It is December 1847, and Brigham Young is throwing a temper tantrum in the company of the other members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. It has been three years since the murder of Joseph Smith, the first President of the Mormon Church, and Young believes it is high time the Quorum reconstitute the First Presidency with Young, to use his words, as “King” of the Quorum with the power to rule “perfectly untrammeled.”
Unsurprisingly, several members of the Quorum of the Twelve have reservations about Young’s proposal. They prefer to govern the church together, collectively holding the keys of the kingdom, while permitting Young to act as the church’s spokesman.
The year is 1648 and most of Europe is in tatters. The Dutch War of Independence between Spain and the provinces—what are today the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg—has raged for 80 years, while The Thirty Years War within the Holy Roman Empire has laid waste to much of the continent. The population of Germany alone has fallen from 21 million to approximately 13 million.
What caused these interminable conflicts? Most historians believe religion played a central role. The publication by Martin Luther in 1517 of his Disputation on the Power of Indulgences planted the seeds for the Protestant Reformation. This, in turn, led to the Counter-Reformation—also known as the Catholic Reformation—and the Inquisition. As Protestantism continued to expand into areas previously dominated by the Roman Church, imperial authority was destabilized, as were the boundaries of kingdoms. And war came.