Thursday, November 3, 2011

Religious Uncertainty of the Middle Ages by Felicia Rogers

In 1505, on a stormy night, a law student rode his horse through Germany on his way back to the University of Erfurt. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed, a crack of lightning landing ever close to his own physical person. Terrified of death, the young man cried out, "Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk!" His life was spared and in return he left the study of law and became an Augustine monk. This man’s name was Martin Luther.



That fateful night was the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. By the 1550s, it had already provoked religious uncertainty in England.

Until Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century, England held Catholicism as its religion. This stayed true until Henry declared himself Supreme head of the Church of England in 1534. Most believe the reason Henry took this position was to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. But this was only one reason. Another was Henry’s disgust with the “Italians” controlling what the English were allowed to do. The pope’s role in the secular affairs of the country was a driving force in the separating of the church.

This separation of the two churches led to years of torment and persecution. The back-and-forth religious affiliations of the monarchy convinced many sincere Christians that their heads will be the next on the chopping block--or if not the block, then the funeral pyres.


After the death of King Henry VIII, his only son Edward took the throne. At age nine, the young lad with the help of his council kept the Protestant faith of his father alive. During his time on the throne, he placed Protestants in charge. Like Thomas Cranmer, who wrote the Common Book of Prayer, from which we get our wedding ceremony. Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, enacted many reforms, but this time was brief. Soon King Edward IV became ill. As the threat of his death loomed, fear for the Protestant way of life soared.

Mary, the first daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was next in line for the throne. Mary was a staunch Catholic. No matter the church reforms Edward had set in place, with his death they would no doubt be undone.


In fear for their lives, a plan was enacted. To keep the Protestant faith alive and the heads on the shoulders of the Protestant leaders, Edward and his council drew up an agreement placing his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne. Unfortunately this only lasted for nine days before Mary was crowned Queen of England anyway.

When Mary took control the religious dynamics changed. Catholic from birth, and blaming the break-away English church for her mother’s death, Mary used her power and authority for vengeance. She ordered the death of countless Protestant Christians starting with the John Rogers, who was responsible for a popular English Bible translation. She also ordered the death of Thomas Cramner, whom she blamed most of all. Under her rule, close to three hundred Protestants were martyred.

All this led to Mary’s nickname of Bloody Mary. Fortunately for the Protestants, Mary only ruled for five years before she passed. Upon her death, Elizabeth, her younger half-sister, and a proponent of the Protestant faith took over the throne. Her rule changed things yet again. Roman Catholicism was no longer in style. All those who had converted to please Mary could now themselves be under fire.

Although not widely known, history records Queen Elizabeth ordered the execution of quite a few Roman Catholics once she took the throne. One of the most notable was Mary Queen of Scots. Her Catholicism was considered a threat. Elizabeth ordered her death in February 1587. Despite these acts, Queen Elizabeth sat on the English throne for over fifty years and was popular among her people.



This religious upheaval is the time frame of my newest series of novels. The first one, There Your Heart Will Be Also, is a historical suspense romance which was recently published by Astraea Press. It is set in 1550s England against a backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty. To find out more about my book visit my website. While you are there feel free to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of my historical novel.




19 comments:

  1. Thanks to Felicia Rogers, author of the romantic suspense novel, There Your Heart Will Be for this fascinating article on Religious Uncertainty of the Middle Ages.

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  2. I love to read about Henry VIII.
    gardnerad@juno.com

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  3. I enjoyed reading this post. You summarized the religious bickering in a simple and clear manner.

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  4. The religious wars stemming from the Reformation are tragic and fascinating. Dig that portrait of Bloody Mary, she looks dangerous even as oil on canvas. Enjoyed this post. Thanks.

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  5. A fascinating post, really enjoyed reading this.

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  6. Awesome post, enjoyed learning more about your books.. Thanks for letting me know about the review...

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  7. I teach German and every year I teach this story to my students and show the movie "Luther." It is impossible for me to comprehend such barbarism. By the way, if you haven't seen the movie "Luther," I HIGHLY recommend it. It is excellent. Thank you Felicia for you article.

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  8. I had no idea what set Luther on the path to becoming a priest.
    And I too, enjoyed the concise rendering you did of this time of religious upheaval.
    I cannot imagine what it would be like for it to be politic one moment to declare yourself attached to a certain religion and then fatal.

    Thanks for posting!

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  9. Wow! Didn't know about this topic of history. Thanks for sharing. The books sound like they're going to be a wonderful read :) Good luck!

    Andrea

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  10. Great post. A nice overview of an important topic. I've always been fascinating by the religious stuff surrounding Elizabeth and how she had to be so coy about being on one side or another at different times.

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  11. I agree with J A Beard (above)- a complex topic simplified and made readable. Fantastic post and wonderful images.
    Grace x

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  12. Interesting topic, would love to read your newest book.
    Kim Particka

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  13. What an informative guest post!! I'm even more excited to read Felicia's book now :D
    jwitt33 at live dot com

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  14. Hi Felicia! Congrats on your release! How awesome!!! ;) I wish you all the best! It sounds like an awesome book!
    shadowluvs2read(at)aol(dot)com

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  15. I've read that it is thought that Martin Luther had a religious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The lightening storm would explain that, as they are brought on by huge stressors. A very interesting post, Felicia, and I hope your book does well!

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  16. Thank you Felicia for the invite to enjoy this awesome post. I really enjoyed learning more about the timeline that I have so often read about, but never really studied. I think this type of sharing certainly enriches the reading experience of a historical novel so much.

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  17. That was an excellent post!! I love reading about history!
    viajeradelmar@aol.com

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  18. I never knew there was such a history behind Catholicism and Protestant! Thanks for this wonderful post!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  19. Enjoyed reading your post! Great summary of historic events! Congrats on your new release!!

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