Erratum: Not Edward IV but Edward VI
In 1534, Henry the Eighth declared the Act of Supremacy, marking England's break from the Roman Catholic Church. As the head of the Church of England, now he could divorce his first queen and marry Anne Boleyn. This is the beginning of the English Reformation and also that of anti-Catholic sentiment in England, which persists even today.
Today in class, we talked about how Henry's intense desire to produce a male heir--this is not to say Henry was above his skirt-chasing instinct--drove him to six tumultuous--well, to say the least--marriages and issued the last three Tudor monarchs.
The short-lived boy king, Edward the Sixth, was overruled by his powerful uncles, who proceeded to persecute English Catholics. His older half-sister Mary the First earned notoriety by burning more than 3000 English Protestants, which drove many English Protestants away from their mother country and these religious runaways are called the Marian exiles. Seeking religious freedom, these Protestant believers went to France, the Low Countries (meaning the Netherlands), and even the unknown continent called America. Until Elizabeth the First implemented more moderate and diplomatic religious policies, the English suffered in the name of religious piety. Regrettably, we are all too familiar with this irony that the religion of love and grace has exacted too much blood and suffering in England as well as elsewhere.
As an Anglican priest, Jonathan Swift must have been all too familiar with the exhaustive religious debates of his time. As an Anglo-Irish man, he also must have been acutely aware of the relativity of one's experience and perspective.
Now, let's home in on Gulliver's Travels. Writing about the Big-endian exiles in Blefuscu, what do you think Swift satirizes? Why do you think Gulliver himself becomes an exile from Lilliput and seeks a refuge in Blefuscu?