KingJerkera

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What a fascinating world! Look at those states in Germany there may for the first time I've seen a honest power struggle for German supremacy. Also poor Portugal never seems to have happy endings for their attempts in Morocco. Also is Sweden on the south shore of the Baltic next to Teutonic order?
 

volksmarschall

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What a fascinating world! Look at those states in Germany there may for the first time I've seen a honest power struggle for German supremacy. Also poor Portugal never seems to have happy endings for their attempts in Morocco. Also is Sweden on the south shore of the Baltic next to Teutonic order?

Yep. Sweden has a foothold on the continent!
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK II: THE REFORMATION

PART ONE: THE ROAD TO BABYLON

hv7scmv.jpg



I

An Expected Revolution

Early Islam is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood religions, if not societies in human history. The early Islamic community had no understanding of the firm distinctions that are abound today, especially the Sunni-Shi’a-Khajarite/Ibidi divisions. Nor had there emerged the various schools of legal interpretation—fiqh—from the Hanafi and Maliki and Hanbali schools (prominent among Sunnism) and Ja’fari and Zaidiyyah schools (prominent among the Shi’a).

Having achieved their base of power in Arabia, centering on Mecca, and transforming the city for a holy site for pagan pilgrims around Arabia into a holy site for believers – the birth of Islam can be seen from the purview of this event: the transformation of Mecca. However, it was not long after this great triumph that Muhammad died on his final hijra, and his death would lead to the formation of a unique Muslim identity and lay the foundations for the Shi’a-Sunni divide. At his death, there are competing stories as to who would succeed the prophet as the “Commander of the Believers.” The most commonly accepted of these stories is that it passed to the most-qualified leaders of Muhammad’s movement – the most prominent of which is Abu Bakr. The second story, held by the eventual Shi’a community, and supposedly contained in the works of the Hadith, although few scholars believe its authenticity, is that Muhammad had raised the hand of Ali in proclamation that he should be the next caliph. Naturally, this story is after the first in which Abu Bakr succeeded Muhammad.

Thus, we start with the chronological history of Islam after the death of Muhammad and with the first of the “Rashidun” caliphs - Abu Bakr. Strictly speaking, there was no unified caliphate before the Umayyads. Abu Bakr was the first of the four “Rightly Guided Caliphs,” who held the title Amir al-Mu'minin, or “Commander of the Believers.” There is a general acceptance within the early community that these men, starting with Abu Bakr, were legitimate in the succession and leadership of the religious movement in the aftermath of Muhammad’s death.

Almost immediately, Abu Bakr led the believers’ community, which included some Christians and Jews, into a conflict with Byzantine Empire and eventually the Sassanid Empire. As the Arab invasion of Persia benefitted from a decades of wars with the Byzantines and a civil war, effectively leaving the Sassanid Confederacy depleted an unable to defend themselves. I will, however, be going into detail about the fall of the Sassanid Confederacy.

Like a storming beast, the Rightly Guided Caliphs led the community of believers into successful conquests of the Byzantine territories in the Levant, Iraq, and even managed to penetrate into Asia Minor on several occasions. The Byzantines were utterly decimated at the Battle of Yarmouk, where a Byzantine army of 100,000 men were eviscerated by an Islamic army of around 20,000 or so men. The Byzantines, tired and exhausted from decades of war and a brutal march south in the dead of summer, were butchered like cattle on the field. Half of the Byzantine army perished in the engagement, and those lucky enough to survive fled back to Asia Minor and Constantinople. During the engagement, most of the Byzantine administration, which had accompanied the army into battle, was killed.

The destruction of the Byzantine army at Yarmouk allowed for the consolidation of the Levant, Iraq, and Egypt under Islamic control. The emperor Heraclius, a great patron and skilled ruler, was nonetheless overmatched by the fervent rise of this new religious and political force south of his border. Although he had managed to weather the war with the Sassanids, he died in 641 all the Byzantine lands in the Levant, Iraq, and nearly all of Egypt and would soon lose the remnants of North Africa as the Islamic armies pushed west – where they would not stop until their defeat at the Battle of Poitiers.

P3XB2nJ.jpg

FIGURE 1: A depiction of the Battle of Yarmouk, where the Byzantine Army and administration of Syria was utterly destroyed by an inferior Arab-Islamic army.

The Rightly Guided Caliphs presided over an important maturity stage of the believers’ movement. Soon after the death Ali ibn Abi Talib, the final of the these caliphs in 661, the Islamic community of believers had encompassed nearly all of the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, the Levant, and Egypt, and parts of North Africa. After his death, and the successful and astonishing conquests against the Byzantines and Sassanid Persians, the road had been laid for the emergence of the pure Islamic Muslim identity during the Umayyad Caliphate.

The Umayyads were an ancient family or tribe from the Arabian Peninsula. Initially opposed to Muhammad in his early years, they had become his most ardent supporters and skilled leaders in the diverse religious community that was born in the aftermath of Muhammad’s successful conquest of Mecca. In part, this past history of the Umayyads having opposed Muhammad fueled the war between the Sunni (who followed the Umayyads) and the Shi’a (who supposedly followed Ali and his descendants). It was during the consolidation of power under the Umayyads that a distinct Muslim identity was formed apart from the ‘community of believers,’ a certain elevation of the followers of the Prophet above the Jews, Christians, and even the Zoroastrians who had been included as fellow believers in the One, True God (since they were monotheists).

