Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another proud moment in the history of organized religion

Of all the founding stories of world religions, I would guess that none is less well celebrated by its followers than that of the Church of England. There were many good reasons to split from the Catholic church back in the 16th Century. Martin Luther even authored the 95 Theses in 1517 that listed them out. But in 1534, King Henry VIII needed only one: he was tired of his old lady. Having lost interest in his first wife Catherine of Aragon, Henry wanted to consumate his crush on the lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn.

May 19 marks the 471st anniversary of the event that proved the lack of wisdom of indulging Henry's lusts: Anne Boleyn's beheading. It took less than 3 years for the possibly syphilitic Henry to tire of his second bride and seek out a third (Jane Seymour). Their union did produce a daughter who would go on to become Elizabeth I. Unfortunately for Anne, Henry didn't seek an annulment this time, but had her brought up on false charges of adultery and sentenced to death.

Henry proved he wasn't a complete brute, however, allowing Anne to be executed by a skilled French swordsman rather than the usual clumsy axeman. Somehow I don't think Anglicans will be marking her passing at mass tomorrow. God save the queen, indeed.

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