Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy Of Highclere Castle

Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy Of Highclere CastleLady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy Of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon

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I’ve read through chapter 7 now. Very interesting book.


Chapter 2 – The Moravian Church

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 – John Hus: The Martyr of Bohemia

It’s 1381 and Princess Anne of Bohemia had married King Richard II.  This bond between the two countries allowed for Bohemian priests to come to England to be trained and introduced to the teachings of John Wiclif. They returned home to add Wiclif’s thoughts to their arsenal.

Cyril & MethodiusCzechs were ripe for reform. They’d been a minority in the Germanic area. And there had been conflict in Bohemia/Moravia between the Eastern and Western churches. Each church had vied for dominance. The Eastern church had a strong foothold. Ignored by Rome, the Eastern church moved in with Cyril and Methodius in the mid-800s. They translated scriptures into the vernacular, preached in the same and established popular church order.

And by now, the Western church was German which did not sit well with the Czechs. The church is still terribly corrupt and being German on top of it, didn’t win them any favors. Charles IV was a reformer king in Bohemia. He established a fair justice system, encouraged industry, listened to the people and advanced education. Prague became an archdiocese and home to a university. The people became even more dissatisfied with outside rule of any kind. John Hus was a young man when priests began to return from Oxford. They had a story to tell and Hus, among many of his countrymen, eagerly listened.

John HusJohn was born in Husinec in 1369. Since he was a peasant, he had no last name and became known as John Hus. Few peasants had the opportunity to go on to higher learning, so he must have been exceptional. He went to the local school run by the monastery, then to a school in a neighboring town and finally to the University of Prague where he earned his way in part as a singer. He studied logic, philosophy and theology. Bachelors in 1394, Masters in 1396. By 1401 he was dean of the philosophy department. In 1402, he was rector of the university – a rotating office, and he was appointed preacher at Bethlehem Chapel. As a preacher and professor, he was better known for his preaching. Weinlick mentions that if Hus had stayed in the classroom and out of the pulpit, he might have lived a long life.

Bethlehem ChapelStill, Hus enjoyed the backing of the royal family and university friends for a long time.  In Bethlehem Chapel he preached to people from all walks of life including royalty. He not only preached in Czech but also translated hymns from Latin and wrote new ones. He was also an active writer. He wrote sermons, commentaries and tracts. He read Wiclif heavily and helped exposed a “miracle” in Wilsnack involving wafers.

In due time, Wiclif’s teachings were less accepted at the university. Hus was a rebel after my own heart because the more Wiclif was condemned, the more Hus defended him. There was the Papal Schism. A Council of Pisa was held in 1409 to heal the Papal Schism, but it was such a disaster that they ended up with yet a third Pope.

This is really a messy time in history. Difficult to chisel down to a few distinct sentences, but Prague was selling indulgences for a Crusade desired by Pope 3. Hus naturally stood against this. He was excommunicated, and King Wenzel talked him into a voluntary exile. During his two years of exile, Hus moved about freely and preached frequently. After a while, he was able to even visit Prague. In addition to preaching, he wrote sermons, letters and books.

Emperor SigismundIn 1414, another council is held – The Council of Constance. And in its four years of meetings, it did unify the papacy but did little to help the corruption of the church. John Hus’s head was on the proverbial chopping block. Emperor Sigismund of Bohemia convinced Hus to travel to Constance for a hearing. Sigismund guaranteed Hus safe travel to and from Constance. Friends accompanied Hus on the four week journey beginning October 11, 1415. He spent three weeks in town before the hearing. He was arrested on November 28. During his imprisonment, he was housed in a Dominican monastery, in Gottlieben Castle and then in a Franciscan monastery. He was kept in cramped, cold or hot quarters and given insufficient amounts of food.

The trial was three hearings held on June 5, 7, 8. His book, On the Church, was used against him. The Council and Sigismund hoped Hus would recant, but these were the same men who had ordered Wiclif’s bones burned, so there was little chance of a lenient sentence without that recant.

July 6 (his birthday), Hus was sentenced. He was taken to a raised platform and defrocked. He was given another opportunity to recant. He told them he couldn’t. They burned his books and took him to a meadow where they had a place ready. Hus was given one last opportunity to recant. He died in flames singing and praying. His ashes were thrown into the Rhine.

Chapter 3 The Aftermath

Chapter 1 from The Moravian Church

Table of Contents

This book is very much like a small text book. Lots of little snippets of information that kind of jump around under a larger umbrella. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is out of print. I’ve linked some subjects to google books which offers an amazing amount of material and some of it is in full text form.

Chapter 1 – The Late Medieval World

Weinlick begins by discussing the very real and worthy work going on in church life prior to the Reformation. He mentions that sometimes we go back to Luther and stop, but men of faith were challenging the system before that. While there were many attempts at breaking away from the church, only two pre-reformation churches were still around to see the Reformation. Group 1 was the Waldenses from the late 1100s and the other was the Unitas Fratrum (1457).


