27 April 2019

Continuities; and the English Martyrs

On the 1st of May, you can, if you live in Oxford, go into town early and listen to the Hymn to the Blessed and Undivided Trinity being sung at 6.00 from the top of Magdalen Tower. Or you can avoid the drunken excesses around Magdalen and go to S John's for the madrigals from their tower at 7.00. Nice. Afterwards, you could pop into the exquisite Renaissance quadrangle at the back, with its statues of blessed Charles at one end and his much loved (does anybody now read the Court Masques of the 1630s?) Queen, Henrietta Maria, at the other.

I sometimes wonder about the assertion, now I think pretty well an orthodoxy, that until the Stuarts brought about the invention of a characteristic and distinctive Anglicanism, the Church of England was just any old Proddy Boddy, more concerned with asserting a rigid rupture between itself and the dark days of Popery, than with discerning continuities (vide inter alios Diarmid McCulloch). Possibly S John's College might incline us to nuance that judgement.

S John's was founded as a distinctively Counter-Reformation college during the reign of Good Queen Mary; some of its original vestments, including a banner given by a Campion, survive (they are on public display every term on, I think, the Saturday of Seventh Week).  During the reign of Bloody Bess, it was a hotbed of 'Church Popery' ... dons and undergraduates who conformed outwardly and occasionally but who awaited better days. It had sort of annexe, Gloucester Hall (where Worcester College now stands), which was rather more resolutely recusant. Not surprisingly, there were repeated defections to Douai (now incarnated in Allen Hall) from both of these.

But then, under James I, appears the figure of blessed William Laud of St John's College, one of those for whom the Church of England was not to be defined simply by a detestation of Rome.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a prosopographical study of the role S John's (and other Oxford colleges more generally) played in that fascinating half-century in which a distinct prejudice for continuity rather than for rupture did survive as a powerful intellectual force, with the allegiance of a numerically significant faction among the clerisy.

Eamonn Duffy brought to us the vivid figure of Parson Trichay. West Country historians, less glamorous than Duffy, have brought to us the less sharply focused but very interesting Parson Tregeare and his possible circle. How many Catholic-minded clergy, probably mostly Marian survivors, still survived well into Bloody Bess's reign to provide a spring-board for the Stuart Renaissance?

I think 'Find the Continuities' would be a jollier game than McCulloch's simplistic model.


Oliver Nicholson said...

What do you make of the large painted IHS discovered behind panelling about 30 years ago in the room below the Old Library at Trinity, also founded under Mary.

William Tighe said...

This bishop


who was an early patron (and admirer) of Laud, after his ordination, and who seems to have been both an anti-Calvinist and one who looked to the Fathers rather than to the Reformers - but who for the most part kept his views to himself, or at least from publication (save for one significant sermon) might be worth further investigation. Young was a fellow, then master, of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, from 1553 to 1578 (he became master in 1567), not least because his mastership overlapped Lancelot Andrewes' student days at Pembroke, from 1571 to 1578 (Andrewes became master of Pembroke in 1580).

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. "Bloody Bess;" love it

When ABS is pouring cocktails. he always asks guests if they'd like a Bloody Lizzy.


coradcorloquitur said...

Dear Father:

You already had my admiration for all the good you do for the Catholic Cause, but now by the true and sorely needed designations of "Good Queen Mary" and "Bloody Bess" you have as well my enduring affection. I have long used myself those terms when in conversation or in writing---it is needed historical correction to one of the many calumnies that your otherwise good and gifted country has perpetrated---with plenty of parrots here across the pond. God bless you and your dear family. Robert Carballo

Unknown said...

Very thought-provoking.

On a related note, I find quite interesting the time when valid Catholic priests continued to pray valid Masses even as changes were being introduced and even as many had themselves personally yet not necessarily openly denied the Faith. What place "intent" there during this time of spiritual limbo that existed in all the various lands where the majorities and powers ultimately denied the faith?

What place "intent" TODAY during Protestant Revolt II?

I'm reminded of when Michael Davies in a talk made quite a shockingly, sadly and hilariously incisive crack about the state of the Church "today" {then when he said it} when he expressed the wish that the Church leadership would simply uphold the 6 Articles with something of the vigor of Henry the Eighth!

PM said...

The collection of early printed books on that Laudian library at St John's could be worth a study in its own right. Walking through it once, I was struck by the amount of scholastic theology - not so much Thomism, but a lot of the English Franciscan school and especially Alexander of Hales.