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55. Imperialism against the Holy Empire

Emperor Charles V of Habsburg had inherited the immense territories of the Kingdom of Spain, as well as the not inconsiderable fiefdoms of the House of Austria and Burgundy. The territories of the Kingdom of Spain included the new Spanish conquests in the two Americas1. In 1519 he was elected Emperor, crowned King of Germany and then King of Italy, thus becoming the legitimate ruler of the entire Catholic world2. The Holy Roman Empire still nominally included France and England; for this reason also Francis I of France and Henry VIII Tudor, presented their candidature for the Imperial election3. Charles V, bred in Burgundy to the most rigorous principles of the Catholic religion, grew up following the example of justice and knightly loyalty. Elected Emperor, he decided to restore the Holy Roman Empire according to the ideals of his medieval predecessors4. This time the Papacy, in the midst of a moral crisis and in difficulty after the emergence of new heresies, no longer stood in the way of the project; on the contrary, it found in the Empire its natural protector, finally recognising its traditional function opportunistically5.

Times had changed, however. The feudal structure no longer responded to the principles of loyalty and chivalry and the most powerful feudal lords looked with envy at the Kings of France and England who had taken so much freedom from the Empire. Every prince of Germany dreamed of obtaining autonomy, if not real independence from the Empire. The unity of the Empire was guaranteed by the homogeneity of the Catholic religion and complementarity with the Church of Rome. This medieval ecumene, despite the papal conspiracy to take temporal power from the emperors, had always, at least formally, been maintained. In order to implement the project of a German nation state it was therefore necessary to break up the unity of the Empire and religion at the same time6. As has already been clearly demonstrated, the great German feudal lords unscrupulously used Luther’s subversive action; once they had achieved this, they set the rebel monk aside during his last years of life. Luther too, with great opportunism, betrayed the peasants’ revolt in order to side with the forces of repression. Lutheranism thus became the ideology of German nationalism, like Calvinism for the Dutch and Anglicanism for the English. In this way the barbarian peoples definitively separated from Rome.

* * *

The Tudor dynasty installed itself on the throne of England following the conclusion of the great slaughter of royal and aristocratic families during the War of the Two Roses. Henry VII (1457-1509), encamping rights to the throne for a certain maternal lineage and thanks to a marriage of convenience, declared that he had unified the Two Roses; he even claimed to be a direct descendant of King Arthur. He went down in history for his fight against the ancient aristocracy, which he began to replace by ennobling some bourgeois7 and for having institutionalised the Royal Navy8. His successor has already been discussed on these pages. Henry VIII, had carefully observed the Protestant phenomenon that was beginning to shatter the unity of Europe. He clearly understood that this secular religiosity was a cover for the new German nationalistic spirit. The secularisation produced by the Reformation promoted total independence from the papacy9 and the nationalistic spirit aimed at the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a matter of separating itself from what remained of the ‘two Suns’ of the Christian Middle Ages.

Apart from his immediate lascivious intents, Henry VIII called Anglicanism his heresy to indissolubly unite the new pseudo religion with English nationalism: thus, those who were not Anglican automatically appeared to be anti-English. On the death of the sovereign he was succeeded by his legitimate daughter Maria I Tudor, whom the Protestant propaganda manoeuvred by Elizabeth I called and still calls Bloody Mary (1516-1558)10. On the premature death of Mary I, the throne of England, Wales and Ireland passed to Elizabeth I. The validity of this succession is weighed down by the fact that Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate daughter not only by the Pope, but also by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer11. It was the Anglican parliament that imposed Elisabeth as Queen, in omission of the laws of succession.

Elisabeth immediately demonstrated a despotic nature and an unscrupulous mind, capable of any cunning. She restored the Anglican “church”, giving herself new powers of control over her “religion”. Aware of the inferiority of the English navy in comparison with the powerful Spanish imperial fleet12, she hired pirates to exhaust her continental enemies. She invented the institution of the rush war, with which the sea-thieves could freely strike the ships of rival countries, having the privilege of taking refuge in her ports in exchange for a large percentage of the loot. Obviously, when they succumbed in the clashes, the crown did not recognize the corsairs as English mercenaries. Some of them, at the end of their careers, were officially integrated into the English navy as admirals and ennobled, as happened to Francis Drake, Henry Morgan and to Walter Raleigh, the unfortunate imitator of the Spanish conquistadores13; the latter was also one of the many lovers of the “virgin” Queen.

The masterpiece of the Elizabethan reform was the foundation of the secret services, the Intelligence, to which Francis Bacon, one of the creators of the hermetic-qabbalistic legend about Elizabeth14, put all his cleverness. Until that moment the states were equipped with information services along the lines of those used by Rome since the Republican era15. Elizabeth structured her intelligence in such a way as to infiltrate internal16 and foreign centres of power on a permanent basis. The apparatus, vast and very expensive, operated through corruption, slander, political assassination, blackmail, incitement to rebellion, propaganda as an instrument for changing the common mentality. The organisation at home was lean and efficient and the Bacon brothers also founded a secret archive17.

