Friday, 23 January 2009

William Cobbett (1763-1835) - man of integrity.

A very good day to all in the Pro Papa League.

Fountains Abbey, N. Yorkshire, - 'the Chapel of
Nine Altars and Huby's Tower'.
32 Cistercian monks in November 1539, when 'acquired' by King Henry VIII.

“Now, my friends, a fair and honest inquiry will teach us that this (“Reformation”) was an alteration greatly for the worse; that the “Reformation,” as it is called, was engendered in lust, brought forth in hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by plunder, devastation, and by rivers of innocent English and Irish blood; and that as to its more remote consequences, they are, some of them, now before us, in that misery, that beggary, that nakedness, that hunger, that everlasting wrangling and spite, which now stare us in the face, and stun our ears at every turn, and which the “Reformation” has given us, in exchange for the ease, and happiness, and harmony, and Christian charity, enjoyed so abundantly and for so many ages by our Catholic forefathers" William Cobbett (1824-7)

Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk, - 'the great gate'.

45 Benedictine monks in November, 1539, when 'acquired' by King Henry VIII.

At present I am reading an absorbing and highly informative book, ‘A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland’ written in 1824-7 by William Cobbett, and covering from the reign of HenryVIII (1509-1547) to George III(1760-1820). I expect that some readers are familiar with this book, which has been re- published by TAN publishers, but for those who aren’t and for those who wish to learn more of these tragic and terrible events, I strongly recommend it.
This account is quite different from the standard popular history books dealing with the Reformation in England, for it is written, as it were, from the heart, and whilst emotive in sentiment and language, is nevertheless, I think objective in its insistence on truth - for justice sake rather than popular acclaim. The author dismisses the 'popular' Establishment version of events, which so often presents falsehoods as facts; monarchs, nobles, and churchmen supporting the ‘new’ religion, as righteous and honourable;
and anybody or anything Catholic, as worthless, traitorous and contemptible.

Norwich Cathedral Priory, Norfolk, - 'the cloisters'.

31 Benedictine monks in 1538/9 when 'acquired' by King Henry VIII.

This book was written from a self-confessed, deep sense of outrage and injustice at the lies and deceits levelled at, and perpetrated against, the Catholic Church and its followers; the same Church that for hundreds of years prior to the Reformation, had been the one Christian Church of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, uniting all people, from royalty to peasantry, in the Catholic faith, with the King as temporal and the Pope as spiritual Head, with laws and tradition guiding and ordering daily life in a spirit of Christian charity, for the common good. What is particularly special about this book is that the author was a Protestant, well travelled and knowledgeable of the ways of the world, and fully acquainted with hardship, poverty, and the demands of duty in his capacity as a regimental soldier of some 8 years service.

About the monasteries, the author states - “The piety, the austerities, and particularly the works of kindness and of charity performed by those living there, made them objects of great veneration; and the rich made them in time, the channels of their benevolence to the poor. Kings, queens, princes, princesses, nobles, and gentlemen founded monasteries; that is to say, erected the buildings and endowed them with estates for their maintenance. In time the monasteries became the owners of great landed estates, and they had a tenantry of prodigious extent especially in England where the monastic orders were always held in great esteem, in consequence of Christianity having been introduced into the kingdom by a community of monks.”

The author examines the circumstances leading up to the severance of the English church from Rome, with Henry VIII, angry at the Pope’s refusal to grant him a divorce, setting himself up as both spiritual and temporal head of the Church in England, thus incurring his excommunication.

When considering the events occurring immediately after Henry VIII broke with Rome, with regard to the monasteries, the author states that - “In England there was on average, more than twenty such monastic establishments in every county. Here was a prize for an unjust and

Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset,- 'the Abbot's kitchen'. c 45 Benedictine monks in 1539, when 'acquired' by King Henry VIII. At the same time, the last Abbot, Richard Whyting and two of his monks, were executed on the summit of Glastonbury Tor, for alleged 'treason'.

cruel, tyrant gentry to share amongst them! Here was enough indeed, to make robbers on a grand scale, cry out against ‘monkish ignorance and superstition’! No wonder that the bowels of Cranmer, Knox, and all the rest, yearned so piteously as they did, when they cast their pious eyes on all the farms and manors, and on all the silver and gold ornaments, belonging to these communities! We shall see with what alacrity they ousted, plundered, and pulled down: we shall see them robbing, under the basest pretences, even the altars of the country parish churches, down to the very smallest of those churches, and down to the value of five shillings.” .