However, it is with the rise of the Umayyads and the fostering of this unique Muslim identity, that the influence of Rome is also seen. The Umayyad court practices and rituals were simply borrowed from the Byzantines and molded to fit the new dynasty in Damascus. Taxes and laws, all of which were inherited from their conquests of the Byzantine territories, were kept and simply renamed in Arabic. Even before the rise of the Ottomans many centuries later, already, by the late seventh and early eighth century, there seemed to be an understanding among the Umayyads and the Islamic community that they were part Roman, at least, heirs to the Roman tradition.

The rise of the Umayyads is pivotal in the evolution of Islam and Islamic history. As mentioned, the Sunni-Shi’a divide has its roots with the Umayyad rise to power and the backing of the Umayyads by a majority of the community (the Sunni) while a small minority opposed them (the future Shi’a). The roads were now leading to the terrible Battle of Karbala, and the schism of the community of believers in this terrible event.

As I had mentioned that it was during the Umayyad period that the distinct formation of an Islamic identity began to appear, this is not only true with regards to how the believers, whom I shall now be referring to as Muslims, saw themselves in relationship to other “People of the Book,” but also how they saw themselves to one another. It is during the rise of the Umayyads that the schism of the Islamic community community begins: The Sunni, Shi’a, and the Khajarites – or “Those Who Left.”

Upon the death of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the last of the “Rightly Guided Caliphs,” a civil war for leadership had broken out between Mu’awiya and Ali. Mu’awiya was an Umayyad chief and general. In 657 Ali marched against Mu’awiya and his supporters with a large force and met at the fields of Siffin where both leaders refused the honor of single combat to decide who would be the leader of the Islamic community and caliphate. Instead, both sides sent champions in one vs. one duels for nearly a month, before this descended into minor skirmishes between the two sides eventually leading to a pitched battle.

Here, the Muslims recalled the teachings of the Prophet, as it is instructed in the Qur’an, that fellow believers (Muslims) should not kill one another. The battle was halted, but at a staggering price in men and prestige – at least prestige for Ali. Ali was winning the battle, and it was probable, that if the fighting had continued, Ali would have won. Some of Ali’s supporters believed this to be a direct violation of the will of God and abandoned him – condemning the sins of human affairs about God’s providence. This breakaway sect became known as the Khajarites, or, “those who left,” and their modern descendants are the Ibadi centrally located in Oman. The supporters of Mu’awiya became the forerunners of the Sunni and the supporters of Ali and his descendants became the forerunners of the Shi’a.

However, by 661, when the Caliphate was split in two, much like the Roman Empire was split after Diocletian, with the pro-Umayyad believers (Sunnis) centered in Damascus while the pro-Ali believers (Shiites) were centered primarily in Iraq. Ali was then assassinated by dissidents and Mu’awiya became the unchallenged leader. Thus, the Umayyad Empire was born in blood. 20 years later, the final split between the two sides would become clearly visible and unforgiveable. Yazid I, the Umayyad Caliph, was challenged by Ali’s son – Husayn. The Umayyad army rushed west to contend with Husayn and his rebels, which included the Hashemites and many members of the Prophet’s family (at least descendants of the Prophet’s family). The two forces met at Karbala, where the larger Umayyad force eventually overran Husayn’s defenses. Husayn, who was about to married, is reported to have said to his fiancée when asked how she will find him after the battle, “You will find me in Heaven, where we shall be united for all eternity.” Husayn and 72 members of the Prophet’s family were killed during the battle, and the rift between the two sides had opened wounds too deep to ever be healed.

jcfnupu.jpg

FIGURE 2: A depiction of the Battle of Karbala, where the Umayyads and the forerunner Sunnis defeated the forces of Husayn and the forerunner Shiites.

Furthermore, the Dome of the Rock would be built on the Old Temple Mount in Jerusalem, upon the site where it is believed that Muhammad was taken up to heaven on a winged horse to converse with the prophets of the past, like Moses and Jesus. Inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock, distinctly Umayyad in origin, also begin to condemn the Trinitarian beliefs of the Christians, as well as the apostasy of the Jews. It re-affirms a sense of Islamic triumphalism. While Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians would remain, for the next 1,000 years, as members of an intra-religious administration where members of minority faiths would hold political officer or important political positions, the egalitarianism of the early community in which Christians and Jews were seen as essentially being equal with the Muslims was now evaporating, just as the wounds between the Sunni and Shi’a were now beyond all repair. Laws were also passed to restrict Christian and Jewish rights during the latter days of the Umayyads. Churches and synagogues were not allowed to be rebuilt if fallen into disrepair, and due to distrust, Christians and other religious minorities were forbid from owning horses (since horses were seen as a potential dangerous weapon of war to be used against the Muslims). Yet, this rift between "The People of the Book" seems to only have affected the Umayyad Middle East, rather than Umayyad Spain, and slowly receded under the later caliphates (although the Abbasids would never amend these laws).

Having crushed opposition to their rule, the Umayyads began their unopposed conquests of Africa, Spain, and the Indus Valley, spreading Islam far and wide. Their conquests of North Africa and Spain are very important in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. The Vandal and Visigothic kingdoms that emerged in the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west had predominately come to inherit these regions, and the Roman logistical infrastructure. However, disunity and a lack of trade between the successor kingdoms in the west, coupled by a series of terrible wars levied onto them by Justinian which destroyed more than it could ever rebuild, meant that the western basin of the Mediterranean, once the hub of trade for Carthage and Rome, had fallen into disrepair. Trade was now almost non-existent.

