35] Hurstfield, The Reformation Crisis, 25.
  • [36] Dennis Bratcher. “The Edict of Worms (1521).” The Voice: Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians, n.d.
  • [37] Diarmaid MacCulloch. Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, 1490-1700. London: Allen Lane, 2003. 135.
  • [38] Ibid.
  • [39] Erwin Doernberg. Henry VIII and Luther: An Account of Their Personal Relations. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961. 6.
  • [40] Doernberg, Henry VIII and Luther, 80.
  • [41] Doernberg, Henry VIII and Luther, 78.
  • [42] Ibid., 79.
  • [43] Ibid., 79-80.
  • [44] Ibid., 80.
  • [45] Ibid., 81.
  • [46] Dickens, The German Nation and Martin Luther, 188.
  • [47] Ibid.
  • [48] Ibid.
  • [49] Ibid., 190.

Henry FitzRoy (1519-1536)

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Henry FitzRoy (1519-1536)

Contrary to common knowledge, Henry FitzRoy was the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII through his mistress, Elizabeth Blount, who was a maid of honor to Henry VIII’s first wife. This made FitzRoy a half-brother to Elizabeth I, Mary I, and Edward VI.

However, had Henry out-lived his father, it is widely accepted that he would not have become king because he was born out of wedlock. Instead, Henry VIII made him the Duke of Richmond in 1525 and he grew up comfortably as if he were an actual prince. He died at the age of 17 from debated causes, the same time Parliament was contemplating an Act that would have disinherited the future Queen Elizabeth I and allowed The King to name a successor, whether legitimate or not.

“Fitzroy” is a Norman-French surname meaning “son of the King” and was a name given to monarchs’ illegitimate sons.