Looking over the Parapet

Some interesting news, for the first time in almost 50 years the British Royal Navy has two strike carriers at sea. The Queen Elizabeth is in the western Atlantic learning how best for her to operate strike aircraft and defend herself as the centerpiece of a carrier strike group. Now comes word that the Prince of Wales her sister ship has sailed for the first time from the Firth of Forth to begin her own workups, which likely won’t take as long as the QE because she is in the process of writing the book.

It should be noted that there is nothing afloat that is as powerful as these new ships, with the sole exception of US Nimitz class carriers and someday the new US Ford class. Bravo Zulu! More at The Thin Pinstriped Line. Oh, why not?

Just make sure you don’t let them fall under EU command.


Staying in Britain for the moment, for the first time ever, the Israeli Air Force is exercising over England along with the RAF, the USAF, The German Air Force, and the Italian Air Force.

Israel  sent several F-15s as well a Boeing  707s refueling planes and C130s and C130J’s

This is taking place over Lincolnshire and is known as Cobra Warrior, It is said that the RAF may take part in Israel’s Blue Flag exercise next year, which they have observed before.

Good job to all hands. More at Warsclerotic. I wanted to call those tankers C-135s since the use the flying boom that the USAF developed early in the cold war, but if you carefully at the picture you’ll notice that these aircraft have windows, KC135s co not.


If you pay much attention to either British history of British history on TV, you’ll know the name, David Starkey. He’s an excellent historian and an honest man. Here he explains the significance of Brexit and horrendous mess that May and Bercow have made. Do watch it.

You’ll not be surprised that I agree with him completely, and strongly commend him for doing this, because there is no way in hell that this would ever appear on the Fake News BBC.

Interestingly, towards the end, he speaks a good deal about the parallels between Brexit and the English Reformation under Henry VIII (his specialty, if I recall, is the Tudors). Well, maybe I’m about half as smart as I think, because I’ve always seen twp parallels in Brexit, one is the Reformation in England, and the other is the American Revolution.  Ever since the Anarchy in the thirteenth century, there has been a longing in the English to return to “the good old law”. In large measure that is what an8mated the American founders, and while we ended up starting over, not much of the good old law went into the discard.

My friends at The Conservative Woman suggest that this is also worth watching. They’re correct, so watch it too. (and it ‘s short).

Guy Fawkes, Call Your Office

shutterstock_331390244-998x666OK, I give up, here you go. The history of bonfire night, and the English Reformation in one somewhat long post. I note that any injuries from falling off your chair laughing, are solely the responsibility of The Federalist

On this day in 1605, an angry English Catholic named Guy Fawkes along with a group of other angry English Catholics with other names attempted to blow the House of Lords and King James I to high heaven. The so-called Gunpowder Plot gave birth to centuries of stringent anti-Catholic legislation, an infamous graphic novel with a persecution complex, hactivism, and the abbreviated inquiry “WTF?”

Fawkes was born in 1570 in York, for which he cannot be held responsible. That he began fighting on the side of imperial Catholic Spain against the Protestant Dutch Republic in theEighty Years War is a matter of moral culpability. It was not long before Fawkes was in Spain asking King Philip II to aid embattled Catholics in England.

A variety of factors created that embattlement. First there was Henry VIII, who asked Pope Clement VII for an annulment from Catherine of Aragon so he could marry a bunch of other women, but was denied in a tastefully crafted letter that opened, “To whom it may concern.” The pope stood his moral ground, thus denying Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and Catherine’s nephew, another excuse to bust up Rome. So Henry named himself head of the church in England, which enabled him to sleep with whomever he wanted, making things very difficult for those who remained loyal to the Bishop of Rome and traditional views of marriage.

