Monday, 16 February 2015

Wolf Hall (2)

There is an interesting continuing debate in the letters pages of "The Times" concerning the re-branding by Hilary Mantel of two icons of the Tudor period.  She casts Thomas More as a heretic-hunter who killed and tortured (admittedly only a very few) Lutheran heretics.  She shows Thomas Cromwell (factually responsible for the torturing and killing of far more) as rather an interesting person, who had various good qualities, and is shown in the TV series as "cuddling kittens".  The latter image sparked a debate among present-day bishops about the relative merits of the two Thomas's.  This debate was reported in "The Times" and provoked the comment below.
'The historical records of who burnt whom during the Tudor reigns are worth revisiting.  In our country (England), in 1538, a heretic named John Lambert, after being pronounced guilty by Thomas Cromwell, suffered as follows:
"When Lambert's thighs and legs had been burnt off to stumps, the fire sank lower and two officers lifted up his still-living body on the points of their halberds and let it fall back into the flames.  As death finally came to kindly end his sufferings, he cried out: 'None but Christ, none but Christ!' (sources Gilbert Burnet ed 1841, John Foxe, Book of Martyrs, ed 1837-41)
Cranmer, who was Cromwell's friend and ally, suffered his own final fate in 1556, being chained to a stake and burned alive on the orders of the Catholic Queen Mary. (Foxe, Book of Martyrs).
Whatever spin Ms Mantel puts on it, believers of all faiths were burnt for heresy if the people currently in power opposed their beliefs.
What we should be taking from this is a lesson on how tyrants, their power-hungry lieutenants, their numerous followers comprising fearful sheep, foolish sycophants, and others merely wishing to preserve their own families, combine to wield a disgusting and sickening power which includes barbaric forms of execution.  Reports in the last few weeks show that the syndrome is alive and well in the world today.'