If you go around England, a lot of village will mention that it is in the Domesday Book. I always wondered what that was and thought you might too.
William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Book in December 1086. It was a land survey so he knew what he owned and what he could charge for taxes. It recorded the names of villages, people that lived there and the assets in the area. It was called the Domesday Book in the 12th century because of the grand scale of the survey and it was like what was seen in the Last Judgement.
The two Domesday Books is kept in Kew in London and is deemed too valued to be seen but a copy is in the National Archives.
It is very interesting to me the history this country holds especially as a Catholic. The Reformation had lasting effects (some things still hang over to today). In case you don't know, you could be forgiven thinking that Church of England (CofE) and Catholicism are the same but Henry VIII broke away from Rome and created his own Christian faith. There are slight differences but a service in a CofE church is very close to a Catholic service more so than the other kind of Christian services seen in the States. I have written a blog about the differences. So here is the buildup, the changes and the everlasting affects of the break between England and Rome.
100 years before, The Great Schism was going on where three people claimed that they were the pope. There was also a power struggle between the bishops and pope.
During this time, England had its own Martin Luther (nearly a century before), John Wyclif created the first bible and an uprising happened but was quite dissipated.
The European Reformation started to gain momentum and Martin Luther, a German Catholic priest, nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of his church. This discussed the ninety-five things he found wrong within the Catholic faith. At the time he was called a heretic and one person who did so was Henry VIII, who was given the title of Fidei Defensor - Defender of the Faith - in 1521. This is why in Germany they primarily follow the Lutheran faith.
Martin Luther's ideas were spreading fast and were being talked about by academics. One group in Cambridge known as White Horse Group who were named after a pub were part of the people talking about these ideas.
For those that don't know, Henry VIII (king since 1509) married his brother's wife, Catherine of Aragon, after his brother died and it was presumed that they never consummated their marriage in order to keep ties with Spain. He fathered six children with Catherine but only one, Mary, survived. He was convinced that God was keeping him from having a son because he married Catherine after she was already married to his brother.
Henry VIII became infatuated with Anne Boleyn, who was a sister of a mistress he had, and she told him that he could have her but she would have to be his queen or nothing but he was married so he applied for a divorce from the Pope. His argument was that he shouldn't have been able to marry his brother's wife. Unfortunately for Henry VIII, the Pope had the influence from Catherine's nephew and was not granted a divorce.
Thomas Cranmer, who was a member of the White Horse group suggested that the Pope denying his divorce was illegal because the King enjoyed the same sort of imperial power that the early Christian emperors and the Pope had no jurisdiction over the King. The King applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a divorce but he denied that as well. The Archbishop was imprisoned and eventually died so Henry put someone in the archbishop position who would approve the divorce. Anne was pregnant and they had to get married in order to make it legitimate.
The next period is often referred to as the dissolution of monasteries. The Act of Supremacy (1534) was enforced and this confirmed the break from Rome and that the King was the head of CofE. They went took a look at the property that the Catholics owned and sold it off. This way the people that owned this land would convert to the new religion.
Henry VIII was never a Protestant but his son, Edward with Jane Seymour (wife number three) was educated by Protestants.
When Edward became king in 1547, the Protestants gained momentum and took down altars and shrines. They also smashed the stained glass windows. They permitted priests to marry and confiscated more land.
Mary, a devout Catholic and Edward's sister, came into power and tried to undo the changes that had been made over the past 20 years. Mary died childless and her sister, Elizabeth, Anne Bolyen's daughter, became queen. She was a moderate Protestant in a country were the Catholics were still in charge. She made compromises such as allowing clerical vestments, altars and the Catholic Eucharist. Priests could marry but had to get permission. Elizabeth replaced Mary's Bishops with ones she handpicked and replaced resigning priests with ones she preferred.
During her 45 years reign before she died after being affected by smallpox. Issues with Ireland began and so on, its a long story of what went on from here. Ireland still has troubles between Protestants and Catholics.
Some of the lasting things are the Head of the Church of England cannot marry a Catholic, they are allowed marry anyone from any other faith. When you marry a Catholic you have to say you will raise any children you have in the Catholic faith.
It had long lasting effects.
This article goes more in depth and is very interesting to read.
Why isn't the United States part of the Commonwealth? Who is?
I had to write about this because a friend in the MET had an American come up to him in London and ask him “Why isn’t America part of the Commonwealth?” My friend replied “the War of Independence?” and the American didn’t like that answer so my friend contacted me. I said the same thing.
I thought I would talk about the ‘Commonwealth’ and why the US is not a part of it. The Commonwealth is made up of 16 countries most of which used to be part of the British Empire. These countries did not leave in the same fashion as the USA (War of Independence in 1776) did but more through diplomatic lines. These countries still recognise the Queen as their figure head which is something that was given up by the USA during our War of Independence.
The countries that are currently as of July 2012 part of the Commonwealth are:
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The Battle of Britain
The Germans waged a heavy air campaign against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940 where more than 1,000 civilians died. 2,936 pilots took part in defending Britain from Germany and 544 of them lost their lives. This is the only battle to be fought entirely in the air.