In the 1300s we see a powerful papacy as well as a rising university system. The language was Latin in both cases and that made for easy movement from county to country for both priests and lecturers. The church had a stronghold on the people and the threat of excommunication was constantly present. The church was terribly corrupt.

The CrusadesThe Crusades had been stage central from 11-1300 expanding mental horizons if not necessarily territorial ones. Trade opened up, and a monetary economy began to develop. Feudalism was declining. Nationalism was rising. Inquiry and exploration are intriguing to an ever growing number of people.

Nationalism meant that languages were developing in new and exciting ways. Literature was being written in those different languages. People wanted their languages used for more than day to day communications – church, school.

The church was troubled. The new language interests alone could weaken their control. And the new nationalism meant countries didn’t want to send money to Italy for any reason. There was a French Pope and he lived in France. When he returned to Rome, the French actually elected another pope. Now we had two, at least until the Council of Constance. This time was known as the papal schism.

And still we see evidence of the faithful. This is the period that will give rise to the Reformation. This environment produced Francis of Assisi, Peter Waldo, Thomas a Kempis, John Wiclif and John Hus. It cannot be said that this period was completely void of spirituality.

John WycliffEnter John Wiclif. (This is the spelling used by Weinlick.) Wiclif was born in Yorkshire, trained in Oxford. He was a priest and a professor. Weinlick used the words radical and upsetting to describe Wiclif’s work. What he did:

  • rejected doctrine of transubstantionation
  • emphasized predestination. He did believe the church represented the elect.
  • stressed that Christ is the head of the church – not the pope. The church may have an earthly leader but not one that is scraping to get his hands on any piece of wealth on the globe
  • believed that priests were servants
  • thought of the Bible as the only law

Wiclif translated the Bible into English during the 1380s. There is some dispute as to how much he actually translated. He may have done the NT and a colleague the Old. It had a wide circulation even without a printing press. Wiclif was spared persecution. He was apparently a tad too early for that. He obviously stayed in trouble with the church, but had some powerful political friends like John of Gaunt. He was popular with the people who liked his message for what must have been a variety of reasons.

Wycliffe sends out LollardsDuring this time, priests (nicknames Lollards) went out two by two as itinerant preachers. They taught in the local languages to anyone who would listen anywhere they would listen. this movement continued until 1401 when Lollards were burned at the stake. While this put a stop to the movement at large, it did continue in smaller and less obvious ways.

Wiclif wasn’t left to rest in his grave. The Council of Constance condemned his teachings and Pope Martin V had his bones burned and throne into a stream.

Chapter 2 – John Hus, The Martyr of Bohemia

The Moravian Church Through the Ages

This book was written in 1966, and it’s by John R. Weinlick.  Looks like a church study course book with questions at the end of each chapter. I was hoping, because of it’s age, that it would be available on Google Books. It had rated a page but that is even of an updated edition and there is nothing on the book there. No cover, not table of contents, no reviews.

So, I’m thinking of blogging my way through this book – well, if grad school doesn’t get in the way. I still have several papers to write for one class.

The Table of Contents

PART I – The Bohemian Brethren

1. The Late Medieval World

2. John Hus, the Martyr of Bohemia

3. The Aftermath

4. The Founding of the Unitas Fratrum

5. Life and Character of the Old Unitas Fratrum

6. John Amos Comenius

PART II – The Renewed Moravian Church

7. The Renewal of the Unitas Fratrum

8. Herrnhut, Mother Community of the Moravian church

9. The Moravian Diaspora

10. Into All the World

11. The Moravian Church in America

12. The Moravian Heritage

Did God Create the USA?

Excellent post by Cranmer today by the same title. Actually mosts of his posts are absolutely wonderful, so check him out. Yesterday, he had one on the rise of Jewish attacks in the UK.

Today, he addresses an article in the Guardian about how the religous right would like to be involved in textbook selection/content.

It is one thing to have a constitutional separation of Church and State, but quite another to interpret this as a requirement for the eradication of every expression of Christianity from the public realm. The United States is searching for its via media: one which accommodates ‘In God We Trust’ and the liturgical coronation of a president – with hand on Bible and ‘fundamentalist’ in the pulpit – while somehow purporting to remain ‘secular’ and ‘neutral’.

The drive to eradicate God and Christianity from the history of the United States is simply mirroring what is happening in the UK and the EU. . . .

He continues later with:

. . .  Understanding one’s traditions and culture demands a grasp of their history, and this must include a fair assessment of the role of religion. If this is not to be part of a school curriculum, then that curriculum is corrupted by omission because children are deprived a means of making sense of the modern world.

Excellent analysis.

Nazi Gnomes?

Obviously not part of my culture! I found out about them from an article in the Jerusalem Post. Nazi items are prohibited from display in Germany, but a gallery has put gold gnomes saluting Hitler in an exhibit.

So how many Nazi gnomes are there I wondered?

A few:

Is this the same one? I can’t quite tell. There appear to be a few differences, but the angle is slightly different.

Then from the completely bizarre, there was this book cover: