God is love isn't he?

I’m not sure what it is about Fridays but I always seem to be getting on my soapbox on Fridays and here I am again ready to fight the world and shout my opinion from the roof tops (or my soapbox or high horse!)!

Today’s rant was sparked off by an email I received from 13 year old Alexis, who, while researching the Tudor era online, came across some rather disturbing posts on religious websites and forums. Alexis said: “I have visited plenty of Catholic websites, and the way they bash Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn is a little troubling to me” and recounted how many of the posts took “the slander and bias that the Catholics wrote about her [Anne Boleyn] as legitimate facts” and were calling Elizabeth I “the Murderess Queen”, “Bloody Bess”, “bastard”, “wh*re” and “tyrant”.

Here are some quotes and “facts” that Alexis came across regarding Anne Boleyn:-

  • Anne Boleyn was not truly married to Henry VIII but was his “immoral mistress”
  • Anne Boleyn “had a hobby of burning saints”, talking about Thomas More – And here was me thinking he was beheaded and that it was on Henry VIII’s orders!!
  • “I thought that the portrayal of Anne Boleyn was accurate in The Other Boleyn Girl because it shows the elements of how she was nothing but a wh*re and ruthless woman”.

Alexis just could not understand the hatred and bias that is out there but it didn’t surprise me as I read it all the time, what did surprise me was that these types of posts were on religious websites. I find it deeply disturbing that nearly five hundred years after the break with Rome people are still so divided and are full of hate for these historical characters. One poster on a Catholic forum admitted to cheering in “Anne of the Thousand Days” when Anne Boleyn was beheaded! Am I silly for thinking that that is rather sick?

If you remember, I have spoken before about one website that is arguing for Catherine of Aragon to be made a saint or to be added to the list of English martyrs. Well, although I don’t believe that Catherine was a martyr, in that she did not die for her faith, I believe that she was an admirable woman who deserves recognition for the way that she stood up to Henry and fought for her marriage and her daughter’s rights; however, I hate the way that this site falls into the whole Team Catherine vs Team Anne, Saint vs wh*re trap. When I read bits like “In a strange twist of fate – in what could be viewed as a true Old Testament display of God’s wrath upon those who break his commandments – three weeks after Katharine died – Anne Boleyn delivered a stillborn son. Some believe Katharine was slowly poisoned at the distant instructions of Anne – some believe it was cancer – perhaps it was both”1, it makes me so angry. So, Anne’s miscarriage was a judgement from God?! Well, that’s not the God I believe in!

It’s like the emails I get from Catherine of Aragon “fans” who abuse me for running an Anne Boleyn website – ahem, I admire Catherine of Aragon too! – or the offensive comments I get on The Elizabeth Files accusing me of defending a murderess, or the people who think that you have to pick sides and then attack anyone and everyone who is on the other side – Anne Boleyn vs Catherine, Anne Boleyn vs Jane Seymour, Elizabeth I vs Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I vs Mary I, Catholicism vs Protestantism. It’s horrible! What really upsets me is that the hatred is expressed in forums which are Church forums, by people who should believe in peace, love and friendship, in unity.

Now, I grew up in a Baptist Church but I have gone to many different churches in my life and I don’t see myself as belonging to any particular denomination, I see myself as a Christian, and as someone who grew up with friends of many different denominations and faiths, I find it really upsetting to see this Tudor style division still alive and, in fact, thriving today.

We think of Tudor times as cruel and intolerant but we haven’t moved on have we? We still have people spouting hatred and applauding stories of executions and what they see as ‘divine retribution’. How very very sad. Next, we’ll be going back to burnings and hangings for heresy!

Silly me, all this time I thought the Christian message was about love and forgiveness…

Notes and Sources

  1. Katharine of Aragon: Forgotten Among The Blessed – Why is Her Name Omitted from the List of English, position paper

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