The Umayyad conquest of North Africa and Spain, which was only halted, as I have mentioned, at the Battle of Poitiers was actually one of the best things that could happen to these two regions. With the extent of the Umayyad Empire, stretching from India to the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and North Africa would benefit from the re-opening of trade lanes from the east. The material depression that the peoples of Spain and North Africa had felt in the collapse of the Roman Empire were now, to some extent, being relieved as a new universal empire had come to control these lands. The Umayyads, using Greek engineering and science passed on to them through their conquests of the Byzantine Levant, began a lavish reconstruction of roads, shipping routes, and running waters.

***

It may seem odd to start a text about the Reformation with a history of the Sunni-Shi’a division in Islam. The point is to show that reformations – the events that are the catalyst for the splintering of religious unity – is commonplace in the Abrahamic tradition. One not need look further than first century Judaism during the time of Christ to see the various Jewish sects at war with each other. Or the long history of heresies quelled by the strong arm of Rome.

Moreover, the Sunni-Shi’a civil war reflects the reality of “reformations.” Unlike the most bastardized of culturally Protestant Whig historians and pseudo-intellectuals who associate “reform” with “good,” the historical reality of reformations has been, by every stretch of the imagination, bloody, costly, and destructive. Here the Sunni-Shi’a reformation proves just that. Those who clamor for “an Islamic reformation” are the most illiterate and blind of people. Islam had a reformation long ago. A violent and bloody one that still lingers within the Islamic world to this day. The reason why the bloodshed between Christians has ceased among each other is not because Protestants and Catholics have amended old wounds, but because of the emergence of strong states that strongly safeguarded one particular religion over the other and safeguarded that privilege through political force. The same is the case with the calm between Sunni and Shi’a after Karbala. It was not that they had learned to live alongside each other; it was force backed by power that kept the peace.

The most illiterate of contemporary commentators talk about how Islam needs a reformation like in Christianity. What reformation are they talking about? The Reformation that unleashed a hundred years’ of sectarian conflict throughout Europe? The Reformation that caused the War of the Evangelical and Catholic alliances?[1] The Reformation that saw Protestants in Europe allying with the Ottomans to help bring down Catholic kingdoms and hope for the Ottoman invasion of Rome?[2] The Reformation that unleased more witch hunts than at any time in the past (and it was in Protestant regions where witch hunting was more rigorous and dramatic than in Catholic territories)?[3] Islam had a reformation in the 7th century and it was brutal and bloody. Christianity was now about to have its reformation and it was even bloodier than the reformation in Islam.


[1] TTL’s equivalent of the Thirty Years’ War.

[2] This is true in OTL. Dutch coins, ironically—given the current climate—were minted with the phrase “Rather Turkish than Papist in spite of the Mass” in the 1600s. Protestant-Islamic (Sunni) relations were warmer in the 1600s than at any point since because Protestants and Sunnis (Ottomans) had a common enemy: Catholic Christendom and the Roman Papacy (controlled by Angevin and French) Cardinals and Popes.*

*Note, this aside of Angevin and French Cardinals and Popes reflects my game where I (as Provence) or France produced a line of succeeding popes during the height of the Reformation and the Franco-Ottoman Wars.

[3] This is also true in OTL. Protestant Europe engaged in more witch hunts than Catholic Europe. Germany, France, England, and the Netherlands, the regions most heavily affected by the Protestant Reformation, accounted for 75% of European witch hunts, the majority occurring in Protestant territories. Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland, where the Reformation had little impact, only accounted for 6% of European witch hunts.


SUGGESTED READING

Amira Bennison, The Great Caliphs

Fred Donner, Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam

Robert Hoyland, In God’s Path

Barnaby Rogerson, The Heirs of Muhammad
 
Last edited:

AvatarOfKhaine

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While I support Islamic reformism, I do agree with those annoyed when people specifically talk of Islam needing a capital-r Reformation. While I believe the Reformation to have been a very good thing historically those saying it do often forget the less savoury parts of the Reformation.
 

stnylan

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Civil wars are nasty
Religious wars are nasty
Religious civil wars are some of the most horrendous things humans do to each other.
 

J66185

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Civil wars are nasty
Religious wars are nasty
Religious civil wars are some of the most horrendous things humans do to each other.
Indeed, indeed. :):rolleyes:
 

Idhrendur

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Yes. Count me among those who think the Reformation was necessary, but let's not pretend there weren't horrors as a result.

Though I'd perhaps lean towards the opposite bias of our esteemed narrator, and blame not the ones who wanted to reform the Church, but the ones who felt the need to maintain their power. Who, in fact, had waged crusade in Aquitaine for that purpose just a few centuries before the Reformation, and had done so again in Bohemia two centuries after that (though that situation was more than just the religious war, as was the OTL Thirty Years' War).

Edit: And let me express my delight at the utter bias the narrator expresses sometimes. It's the kind of thing I wish I had the skill to pull off.
 

volksmarschall

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While I support Islamic reformism, I do agree with those annoyed when people specifically talk of Islam needing a capital-r Reformation. While I believe the Reformation to have been a very good thing historically those saying it do often forget the less savoury parts of the Reformation.
Civil wars are nasty
Religious wars are nasty
Religious civil wars are some of the most horrendous things humans do to each other.
Indeed, indeed. :):rolleyes:
Yes. Count me among those who think the Reformation was necessary, but let's not pretend there weren't horrors as a result.

Though I'd perhaps lean towards the opposite bias of our esteemed narrator, and blame not the ones who wanted to reform the Church, but the ones who felt the need to maintain their power. Who, in fact, had waged crusade in Aquitaine for that purpose just a few centuries before the Reformation, and had done so again in Bohemia two centuries after that (though that situation was more than just the religious war, as was the OTL Thirty Years' War).

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, 'Rase it, rase it even to the foundation thereof.' Oh daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones across the stones.

