On this day in 1535, the great John Fisher was beheaded at Tower Hill in London. He shares this feast day with his friend and fellow martyr, Thomas More. They both forfeited their human lives for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII’s claim to be Supreme Head of the Church in England and for upholding the Catholic Church‘s dogma of papal primacy.
Henry VIII is often popularly viewed as a lovable rogue, a champion of wine, women and song. In fact he was a monster, who set a precedent for the sort of self centred greedy bastards who have been running this country ever since. Marrying 6 times, he pioneered a complete disregard for the sanctity of marriage.
Central to his Reformation manoeuvres was the dissolution of the monasteries, who until then had provided for the impoverished in the form of land for them to cultivate and live on. This land was taken away and given to his cronies, creating a new landed gentry beholden to the crown. It is claimed that a fifth of England’s landed wealth was redistributed in this way. Suddenly there were tens of thousands of dispossessed poor with nowhere to go, and no means of support.
Henry had created a new underclass. This alienated much of the population outside London and led to a northern uprising, the Pilgrimage of Grace comprising some 30,000 rebels. Their leader Robert Aske was arrested, charged with treason, and executed along with some 200 of the rebels. This put an end to the disturbances.
How was such a fiend allowed to wield such absolute power? To this day the English are accomplished at murmuring and complaining, but have little enthusiasm for revolutionary action. So the prevailing bullies go about their nasty business, encouraging the population to drink up and forget about it. Cheers mate…..