Thursday, January 19, 2012

Venner's Rising

"Charity is a fine thing and a fair," answered Sir Geoffrey; "but I must tell you, you do ill, dame, to wander about the country like a quacksalver, at the call of every old woman who has a colic-fit; and at this time of night especially, and when the land is so unsettled besides."
"I am sorry to hear that it so," said the lady. "I had heard no such news."
"News?" repeated Sir Geoffrey, "why, here has a new plot broken out among the Roundheads, worse than Venner's by a butt's length;[*] and who should be so deep in it as our old neighbour Bridgenorth? There is search for him everywhere; and I promise you if he is found, he is like to pay old scores."
[*] The celebrated insurrection of the Anabaptists and Fifth Monarchy
    men in London, in the year 1661.

A cooper named Thomas Venner, and the Fifth Monarchy Men, once attempted to overthrow Oliver Cromwell; in 1657.  Extreme religious sentiment is evident in England well after Cromwell, and the Civil Wars.  Scott’s “Peveril of the Peak”, from which the text above is taken, centers around the alleged Popist Plot of 1678, many years after Venner’s time.  Venner and his associates believed that Christ’s time to return to earth, the time of the Fifth Monarchy, was at hand.  Venner attempted a coup against Charles II, as well, which is what Scott’s text refers to.  Armed action began on January 1, 1661.  By the 4th, General Monck had suppressed the rebellion, and captured Venner.  Venner was executed, by being hanged, drawn and quartered, on January 19, 1661. 

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