On March 21, 1681, King Charles II appeared before the British House of Lords to deliver a speech regarding allegations of a Catholic plot against him, which had enveloped England in yet another storm of religious furor. An Anglican clergyman named Titus Oates had initially brought the charges of this Popish Plot forward, accusing at least 81 Jesuits or Jesuit sympathizers of having knowledge of or involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Charles and install his Catholic brother, James. In his address to the Lords, Charles attempted to assure them that the crown would remain in Protestant hands: . . . to remove all reasonable Fears that may arise from the Possibility of a Popish Successor coming to the crown, if Means can be found that in such a Case the Administration of the Government may remain in Protestant Hands, I shall be ready to hearken to any such Expedient, by which the Religion might be preserved, and the Monarchy not destroyed. (House)
As the king's speech and other parliamentary documentsnot to mention diaries, pamphlets, broadsheets, newspaper editorials, sermons, marches, rallies, and other forms of political and religious speechshow, there was a great deal of tension and fear in regards to the monarchy and the religious practices of the man or woman who held English religious laws in the palm of his or her hand. Such a tension was, to an extent, nothing new: since the time of Henry VIII a century and a half earlier, England's official religion had switched numerous times between Protestantism and Catholicism, with severe punishments for those who refused to follow the religious lead of the throne.
[...] The History of King Lear. By Nahum Tate. Ed. James Black. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1975. Print. “The Catholick gamesters, or, A dubble match of bowleing with an account of a sharp conference held on the eve of St. Jago between His Holiness and the Mahometan dons in St. Katherines Bastile ... : to the tune of The plot in the meal-tub, or, Tan-ta-ra-ra-ra make shift.” By-Stander 14 Feb 1680. Early English Books Online.
[...] Thy bright example shall convince the world (Whatever storms of fortune are decreed) That truth and [vertue] shall at last succeed. (5.6.154-159) Both deliveries are equally important, however, as they provide an understanding of how Tate, a staunch Royalist, might prefer to see the monarchy exercise its power—with a firm grip, as Cordelia notes that “you never-erring gods / Fight on his side,” but also benevolently, where “Peace spreads her balmy wings, and Plenty blooms.” In addition, they both invoke a Christian doctrine, which believes that God plays an active, intercessory role in human affairs. [...]
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