Little Bits of History

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 25, 2011

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard

February 25, 1570: Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I. Christianity came to Britain with the Romans in the first or second century. There were three Romano-British bishops at the Council of Arles in 314, predating the council of Nicaea in 325 where the Catholic Church began to formalize the books of the Bible as well as their beliefs or creed. The Church of England is aligned with the early Western church. Early Christians were not particularly good at converting the native pagans so Pope Gregory I send Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize. He built the Gregorian mission and the church dates itself from this time, 597.

Things went along pretty smoothly, with the English Church under papal authority for nearly 1,000 years. However, in 1534, King Henry VIII was having difficulty continuing his line. He married and divorced several women in hopes of gaining a healthy son to carry on the Tudor line and forestall another bloody civil war. The Pope was displeased with Henry VIII’s willful disobedience and the religious difficulties began. Henry married six times and had four children, two sons and two daughters. His older son [Henry FitzRoy] died at the age of 17 and his younger son [Edward VI] managed to be crowned king at the age of nine, but died before his sixteenth birthday. His mother was Jane Seymour and they were Protestants.

Eventually Mary I of England came to the throne. Mary was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon and a strong Catholic. She tried to purge the British Isles of the evils of Protestants and became known as Bloody Mary while doing so. She reigned until 1558. Mary died childless at the age of 42 during an influenza epidemic. Her half-sister, Elizabeth, rose to the throne. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn and was raised Protestant. She had been imprisoned by Mary for almost year, on suspicion of helping Protestant rebels.

Rather than persecuting Catholics, one of Elizabeth’s first moves as queen was to establish an English Protestant church and making herself as Queen of the land the Supreme Governor. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement eventually evolved into today’s Church of England. The Pope responded and declared Elizabeth a heretic and a servant of crime. He not only excommunicated her via the Papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis or “ruling from on high,”  but also any who obeyed her orders.

“Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested.”

“Fear not, we are of the nature of the lion, and cannot descend to the destruction of mice and such small beasts.”

“God forgive you, but I never can.”

“He who placed me in this seat will keep me here.” – all from Elizabeth I

Also on this day:
“Do you feel lucky?” – In 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new revolver.
Gasoline Tax – In 1919, Oregon institutes the first state tax on gas.