Sunday, February 14, 2016
Along with millions of other Americans, tonight I'll be staying awake to watch PBS' Downton Abbey, now in its final season. Why is it called an Abbey when it is obviously the home of very wealthy people with a lot of servants? Maybe PBS explained it with a sentence, and I missed it. I certainly missed it in school, or ignored it, after all, what did it matter to me if King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife, split with Rome, started a new church and then stole all the land in England owned by Catholics? The King gave the land to those who supported him. People who didn't get along with the hierarchy in the new church became those who settled in the U.S. They were the descendants of that church whether Church of England or Methodists or Baptists.
"In that [16th] century, land was the primary source of wealth and political power. At the dawn of that century, the Church, through its cathedrals, parishes, hospitals, colleges, monasteries, and other embodiments, owned perhaps one-third of the acreage in England, more even than the Crown. Much of the Church’s income was used for aid to the needy, care of the sick, help for travelers, provision against poor harvest, and education."