Read History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland by William Cobbett Free Online
Book Title: History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland|
The author of the book: William Cobbett
Edition: TAN Books
Date of issue: June 1st 2015
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Format files: PDF
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“I have in this undertaking had no motive, I can have no motive, but a sincere and distinterested love of truth and justice. It is not for the rich and the powerful of my countrymen that I have spoken; but the poor, the persecuted, the proscribed. “
Cobbett was a farm boy who educated himself to become a very prolific writer always pointing out the injustice to the poor. His better known Rural Rides is above all concerned with this and Cobbett’s passionate analysis of the causes. This book is the same and tells us far more about Cobbett’s own time than the period of the Reformation.
He was writing at a time when Catholicism for nearly three hundred years had been demonised and the greatness of England had been defined in opposition to it. This interpretation of history is still around. Cobbett blows it to pieces. He is completely uninterested in the spirituality, theology or aesthetics of Catholicism. He sees ithe condemnation of Catholicism as a smoke screen to justify the ruling class exploiting the poor, especially in Ireland.
But for Cobbett things are in black or white. If Catholicism is not demonic it must be all that is good. It is refreshing to find someone completely unmoved by romantic or religious considerations exposing protestant hypocrisy. But in his pugnacious polemic he completely underestimates what must have been the considerable misery of a medieval peasant. As an exposer of unfair power, he glosses over Charles I’s rule without parliament. Cobbett’s chief contempt is reserved for Elizabeth I, in which I suspect a large proportion of sexism. She was certainly hard nosed and many Catholics suffered under her, but all the evidence is she exerted considerable charisma. She does not deserve Cobbett’s repeated condemnations such as:
“Elizabeth was as great a tyrant as ever lived, she was the most cruel of women, her disgusting amours were notorious.”
I lost count of how many people or events were the worst known to history. Cobbett doesn’t know when to leave alone.
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