*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 5th of November 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
It is Monarchomach Friday on this the 5th of November. What’s a Monarchomach? It is one who justifies the deposition of a ruler, most commonly via Regicide. That’s right, folks who wanted to kill kings. And we have two stories of that which both intersect with the church and this date.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot….
Maybe you heard this rhyme in the 2006 movie V for Vendetta. You know, the one with the weird white mask that became the logo for Anonymous- the anarchist hacker group.
And maybe you know that the reference for that movie and the rhyme comes from the 1605 Gunpowder Plot wherein Catholics plotted to blow up Parliament killing the Protestant King James I in order to put a Catholic king on the throne. The night before the attempted plot on the 5th a Catholic called Guy Fawkes was arrested in the cellar of Parliament with explosives. He and his co-conspirators were caught, arrested, and put to death. The Parliament proclaimed that November 5th would be a national day of Thanksgiving. It is celebrated every year on this date with the burning of Guy Fawkes in effigy and fireworks (a kind of weird reference to the explosives that were meant to kill the King and Parliament).
And November the 5th is also the birthday of Philippe de Mornay who was born in 1549 and is one of the original Monarchomaques- that is, French Protestants who wrote some of the most important defenses of deposing a King (and in his case, because that King was Catholic).
Mornay was born to Catholic parents, at least his father was devout and sent his son to Paris to receive a good Catholic education. When his father died Phillipe joined the Reformation cause. It was during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) that Mornay became one of the most prominent authors arguing for the Protestant cause. He would have a hand in writing the Edict of Nantes (the 1598 document that gave Protestants the right to Worship). All of this (and more) have led historians to suggest that Mornay wrote the anonymous Vindiciae contra tyrannos (1579, a Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants). While less violent than the later Gunpowder Plot, it argued on the side of deposing (in whatever ways available) the monarch when the monarch breaks the contract made with the people. This is one of the earliest and most important works developing the idea of a social contract that guides the actions of the governed and the governors.
The work was used heavily in the era of Reformation and then became popular again in the age of Revolutions- it was reportedly a favorite of future American President John Adams.
The fact that these two events- the Gunpowder Plot and Mornay’s birthday are both on the 5th of November has absolutely no cosmic significance. None. But, I thought we could see these two related stories as the result of states that required, or gave preference to a particular theology. And we see it on both sides- and of course, it was all prologue to the 30 Years War and the unfortunate violent end to the age of Reformation.
The last word for today comes from the beginning of 1 John:
We announce to you what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have seen and our hands handled, about the word of life. 2 The life was revealed, and we have seen, and we testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. 3 What we have seen and heard, we also announce it to you so that you can have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy can be complete.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 5th of November 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite movies with plots about anarchy include V for Vendetta, the Purge, and Babe 2: Pig in the City. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who, along with his dog has a strange aversion to fireworks- I don’t like ‘em. I am 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.