The propagation environment chosen for this legalised criminal organisation was precisely the pseudo-initiatic convents of hermetic-qabbalistic magic matrix18 that were spreading throughout Europe, including Turkey. Aware of her military weakness, the Queen and her government needed peace to put in motion their plan to secretly corrode rival states from within. The peace plan was not entirely successful, both at home and abroad, but it was enough to prepare the imperialist ideology that became successful later in the 19th century. The Empire was a sacred concept, of Roman descent and identified with Christianity. All Christians identified the temporal and sacred authority in the Emperor, who, by successive delegations, guaranteed the freedom and security of all their subjects. Although the papacy had continually hindered the implementation of that ideal for earthly ambitions, the Empire had nevertheless guaranteed its continuity and the recognition of spiritual authority. Imperialism, on the contrary, is the ideology of a single nation that tends to subjugate the others through war, economy, trade, finance. The imperialist nation, in this case England or Great Britain, subjugates other nations by turning them into colonies and their citizens into second-class subjects. The Empire of Charles V, and later the Imperial Spain of Philip II, acknowledged the total autonomy of the newly conquered kingdoms, which were united under the same Crown. The subjects of each kingdom had guaranteed the same rights as the subjects in Europe under the laws of Burgos (1512), Valladolid (1513) and Valladolid (1551). Moreover, the administrators that Spain sent to the New World, at the end of their term of office, were obliged to undergo a trial, the Juicio de residencia, in which they had to justify their choices. Historically, there have been a number of convictions; however, although abuses were committed, it seems to us that the current corrupt democratic regime system, to which nowadays almost the whole world is subjected to, has no right to criticize the past. 19. Imperialism is therefore a doctrine of exploitation, and is only a caricature of an Empire.

As is known from the previous studies, Renaissance Christian hermeticism and qabbalah were completely devoid of any initiatory transmission. However, they provided the occultist with a complex and often contradictory apparatus of symbols, allegories and legends. To receive a proper education, the German, French, Spanish and Dutch humanists went to Italy, to the various hermetic Academies. This did not happen during the English Renaissance, because when this interest emerged the Renaissance fashion in Italy was in full decline. Therefore, the legend created by the propagandists of the Elizabethan regime scarcely referred to the memory of Greek-Roman classicism. It was therefore necessary to draw inspiration from Celtic sagas. The demons that the Elizabethan hermetists evoked were no longer the resurrected Olympic Gods, but goblins, ghosts, fairies, elves and witches, in a pre-Ossianic climate.

Elizabeth herself, although sometimes classically referred to as Astræa20, was referred to the people as the Fairy Queen21, wrapped in a halo of mystery and magic22. The Queen, head of the Anglican church, appeared at the same time as a phantasmatic presence, symbol of a renewal of the whole world. Evil was therefore in the other ban, represented by the Pope, the Empire and the Kingdom of Spain23. The English parody stood against the Western tradition, protecting and plotting together with the Lutheran and Calvinist principles of the continent. At the same time the Christian qabbalah24 painted Elizabeth as a new Judith, ready to behead Holofernes, the Catholicism. The peoples of the British Isles themselves, although in constant struggle between each other, were identified with the ten lost tribes of Israel25.

The ideologist of the magical esotericism of the Elizabethan regime was John Dee (1527-1608), preceptor of the first Earl of Leicester. A careful reader of Llull, Ficino, Pico, Reuchlin and Zorzi, he was particularly attracted by Agrippa’s De occulta Philosophia. He did not develop an original thought, but adapted Agrippa’s hermetic-qabbalistic magic to the environment that was forming around Elizabeth I, fueling the arcane legend that was being built on the Queen. Dee can really be defined as the inspirer of the new Anglican imperialist mysticism. Although his influence at court was truly enormous, some members of his secret circle began to distance themselves from him. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) certainly managed to understand what John Dee’s true personality was: his Doctor Faustus is clearly a portrait of Dee, whose disturbing witchcraft and evocative tendencies he displayed. Similarly, his The Jew of Malta is a courageous denunciation of the magic that was hidden behind the facade of the Christian qabbalah26. There is no doubt that Marlowe’s tragic death was piloted by the Elizabethan secret services to silence him for good.

From 1583 to 1589 John Dee went to the German territories of the Empire to carry out a secret mission with Edward Kelley, a blower and ghost-shooter medium. The occultist couple sowed the seeds of a Protestant alliance between hermetic-qabbalistic secret societies led by the British kingdom. They even managed to make contact with Emperor Rudolph II, an alchemy enthusiast. However, the Emperor always remained cautiously suspicious of them. The mission at the time seemed to have failed27 and Dee, having returned to England, fell into disgrace. The Queen abandoned him and he died forgotten and in misery. However, the poisonous seed had been shed, as will be read in the next chapter.

