Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Crisis of Religion in the Elizabethan Age :: Religion Religious Elizabethan Age England Essays

The Crisis of Religion in the Elizabethan Age The Elizabethan Age underwent a continuing crisis of religion that was marked by a deepening polarization of thought between the supporters of the recently established Protestant Church and the larger number of adherents to the Roman Catholic faith. Of these latter, Edmund Campion may be taken as the archetype. Well known as an Englishman who fled to the Continent for conscience's sake, he returned to England as a Jesuit priest, was executed by the English government in 1581 and was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. It has been observed that the author of the Shakespeare plays displays a considerable sympathy and familiarity with the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church.i The intent here is to show a link between this English Catholic leader and the writer of the drama, Twelfth Night, as revealed by allusions to Edmund Campion in Act IV, scene ii of that play. A Brief Outline of Campion's Life Though Edmund Campion (1540-1581) was a scholar at Oxford University under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth I's court favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Campion's studies of theology, church history, and the church fathers led him away from the positions taken by the Church of England. From Campion's point of view, to satisfy the new orthodoxy of the Church of England, a reconstructionist interpretation of church history was being set forth, one chat he found difficult to reconcile with what he actually found in the writings of those fathers [2]. Had the veil been swept away? Were St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom really Anglicans rather than Roman Catholics? Or were the church authorities trimming their sails to the exigencies of temporal policy? Questions such as these dogged Campion, and eventually his position at Oxford became untenable since he could not make the appropriate gestures of adherence to the established church [3]. Instead, Campion retreated from Oxford to Dublin in 1569, where he drew less attention and enjoyed the protection of Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy for Ireland, and the patronage of Sir James Stanihurst, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, who planned to have Campion participate in the founding of what was to become Trinity College in Dublin [4]. During this period a number of significant events took place. In 1568, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, was driven from her realm into England, where she came under the protection and custody of the English Crown.

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