“Consider just briefly, the fate of the monasteries, of which there were at that time a total of 645, besides 90 colleges, 110 hospitals, and 2374 chantries and free chapels

All, without exception, were seized by the King, who then granted them to those ‘loyal’ servants who aided and abetted him in his work of plunder. It must be remembered that these

Rochester Cathedral Priory, Kent.- viewed from the south-west.

c 20 Benedictine monks in March 1540, when 'acquired' by King Henry VIII.

The Archbishop of Rochester, John Fisher (later Saint), was executed on Tower Hill, London, in 1535, for refusing to recognise the King as head of the Church in England.

institutions comprised a great mass of landed property, which property was not by any means used for the sole benefit of monks, friars, and nuns, for the far greater part of its rents flowed immediately back amongst the people at large, benefiting the whole community”. With the dissolution of the monasteries came real poverty for the ordinary people, with unemployment, hunger, disease, homelessness, lack of education, and the prohibition of their faith ; inevitably leading to the widespread destruction of social and family ties, and increased crime. For to whom could these people now turn in their distress? The King’s 'friends' had a vested interest in maintaining their royal ‘friendship’, for it was through this that they could attain privilege and position, and hitherto undreamed of wealth. Surely, few if any, had any real concern for those previously dependant on the monasteries, and for whom the dissolution had meant the loss of so much that was good and secure in their lives? To those who falsely accused the monasteries of being havens for vice, greed, and idle living, Cobbett has this to say, “The monastic institutions flourished in England for 900 years; they were beloved by the people; they were destroyed by violence, by the plunderer’s grasp, and the murderer’s knife. Was there ever anything vicious in itself, or evil in its effects, held in veneration by a whole people for so long a time?”

This is quite a long book, some 400 or so pages, and it is quite impossible to recount here anything more than a few facts. To me it represents a reliable account of spiritual and temporal disaster of huge and everlasting magnitude, with much scholarly reference to primary source material. It recognises the Reformation as sowing the seed of the American and the French Revolution, when worldly powers united with satanic powers to destroy Christ's Church and all that it represents. We know with absolute certainty, that this same 'Catholic Church' will never be vanquished, for Christ Himself promised that He would always be with His Church, even to the end of the world.

In conclusion, and with thanks to ‘Pro Papa USA’ , I would like to refer you to the following site - and in particular the two most recent posts ‘Understanding Pope Benedict’. You will see extracts from the address of the Holy Father to representatives of the world of culture at ‘College des Bernadins, Paris’ on 12th September, when he talked at considerable length of the huge cultural debt that Western civilisation owes to the mediaeval monastic institutions, particularly in the fields of education, economics, the sciences and the arts; originally intended, designed and orientated towards a greater knowledge of, and a closer union with God. Recommended!

'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' - by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R

'It is certain that God wills the salvation of all men, but He will not save us by force. He has placed before each of us - life and death; whichsoever we choose will be given us' (February 13th)

'Our Lady of Victory, guide and protect us all, especially our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVIth'


Jane said...

Oh Brian. I am so moved it's all I can say.

Thank you. Another book I'll have to buy!

whitesmokeahoy said...

Hello Jane, This book is a real eye-opener. Talk about lifting the lid on a 'can of worms' - which I think, aptly describes the so-called 'Reformation'. By the way I hope that you were pleased with 'Beasts and Saints' -I never really tire of that book (simple stories for a simple mind!) An extra bonus is that the stories fit rather well into the occasional 'post'! Best wishes, Brian.

whitesmokeahoy said...

Jane, Re your comment- 'another book I'll have to buy', please be aware that whilst the text in this post is taken from the TAN book, the photographs and details (in red), were taken from a different book ie. 'Medieval Monasteries of Great Britain', joint authors Lionel Butler & Chris Given-Wilson, published by Michael Joseph (1979) ISBN 0 7181 1614 3 Kind regard, Brian.

Jane said...

Dear Brian,

Thank you for all the book details, which will guide my future purchasing.

How is Hector? Since the big freeze last week and then incessant rain and high winds, my study has resembled the Cats' wing of the Battersea Dogs'. Suits me.

God bless,

Confiteor said...

It recognises the Reformation as sowing the seed of the American and the French Revolution, when worldly powers united with satanic powers to destroy Christ's Church and all that it represents.

Great post, Brian. I agree with the above quote, except that the American Revolution was not intended to destroy Christ's Church. The Founders were mostly Protestants, so the damage from a religious standpoint was already done. Suffice to say that the false doctrine of religious liberty was enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution in 1787 and later exported to the Vatican in 1965.

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