It is the 1st of October 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1567.
We start this month this year with a few stories filled with court intrigue, suspicion, and murder.
1567 was the year of the famous Sture murders in Uppsala, Sweden. The case involves perhaps the most bizarre, bloody, and maddeningly brilliant monarchs of the 16th century, King Eric XIV of Sweden. The son of King Gustav, the young prince, showed himself extremely gifted, but with mental maladies that often made him overly suspicious. This year, he had a noble family, the Sture’s, arrested and put in prison in the royal palace. There were no charges, except Erik saw them as a threat.
One night the king slipped into the prison and murdered the entire family. He escaped into the woods and was later found dressed as a peasant in hiding. He was brought back to Uppsala but was just as unstable. He had a wedding where he planned to murder his siblings, but they were warned ahead of time. After increasing instability, he was imprisoned, where he lived the last seven years of his life before being poisoned by the guards.
King Erik was known as something of a lady’s man, although two objects of his affection both turned him down. One was Queen Elizabeth, and the other was Elizabeth’s cousin and rival, Mary Queen of Scots. It was in this year, 1567, that Mary was involved in her own murder mystery. Mary Stuart, also known as Queen of Scots, was married to Henry, Lord Darnley. Their son James would be James the Sixth of Scotland and eventually the famous James I of England.
Darnley was not staying at the royal residence but in a house 10 minutes away in Kirk O Field. He was there convalescing from an infectious disease, perhaps smallpox. Little did he know that his enemies were stocking the basement with gunpowder. One night they blew up the field house, and the next day Lord Darnley was found dead, lying a good distance from the home, apparently strangled. Later, Mary married a guy who many think responsible for the murder, perhaps even in collaboration with the Queen for her husband’s murder. That argument has its own problems. Suffice it to say it was the story of the year in Scotland.
On this, the 1st of October in 1567, Pietro Carnesecchi, a humanist and would-be Reformer, was decapitated, burned, and then lost to posterity. Carnessechi was born in 1508 in Florence during the reign of the de’ Medici’s. Pietro knew the very young Cosimo and his patron was the powerful Giulio de’ Medici. When Giulio became Pope Clement VII, Pietro became his official Secretary in Rome. However, Carnessechi began to travel in the controversial circles of Juan De Valdes and Bernardino Ochino. You may remember these two men as famous reformers, Valdes in Spain and Ochino in Italy. Pietro came to embrace many of the reformers’ ideas, especially the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Meanwhile, Pope Clement died and fearing the Inquisition, Carnessechi fled Rome, eventually getting to France, where another de’ Medici, Catherine, was Queen. With the ascension of Pope Paul IV, Pietro traveled back to Italy to his hometown of Florence. There, Carnessechi was offered help from his old friend Cosimo de’ Medici. Cosimo served as his patron long enough to gain his trust. He then betrayed Pietro to the Inquisition. Pietro spent 15 months being tortured in prison before being put to death by beheading for heresy on this, the 1st of October, in 1567. Born in 1508, Pietro Carnessechi was 59 years old.
The reading for today, a macabre day on the Almanac, deserves the greatest of macabre poets. This is “The World is not Conclusion” by Emily Dickinson.
This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond
Invisible, as Music
But positive, as Sound
It beckons, and it baffles
Philosophy, don’t know
And through a Riddle, at the last
Sagacity, must go
To guess it, puzzles scholars
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown
Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies
Blushes, if any see
Plucks at a twig of Evidence
And asks a Vane, the way
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit
Strong Hallelujahs roll
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 1st of October 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who also, with much gesture from the Pulpit, the Hallelujahs roll. But this man, for the Almanac, has the sound under control, that’s Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. Remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.