Page 6, 2nd December 1949

2nd December 1949
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd December 1949 — A Catholic HistoryText

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Organisations: Council of Trent


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A Catholic HistoryText

Book SELECTED The Age of the Tudors and Stuarts. by T. Charles-Edwards M.A.: The Ashley Histories. Intermediate Series. Vol. 11. (Hollis and Carter. 6s.).

Reviewed by REV, IV. F. REA, S.J.

THE previously published

▪ volumes of Hollis and Car ter's Ashley Histories will have attracted sympathetic attention from many interested in the teaching of English history. but the one here under review is of quite exceptional importance, since it deals with the momentous events of the English Reformation.

Mr. Edwards certainly tells his

story well. His styles is vigorous and entertaining, and entinually enlivened by details which are apparently insignificant, and are disregarded in almost every text-book. but which really reveal very much of a character. or of a trend of opinion, or of the political, social or religious situation at a certain moment. HOtA the young William Cecil recovered his money from a card sharper, Henry Vitt's misappropriation of the money ;eft for the completion of his father'sVhapel at Westminster. James l's royal legs, waving distractedly above a muddy pond into which he had been thrown head first when hunting, such incidents as these are introduced naturally and skilfully into the general theme, and always with effect. In particular, three excellent chapters on " The England of Shakespeare " are social history at its best, lines of Shakespeare being so interspersed into the narrative as to make the plays and the history of the time throw light on each other.

But, is Mr. Edwards right in saying categorically that James Il's determination to maintain an alliance with Louis XIV was the most important reason for his failure to keep his throne? Certainly a strong case can be made out for the other point of view, that his failure arose precisely from his neglect of that French alliance. With this one reservation the sections of the book dealing with the Stuart monarchy seem to merit unreserved praise.

MR. Edwards' pages on the Tudors

leave a less satisfying impression, He remarks when dealing with the Marian persecution, " Both Catholics and Protestants were inclined to forget that if you do not try to understand your opponent you cannot hope to persuade him that he is wrong," and one gets the impression that he wrote his account of the Reformation with this sentiment in mind. Certainly he is very kind to the Reformers. Luther, though " stubborn and proud," was also " generous and kind." " When he was in a tight corner," we are told, " he was not above telling what he himself called ' a good round lie.' Al the same time even his opponents found much that was attractive in him." But this is a very different kind of Luther from the one who emerges from the pages of Janssen and of Grisar, authorities who cannot lightly be set aside. The German Fares of the sixteenth century had really almost everything in common with his successor in the twentieth; in his own smaller world he was equally destructive and he was equally repulsive.

Coming to the history of our own country, we find an excellent account of the Bloody Assize, but surely there should be a reference to the Rising of the Northern Earls in 1569. and to the massacres that followed upon it? The 800 Catholics who were then butchered-four times as many as the Protestants put to death under James II-deserve a passing mention,

THERE is a splendid chapter on ▪ Campion. perhaps the best that

has ever been written in a book•of this kind. But was Campion no more than another Philip Sidney, another Walter Raleigh, or another Francis Drake. as we might gather from these pages? Just one further example of the dashing adventurousness of the last decades of Tudor England? " One of the diamonds of England." Cecil called him. Was he no more than one of the diamonds set the crown of the Virgin set the crown of the Virgin


Campion was much more than that. With his landing and that of his companions, whether they came from Douai or elsewhere, there came to England the first strong stirrings of that renewed Catholic life which is miscalled the CounterReformation. Mr. Edwards links up English Protestantism with Luther and Calvin, but he does not attempt to link up the mission of Campion with this great movement of the Counter-Reformation. The Council of Trent is not mentioned. nor Pope St. Pius V. Moreover, when five lines are devoted to Protestant Bishop Jewel, could not even a mention be made of Cardinal Allen?

But perhaps it is impossible to reconcile the Catholic outlook on the history of the Reformation with the traditional account current in this country, expected in public examinations and so in text-books. and kept alive by such learned but misleading books as Professor Neale's recentlypublished Elizabethan House of Cormnons. However. a brave attempt to meet the difficulty is to be welcomed, and Mr. Edwards' work. in spite of what appear defects is certainly such an attempt. Further, as far as this type of book is concerned. it is perhaps nearer to success than anything that has gone before, and so deserves to be widely read and studied. a task which would he rendered easier if future editions were to include an index.

The Gospel In Picture's

A Pictorial Gospel, a life of Christ in the works of old masters and the words of the Gospels, cornpiled bs Eliot Hodgkin. (Gollancz. 12s. ad.)

R EADERS who are interested in A` the weekly feature of this paper called " At Mass on X-do." which illustrates a part (usually the Gospel) of a Mass during the current week., will be grateful to see that many of the pictures which they admired in our feature are included in A Pictorial Gospel. The compiler has tried, as we have also, to use a lesser-known picture whenever he could find one; the result is a strangely-assorted collection but an extremely stimulating one, less wide in its scope than our series as at eschews the moderns entirely. The text of the Gospels is taken from the Authorised Version--what a pits it is not Knox!

"Family Matters" will be found on Page 5 this week.

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