A banner bearing the Holy wounds of Jesus Christ, which was carried at the Pilgrimage of Grace
|In the Pilgrimage of Grace 1536, Christian charity would come face to face with Mammon |
In the Pilgrimage of Grace 1536, Christian charity would come face to face with Mammon and ‘the mundane principles of Judaism’.1 Here, in embryo,would be the principle antitheses of world history in the post-Reformation world. The proponents of the vertical order made a stand against the horizontalism of disorder. Religion confronted secularism. Order stood against disorder. Traditionalism met modernity and the future liberalism. The sacred and the profane collided.
The link between the sins of mankind and the wounds of Jesus was familiar in England.2
‘It was for this reason that the cult of the Five Wounds in England repeatedly expressed itself in acts of charity as well as Masses and prayers, and especially by acts of charity in multiples of fives, bestowed on Fridays and above all on Good Friday. By such actual and symbolic charity one could turn the wounds of judgement into the Wounds of Mercy, forestalling the condemnation threatened in Matthew 25 by attending, while there was still time, to Christ’s wounded members, the poor.’
Such charity towards the poor was linked intimately with the health of the body of Christ, the church and, therefore, the social organism as a whole.
‘Into what appears to be a simple effective devotion to the Passion, there was compressed the essence of the practical soteriology of late medieval religion. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the symbol of the Five Wounds should have been chosen by the Pilgrims of Grace as the emblem of their loyalty to the whole medieval Catholic system.’3
The religious houses that offered charitable care for the sick and poor were tending the wounds of Christ. The attack on the monasteries that prompted the `Pilgrimage of Grace was therefore an assault on the holistic belief system within which men led their lives. And to what end? Nothing less than mercantilism and commercial gain - the sin of avarice. The defences of Christendom had been well and truly breached. With Jericho-like vehemence, the objectors were swept out of the linear path of progress. Robert Aske the leader of the Pilgrimage was one of 216 who were brutally hung drawn and quartered or burned to death.
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| Charles I undermined by the 'ill instruments' |
Charles I’s defence to the end of the vertical hierarchy
Charles I’s last words on the scaffold defined the historical antithesis between the sacred way and the profane.
Many could not hear what he said as he spoke quietly. However, he was leaving his words for posterity. Charles directed his last comments to Colonel Tomlinson and Bishop Juxon who reported his words after the execution.
All the world knows that I never did begin a war with the two Houses of Parliament. ….for I do believe that ill instruments between them and me has been the chief cause of all this bloodshed.He was acutely aware that there were larger forces, ‘ill instruments’, driving the war, other than the obvious protagonists. What did these ‘ill instruments’ have to gain from the defeat of the king? The answer to that, quite clearly, is commercial gain.
I have forgiven all the world, and even those in particular that have been the chief causers of my death……For the people; And truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever, but I must tell you, that their liberty and freedom consists in having of government; those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in government that is pertaining to them; A subject and a sovereign are clean different things, and therefore until you do put the people in that liberty as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves.Charles I’s defence to the end of the vertical hierarchy, the outward and imperfect expression of a supreme spiritual reality, was inevitably always going to clash with the new creed of ‘practical necessity and the pursuit of one’s own advantage’, ‘the mundane principles of Judaism’, as later described by Marx.
Charles’s own position was best exemplified by the enthusiastic support he gave for William Laud’s enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury. A champion of the social organism as a reflection of the cosmic order, Laud set himself against factionalism and the pursuit of individual economic gain. Factionalism in the form of parties was a threat to the coherence of society and had to be suppressed, for Governments must ‘entertain no private business’, and ‘parties are ever private ends’. In the spirit of the medieval Church Councils, Laud detested as sacrilegious the self-interest which led the individual to struggle for riches and advancement. ‘There is no private end, but in something or other it will be led to run cross the public: and, if gain come in, though it be by “making shrines for Diana”, it is no matter with them though Ephesus be in an uproar for it.’4
Laud was executed in the midst of the Civil War for these beliefs, and Charles I was eventually overcome by opponents who sought in Calvinism the halo of ethical sanctification for their amoral economic ends.
