2 August 2019

An unobserved Anniversay for CORNWALL

On this day*, in 1595, the forces of our late Sovereign Liege Lord King Philip, commanded by Carlo de Amesquita, landed in Cornwall in the area of Penzance and harried the neighbourhood. They burned a number of churches defiled by dissident worship, but left unburned the chapel of S Mary in Penzance. They did this because an English Catholic captain, Richard Burley of Weymouth, who was guiding them, informed them that it had been used for Catholic worship. Since the same could be said for the other churches which were burned, in as far as they were medieval churches used for Catholic worship before the Schism, the captain presumably meant that the chapel in Penzance was still being used for Catholic worship. This would fit in with a body of evidence for continuing Recusant activities in Cornwall until quite late in the reign of Bloody Bess.

At Paul the church was burned; and an interesting detail survives. The Spaniards, devout and exemplary Catholics, were horrified to discover an idol in Paul church: a wooden horse. The realisation that Protestants were even more abandoned to error than they had suspected ... that they actually sacrificed to horrible hippomorphic heathen deities ... increased their pious wrath and they made a special point of burning it. (I have a theory here: that what they found may have been preserved from the early Middle Ages when, in many places, a wooden donkey gave dramatic verisimilitude to the Palm Sunday Procession.)

Then, on August 3 or 4*, Mass was solemnly sung  on a hilltop near Paul, and the Commander of the expedition before sailing away vowed that when the Faith had been restored to England, a chapel would be built there ex voto.

*Well, they landed on August 2 Old Style. Of course, this was July 23 New Style. So if it was August 4 Old Style when the Spaniards celebrated their hilltop Mass before departing, that would have been July 25 New Style, the Feast of S James, a not insignificant day. See my post for July 25.


William Tighe said...

Rather than yielding to his father's pressure to compromise, Philip, in the negotiations leading up to the marriage treaty in 1554, should have held out for his retaining the English Crown for the rest of his life, if he and Mary were to be childless and if (as was the case) he was to outlive her. This would have been analogous to what was called "the courtesy of England," that is, the attribution to the husband of the peerage title of his wife when that wife held a noble title in her own right, a title which he continued to hold after her death, if they were childless, but which then passed to the right heir of the woman who had held the title.

If Philip had, arguendo, remained King of England and of Ireland until his death in 1598, and if then, arguendo, his unmarried sister-in-law Bloody Bess, succeeded him for the remaining 4.5 years of her life, Catholicism would have entrenched itself so deeply in England that, even if the 65 year-old spinster Queen remained a secret Protestant after nearly 44 years of outward Catholicism, she would have been unable to swing England into the Protestant camp after so many decades of Counterreformation, even had she wished to do so; and with the prospect of being succeeded by her Scots cousin, either Mary (if Mary were still alive) or Mary's son James (who in this scenario would have been bred up a Catholic, as Good King Philip would have nipped the Scottish Reformation in the bud in 1559-60, probably in cooperation with the French) it is likely that she would have recognized the futility of attempting to do so.

Paleo-Con said...

2 August (Julian or Old Style) would have been 12 August (Gregorian or New Style) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Dan Hayes said...

As an American, until now I was unaware of the title "Bloody Bess". But in retrospect it's very apt as tit-for-tat for Bloody Mary".