So it begins! :cool:

Idhrendur said:
And let me express my delight at the utter bias the narrator expresses sometimes. It's the kind of thing I wish I had the skill to pull off.

Let me express my delight at writing with the narrator's voice as these posts are crafted. ;)
 

stnylan

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Edit: And let me express my delight at the utter bias the narrator expresses sometimes. It's the kind of thing I wish I had the skill to pull off.
The narrator's bias is one of the pure delights of this AAR.
 

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BOOK II: THE REFORMATION

PART ONE: THE ROAD TO BABYLON


II

Captive in Babylon

Befitting of Christianity’s Trinitarian theology, there were three major causes for the Protestant Reformation. One is already well-known and the rallying cry always fallen back to by Protestants when feeling threatened by the superiority of Romanism, and which has always remained present among anti-Catholic sentiment in Protestant or Catholic (anti-clerical) circles: corruption. The two other causes were far more important than the rebellion against corrupt church practices, least among these being the sale of indulgences, were the rediscovery of the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) and the “discovery of Providential History.” It is the latter two causes I wish to discuss because of their profound importance to the geopolitical situation of Europe and the rise of the phenomenon of Bible-nationalism among the more thorough-going Protestant dissenters in England, later in North America and the United States, the Dutch Republic and Dutch Diaspora in New Netherland,[1] and among the Swiss and Danes. As well as the discovery of history, this was correlative to the rereading of the Old Testament engaged upon by Protestants.

The Hebrew Bible was always the more important book to the Christian tradition than the New Testament. The New Testament is foundationless without the Old Testament. The themes of sacrifice, sin, alienation, redemption, war, violence, temptation, and Christ’s hidden hand, was the main concentration of Patristic commentary; it was, to the Church Fathers, the whole portrait of man—homo totus—and the human condition. The Christian psyche, then, was indebted to sacrifice, sin, redemption, sexual temptation, the need for righteous justice, and to see Christ’s key in the now renamed Old Testament. Allegorical hermeneutics and anthropology was the focus of the Church Fathers.

To illustrate an example from that most venerable of Patristic writers, Augustine, the first book of Genesis was an entirely allegorical account of theological-anthropology.[2] The six days of creation, in Augustine’s reading, weren’t days at all. Each “day” corresponded with an element of the human condition. Creation was made in love and wisdom for love and wisdom, and humans, as the only creatures capable of using rational thought to know the good and true, were raised out of the dark water (which Augustine interpreted to represent human ignorance) and into the light of the Spirit (representing wisdom and truth) that hovered over the deeps. The fish crashing wildly in the waters was interpreted by Augustine to represent the torment of human desire—uncontrollable which caused men, like the fish of the sea, to move with the currents of their desire. The creation of dry land, representing rational and orderly thought, was man attaining rational consciousness and basking in the glory of the light of order and wisdom so as to attain happiness—the telos of all humans.

In the City of God, the most remarkable work of cultural criticism ever produced by a mere mortal, recounted how the eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was man’s attempt to become the “measure of all things” (in the words of Protagoras), whereby man, not nature, decided what was good and what was evil. Augustine concluded that this was man’s embrace of falsity—living not by the standards of nature, and living by the false rationalizations of man attempting to justify his base actions, man would live by falseness rather than truth and remain alienated from his nature as a result. Since man is called to be a rational animal whose gift of reason can be used to know the good and true, those who use their reason to reject the good and true are guilty of what Christians call “sin.” Only the most illiterate of writers and commentators assert the Abrahamic account of man as something other than rational. Though, this is to be expected because philosophically unlearned men are not aware of the two schools of reason that uphold the Western rationalist tradition: reason as that which man possesses, making him like God, which permits him to know the good and true and live by the good and true (classical); reason as that mechanic mechanism that allows man to reckon through practical problems and allow efficient action to a desired end (modern).

The murder of Abel by Cain was read much in the same tradition as Philo of Alexandria. Here Augustine developed his theory of the two cities. Cain, whose name in Hebrew means possession (or control) is the archetype of the city of man. The city of man is filled with jealous pride, envy, and lusts for control over everything. By contrast Abel, whom Augustine considered a type of Christ—the good shepherd before the Good Shepherd—was representative of the holy city of God. A pilgrim shepherd traverses the land like the Church would traverse through the age of man to her final destination and union with God. Cain’s son, Enoch, who founded the first city, means dedication in Hebrew. For Augustine, the fact that the lineage of men who found the city of man meant possession and dedication meant that the city of man’s impetus was its fierce dedication to seek control over everything on earth.

d2emKmr.jpg

FIGURE 1: Saint Augustine of Hippo, the most important Church Father and widely considered one of the most influential Western thinkers and philosophers in history; perhaps second only to Plato. He was also the only Catholic saint that Protestants, even the Puritans, still gave the title “saint” to out of respect to his work. Augustine left a corpus of over 5.4 million words in Latin (so far recovered). Augustine's influence extends to ethics, natural law, epistemology, theology, political theory, anthropology, existentialism, and phenomenology, among other subjects.

