The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.040  Wednesday, 8 January 2003

From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 7 Jan 2003 12:32:24 -0000
Subject:        Head / Supreme Governor

>The Supreme Governor of the church and Queen regnant was
>never allowed the style "head." cf. Ephesians 5.23 (all eds.) inter
>R. A. Cantrell.

In a strictly legal (not to mention theological) sense this may be true,
but this issue was about as ideologically tendentious as it was possible
to get, and thus whether or not one "allowed" the monarch such a title
largely depended on one's ideological perspective.


Some examples:

"We in terming our Princes Heads of the Church do but testify that we
acknowledge them such Governors. Against this peradventure it will be
replied, [as it was by Cartwright] That howsoever we interpret ourselves
it is not fit for a mortal man, and therefore not for a civil Magistrate
to be entitled Head of the Church. Why so? First this title Head of the
Church was given unto our Saviour Christ to lift him above all powers
rules and dominions, either in heaven or in earth [Ephes 1:21; Col
1:18]. Where if this title belong also to the Civil Magistrate, then it
is manifest that there is a power in earth whereunto our Saviour Christ
is not in this point superior... [However,] it is not simply the title
of Head which lifteth our Saviour above all powers, but the title of
Head in such sort understood, as the Apostle himself meant it... If I
term Christ and Casar Lords yet this is no equalling of Casar with
Christ... Neither doth it follow which is objected in the second place
that if the civil Magistrate may be entitled an Head he may be also as
well termed, The first begotten of all creatures, The first begotten of
the dead and The Redeemer of his people."
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VIII, The
Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker (Cambridge, Mass.

"The Headship which we give unto Kings is altogether visibly exercised
and ordereth only the external frame of the Church's affairs here among
us... so that it plainly differeth from Christ's even in very nature and
kind...  Visible government is a thing necessary for the Church. And it
doth not appear how the exercise of visible government over such
multitudes everywhere dispersed throughout the world should consist
without sundry visible governors whose power being the greatest in that
kind so far as it reacheth they are in consideration thereof termed so
far Heads, wherefore notwithstanding that perpetual conjunction by
virtue whereof our Saviour remaineth always spiritually united unto the
parts of his mystical body".
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VIII, Folger
Library Works III, pp.362-363, 370-371

 "The entire community giveth general order by law how all things
publicly are to be done and the King as the head thereof the highest in
authority over all causeth according to the same law every particular to
be framed and ordered thereby... our laws do neither suffer a spiritual
Court to entertain those causes which by law are civil, nor yet if the
matter be indeed spiritual, a mere civil Court to give judgement of it"
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VIII, Folger
Library Works III, pp.434-435

"[The clergy are] the chief of those Three Estates, which together make
up the entire body of this Commonwealth, under one Supreme Head and
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book VII, Folger
Library Works III, pp.235-236

"[The] Church is not a Monarchy, otherwise then she is united in her
head, Christ Iesus... [but] Princes... are the heads of the Churches in
their Dominions"
John Donne, Sermon 4, The Sermons of John Donne (Berkeley 1953-1962),
Vol. X, p.112

"[The monarch is] Over all persons, in all Causes (not and all causes)
as well Ecclesiasticall as Civil, in these her Maiesties Realmes and
Dominions, next under God, supreame Governour. Can your [Papists'] small
understanding put no difference betwixt, Over all; and in all? betwixt
Persons and Causes?... We doe not professe, much lesse propose or
propugne, that Princes are Heads, or Governours, to any such intent; as
to coyne, or set abroad new Formes of Faith; to determine what is de
fide, what not; as your side belyeth us... [Queen Elizabeth I] claimed,
and might have had authority commanding, coercive, coactive, over
Church-men... [but] Did shee ever challenge, or use it, or was it given
her in Church-service... gave wee ever so much to Queene Elizabeth?"
Richard Montagu, A Gagg for the new Gospell? No: A New Gagg for An Old
Goose... (London 1624), pp.68-72

 "In Gods name then... Let us joyne in our prayers, and Sacraments, and
performe a due obedience to God, and to our King, as wee are all of one
Nation, so let us be all of one Church, and Christ beeing onely our
head, let us all desire as in one sheep folde, to be the sancitified
members of his glorious bodie."
Sir Edward Coke, The Lord Coke His Speech and Charge With a discourse of
the abuses and corruption of officers (London 1607), [no pagination]

"... by the ancient Laws of this Realm, this Kingdome of England is an
absolute Empire and Monarchy consisting of one head, which is the King;
and of a Body politick, compact and compounded of many... members... the
Kingly head of this politick Body is... furnished with... power... to
render justice and right to every part and member of this Body... in all
causes ecclesiastical or Temporal."
Sir Edward Coke, "Caudrey's Case 1591", 5 Reports (Vol. III of the
London 1777 edition), pp.i-xli

"There's a great deal of difference between Head of the Church and
Supreme Governor, as our canons call the King. Conceive it thus: there
is in the kingdom of England a College of Physicians. The King is
supreme governor of those but not head of them, nor President of the
College, nor the best physician."
John Selden, Table-Talk: Being the Discourses of John Selden Esq; or his
Sence of various Matters of Weight and High Consequence Relating
especially to Religion and State (1689)

"All that the State Ecclesiasticall enjoyes, belongs to it as to a
principall member of the body politique; and is derived to it from the
supreame Civill head on which it doth depend, and in whom it is united
to the Civill state... powers of order and jurisdiction be immediately
derived from Christ the misticall head of the Church... [but] mediately
derived from our prince, the ministeriall head of our particular
Church... For the power of order cannot bee lawfully exercised in these
dominions, without the licence and permission from the power of
Calybute Downinge, A Discourse of the State Ecclesiasticall of the
Kingdome, in relation to the Civill (Oxford 1632), pp.1-2, 68

"... it seems that under the King, that hath Junto of Divines,
Statesmen, and Lawyers in Parliament, which hath a Legislative power
over the State, hath the same over the Church... And if we admit the
King to be supreme head of the Church, I thinke no man will deny but
that the fittest policie for him to govern the Church by, will be the
same pattern by which he governeth the State."
Henry Parker, The Question concerning the Divine Right of Episcopacie
truly stated (London 1641), pp.2-3

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.