Edward Seymour

Education of the Lord Protector 1506-1547

Henry VIII, King of England died in January of 1547. He had inherited a medieval country and left it a modern nation. His son and heir, Edward, was only nine years old, far too young to rule. Someone would have to rule the kingdom during the young boy’s long minority. Into this void, stepped the young prince’s uncle, Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford, a man of great experience and accomplishment, and who had prepared for this role for years.
Seymour came from an old English family in 1506. With his father, he had served in the campaign against the French in 1523, where he received a knighthood. He then accompanied Cardinal Wolsey on and embassy to France in 1527. Finally, he was named a gentleman of the privy chamber in 1529 and in this position the king came to greatly favor him.

He rose even further in prominence when his sister, Jane, married the king. Almost a week after his sister’s marriage, Seymour was named Viscount Beauchamp as well as Governor of Jersey and Chancellor of North Wales. After his sister, Queen Jane, who died in childbirth, gave birth to the son (the future Edward VI) King Henry so desperately sought, he rose even higher. Three days after the birth of Prince Edward, Seymour was created Earl of Hertford as well as Warden of the Scottish Marches.

Though the death of Queen Jane was a blow to his ambitions, Lord Hertford continued to rise in prominence. During the King’s progress of northern England in 1541, he along Lord Chancellor Thomas Audley and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury managed the affairs of state. From 1542-1543 he served as Lord High Admiral and in 1544 he was Lieutenant-General of the North. In the latter capacity he viciously punished the Scots and attempted to force them to accept a treaty were-by Prince Edward would marry the infant Scottish queen, Mary. Lord Hertford, was with King Henry when he captured the French town of Boulogne in 1544 and was part of an embassy to Charles V of Spain. The following year, once again found him in the North, were he again waged a violent campaign on the Scots. T hen once more, Hertford came to Boulogne where he succeeded the incompetent Earl of Surry in command and was part of the negotiating party that returned the recent English conquests to the French in exchange for peace.

The two factions at court during this time were the Reformers, led by the Seymour; his brother Thomas; and Archbishop Cranmer, and the conservative Catholic group, led by the Howard family and Bishop Stephen Gardiner. By this time it was clear that Henry VIII would not live to see his son come of age. Both factions were angling to dominate the minority of, soon to be, Edward VI. However, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and his son Henry, the Earl of Surry, were found guilty of treason. Surry was executed and Norfolk was imprisoned. This paved the way for Hertford and his supporters to rule king and country.

As Henry VIII lay dying he dictated his last will and testament. Knowing the dangers of leaving a child monarch behind, he attempted to avoid giving to much power to any one man or group, least they try to usurp his son. Henry provided in his will for a council of sixteen executors to jointly rule during his son Edward’s minority. Also, he added an unfulfilled gifts clause that allowed the executors to bestow titles and grants of land on themselves. Seymour, as the young king’s uncle, now welded considerable influence. He created himself Duke of Somerset and by making deals with the other executors made himself Lord Protector of England. Seymour would proceed to rule England in nephew’s name for the next two years.

A Tale of Two Henry’s: Henry VIII and John Henry Newman

In 2009, one Henry is celebrating, posthumously of course, 500-year anniversaries of his coronation and first marriage, with special exhibitions and books. Pope Benedict XVI is preparing the other Henry for beatification as a healing miracle has been attributed to his intercession. Henry VIII, King of England and Venerable John Henry Newman, Cardinal of the Catholic Church personify the history of Catholicism in England after Henry VIII claimed the title of Supreme Head and Governor of the Church in England. The one begins the English Reformation with acts of supremacy and succession and the other signifies Catholic survival after almost 300 years of enduring suspicion, persecution, and martyrdom.

Henry VIII began his reign on April 21, 1509

When his father Henry VII died, married his brother’s widow Catherine of Aragon on June 11 and was crowned on June 24, with Catherine crowned as Queen of England. He was a Renaissance Prince, a loyal Catholic, and a loving husband. When he died on January 28, 1547, he was an empirical tyrant, an excommunicated leader of the Anglican Church and had a bad track record as a husband: six wives (two beheaded, two divorced, one died in childbirth, one survived).

The latter statistic is the key to the first two elements of Henry’s later years

In his quest for a legitimate male heir, Henry was willing to break away from the universal Catholic Church, execute friends, wives, relatives and holy men and women, treat his female children with caprice and cruelty and give free reign to his lust for power.

Once Henry had determined that he had to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn he let nothing stand in his way. When he had turned England upside down, cast off his first wife, bastardized their daughter, beheaded Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher (two shining lights of humanism and Catholicism in England), emptied out the monasteries and vindictively executed anyone else who opposed him in this plan, Anne Boleyn failed to provide him with the male heir she promised. Henry had her executed and remarried within a month. His third wife finally gave him that elusive legitimate male heir.

All the while Henry still considered himself a good Catholic

As Supreme Head and Governor of the Church of England he did not want many changes in religious practice. He wanted the Mass, oracular Confession, an unmarried clergy, and, ironically, tough divorce laws. Although he made the Bible available in English he did not like the idea of people interpreting it on their own. Catholics who upheld papal supremacy suffered execution during his reign, but so did evangelicals who denied the Real Presence in the Eucharist. When he died in 1547 he wanted prayers and Masses offered for his soul for his quick release from Purgatory (although he had banned use of that word).