Augustine’s reading of Abel as a type of Christ slaughtered by the city of man was a reflection of the Christological reading of the Hebrew Bible by the Patristic Fathers. The Church Fathers did not reject the historicity of the ancient accounts—they had no reason to—but they didn’t consider the historicity of the Hebrew Bible to be the important hermeneutical lens. Rather, it was the typological and allegorical—or Christological—approach that was most important. Just as Christ was a Shepherd sent to gather the flock, as Abel tended his flock, it was the city of man (Rome) that put the Good Shepherd to death. Likewise, Augustine’s reading of Noah’s Ark was that the ark was symbolic of the church, the flood baptism and cleansing, where God’s just judgement over the world spared only those who were part of the body of Christ (inside the ark, so to speak), with the ark’s landfall on the mountain and the birth of new life representative of the church’s journey through history and arrival in heaven. The city of man, founded upon murder and envy (Cain and Abel in Genesis, Romulus and Remus in traditional Roman mythology), was literally founded upon death and would exhaust itself in death. The city of God, founded upon love of other in a self-giving servitude, was destined for union with the good, true, and beautiful. In the temporal sphere of the earth, civitas terrena and civitas Dei were intermingled until the eschaton.

For over a thousand years the authority of the Church Fathers and their Christological and allegorical readings of the Hebrew Bible held so significant a sway over Christendom that reading the Old Testament lapsed and concentration on the New Testament—especially in the Middle Ages—began. (Genesis, Psalms, and Daniel were among the three most cited books within Patristic literature.) The clergy began, rather than read the Old Testament themselves, simply read the many commentaries of the Old Testament from the Church Fathers. You could say that Christianity really was a religion born out of the Hebrew Bible more than it was born out of the New Testament epistles and gospels since, in traditional Christian (Catholic) circles, Christ was ever present in the Hebrew Bible and simply incarnated in the New Testament.

But this losing of the Old Testament, for a lack of a better phrase, is what the early Protestant Reformation and Reformers essentially rediscovered—opening a new flourishing of Old Testament interpretation as a result. As literacy and publishing of the Bible became more common in the late Medieval era (and it is grossly inaccurate to say Bibles were not already translated in vernacular languages), readings of the Old Testament returned among a generation of monks who, when not tending the gardens of the monastery or engaged in prayers and chants, had nothing better to do than read Scripture. Breaking away from the Scholastic formalism of the university, these monks essentially rebelled in private against the current winds of Rome and returned to the Old Testament rather than New.

By the time we reach the Protestant Reformation Old Testament consciousness was all the rage among Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their heirs. After all, Luther’s most famous tract, On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, is a reference back to the Old Testament Jewish Exile in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. It is fair to say that Protestantism was born in the Old Testament as well—and thus, it is inescapable to conclude that any Christianity which abandons the Old Testament abandons the very foundations of itself. The can be no Christianity without the Hebrew Bible because the Hebrew Bible was the wellspring of both Catholicism and Protestantism in their own respective ways.

8GaFmqt.jpg

FIGURE 2: The front piece to Luther’s Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

What made the Protestant reading of the Old Testament unique and novel was not its fundamentalism as is often wrongfully depicted today by the most ignorant of the so-called “New Atheists,” but its own form of allegorized interpretation. But where the Catholics were Christological in their reading of the Old Testament the Protestants were historical in their reading.

By historical I am not referring to a certain historical fundamentalism as already stated. Rather, by historical I am referring to the notion of History with capital-H. A concept that was popularized by Hegel and then Marx, absolutely eviscerated by Tolstoy in War and Peace, and which most scholars trace back to Christian millenarian and heretical movements. This allegorized historical reading was that Old Testament was not merely a story of Christ and his pilgrim church as the Church Fathers and Catholics believed, but a story of the future historical development, trials, and tribulations of Christ’s church on earth—the Protestant hermeneutical shift being less a focus on Christ and the Church and more about the individual believer. Thus, we have the division of Scripture as a threefold understanding in confessional Protestantism: First is the historical reading as authentic history (those things fulfilled—which was much of the Old Testament if not all of it according to some); Second is the historical reading as yet to be fulfilled (hence the millenarian and apocalyptic consciousness of historical Protestantism); Third is the figuring out where you (as an individual believer) found yourself in this epic drama of “biblical proportions,” to liberally borrow a common phrase in modern parlance. The rise of twentieth century Fundamentalism sought to counter those Protestants who cast skepticism about the first leg of this hermeneutical troika which the Fundamentalists of more recent fame felt would threaten to undo the entire system. It is a pity, then, that as this debate between Protestant modernists and fundamentalists continued, the entire hermeneutical tradition was lost.

For Luther, the Babylonian Captivity which referenced the Jewish Exile and Captivity was his polemic against the sacramental captivity of the Roman Church. The teachings of the Roman sacraments, Luther charged, was analogous to the worst of Babylonian pagan idolatry, hence the Babylonian captivity.

Calvinists took the reading in an even stronger historical direction. Not only agreeing with Luther (not concerning Reformed-Lutheran Eucharistic disputes here), the Calvinists charged that this captivity of the Church was foretold in Daniel (the unfulfilled prophecies) which give stronger foundation for understanding the end times Harlot of Babylon in the Book of Revelation (a prophecy of events yet fulfilled). Thus, the Radical Reformation—as it is called by scholars rather than the earlier wave known as the Magisterial Reformation—embraced a futuristic historicism to their interpretation of the Bible. Events fulfilled were history. Events yet to be fulfilled was future history. The great danger to the believers, the false teachers and heretics, that harlot whore of Babylon which threatened True Jerusalem (the Protestants) was interpreted to be the Roman Church.

This association of Catholicism with the Whore of Babylon establishes the usual and stereotypical Catholics are Pagans stereotype. Though there is another truth to this insofar that Catholicism never had a problem with assimilating Pagan traditions, practices, and shrines, and simply rededicating them to the True God of life and happiness which the pagans themselves sought in their own dim-witted ways. For as Augustine said, anywhere that Truth is found in the world it belongs to God and Christians shouldn’t be ashamed to acknowledge this and learn from those who possess truth outside of the Scriptures.

