Tag Archives: Religion

On this day in 1557 – Sir John Cheke died

Sir John Cheke was born on 16th June 1514 to Peter Cheke and he was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge where he became a fellow in 1529, whilst at Cambridge Cheke adopted the principal beliefs of the Reformation. His learning and reputation earned him the chair of Greek in 1540. Amongst his pupils were William Cecil, who later married Cheke’s sister, and Roger Ascham, who later in The Scholemaster praised Cheke.

On 10th July 1544 Cheke was appointed as tutor to the future King, Edward. He was appointed to teach him ‘of toungues, of the scripture, of philosophie and all liberal sciences.’ Cheke continued in this position after Edward’s ascension to the throne.

Cheke was active in his public life; he was the Member of Parliament for Bletchingley in 1547 and 1552-53. In 1548 he was made provost of King’s College, Cambridge and was a commissioner that visited that the college along with the University of Oxford and Eton College and he was appointed alongside seven divines to draw a body of laws for the governance of the church.

On 11th October 1551 Cheke was knighted and in June 1553 he was appointed as one of the secretaries of state and joined the Privy Council.

Following the death of King Edward VI, Cheke followed the Duke of Norfolk in backing Lady Jane Grey and was appointed to the office of Secretary of State during her nine days as Queen. When Queen Mary I took the throne she placed Cheke in the Tower of London and confiscated all his property. He was released on 3rd September 1554 and was given permission to travel abroad where he first visited Basel before moving onto Italy and then finally settled in Strasbourg where he taught Greek.

In 1556 Cheke travelled to Brussels to visit his wife but on the return journey between Brussels and Antwerp he was arrested with Sir Peter Carew on the orders of King Philip II and taken back to England where he was sent to the Tower of London. Whilst imprisoned in the Tower he was visited by two priests and Dr John Feckenham, dean of St Paul’s, Cheke had attempted to convert them to Protestantism and now in prison he feared being burned at the stake and so in an attempt to be saved he converted to Catholicism. On 15th July Cheke wrote a letter from the Tower regarding his belief in Catholicism in the hope that he would be spared making a public recantation. Cheke also wrote to the Queen in which he declared that he was willing to obey the law regarding religion.

Cheke was forced to make a public recantation on 4th October after a further two months in the Tower. He was made to read the longer form of recantation in front of the court and agreed to perform whatever penances the legate wished to pass. With all the humiliating recantations out of the way he was finally released from the Tower and was allowed to regain his lands that he was earlier forced to give up.

Ashamed of abandoning his faith Cheke died on 13th September 1557 in London at the home of Peter Osborne, friend and remembrancer of the exchequer. He was buried in the north chapel of St Alban’s where a momument was built in his memory.

Sir John ChekeSir John Cheke

On this day in 1590 – Pope Sixtus V died

Pope Sixtus V was born 13th December 1521 as Felice Peretti di Montalto at Grottammare. His parents were Pier Gentile and Marianna da Frontillo, they were a poor family. At an early age Felice entered a Franciscan friary at Montalto where he demonstrated the ability as a preacher and dialectician, a fable surrounds Felice as a young friar – it was said that Nostradamus approached Felice and he knelt in front of him and kissed the friar’s robes exclaiming that he was kissing the robe of a future pope!

In 1552 Felice was noticed by Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi, the protector of the Franciscan order, Cardinal Ghislieri, the future Pope Pius V and Cardinal Caraffa, the future Pope Paul IV. With those three Cardinal’s backing him Felice began to advance. He was sent to Venice as inquisitor general but he was recalled in 1560 as his conduct was too severe and arguments broke out regarding his behaviour.

After spending a short time as procurator of his order Felice in 1560 was attached to the Spanish legation that was being led by Cardinal Boncampagni, the future Pope Gregory XIII, they were sent to investigate claims of heresy against the Archbishop of Toledo, Bartolomé Carranza. Felice disliked Boncampagni and soon returned to Rome when Cardinal Ghislieri ascended to Pope Pius V. During the reign of Pope Pius V Felice was made an apostolic vicar of his order and then in 1570 a Cardinal. He took the name Cardinal Montalto.

Upon the death of Pope Pius V and the reign of Pope Gregory XIII whom Montalto disliked, Montalto lived in enforced retirement at his home the Villa Montalto that was originally built by Domenico Fontana and overlooked the Baths of Diocletian.

Pope Gregory’s reign ended in 1585 when conclave began to seek a new Pope, it is believed that Montalto was selected due to his physical vigour as the other Cardinal’s believed that it would lead to a long pontificate. Pope Gregory had left the ecclesiastical states in a bad way and Montalto who had chosen to become Pope Sixtus V became to correct the mess that had been left to him. He began by bringing thousands of brigands (highway robbers and plunderers) to justice bringing peace to his country. Sixtus also ordered the executions of anyone who had broken their vow of chastity.

Sixtus also set about restoring the finances of the church by selling offices and levying new taxes, he quickly built a surplus which he banked for emergencies such as a crusade or the defence of the Holy See. Sixtus also spent a large amount of money improving the country which included bringing water to the Acqua Felice hills, laying out new arteries in Rome which would connect the basilicas, he even made plans to replan the Colosseum as a silk spinning factory, plans that did not come to fruitation.

Pope Sixtus V completed the dome of St. Peter’s, restoration of the aqueduct of Septimius Severus and the placing of four obelisks including one in Saint Peter’s Square amongst many other projects. Sixtus also restricted the Catholic Church by limited the College of Cardinals to just 70 but he did double the number of congregations.

Pope Sixtus renewed the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I but at the same time mistrusted King Philip II of Spain. By renewing Elizabeth’s excommunication he granted Spain a large subsidy that would go towards the Armada, but only when they landed on English soil, saving the Papacy a fortune. In the events that the Spanish did land in England Sixtus had Cardinal Allen prepare ‘An Admonition to the Nobility and Laity of England’ that would be published and distributed across England.

Pope Sixtus V died on 27th August 1590

SixtusPope Sixtus V