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Monday, July 27, 2009

USS Constitution


One of the most popular features of the Reformation 500 were the Faith and Freedom Mini Tours. These took place all over Boston in various historic settings, and were led by speakers such as Paul Jehle, Marshall Foster and Scott Brown. We were able to hear Geoff Botkin and his son David speak about the USS Constitution, while standing 100 yards away from that famous ship!

The USS Constitution was commissioned by President George Washington, as one of a small fleet which would make up our fledgling country's navy. Without a navy, the United States did not have a world presence. We also didn't have any protection for American merchant vessels. These ships were special targets for British warships who would take men off our ships in order to fill their thinned ranks.

Barbary pirates also recognized us as prey, capturing ships and enslaving their crews. The USS Constitution, soon to be nicknamed "Old Ironsides", was intended along with several sister ships to combat these enemies. Built in the Boston shipyards, the Constitution was a frigate, and boasted forty-four guns, which was a heavy armament for a ship of that size.

A man by the name of Joshua Humphreys presented the plans for "Old Ironsides", along with her sister ships the "Constellation", and the "States". He created a special technique in which the hulls of these ships were strengthened, causing enemy shot of the same metal as her own to bounce off the Constitution's sides. Thus the nickname, "Old Ironsides".

The Constitution is the oldest war vessel still commissioned, and has a full complement of U.S. sailors. She has a very unique and glorious history. I would recommend listening to the fascinating lecture by Geoff Botkin and his son David, which is included in the Reformation 500 Celebration Audio.

Upon coming home from the conference I remembered that I had a small book about the Constitution on my bookshelf, entitled Old Ironsides. It's by James Fenimore Cooper, (author of Last of the Mohicans), and I would recommend this book if you are interested in further study.



~John

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quotes

Here are some quotes that I found by and about William the Silent. For more information on him, read the previous post.

"...every time he put off his hat, he won a subject from the King of Spain." William the Silent by Frederic Harrison p. 231
"I have come to make my grave in this land." William as he led his army into the Netherlands, 1572-C.V Wedgwood, William the Silent
I will maintain. Motto
My God, have mercy on my soul and on these poor people. William the Silent's last words.

~John

Saturday, July 18, 2009

William the Silent


At the Reformation 500, I had the privilege of reenacting William I, Prince of Orange, who is also known as William the Silent. He fought against the Spanish in the War for Dutch Independence, and ultimately gave the Netherlands their freedom from Spanish and Roman Catholic tyranny. Having done a fair amount of research on him in preparation of my part, I wanted to give a brief overview of his life.

William the Silent was born in 1533, and was the oldest son of thirteen children. His father was also named William, and was the count of Nassau, a small Germanic state. After his father's death, William the Silent would also add Nassau to his long list of titles.

When William was eleven, his cousin Rene, the Prince of Orange, died upon the battlefield, and left the young boy his titles and estates. However, there was one condition. Up until this time he had been trained as a Protestant, but now in order to become the Prince of Orange he must be trained as a Roman Catholic. His parents agreed, and the lad was sent to the court of the Regent of the Netherlands to be educated.

Here the young Prince of Orange (which by the way is a small country), learned to speak fluently five languages, and was trained in the Roman Catholic Religion. He became the page of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and was accepted as a close confidant by this Protestant-hating ruler.

At the age of eighteen William entered the wars, and fought for many years against the French in the Hapsburg-Valois conflicts. He was a successful warrior, and became a general at twenty-three. Although he was not converted from Roman Catholicism to Christianity until his thirties, he was protecting the Reformed much earlier in his life. His name, William the Silent, is derived from an occasion in which by his silence he discovered a plot which would have exterminated the Huguenots in France and the Netherlands.

While William's early years were spent fighting with the Spanish, most of his life he fought against them. When King Phillip II of Spain began to disregard the rights and privileges of his people in the Netherlands, William urged them to rescind their allegiance to the king. This was a proper method of interposition, because of written documents signed by the king and the people, declaring that if the king violated the people's rights, they no longer owed him their allegiance.

King Phillip didn't take kindly to this interference. He also wanted the extermination of the Reformed in the Netherlands. Therefore, he began bloody trials and executions of all suspected of Reformed leanings in the Netherlands. The "Blood Council" was instituted, and an accusation of Reformed faith, whether true or false, was all that was needed to bring about a citizen's death.

William hired several armies of mercenaries to fight against the Spanish troops stationed in the Netherlands. These were defeated, but William was not finished. The next several decades became a Dutch bloodbath as the people, headed by a desperate band of men called the "Sea Beggars", rose up against Spanish tyranny. Through reverses and victories, triumphs and defeats, William of Orange stayed true to the people of the Netherlands.

The Dutch finally secured independence, but not until more people than any other country in Europe had been hung, burned, tortured and drowned for their faith and resistance. What about William? He was loved deeply by his people, and lived as their respected governor until a French Catholic named Balthasar Gerard assassinated him with a pistol.

William had 14 children, and four wives (at different times, of course). He was a man who showed devotion to God, and who stuck with the Dutch people through everything. He was persevering, diligent, and a splendid warrior. He was courteous and kind to all. As you can imagine, it was both great fun, and a great trepidation, to reenact such a man.

~John


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Reformation 500

Wow! We have returned from beautiful Boston, where we spent the first week of July celebrating and learning about our Reformation heritage. This year being the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth, Vision Forum hosted a huge celebration called The Reformation 500.

You might be wondering why the event was held in Boston. This beautiful city was chosen because of the great amount of American history which took place there. What does this have to do with the Reformation and John Calvin? A lot!

Without John Calvin, America would not be the same. His clear expounding of the Christian religion, of family, law, and freedom was used by our founding fathers in their fight against English tyranny. As Christians, we have an amazing heritage. For centuries, our ancestors and spiritual fathers were persecuted, tortured, burned, hanged, and drowned for their rejection of the Roman Catholic church. We now have freedom, but only because those who came before fought, both in prayer and with weapons for this freedom.

In England, France, the Germanic states, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and basically all over Europe, the Roman Catholic church was the recognized state religion. And then, something happened. Courageous men and women arose, and showed the abuses of the church. Bold Bible translators such as William Tyndale enabled the common man to read God's Word, and to see the wrong practices of the Roman Catholic church.

However, Catholics didn't take kindly to this rejection of their teachings. Bloody persecutions, in some cases exterminations, were practiced, and yet the "new learning" grew. This new learning, as it was termed at first, what we now know as the Reformation, was actually going back to old principles, established through God's Word before the Roman Catholic church twisted and perverted the Christian religion.

Over the next weeks, I will be posting pictures and writing about both the Reformation 500 event and the Reformation itself. To view tons of beautiful pictures, visit Mr. Phillip's blog. You may see some pictures of reformers who showed up for the event, such as the two below.