November 5, 2017
FIVE HUNDRED years ago last week the “Protestant Reformation” began, an event to mourn for its ongoing effects. A revolution by oligarchs against the people, it disbanded many of the great charitable institutions of Europe: hospitals, schools, and alms houses run by those who took vows of poverty. Tenant farmers on monastic lands were displaced and many became the homeless poor. The spoils were distributed as political favors. To cite one small example, the buildings of Netley Abbey in southern England, a monastery renowned for its charity to travelers, were given to Sir William Paulet by Henry VIII in 1536 in reward for his loyal service to the king. He created a fashionable mansion.
In A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, the Protestant writer William Cobbett (1763-18-35) wrote of the looting:
182. The whole country was, thus, disfigured; it had the appearance of a land recently invaded by the most brutal barbarians: and this appearance, if we look well into it, it has even to this day. Nothing has ever yet come to supply the place of what was then destroyed. This is the view for us to take of the matter, it is not a mere matter of religion; but a matter of rights, liberties, real wealth, happiness and national greatness. If all these have been strengthened, or augmented, by the “REFORMATION,” even. then we must not approve of the horrible means; but, if they have all been weakened, or lessened, by that “Reformation,” what an outrageous abuse of words is it to call the event by that name! And, if I do not prove, that this latter has been the case; if I do not prove, clear as the daylight, that, before the “Reformation,” England was greater, more wealthy, more moral, and more happy, than she has ever been since; if I do not make this appear as clearly as any fact ever was made to appear, I will be content to pass, for the rest of my life, for a vain pretender. Read More »