This is battle was particularly important in World War II because if Britain was not able to defend itself, Germany could have become a world power.
It is quite impressive that the British were able to fend off the Germans. At the beginning of the battle, the Germans had 2,500 aircraft to Britain's 1,200. Germany could get more than 1,600 flying at a time and Britain could only muster 600.
By sure luck, the Germans changed their targets from the early warning radar stations to bombings cities which really helped the British. It is believed at that point, they were 24 hours away from losing the battle.
By the end of the battle, the Germans lost 1,100 aircraft to the 660 British aircraft. If the outcome was different, the world could have been a very different place than we see today.
I know that many people know that the British endured a lot during World War II. I have received comments about the Americans showing up late to fight because the British had been in War two years before we committed- and that was only until after Pearl Harbor was attacked. We did provide supplies but we were reluctant to send men.
I have had comments- tongue in cheek- that we arrived just the nick of time. This is because the British were holding their own and whilst they appreciate the fact that we did finally decide to join the fight, they were not getting panned down and we arrived and saved the day. A lot of the ‘weird’ things that they do or eat came out of the war. The British are renowned for their stiff upper lip because they ‘made do and carried on’.
I don't think as Americans that we can fathom how tough it was and how amazing that the British came through on the other side of the fog, dust and smoke.
I will tell you a little bit of what I know through personal contacts and experiences as to paint a picture of why the war memorial in every village is so important and how it was worth the fight. I also have a few suggestions of places that I have been to that would be a great experience for you and your family. If you can befriend some elderly people and they will mention the things that used to happen and how they got on with it.
I had the pleasure of getting really close to my husband’s grandmother, Ruth, before she passed away in October 2008. She was originally from Durham (up north) but moved to Cambridge before the war. In fact, we lived in her house before we bought our house. She would tell me about the bombings that happened and how she was on the Air Raid Patrol and they had to go out and put out the fires and make sure people were okay. She even spoke about a time when a German pilot crashed and they caught him after his raid on Cambridge and sent him off to a POW camp. When she passed away, we sorted through her house and I found ration cards for food and clothing. Many of the people that lived through that time have houses full of stuff in fear of throwing something away and needing it because they didn't have much. You may have heard about rationing in America during the war but it was nothing compared to the rationing experienced over here.
Ruth was just like other women in Britain. Since most men were off fighting the war, they had to fulfill the responsibilities that were left empty. They shot anti-aircraft guns and worked in manufacturing plants.
Ruth's nephew's wife used to tell me about the Americans she would see when she was a little girl and that her family befriended.
These women were amazing as they had to become inventive due to the lack of resources. Here are just a few that I thought were quite interesting:
They had to make their own underwear.
They often made new clothes for themselves out of their husband's old suits.
They continually saved the extra bits of fabric because they might use it in another garment like a housecoat made of patches.
Women often only shampooed their hair once a week or twice as shampoo was very scarce.
If there wasn't enough toothpaste, people cleaned their teeth with soot.
A lot of the 'homemade' cleaners and ways of doing things were used.
Children were boarded on trains and relocated from London out of the countryside, sometimes without their parents to try to ensure their safety.
People had to black out their windows at night, it was a struggle to get certain fabrics and foods.
I was at Duxford Air Museum escorting some new airmen and a man approached me to tell me that he remembered as a boy how he would go to the local rail station with eggs and the American soldiers would give him chocolate for them as that was something hard to get onbase at the time.
On the way to Thetford, you will see huge cement buildings dotting the fields. The buildings are called pillar boxes and you will find these all over the country. These were built incase the Germans invaded them by land.
I don't think that we were as affected and so I am not sure that we will ever fully realise what they have gone through but it was admirable.
I recommend a visit to Duxford Air Museum which is right outside of Cambridge. They have an excellent display about the Battle of Britain.
It’s is easy to think that America has been the only victim of terrorist attacks after 9/11 but on 7 July 2007, four suicide bombers set off 4 bombs and 52 people killed and over 700 injured in central London.
This was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United Kingdom since the Lockerbie bombings and deadliest bombing since WWII. It also killed more people than any single attack by the IRA (Irish Republican Army). I will write more about the IRA when I read up on it but the Irish pubs in Boston and New York channeled money over to the IRA which supported The Troubles.
One bomb went off on the underground (tube) just as it left the Liverpool Street station near the Monument to the Great Fire 1666. Another at Edgeware Road Station near Madame Tussauds and one that was between King’s Cross and Russell Square. The final bomb went off on a double decker bus in Tavistock Square, near King’s Cross.
Two weeks later on 21 July 2005, a second series of bombings took part on the London underground. However, none of the main detonators went off so luckily no one was killed. All of the failed suicide bombers escaped but were later arrested.
Although it was not on the same level of devastation, the British have also been targets for terrorism. They are also fighting alongside our troops. Please take a moment on this day in memory of all innocent victims of terrorism.