Saturday 3 August 2019

The Breaking of Modern Britain

I love the concept of Telegraph Premium. The way you can read the news, but have to pay extra for the Opinion pieces. It means I get all the useful bits of the paper - the journalism - but none of the sunlit uplands of the new country of Brexitania. Where you can breathe the fresh air of freedom while queuing for the insulin and bread that is now rationed in the name of national destiny, and Janet Daley tells you we are better off out of the failing EU, with its nanny-statish obsession with clean water, and happier iving in a country where the fields are full of burning sheep.

So I can just read the cheerful headlines of some piece of drivel by Charles Moore or Zoe Strimpel, and skip straight onto the important stuff which is free, like the sexting vicar.
When you consider the vigour with which the Telegraph campaigned for Boris Johnson 's election as leader of what used to be the Conservative Party, you have to conclude that the Telegraph has realised the same thing. The Telegraph is now 700K per annum better off. And still nobody is paying to read Johnson's columns.

And so today my eye was caught by a headline on an Iain Duncan Smith article entitled "The Reformation was the making of modern Britain. Brexit is a similar opportunity." And I don't need to read it. Because you can imagine what is in there. And what I can imagine is probably still better that what was actually written by the  least memorable Tory leader since that other bloke.

I will merely note that the English Reformation was not a single, quick, decisive break from the Roman Catholic Church. After the chaotic end of Henry VIII's reign, and the hateful destruction of church life by  Edward VI's advisers, it was then reversed by Mary before being reintroduced by Elizabeth. And then, a few years of peace punctured only by the disembowellment of Catholic priests. After which the ratbags of the ERG of the day - the Roundheads - got very anti-Charles I because he wasn't really Protestant enough. And we got the Civil War. And then after Christmas and maypole dancing and just, frankly, happiness was banned, we got Charles II. Who may have been keen on floppy wigs and spaniels and mistresses, but at least he wasn't Oliver Cromwell. And then when James II was getting too Catholic, he was replaced by William III.

And I know that the real Brexiters will say, well we made it through the Reformation so we can cope with a Foreign Secretary that didn't know we traded with France across a narrow stretch of water between our two countries. And they'll happily eat piles of rancid lamb rather than be paid to export it tariff -free to the rest of Europe. And they'd much rather be ruled by a system of government involving someone who got the job because she's descended ultimately from Woden, and the House of Lords, than suffer from unelected officials. I mean, monarchy based on descent from a mythical Germanic figure is such a rational system.

But consider. The period of the Reformation and its unwinding lasted from when Henry VIII thought Ann Boleyn looked like she might produce boys, arguably through to the failure of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. It brought us the slaughter of the Pilgrimage of Grace. 300 burnings in Mary's reign. The judicial murder of hundreds of Catholics. 200,000 English dead in the Civil War - and more in Scotlsnd. The slaughter and suppression  of the Irish by Cromwell, sowing the seeds for the Troubles of centuries to come. And the Skye Boat Song.

And after all that, we ended up being ruled by Germans.

So the Reformation may have been the making of modern Britain. But do you know what, all the unreformed countries have made it to the modern era as well. I tell you what, I'd rather the country didn't go through that again.

And no I don't want Telegraph Premium.

Also from the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley...


  1. Absolutely brilliant.
    Rode the bus to Selby last week. Not being a fan of privatisation was pleased to see the bus company is in public ownership (German).

  2. I’m determined not to be nasty or snarky online so let me simply enumerate the basic errors in your admittedly entertaining analysis, Archdruid.

    1. The Henrician Reform had little or nothing to do with the concept of Brexit. But in any case there were similar ‘Reformations’ all over Europe – notably in the German states, where the whole shooting-match began. (It’s not clear which Reformation/s IDS was referring to. Since neither you nor I has read his piece, we don’t know).

    2. The English Reformation did not lead to the Civil War and similar upheavals. These were concerned with a separate issue, the struggle for a representative democracy - a struggle in which we led the rest of Europe. France was still living under despotic rule a century after our Glorious Revolution.

    3. We did not end up being ruled by Germans, nor is our country currently ruled by the Queen and the House of Lords. Since 1688, Parliament has called the shots and by the time the Hanoverian dynasty was in place, the king’s powers were very limited.

    4. You make much of the religious turmoil in England but the same stuff happened in Europe, notably the French Wars of Religion and the Thirty Years’ War. Why are we cast as the knuckle-dragging bad guys?

  3. Not sure whether this is fake news or factual. The reformation sounds like a land slide victory for uncommonsense.

    I blame the Normans myself who put an arrow through Harold's eye, and he had Danish Blood.

    It could sound like Brexit if is wasn't over 1000 years ago.


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