King James Didn’t Pan Out for Catholics

Catholics had placed high hopes in the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603. (They had enjoyed a brief respite from persecution under Henry and Catherine’s Catholic daughter Mary Tudor, who did her best to kill as many Protestants as possible, earning her the nickname “Bloody,” after “Chloé” proved a tad precious.) James was the son of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, who was herself daughter of the French Mary of Guise (who was also Queen of Scots—whether the same Scots is unclear, there having been quite a lot of Scots at one time).

There’s only so much antisocial behavior any king can tolerate before someone loses an eye.

Believing that James would at least soften the anti-Catholic laws that had left many adherents of the Old Faith impoverished, imprisoned, or dead, and that had only become more onerous after the Spanish Armada launched, Catholics were soon disappointed. James had no such intention, especially given a clinical paranoia that made King Herod look like a bodhisattva. (To be fair, James had been the object of earlier, failed Catholic conspiracies, called the Bye and Main plots. One of the plans had been to kidnap the king and hold him in the Tower of London until Catholics were granted full toleration, which becomes increasingly difficult to argue for when you’re holding the monarch captive, as there’s only so much antisocial behavior any king can tolerate before someone loses an eye.)

Source: Guy Fawkes, Call Your Office

 

Erastianism; John Stuart Mill, and the Saviour State

images10This is an outstandingly interesting (albeit long) article. I don’t agree with all his premises, especially with regard to intentions but he’s very good on outcomes. In any case he’ll make you think.  By Douglas Farrow writing for Touchstone magazine:

The Audacity of the State

Jeremiah Wright’s 1990 sermon, “The Audacity to Hope,” which lent Barack Obama the title of his electioneering book, has the story of Hannah as its text, and a painting by G. F. Watts

as its foil. Whether the lecture at which Wright first heard of the painting, or his own subsequent reading, included a consultation of G. K. Chesterton’s 1904 treatment of Watts, I can’t say. […]

The Savior State

When I speak of the audacity of the state, the kind of state I have in mind is what we may call the savior state. The main characteristic of the savior state is that it presents itself as the people’s guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen’s well-being. The savior state is the paternal state, which not only sees to the security of its territory and the enforcement of its laws but also promises to feed, clothe, house, educate, monitor, medicate, and in general to care for its people. Some prefer to call it the nanny state, but that label fails to reckon with its inherently religious character. The savior state does have a religious character, precisely in its paternalism, and may even be comfortable with religious rhetoric. […]

Re-Sacralized State

We can hardly be surprised at this. The Erastianism which (to speak anachronistically) had long been trying to get the upper hand in Christendom, managed to do so in the wake of the Lutheran Reformation, though it was in England that it first succeeded. The year 1534 brought the Act of Succession, and a mandatory oath of allegiance that included assent to everything declared by parliament about marriage in general and about Henry’s in particular. Later that year, the Act of Supremacy also established the king’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction, making no mention of the proviso formerly attached to it by the bishops: “as far as the law of Christ allows.”

Christendom, of course, had already seen many princes who were determined to make the church do their bidding. But Henry, by writing his supremacy into the laws of the realm, inaugurated a new era. In that era, the ongoing process of subordinating religion to the demands of the state would outrun the monarchy as such, and the Church of England too. Not merely some, butallof the church’s authority over things public would gradually be expropriated, binding even the conscience—as the Act of Succession already did—to the authority of the state.

Today we live in a society that shrinks in horror from the very idea of established religion, something the American Constitution in any case forbids. Yet we live, even if we live in America, in states increasingly ready to withdraw conscience clauses not only from public servants but also from doctors and druggists and so forth, requiring them to violate the teachings of their religion and the dictates of their consciences in order to demonstrate their allegiance to the state.

In Britain, and increasingly in North America, even churches and charitable organizations are not exempted from laws that demand conformity to state-endorsed ideologies loaded with religious implications. Penalties for violation include heavy fines or even imprisonment. Thus have we come round to accepting Erastus’s invitation to the state to punish the sins of Christians, supplanting the church’s sacramental discipline. We have come round, that is, to the de-sacralization of the church and the re-sacralization of the state, which is once again taking a tyrannical turn.