When John Henry Newman was born on February 21, 1801, England was a thoroughly Protestant country in religion

Roman Catholics had been persecuted or discriminated against for more than 250 years. They had not been able to practice their faith without the threat of fines, imprisonment, capture, torture and execution of priests who illegally went abroad to study and illegally returned to serve the laity. The laity had been completely cut off from public service by various oaths to the crown and against the Pope; unable to attend university; unable to pursue careers as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists or soldiers. At the end of the eighteenth century Parliament had finally eased some restrictions on Catholics, but even the slight freedom of religion allowed created hostility against Catholics–like the Gordon Riots in 1780 after the Papists Act of 1778 allowed Catholics to serve in the military without an oath against the Pope and transubstantiation.

John Henry Newman shared that hostility

In his classic “Apologia pro vita sua” he described the course of his religious development as a young man. As he progressed toward a High Church Anglo-Catholicism and leadership in the Oxford or Tractarian movement one constant was his animosity against Roman Catholicism. Traveling in Europe he was repulsed by what he saw as superstition and idolatry even as he was moved by the grandeur of ancient Rome.

In 1832 and 1833 he would have scoffed at the notion that he would be a Roman Catholic in as little as 12 years. When he came home from his Grand Tour of Europe after being extremely ill he thought God had spared him for a particular work to do. Newman found it in the Oxford Movement, writing tracts and giving sermons in Oxford to emphasize the apostolic foundation of the Anglican Church in spite of it political entanglements in nineteenth century or even sixteenth century England.

Those efforts led him to study the Church Fathers and then Newman began to struggle with the truth he began to see-that the via media of the Church of England he and his Oxford friends had been proposing, between the errors of the Catholic Church and the Luther or Calvinist Reformed churches, was a church made on paper. He left Oxford and settled in nearby Littlemore for more prayer and study until in 1845 he sought acceptance into the one true Church established by Jesus Christ, founded upon the apostles, led by Christ’s Vicar on earth, the Pope.

Since Catholics had finally been emancipated under English law in 1829, Pope Pius IX established a new hierarchy in England (with a typically anti-Catholic reaction from Queen Victoria and her government) in 1850. Newman brought the Oratory movement to England; established schools, founded a university in Ireland, wrote sermons, theological, philosophical and apologetic works, and contributed greatly, although often misunderstood, to what he called the Second Spring of Catholicism in England. He explained newly defined dogmas (the Infallibility of the Pope and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) to a rather hostile English establishment. His 1864 “Apologia pro vita sua” finally removed some of the suspicion with which both Catholics and Protestants had regarded his conversion, and Pope Leo XIII offered him a Cardinal’s hat in 1879.

When Newman died on August 11, 1890 public opinion agreed that he had done more than anyone else in his lifetime to dispel the anti-Catholicism of Victorian England. In a way, then, Newman had turned back some of the effects of Henry VIII’s actions centuries ago. Along with many converts, bishops, priests, and laity Newman helped Catholics reclaim their right to practice their faith openly while serving the government and the public. Throughout his lifetime new Catholic cathedrals, churches, schools and monasteries were established, replacing those destroyed, suppressed or occupied in the previous 300 years.

Thus Henry VIII and John Henry Newman do symbolize, like bookends on the shelf of history, the endurance of Catholicism in England from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. King Henry VIII stands for the state’s supremacy over religion in England, demanding uniformity and loyalty to the established Church of England, while John Henry Newman stands for the survival of Catholicism after enduring discrimination and decline.

Source: “Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation” by Stephanie A. Mann (New York, New York: Scepter Publishers, 2009).

Catholic Faith Fights to Survive in England: King Henry the VIII and the Catholic Church

It is an era of mistrust and brutal slayings of innocents with bogus crimes against the government. Charges of trumped up treason and betrayal against the great King Henry the VIII condemned a slew of people to die including two of the loves in his life, his wives Anne Boleyn and Katharine Howard. It was a time when the English Catholic Church would have a falling out with the king and almost perish because of it.
King Henry the VIII took Catherine of Aragon to be his first wife. The marriage fell apart when Catherine couldn’t conceive a male heir for the King. King Henry got a divorce from Catherine despite the disapproval of the Catholic Church. The rift between King and Church led Henry to go his separate way apart from the religious faith. He got married five more times after that so divorce was a constant in his life as he desperately tried to land a wife who could bear him a Kingly Heir, a son.

Under the rule of Queen Elizabeth the 1st Catholics could not openly practice their faith

Instead the Fathers held mass in the privacy of homes as they moved about hiding from the law. The Church of England at this time was the reigning religion.

Queen Elizabeth wanted Edmund Campion to hold a high-ranking position in her church, The Church of England, but Edmund had other plans. Father Edmund Campion took on another role as Catholic Priest. He intended to build the Catholic Faith back up and recruit new followers.

On the run and wishing for the opportunity to make a stand against the government on his religion’s behalf he finally got his chance. It came when he got caught and stood trial four months later. He was charged with conspiracy to murder and found guilty. He was executed in front of the crowds from death by hanging. On that day it was raining as if the heavens were shedding tears for the ignorance England chose to see.

To the English Traditionalists, the Catholic Church wanted to change their culture and because of that one thing the Catholics were the enemy of the Country. King Henry the VIII certainly believed this or he wouldn’t have been so outraged over what the Catholic Church had to say about divorce.

England in 16th and 17th centuries paved a path to many martyrs of the catholic faith. Instead of the religion dying out, it managed to survive because of the faithful warriors who battled for a cause they held much higher then life itself.