As we can see, not only is the allegorical tradition strong in Catholicism, but it is also at the core of the Protestant Reformation in its own unique “historical” way. Scripture was the tale of the trials and tribulations of the community of believers—that “Invisible Church”—on earth and the hardships it would have to endure to “finish the race.” But what made Protestantism such a tour de force was its millenarianism. For the captivity was now, the end times fast approaching, and the battle of Armageddon just over the horizon. In the most poetic words of the Psalmist, and a battle cry for sixteenth century Protestantism, “Oh daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

TPQgJDE.jpg

FIGURE 3: Norman Cohn’s path breaking 1957 book The Pursuit of the Millennium. Cohn traces utopian revolutionary thought back to late medieval mystics and early millenarian Protestantism, thus subsequently influencing people like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Georg W.F. Hegel, and Karl Marx. The relationship between revolutionary politics and religious millenarianism is well-documented.


[1] Columbia, South America. Columbia was colonized by the Dutch in this timeline so will be called New Netherland for obvious name reasons.

[2] Cf. Confessions, Book XIII.


SUGGESTED READING

Augustine of Hippo, Confessions; City of God

Martin Luther, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church

John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium

Craig Harline, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation

Karl Löwith, Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History

Avihu Zakai, Exile and Kingdom: History and Apocalypse in the Puritan Migration to America
 
Last edited:

Idhrendur

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Well, of course Catholics are pagans! I mean, using the crucifix instead of a cross is clear and intentional idolatry*, and the veneration of saints is just worship of pagan gods by another name!

Simultaneously, us Protestants have plenty of saints we still like: Saint Patrick, Saint Nicholas, Saint Valentine… :p

Don't think too hard about the contrast there.

*actual argument I read in a book once. Sadly, they were quite serious.
 

KingJerkera

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That was so very interesting; I never knew that traditions could have such profound effects on belief. I thank you for your eye opening introduction into yet another world I had yet to traverse.
 

stnylan

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The suggested reading made me smile - Confessions remains just about my favourite piece of patristic literature. Not the whole "make me a good man, but not yet" but because of Augustine's discussions of babies.
 

guillec87

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interesting way to develop this Time Line
 

volksmarschall

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Well, of course Catholics are pagans! I mean, using the crucifix instead of a cross is clear and intentional idolatry*, and the veneration of saints is just worship of pagan gods by another name!

Simultaneously, us Protestants have plenty of saints we still like: Saint Patrick, Saint Nicholas, Saint Valentine… :p

Don't think too hard about the contrast there.

*actual argument I read in a book once. Sadly, they were quite serious.

Confessional Lutheranism maintains Rome as the anti-Christ, as do certain Reformed sects. I doubt they'll be any reconciliation ever! :p

But let us see, the Crucifix with the effigy is meant to be a reminder of God's love for humanity through his suffering; the cult of the saints was already well-established in Judaism but the real importance of the saints is a reflection of filial piety and the joy of being a member of the enlarged family of God; and, well, who doesn't like beer, gifts, and love? That's universal so of course Protestants have certain saints they like. :p

Reading this chapter reminded me of the bad rep Babylon has amongst the Christians. Had a good chuckle.

Babylon, the first attempt to create a homogenized universal empire. Americans should probably open their eyes to see they are not the New Israel but the New Babylon! :p

That was so very interesting; I never knew that traditions could have such profound effects on belief. I thank you for your eye opening introduction into yet another world I had yet to traverse.

You're very welcome. Hopefully you will find our modest dive into sixteenth century theology gripping to go along with the in-game events. Other than some names, events, and dates, the historicity we will dive into here will serve -- second hand -- as further exposure into a world that the real volksmarschall knows exceedingly well. Thus again blurring the lines between volksmarschall, the French narrator, and the game! :cool:

The suggested reading made me smile - Confessions remains just about my favourite piece of patristic literature. Not the whole "make me a good man, but not yet" but because of Augustine's discussions of babies.

Well, having written my thesis at Yale on Augustine, and having published multiple essays on him, and having large article due out on him in December, you can say I have a lot of familiarity with the man and his work.

interesting way to develop this Time Line

Only setting the stage for what is to come, physically, or digitally, depending on how "real" you want to interpret the craziness of the sixteenth century in the game. ;)
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK II: THE REFORMATION

PART ONE: THE ROAD TO BABYLON



III

The Looting of Christendom

In 1507 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ulm officially began the so-called Reformation, though a long history of church reforms prior to 1507 should be readily known to a basic reader of Christian history, by breaking away and starting its own diocese claiming independence from Rome and ability to control clerical appointments.* As already mentioned, the Reformation was more than just about corruption. And corruption in the church was nothing particularly new either. Even in the days of Augustine, who formulated the doctrine of the corpus permixtum—mixed body (or church)—to deal with the problem, failings of the church and clerical leadership led to St. John of Chrysostom to declare that the “Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”

The revolution that swept through Christendom wasn’t a benign reformation as the most ignorant of pro-Protestant apologists like to claim. The Reformation was the perfect storm of institutional corruption, institutional unrest, intellectual competition, political ambition and strife (especially from the German princes), and nascent formation of linguistic nationalism, coming together to create the storm that would ravish Europe until 1637.** The longstanding Ghibelline-Guelph conflict was also a motivating factor among some of the German princes to seek to breakaway from Rome—the breakaway their key to greater temporal/political power without Curia interference. The growth of vernacular translations, coinciding with the rise of a general ethno-linguistic nationalism, also proved to be fertile ground for the revolution that swept across Europe.

