PERSON OF THE MONTH
Mary Sidney

Mary Sidney has been called the most important female figure in English Renaissance literature

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  • On This Day 17th August 1560

    On 17th August 1560, the Three Estates of Scotland – Lords, Commons and Clergy – set out a Protestant confession of faith, to be adopted by the whole country as its religion. This came at the end of a long and bitter struggle for control of the country between England and France but was also the result of the conversion of a number of the senior nobles to Protestantism, many of them strongly influenced by the charismatic preacher, John Knox. With the death of the Regent, Marie of Guise, and the accession in England of the Protestant Elizabeth I, whom they believed would help defend them against Catholic France (as 15 years before, Catholic France had protected Scotland against England), the Scottish Lords felt able to proclaim and institutionalise their faith. The mass was banned, and a third offence of hearing it could be punished by death. John Knox’s First Book of Discipline was the basis for a new ecclesiastical structure and discipline within the kirk.

  • On This Day 16th August 1513

    On 16th August 1513 Henry VIII won a victory over the French that became known as the Battle of the Spurs. In alliance with Ferdinand of Aragon, his father-in-law, and the Emperor Maximilian, Henry invaded France. This was his second French war. The first, in 1512, in which he had not been involved personally, had ended in ignominy.

    Throughout the early part of the year, Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Wolsey, had been preparing huge quantities of supplies of all sorts to support the campaign. Henry embarked for France and met his ally the Emperor, who was subsidised by England to the tune of 100,000 crowns, and, in a flattering gesture to Henry, proclaimed that he would fight as one of Henry’s men, rather than leading his own.

    The Battle of the Spurs itself was fought outside Therouanne, and was thus named because the French cavalry spurred their horses in retreat. The English captured the Duke de Longueville who was sent back to England as a captive until he was ransomed.

    For more on the campaign see here

  • On This Day 15th August 1534

    On 15th August 1534, Ignatius de Loyola and six others took vows leading to the formation of the Jesuits. In his youth, de Loyola was an officer in the Spanish Army, badly wounded in 1521 when he was about thirty. During a long period of convalescence, he underwent a religious conversion that took him from ordinary Catholic belief to a dedication to his religion almost unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries. He gave up his previous worldly pleasures and devoted himself to the traditional spiritual practices of extended prayer, fasting, charity and poverty.

    His ambition was to convert non-Christians in the Holy Land, but although he travelled there, he was sent back to Spain where he was questioned by the Inquisition because his preaching seemed to be inspiring hysterical, and possibly heretical, reactions.

    He then studied at the University of Paris, before he and his friends founded their new religious order, which was characterised by its missionary zeal and the practice of Ignatuis’ ‘Spiritual Exercises’.


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