The Rebellion of a King

“The Reformation was a rebellion of the rich against the poor.”

G.K. Chesterton.


The following lines below are taken from the poem Paradise Regained by John Milton. After reading more on the English Reformation I think these words written by John Milton, had they have been written about 150 years beforehand, might have caused King Henry VIII to think twice about his plans for rebellion against Roman Catholicism. This excerpt of Milton’s work is, as I see it, best addressed to King Henry VIII who is known to have admitted that by his own new religious laws promoting and enforcing the use of vernacular English in place of Latin, people had fallen into a subjective and personal interpretation of holy scripture, which is something St. Thomas More warned against. At the very end of his reign King Henry lamented: “How irreverently that most precious jewel, the word of God is disputed, rhymed, sung and jangled in every alehouse and tavern.”


“When on his shoulders each man’s burden lies;
For therein stands the office of a king,
His honour, virtue, merit, and chief praise,
That for the public all this weight he bears.
Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king—
Which every wise and virtuous man attains;
And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
Cities of men, or headstrong multitudes,
Subject himself to anarchy within,
Or lawless passions in him, which he serves.
But to guide nations in the way of truth
By saving doctrine, and from error lead
To know, and, knowing, worship God aright,
Is yet more kingly. This attracts the soul,
Governs the inner man, the nobler part;
That other o’er the body only reigns,
And oft by force-which to a generous mind
So reigning can be no sincere delight.
Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
Far more magnanimous, than to assume.
Riches are needless, then, both for themselves,
And for thy reason why they should be sought—
To gain a sceptre, oftest better miss’t.”




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