The land that was most fervently anti-Catholic was England. By 1511 the English Monarchy had passed the dissolution of the monasteries act, whereby English aristocrats plundered the common ownership and wealth of the church and seized it for themselves. It wasn’t until Catholic emancipation in the 1820s that Catholics were allowed to serve in parliament, own land, and engage in any profession, and it was a crime to attend a Catholic mass and build an official Catholic church. In the words of the greatest English, and still Protestant, historian of the Reformation in England, William Cobbett, “The Reformation was engendered in beastly lust, brought forth in hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by plunder, devastation, and by rivers of innocent English and Irish blood.”[1]

vCptqoc.png

SCREENSHOT 1: The Reformation in Europe, 1511, just after the English Monarchy broke away from Rome. Note, the Protestant east is Danish held lands.

In the words of an Englishman to Englishmen, in a prose even greater than I could manage to write in a hundred lifetimes, a prose second only to Shakespeare and Milton and Swift:

It was not a reformation but a devastation, of England, which was, at the time when this event took place, the happiest Country, perhaps, that the world had ever seen; and, it is my chief business to show, that this devastation impoverished and degraded the main body of the people. But, in order that you may see this devastation in its true light, and that you may feel a just portion of indignation against the devastators, and against their eulogists of the present day, it is necessary, first, that you take a correct view of the things on which their devastating powers were exercised.

The far greater part of those books, which are called ‘Histories of England,’ are little better than romances. They treat of battles, negotiations, intrigues of courts, amours of kings, queens and nobles: they contain the gossip and scandal of former times, and very little else, There are histories of England, like that of Dr. Goldsmith, for the use of young persons; but, no young person, who has read them through, knows any more, of any possible use, than he or she knew before. The great use of history, is, to teach us how laws, usages and institutions arose, what were their effects on the people, how they promoted public happiness, or otherwise; and these things are precisely what the greater part of historians, as they call themselves, seem to think of no consequence.

We never understand the nature and constituent parts of a thing so well as when we ourselves have made the thing: next to making it, is the seeing of it made: but, if we have neither of these advantages, we ought, at least, if possible, to get at a true description of the origin of the thing and of the manner in which it was put together. I have to speak to you of the Catholic Church generally; then of the Church in England, under which head I shall have to speak of the parish churches, the monasteries, the tithes, and other revenues of the Church. It is, therefore, necessary that I explain to you how the Catholic Church arose; and how churches, monasteries, tithes and other church revenues came to be in England. When you have this information, you will well understand what it was which was devastated by [William III]. and the ‘Reformation’ people. And, I am satisfied, that, when you have read this one Number of my little work, you will know more about your country than you have learned, or ever will learn, from the reading of hundreds of those bulky volumes, called “Histories of England.”

The Catholic Church originated with Jesus Christ himself. He selected Peter to be head of his Church. This Apostle's name was Simon; but, his Master called him Peter, which means a stone or rock; and he said, "on this rock will I build my church." Look at the Gospel of Saint Matthew, xvi. 18, 19, and at that of Saint John, xxi. 15, and onward; and you will see, that we must deny the truth of the Scriptures, or acknowledge, that here was a head of the Church promised for all generations…

…This was the real ‘Reformation reign’; for, it was a reign of robbery and hypocrisy without any thing to be compared with them; any thing in any country or in any age. Religion, conscience, was always the pretext; but in one way or another, robbery, plunder was always the end. The People, once so united and so happy, became divided into innumerable sects, no man knowing hardly what to believe; and, indeed, no one knowing what it was lawful for him to say; for it soon became impossible for the common people to know what was heresy and what was not heresy.

That prince of hypocrites, Cranmer, who, during the reign of [William], had condemned people to the flames for not believing in transubstantiation, was now ready to condemn them for believing in it. We have seen, that Luther was the beginner of the work of "Reformation "; but, he was soon followed by further reformers on the continent. These had made many attempts to propagate their doctrines in England; but, old [William] had kept them down. Now, however, when the churches were to he robbed of what remained in them, and when, to have a pretext for that robbery, was necessary to make a complete change in the form of worship, these sectarians all flocked to England, which became one great scene of religious disputation. Some were for the Common Prayer Book; others proposed alterations in it; others were for abolishing it altogether and there now began that division, that multiplicity of hostile opinions, which has continued to the present day. Cranmer employed a part of the resources of the country to feed and fatten those of these religious, or, rather, impious, adventurers, who sided with him, and who chose the best market for their doctrines. England was over-run by these foreign traders in religion; and this nation, so jealous of foreign influence, was now compelled to bend its haughty neck, not only to foreigners, but to foreigners of the most base and infamous character and description. Cranmer could not find Englishmen sufficiently supple to be his tools in executing the work that he had in hand. The Protector Hertford, whom we must now call Somerset (the child king having made him Duke of Somerset ), was the greatest of all ‘reformers’ that had yet appeared in the world, and, as we shall soon see, the greatest and most audacious of all the plunderers that this famous Reformation has produced, save and except old Harry himself. The total abolition of the Catholic worship was necessary to his projects of plunder; and, therefore, he was a great encourager of these greedy and villainous foreigners. Perhaps the world has never, in any age, seen a nest of such atrocious miscreants as Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Beza and the rest of the distinguished reformers of the Catholic religion. Every one of them was notorious for the most scandalous vices, even according to the full confession of his own followers. They agreed in nothing but in the doctrine, that good works were useless; and their lives proved the sincerity of their teaching; for there was not a man of them whose acts did not merit a halter.[2]

The Reformation was, from the dissolution of the monasteries, the sprinkling of holy water on robbery and theft and plunder, the writing of homilies supporting the plunder of the wealth of the Catholic Church used for the welfare of the people, was nothing short of a looting operation. But no one in a Protestant land, sans Cobbett, who was himself a Protestant, was courageous enough to speak of the reality of the Reformation’s looting operation.

kw07Arz.jpg

FIGURE 1: The ruins of Biland Monastery, 500 years after its plunder.