Maria Chiara de’ Fenzi

  1. Overseas territories had been repeatedly declared metropolitan territory, with the guarantee of Spanish citizenship for all, including indigenous people. For this reason, it is totally incorrect to define these territories as colonies, as did England’s propaganda which was the first real European colonialist state. Right up to the present day, England has continued to refer the countries that it had enslaved to it Colonies or Dominions.[]
  2. We remind the reader that at that date the Lutheran, Calvinist and Anglican heresies, which later shattered the Catholic world, had not yet appeared.[]
  3. Henry VIII withdrew his candidature. Instead Francis I of France suffered electoral defeat, brooding until his death a morbid animosity towards the Emperor Charles and, as a consequence, for everything that was Imperial. It should be added, however, that, since the end of Middle Ages, the affiliation of France and England to Empire was purely formal. Whenever each sovereign saw the opportunity of some personal gain, they would declared themselves part of the Empire, as in the case just mentioned; otherwise they considered themselves completely autonomous and independent. In any case, the moral prestige of the Imperial title still remained unchanged and it was universally respected.[]
  4. While the Holy Roman Empire still had an immense spiritual prestige, it is however necessary to point out that due the destruction of the Order of the Temple, it only remained only as an exoteric institution. If by chance, the post-medieval Emperors received some sporadic initiation, this was given to them in a completely personal capacity.[]
  5. However, one must distinguish the treacherous behaviour of the elected popes of the Medici faction from all the others. In fact, the former were advocates of the change of mentality during the Renaissance, and, more or less secretly, they favoured the policy of the King of France. The other popes, on the other hand, expressed a real contiguity to the imperial ideals of Charles V. As will be seen, the latter became the object of ruthless anti-Catholic criticism which still today depicts them as corrupt (Claudio Rendina, The Popes. History and Secrets, Rome, Newton Compton, 1987, p. 602-603). The only source of this defamation, in particular against the Borgia family, was the Liber notarum of Canon Johannes Burckhardt (1450-1506), thief, moneylender and head of the German community in the city. He also made use of the gossip passed on to him by his companion, the pornographer Stefano Infessura.  The preposterous annotations of the Liber pleased enormously all the future Protestant sects who used it for their anti-Catholic propaganda. This malignant fabrication is stupidly accepted and still transmitted today by Catholic historians and even by parts of the Vatican high hierarchy.[]
  6. To tell the truth, more than five hundred German princes succeeded in their project of detaching themselves from the Empire, but they had to wait until 1871 to have a united Germanic nation.[]
  7. Among them there were the Buckinghams, the Burtleys and Crommwells and other rich merchants who, following the example of the Medici of Florence, leapt from nothing into the limelight of history.[]
  8. At the end of his life, the English fleet consisted of about fifty ships. At that time, it was a completely insignificant number. Back then the Venetian, Turkish, Portuguese and Genoese fleets were composed of hundreds of ships. In Venice a galley was built, equipped and armed in twenty-four hours. Only at the end of 1500 the Spanish fleet surpassed the Venetian one; the English fleet, in the same period, although much stronger than before, still remained well below the size of those two fleets of the Catholicity.[]
  9. Two centuries earlier Philip the Fair, moved by insatiable greed, spinned out an elaborate web of lies in order to seize the treasures of the Templars. In the same manner the separation from Rome allowed also the Tudors to become rich by seizing the centuries-old movable and immovable property of all the churches, monasteries and convents that were present in their lands. This colossal sacrilegious thievery served later as an example to the supporters of the French Revolution, of all the secular and liberal regimes of the 19th century, such as the Italian ‘Risorgimento’, the Germany of Bismarck, as well as the Communarde France, up to the Russian Bolshevik Revolution and all the countries that were, and still are, devastated by Communist regimes.[]
  10. According to the Book of the Martyrs by the fanatic Protestant John Foxe (1516-1587), the Catholic restoration attempt, undertaken by Queen Mary, caused the death of 274 Anglicans. On the other hand, the Anglican counter-restoration of Elizabeth I alone killed more than eight hundred lay people and 160 priests among the Catholics. As William Corbett demonstrates, during her reign Elizabeth alone caused more deaths than the whole Inquisition in all its history (History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, London, Charles Clement, 1824). But the Protestants call Bloody only Mary I![]
  11. Elizabeth was in fact a natural daughter. After the repudiation of Queen Catherine of Aragon by the King, that was never accepted by the Catholic Church, and after the annulment of marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn performed by the newly born Anglican “church”, the legitimacy of Elizabeth’s succession seems untenable.[]