Charles concluded his final speech.
Sir, it was for this that I am come here. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the power of the Sword, I needed not to have come here, and therefore I tell you….that I am the martyr of the people. I have a good cause and a gracious God on my side.He could have given way to the forces of Mammon, disorder, the party with the greater economic backing and firepower, but he chose to make a standfor the sacred order on earth. He offered himself to posterity as a martyr in the cause of the sacred way against the profane.
| James II and VII of England and Scotland|
Whig plotters and the Dutch invasion
After the civil war, Cromwell permitted the Jews to enter England again, but did not reverse the Edict of Expulsion issued by King Edward I in 1290, which expelled all Jews forever from England and made the provision that any who remained after November 1st 1290, were to be executed.
No other action could have sent a stronger signal that with the king’s defeat all resistance to usury in Britain had come to an end. It confirmed the reign of disorder and its empire of Usura,5 with the political creed of Whiggism at its heart.
Concommitant with the Calvinism of the victorious puritans was the opening up of the amoral economic sphere where, in the words of Marx, life could be led in the ‘spirit’ of Judaism by all.
‘Practical necessity and the pursuit of one’s own advantage’6 would rule the day and all political action would be directed towards supporting that end.
Hence the sequence of events, in quick succession, that would change the direction of world history and be the source of conflict, death and misery to the present day.
The monarchy was restored in 1660, though Charles II reigned very much in the shadow of the newly empowered parliament. He was harmless to Whiggish economic ambitions. He ruled as an Anglican, hiding his religious and political sympathies until his deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism. However, the brother who succeeded Charles as James II of England and James VII of Scotland posed a problem to the Whigs.
He had landed in England with Charles as a seasoned and successful military campaigner, having served in the armies of the French King, Louis XIV. Thus it was as a military man he returned, which is why Charles appointed him Lord High Admiral. He held the position for 13 years with much success in the Dutch wars, building up the fleet and developing the use of gunpowder and artillery.
A strong and military-minded king was risk enough to Whiggish commercial ambitions, but when it was discovered that he too had converted to Roman Catholicism, then his fate was sealed.
The Dutch had no love of James for more reasons than religion. Whilst he was head of the navy during the Dutch wars in 1666, English warships had sailed into the city of West Terschelling in the Netherlands and, on the 19th and 20th August, sank a large merchant fleet of 140 ships. During the same action West Terschelling was burnt down and completely destroyed.
It is highly likely that the Dutch started the Great Fire of London only two weeks later in an effective act of retaliation. The colourful Pudding Lane accident found in subsequent Whig histories is an outrageous coincidence pedalled as truth by the heirs to the collaborators with the Dutch.
James II distinguished himself bravely as the leader of firefighting operations during the Great Fire. ‘The Duke of York hath won the hearts of the people with his continual and indefatigable pains day and night in helping to quench the Fire’, wrote a witness in a letter on 8 September.7
Whig plotters would have no trouble persuading potential adventurers from the financial centre of Amsterdam of the prize at hand. Access to new markets and use of English military power for financial and commercial ends was in prospect. This induced the assemblage of a huge Dutch invasion force behind the bogus claim to the throne of William of Orange.
33 years after Cromwell signalled that England was open to usury, financial interests inside and outside the country had collaborated to depose the last living embodiment of divinely sanctioned power. William and Mary were figureheads. Money ruled. Only six years later, the Bank of England was established.
1 See Marx and the Judaic metaphor in Archive.
2 M. W. Bloomfield, The Seven Deadly Sins, 1952, pp. 167-8, 189, 203, 205, 224.
3 E. Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England c.1400 - 1580, Yale University Press, 2005, p.248.
4 R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Penguin, 1961, p.175.
5 I have employed Ezra Pound’s collective noun describing the distended western economy with its lopsided foundation upon banking and the principle of "interest". Held within the term is the perennial struggle between the usurer and the producer
6 See Marx and the Judaic metaphor in Archive.
7 Spelling modernized for clarity; quoted by Adrian Tinniswood, By Permission of Heaven: The Story of the Great Fire of London. London: Jonathan Cape (2003) p.80.