Pirates in the Church of England

One of the churches – maybe Freshford – inspected during a sodden stroll around Bath the other day had been completely redecorated in pirate stylee, so that one almost expected to find Captain Morgan and His Magnificent Organ in the loft. Izabella Kaminska might spin this as an attempt to regulate Satanic forces which, in the Land of Arrr and other more or less hospitable parts of the globe, are invincible. But some nostalgia is surely in order for the early 16th century

John Batmanson, sometime Prior of Hinton Charterhouse… Of his varied life, with its strange combination of the religious and secular, almost nothing is known… In September a.d. 1509 a commission was issued to Sir Robert Drury, Sir Marmaduke Constable, and Dr. John Batmanson, as ambassadors to Scotland to take the oath of James IV., in confirmation of the lately renewed treaty between him and Henry VIII., for deciding the mutual disputes of the two countries by arbitration and not by war. Somewhat later Batmanson and John Sanchare sent home a notarial attestation of the Scotch king’s oath, which four years afterwards he broke in so treacherous a manner by entering England suddenly during the absence of his brother-inlaw in France. In a.d. 1509, also. Dr. Batmanson and his fore-mentioned colleagues were commissioners for the Marches of Scotland.t Later his name occurs in a rather unexpected connection for that of an ecclesiastic, although it was not unusual to employ the clergy in matters entirely foreign to their profession. In March a.d. 1514, and again the next year, a commission of Oyer and terminer for certain cases of piracy was issued to him in conjunction with the Earl of Surrey, the High Admiral, and Christopher Middylton, Bachelor of Law, commissary and deputy of the Earl. From that date for a few years no more is heard of him until he appears in the field of religious controversy. It may then be presumed that about that time he entered Hinton Charterhouse as postulant, there to devote his learning in writing books of devotion and theology. One hears of no regrets for the active life that he had left, so different in all ways from that henceforth to be passed in the “solitude,” but only that he was “assiduous in reading and in meditation of the Holy Scriptures,” and, in fact, proved an exemplary monk. His literary productions were not for the exclusive use of the community.

In March a.d. 1519 the New Testament of Erasmus with his annotations had been republished at Basle. His bitterest enemy, Edward Lee, persuaded Father Batmanson to write against the work. In May next year, Erasmus wrote to Fox, Bishop of Winchester, lamenting the controversy stirred up against him by Lee, the latter’s share in it being likely to damage his own reputation. “He has,” he continued, suborned a Carthusian of London, John Batmanson by name, I think, a young man as appears by his writings, altogether ignorant, but vain-glorious to madness.” The great writer was perhaps piqued by the insignificant monk, of whom elsewhere there were higher opinions; that he knew nothing about him is clear, for, besides his doubtful language concerning him, he supposes him to belong to the Charterhouse in Smithfield, — a very natural mistake, as that was the only community of the Order with which the foreign Reformer was likely to be acquainted. The Carthusian’s youth at that period was somewhat by-past also, if, as there seems little reason to doubt, he was indeed the same person as the above-mentioned commissioner. That he was unskilled in controversy is possible, but if he were so ignorant as Erasmus represented him, Lee would scarcely have singled him out to assist him. Soon after Dom Batmanson was writing against the errors of the more formidable German reformer. The king had begun to compose his book in support of the Pope in a.d. 1518; Luther’s treatise De Captivitate Babylonica reaching England in April a.d. 1521, had caused him to hasten the completion of his work, that appeared a few months later. Luther’s virulent answer, though calling forth no reply from Henry, who preferred to maintain a dignified silence, was not allowed to pass by some of his subjects. His vituperations against the English sovereign and those of the latter’s then opinions challenged loyalty to the monarch and fidelity to Catholicism alike. Sir Thomas More stooped to enter the lists against him, employing language unhappily as coarse and violent as his own. Whether Father Batmanson followed in More’s steps, or whether his book Against certain Writings of Martin Luther was a refutation of his errors generally rather than a personal attack on his opponent, is not discoverable from the title, which is all that is left of it.

(E. Margaret Thompson, A History of the Somerset Carthusians)

“Batmanfather” would be more accurate. Were the pirates on the River Frome?

I haven’t found a plan of the early modern priory, but the 1885-1891(?) map suggests that I’d be right to cut down the grove to the west of the main site and fill with fish its pond, which is fed by a generous spring on the higher ground slightly further to the west.

Are there any serious churches left?

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Published
Last updated 08/08/2014

Freshford (1): Freshford may refer to:

Golden Age of Piracy (1): The Golden Age of Piracy is a common designation given to usually one or more outbursts of piracy in the maritime history of the early modern period. The buccaneering period of approximately 1650 to 1680, characterized by Anglo-French seamen based on Jamaica and Tortuga attacking Spanish colonies and shipping in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific The Pirate Round of the 1690s, associated with long-distance voyages from the Americas to rob Muslim and East India Company targets in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea The post-Spanish Succession period extending from 1716 to 1726, when Anglo-American sailors and privateers, left unemployed by the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, turned en masse to piracy in the Caribbean, the North American eastern seaboard, the West African coast, and the Indian OceanNarrower definitions of the Golden Age sometimes exclude the first or second periods, but most include at least some portion of the third.

Hinton Charterhouse (1): Hinton Charterhouse is a small village and civil parish in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority, Somerset, England.

Hinton Priory (1): Hinton Priory was a Carthusian monastery in northeast Somerset, England, from 1232 until 1539.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (2): International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur and Mark Summers, of Albany, Oregon, U.S., who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.

Kaleboel (4313):

Norton St Philip (1): Norton St Philip is a village and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England.


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