One is religion. The other is politics. That’s the common advice. Others say if you really want to be interesting, definitely discuss God and government.
Our Tudors took various approaches to this, and often for them the two intertwined. Just a sampling of how outspoken (or not) some of them were …
- Henry VIII — Whatever suited him, and he wasn’t secretive about it.
- Catherine of Aragon — Unapologetic Catholic
- Mary I — See above, plus a dash of extremism
- Anne Boleyn — Technically Catholic, Reformation-curious, died after having asked for confession and the sacrament, though
- Catherine Parr — Open-minded Catholic; walked that fence very carefully
- Edward VI — Flag-waving teen Reformist
- Lady Jane Grey — Reformist poster child
- Elizabeth I — Surely Reformist but kept it to herself.
In such a volatile time, discussing your religious beliefs was very tricky (if not fatal). Was it more important to be true to faith, putting aside earthly happenings for a reward after death and to keep your soul at peace? Or to zip it, lock it, and put it in your pocket for the sake of running the country and/or dealing with those who did?
Was Catherine of Aragon “stubborn” or “brave”? Was Elizabeth I “a coward” or “smart”?
What would you have done?