It is the 23rd of July 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1637.
The clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu had recently been made the Chief Minister of France. He was one of the most important power players on the European scene. However, his contribution to society in this year is sometimes overlooked.
Richelieu would have had sat at many state dinners and other aristocratic events. And he took great offense with dinner guests using their own personal knives and daggers at the dinner table to cut their food. When knives were offered, either they would disappear, or the guests would use the sharp ends of the knives to pick at their teeth.
And so, in this year, the clergyman and statesman had his kitchen staff blunt the ends of the dinner knives for guests. These so-called "table knives" became a symbol of aristocracy, and these glorified butter knives have been prevalent ever since.
In 163, Elizabeth Poole became the first woman in the new world to become the foundress of a town. The town of Taunton, Mass, still has as its official motto "Dux Femina Facti," which is "A Woman Led the Deed." While some have questioned her part in the actual transaction and incorporation, it is certain that in 1637, that Ms. Pool chose the land as a settlement for bringing Christianity to the natives. The pious and wealthy Poole never married, leaving 40 acres to her nephew in 1654.
In the Massachusetts Bay Colony in that same year, Anne Hutchinson was brought up on charges and put on trial. We've discussed this holy troublemaker before. She came with her husband from England to help form a community around John Cotton. Cotton was a dissenting Puritan in England, but his distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace caused quite the stir amongst other Puritans in Massachusetts. It has been suggested that it was Anne Hutchinson, who similarly taught Cotton's doctrines, who was the scapegoat for Cotton. She would be banished in the following year and would flee to Rhode Island.
And to stay on the topic of women not known for being quiet and well behaved (by 1637 standards), we turn our attention to Edinburgh, Scotland, and the St. Giles Cathedral. The Scottish and English were under the same King. King James, who united the country, gave way to his son, King Charles. Charles was a high church Anglican and was suspect by many of being a Crypto-Catholic. Also, despite taking the crown in 1625, Charles did not return to Scotland for a coronation until 1633. And when he did, he followed the lead of his Archbishop and had the service held according to the Anglican rites. This infuriated the Scots, but the worst was yet to come.
Charles believed that religious unity could be achieved if all churches in his realm used the same prayer book. It was on this day, a Sunday, in 1637, that the Dean of St. Giles began the service with the Anglican liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer. It is then that a young woman named Jenny Geddes is said to have thrown a stool at the dean's head. She is reported to have said, "Devil cause you colic, false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?"
A riot broke out instead of a service, and when riots began to break out across Scotland, the Privy council and Scottish Lord Advocate asked Charles to rescind his demand. Charles refused, the Scots signed a national covenant and all of this would culminate in the Wars of the Covenant, War of the Three Kingdoms, the English Civil War, and the execution of Charles. And it all began with a stool tossed at the dean's head at the beginning of a church service—Jenny Geddes thew the stool that transformed Scotland on this, the 23rd of July, in 1637.
The reading for today comes from Phoebe Cary, a 19th-century poet from Ohio. This is her poem, entitled Hymn #3, also known by its first line.
HOW dare I in thy courts appear,
Or raise to thee my voice!
I only serve thee, Lord, with fear,
With trembling I rejoice.
I have not all forgot thy word,
Nor wholly gone astray;
I follow thee, but oh, my Lord,
So faint, so far away!
That thou wilt pardon and receive
Of sinners even the chief,
Lord, I believe, -. Lord, I believe;
Help thou mine unbelief!
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 23rd of July 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who, nevertheless, continues to pick his teeth with the table knife, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.