Of course, there is a certain justice to the fact that many of the European, and especially English, aristocrats who plundered out of lust and greed lost their fortunes within a generation, thus causing them to be enslaved by a new system of economics unique to the Protestant world: debt. Usury was always considered a sin in Catholicism, but through the Protestant Reformation, the liberation of the bourgeoisie, and the irresponsibility of the princes who sacked the churches of Christ, the princes wielded their strong arm again and advanced the acceptability of usury as a means to allow for their lavish lifestyles to continue.

In fact, it is well-attested to in Reformation history that the areas that were hardest hit by the Reformation were not areas in which the corruption was a major problem. If so then the Reformation would have been contained to Italy and a few pockets of Germany and France. The areas that were hit hardest by the Reformation, at least the first wave of the Reformation, were regions with strong monastery presences. And with the monasteries great wealth.[3] In England alone over 800 monasteries were plundered and many of their lands sold to aristocrats who privatized the land immediately afterward. Close to 10,000 monks, friars, and nuns were cast out into the open. In Germany, when Luther declared monastic life unbiblical, German zealots stormed hundreds of monasteries across the German principalities and raided them dry, forcing thousands of monks, friars, and nuns into the cold open countryside and forests of Germany. Some 250 monasteries were hit and plundered with full approval of Luther. In the Dutch provinces, unlike in England, the many hundreds of monasteries and churches looted were converted to Calvinist houses of worships or turned into secular offices like museums and meeting houses. By 1550, over 1500 monasteries were looted across Christendom and more than 20,000 religious ordinates turned into refugees. Areas with a limited number of monasteries, like Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and poor rural areas across Europe, were otherwise untouched or minimally affected by the Reformation.

That more modern and equally eminent historian of the English Reformation, Eamon Duffy, explained that English Christianity prior to the Reformation was a rich and vigorous movement with widespread popularity. Duffy’s work, of course, serves as a corrective to those pro-Protestant babblers who speak of decadence and decay as if it were widespread while the reality of the lay church was one of popularity and vigor. The multitude of popular Catholic devotions were, in a moment, stripped clean by the zealots who promised to build the New Jerusalem in England’s depressed (“happy”) lands. The last vestiges of civilization were wiped out, stone by stone, by the den of thieves eulogized by the Reformation historians.

But the struggle over the Reformation, Christianity, and Rome in England were just beginning. And the rise of the most incredible, and consequential, birth of “bible nationalism” among the English-speaking peoples now commencing. Jumping from the Isles to the New World led to the contest of the English-speaking peoples and their Providential mission to bring the gospel to the world against the corrupt agents of Babylon trying to prevent this Godly mission from happening—the fabric and DNA from which the United States of America was eventually born. While Catholic nations saw themselves as the “Christ of Europe” or “Christ of the Nations,” emphasizing suffering: Hungary and Poland especially,[4] the English-speaking peoples saw themselves as the Apostles of the Nations, missionizing the world for the glory of Jesus, Paul, and the English people most importantly.


[1] William Cobbett, A History of the Reformation in England and Ireland, Intro., para. 4.

[2] Ibid., para. 37-40, 199-200. The name Henry VIII has been replaced by William III, in brackets [William], to reflect the in-game ruler of England at the time.

[3] This is historically true in OTL.

[4] Christ of Europe or Christ of the Nations has been used to describe Hungary, Poland, and Russia, historically. In our timeline it is coincidental that all three countries can keep the moniker.

*I briefly alluded to the Reformation beginning in Ulm back in this chapter.

**In my game the end of continuous Catholic-Protestant conflict roughly concluded in that year where future conflicts between states was not “religious” in nature.


SUGGESTED READING

William Cobbett, A History of the Reformation in England and Ireland

Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580

Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries


Joyce Youings, Dissolution of the Monasteries
 

stnylan

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I had a very good friend at university who did an extra module in Food History. The lecturer, to my friend's amazement, didn't know why British monks stopped producing certain beers after 1528. Much as some disparage political history, it has its uses :)

Have you ever been to merry olde England?
 

volksmarschall

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I had a very good friend at university who did an extra module in Food History. The lecturer, to my friend's amazement, didn't know why British monks stopped producing certain beers after 1528. Much as some disparage political history, it has its uses :)

Have you ever been to merry olde England?

We had an exceptional food historian, Paul Freedman; I say had not because he's gone but because I'm graduated. Delightful man with great lectures not only on standard history but the impact of history on food and food on history.

As a matter of fact I will be in England, come the Fall, for further studies. A certain gentleman on this forum by the name of Porter says I should try to find the time to meet you if all things work out. The veil will be dropped and you'll come to learn that the real life volksmarschall is very much an Anglophile. Perhaps it's just because it's my native tongue, but a lot of English literati are among my favorite: Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Coleridge, Swift, Wordsworth, Tolkien, and Orwell, just to name a few. Many of them are often referenced directly, or indirectly, in my actual work. Though English philosophers, especially that devil incarnate Francis Bacon, I would generally pass over. I find it peculiar to the English tradition that English speaking literati were far deeper in thought and understanding the human condition than English philosophers, like Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Ayer, ever were. This is generally true in the American experience too. John Dewey is pathetic when compared to someone like Steinbeck or Hawthorne or Melville.