Herod Antipas and Henry VIII

Published September 20, 2016 by amaic

 Logo for The Tudors

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Dr Davies suggests that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume.

 

 

Talk about parallel lives!

Herod Antipas and Henry VIII. John the Baptist and Bishop John Fisher.

This is astutely picked up by Thomas McGovern, in his article for Catholic Culture.org, “Bishop John Fisher: Defender of the Faith and Pastor of Souls”

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7604

 

Adultery is worth dying for

 

Henry replied to the legates, in answer to the bishop, in a manner which clearly showed how resentful he was at the bishop’s protest, particularly that he was ready to suffer like St. John the Baptist, as it naturally suggested a comparison between Henry and Herod Antipas. However, the martyrdom of St. John had long been a familiar subject of contemplation to Fisher, as is clear from his treatise (1525) in defense of Henry’s book against Luther — the “Defensio.” “One consideration,” Fisher writes, “that greatly affects me to believe in the sacrament of marriage is the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, who suffered death for his reproof of the violation of marriage. There were many crimes in appearance more grevious for rebuking which he might have suffered, but there was none more fitting than the crime of adultery to be the cause of the blood-shedding of the Friend of the Bridegroom, since the violation of marriage is no little insult to Him who is called the Bridegroom.”30 Bridgett draws the striking parallel between the fate of the Baptist and John Fisher: “At that time (1525) no thought of divorce had as yet, in all probability, entered the mind of Henry; Anne Boleyn, Fisher’s Herodias, was then unknown. But the circumstances of Fisher’s death bear so close a resemblance to those of the Baptist’s, that it is strange even Henry did not observe and seek to avoid it. Both were cast into prison and left there to linger at the will of a tyrant; both were beheaded, and both by the revenge of impure women. But what Herod did reluctantly, Henry did with cruel deliberation.”31

 

[End of quote]

 

Perhaps the received Tudor history needs to subjected to a more intense scrutiny. According to Oxford University historian, Dr. Cliff Davies, the very term “Tudor” is highly problematical. We read about this, for instance, at: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-18240901

 

‘Tudor era’ is misleading myth, says Oxford historian

 

By Sean Coughlan

BBC News education correspondent

 

29 May 2012

From the section Education & Family

 

The idea of a “Tudor era” in history is a misleading invention, claims an Oxford University historian.

 

Cliff Davies says his research shows the term “Tudor” was barely ever used during the time of Tudor monarchs.

….

Dr Davies says films and period dramas have reinforced the “myth” that people thought of themselves as living under a “Tudor” monarchy.

“The term is so convenient,” says Dr Davies, of Wadham College and the university’s history faculty. But he says it is fundamentally “erroneous”.

 

Missing name

 

During the reigns of Tudor monarchs – from Henry VII to Elizabeth I – he said there was no contemporary recognition of any common thread or even any recognition of the term “Tudor”.

 

Dr Davies, who specialises in 16th-Century history, says “the rather obvious thought occurred to me” of investigating whether there had been any references to “Tudor” during the years of the Tudor monarchs.

His years of trawling through contemporary documents yielded almost no references – with only one poem on the accession of James I (James VI of Scotland) recognising the transition from Tudor to Stuart.

 

Surprised by this absence of any contemporary usage, he says he expected “clever American professors to come up with examples to prove me wrong” – but so far there has been no such evidence.

 

There might also be suggestions that the use of “Tudor” was deliberately omitted – as monarchs, always sensitive to rival claims, wanted to assert their legitimacy.

“I do think that Henry VII was defensive about his past and wanted to downplay ‘Tudor’, which might have been used by his opponents.”

He says that in Welsh documents the name of Tudor is “celebrated” but it was “considered an embarrassment in England”.

Henry VIII preferred to represent himself as the embodiment of the “union of the families of Lancaster and York”, says Dr Davies.

 

False memory

 

Dr Davies suggests that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume.

 

This has proved a very “seductive” way of approaching history, he argues. It also helps to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.

But the text-book writers and makers of period dramas should re-think their terminology, as he says that talking about “Tudor men and women” introduces an artificial concept which would have had no contemporary resonance.

If historians aim to “recover the thought processes” of past generations – he says it means understanding how they saw themselves and their own times.

 

Dr Davies says that in the late 16th Century people in England would have understood the idea of living in the reign of Elizabeth I – but would not have identified her as a Tudor.

“The word ‘Tudor’ is used obsessively by historians,” says Dr Davies. “But it was almost unknown at the time.”

 

 

 

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