christendom, Henry VIII, Holy Roman Emperor, Holy Roman Empire, Imperial History, Martin Luther, Protestants, William of Ockham
Nationalism is a threat to the International Good, a subversion of true Patriotism. Its fruits are self-evident; endless war, tyrannical Statism, the Annihilation of Nations, and violent Racism. Yet despite these plainly visible effects, we live today in a Nationalistic world. Without a comprehensive International System or indeed Worldview, Civilization will kill itself, and yet that is exactly what is happening. The question is not when will it happen, the question is why is it happening now?
Nationalism was the driving force behind the Protestant Revolt, and with good reason. If the National-State is the supreme and highest form of Government, then a Supra-National Church is a threat to it. Conversely if one’s own conscience is the supreme and highest religious authority, then an International System based on God-Given Authority is a threat. The revolutionary Martin Luther knew this well, and in his Address to the Christian Nobility, he attacked the very institution of the Holy Roman Empire by attacking the Pope’s ability to confer authority and thus the Emperor’s authority to receive it, appealing instead to a “German Nation” which had never even existed.
Yet the theories of a single rebel monk would not in themselves have been enough to cause the Schism of the Nations of Christendom. Rather one must look to the theories of one of Luther’ predecessors, William of Ockham, and also those of one of his bitterest opponents, Henry VIII of England.
William of Ockham held that an emperor had temporal and even some spiritual power over the Pope, in direct contradiction to the established teaching of Christendom. He rejected the Common Good as the basis of governance, and instead taught that the people had the right to order government each in his own interest.
Nearly two centuries after the death of the heretic William of Ockham, Henry VIII King of England, began his break with Rome. The English King was most definitely theologically against Lutheranism, yet politically his views are that of William of Ockham and Luther. And as Royal Authority did not in those times legitimize absolute National Authority (the Kings then only being thought of as the viceroys and lieutenants of the Emperor), Henry passed the 1533 Act in Restraint of Appeals, declaring England an Empire outside of the Holy Empire of Christendom, and in his own eyes legitimizing his schism with the Authority of the Roman Church, stating:
Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience: he being also institute and furnished, by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God, with plenary, whole, and entire power, pre-eminence, authority
Thus it was that the Nations of Christendom first rejected both the Spiritual Authority of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and also the Temporal Authority of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Roman Empire, and Nation-State after Nation-State followed England into schism. The Nations have rejected the Authority of an international system ordered towards their own Common Good and protection, and have found that their own authority is rejected. Either Anarchistic Nationalism or Cosmopolitan Statism will flourish and destroy our Civilization until we return to One, Holy, Catholic, and Roman Empire, neither confounding the Nations nor dividing them.
For further study please read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Diuturnum Illud.
Pingback: The Death of Civilization Part II | The War for Christendom