  12. Everyone knows the unfortunate expedition of the Felicissima Armada (it was renamed “Invincible” for mockery by the English propaganda). The Spanish defeat, caused by the sudden death of the invict Admiral Don Álvaro de Bazán Marquis de Viso, resulted in the loss of twenty-nine ships due to a storm, two captured by the English and ninety-nine returned to Spain. Nobody knows, however, that the following year, in 1589, Elisabeth sent a “Counter Armada” of 180 ships to invade Spain. The battle took place off the coast of Lisbon. It ended with a bitter English defeat: almost fifty ships were either destroyed or captured. The power of English propaganda![]
  13. The conquest of the territory that he baptized Virginia in honour of his mistress lasted less than a year.[]
  14. It was also important the contribution of the Queen’s private adviser, William Cecil, who took care of the financial administration as Lord High Treasurer. Stevan Dedijer, The Rainbow Scheme. British Secret Service and Pax Britannica, 3.10.2020.[]
  15. The Roman information services were first called frumentarii, speculatores and, under the Empire, agentes in rebus. Throughout the Middle Ages, the activities of the information services followed the rules of chivalry. This behaviour was also maintained in Europe during the French Revolution: it can be said that the first sensational criminal activity of the Napoleonic secret services was the case of the Duke of Enghien.[]
  16. The Elizabethan secret service hired Giordano Bruno with the cover name of Henry Fagot. The defrocked Dominican, occultist and sorcerer, infiltrated those circles where English Catholics were hiding in order to avoid the death sentence. The spy, first in Paris among English exiles, and then in England, easily posed as a Catholic cleric. In this way, he delated and sent dozens of Catholics to death. The charge he was sentenced to death for in Rome in 1600 was that of anti-Catholic espionage. And, recently, there have even been some obtuse popes who have apologized for that dutiful condemnation! John Bossy, Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, Yale, Yale University Press, 2002.[]
  17. This explains Great Britain’s long lasting prominence on the world scene, even now that it is reduced to a power of second or third order.[]
  18. This peculiarity remained and strengthened over the last three centuries.[]
  19. (Maria José Collantes de Teràn de la Hera, “El juicio de residencia en Castilla a través de la Doctrina Juridica de la Edad Moderna”, Histora, instituciones, documentos, n. 25, 1998, pp. 151-184).[]
  20. The Greek Goddess who guaranteed justice during the reign of Cronos in the Golden Age.[]
  21. Edmund Spenser, the author of the poem The Fairy Queen was a member of the mysterious “School of Night”, an “esoteric” circle led by Walter Raleigh and among its members there were Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, Matthew Roydon, John Dee, William Shakespeare and Thomas Harriot.[]
  22. Actually, this legend remained only on paper and confined to the court. Only in the Victorian era with the Romanticism and, more recently, with the scholars of the Warburg Institute, the legend of the Elizabethan Golden Age was propagandized. The aim was to magnify nineteenth-century British Protestant imperialism.[]
  23. The Habsburgs of Austria and Spain guaranteed for a century the identity between the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdoms of the Spanish crown.[]
  24. Elizabethan propaganda greatly denounced the inhuman expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. It constantly accused the Spanish monarchy of forcing the Jews into conversion or exile. However, the Jews who escaped from Spain and passed through England they all moved on to Amsterdam. Almost none remained in England. The only one who officially remained was Roderigo Lopez, who became the queen’s doctor and who later was put to death on suspicion of witchcraft and of having tried to poison Elizabeth. In fact, even in England since 1292 the practice of the Jewish religion was forbidden. (Frances A. Yates, Cabbala e Occultismo nell’età elisabettiana, Turin, Einaudi, 1982, pp. 138-145). But in the books, it’s only mentioned the expulsion from Spain. How many Jews left Spain and went into exile? About fifty-thousand out of two hundred thousand. One hundred and fifty thousand Jews preferred to apostate rather than sell their properties in Spain (Julio Cao Baroja, Los judios en la España moderna y contemporanea, 3 vols. Madrid, Isthmus, 1986).[]
  25. It should not be forgotten that the Christian Qabbalist Friar Francesco Zorzi had fraudulently found support in the Old Testament for the divorce of Henry VIII Tudor.[]
  26. The Catholic Shakespeare, on the other hand, tried to get away with it: in his Merchant of Venice you can recognize a criticism of the Christian qabbalah of the Venetian Zorzi; instead in the Tempest he characterize with benevolence the hermetic magician Prospero.[]
  27. In the same manner Elizabeth’s myth and her imperialistic project failed. If the Spanish Empire lasted three centuries, British imperialism in America was a real failure. As soon as England had established with an iron fist its first colonies in North America the revolution broke out and ended with the founding of the United States. Great Britain was left with only Canada, which in any case only became British possession in 1763.[]