Keep reading: Touchstone Archives: The Audacity of the State.

Specifically, I have trouble with his underlying assumptions about the Enlightenment, about John Stuart Mill, and about Christianity’s inherent hostility to the individual rather than ecclesiology. Still more would I dispute libertarians antipathy to the family, it may be true of some but most are far more family friendly than the sacralized state.

But whatever their intention, in many ways, what he says here, is where we are. That is our baseline and it’s up to us to guide where we want to go.

“My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell

d9509e_a1183470b7ad4b3c9b79592ae6954221I ran across this earlier this year when Wolf Hall was running in the UK. Since it is running now on Masterpiece Theater, it seems a good time to bring it forward. It’s very good television, just don’t confuse it with objective history, it’s not, there’s a fair amount of propaganda in it.

Here’s Dr. Joanne Paul:

I like to think of More and Cromwell on some sort of bizarre historical seesaw. It seems that when one is up, the other is inevitably down. In A Man for All Seasons, More is the glorified protagonist, so Cromwell becomes the conniving enemy. In Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Cromwell is the hero, or at least antihero, and so More is given a less sympathetic portrayal.

Much of what we think we know of their relationship comes from More’s earliest biographers, who were keen to place the two men in precisely this sort of opposition. For instance, it is from More’s first biographer, William Roper, that we get the story of More, upon his resignation as Chancellor, advising Cromwell: “you shall, in your counsel-giving unto [the King], ever tell him what he ought to do, but never what he is able to do…. For if a Lion knew his own strength, hard it were for any man to rule him”. And Cromwell, in Roper’s version, teases and flatters More while he is in the Tower, prompting his reflections on “eye flattering fortune”

But how much do we really know about More and Cromwell – their relationship, what they thought of one another? We know the end of the story – or we think we do – the two men face off, and Cromwell wins, until he too is cut down. But is that the right way of thinking about it?

The two were probably born about the same time only about 5 miles apart; More in Cheapside, Cromwell in Putney. Neither came from particularly prestigious roots, More’s ancestors were brewers, bakers and candlestick makers, Cromwell’s father was a blacksmith and merchant. The main difference between the two men’s early lives seems to have been their paternal fortunes. More’s father was an up-and-coming lawyer, Cromwell’s was a brute and a drunk.

Continue reading: Dr Joanne Paul | Renaissance Historian | “My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell.

Help Wanted

Need a job in the far outskirts of London? Well here you go. Probably not for the lazy guy who wants to make a £500,000 but, then again we know hanging around Hampton Court worked out fairly well for that blacksmith’s son Thomas Cromwell. Well, for a while, anyway.
Tudor Kitchens

Have you got biceps of steel, a rufty-tufty attitude to food, a penchant for intense heat and a bristling, burly beard? Then here’s the job for you.

Historic Royal Palaces is looking for an apprentice ‘turn-broach’ to join its Tudor roasting team at Hampton Court Palace.

The right man (and it has to be a man; there was just the one woman in Henry VIII’s kitchen and she made the puds) will be responsible for preparing massive joints of meat and loading them onto a roasting spit over the gigantic open fire in the Tudor kitchens.

Is This The Oddest Job In Modern London? | Londonist.

 

HT Suzannah Lipscomb @sixteenthCgirl

Wolf’s Hall: A Morality Play?

This showed up in my Twitter feed yesterday:

I can’t vouch for that 97% number but the destruction as widespread and severe.

For my American readers Wolf’s Hall is a historical costume drama set in the reign of Henry the VIII. I’ve seen the first two episodes, and it’s very good TV, although I doubt it’s overly accurate history. Here’s a bit of the article referenced in the Tweet.

The UK’s current primetime TV fantasy blockbuster du jour is Wolf Hall. Everyone loves a costume drama, but there is a world of difference between fictional history and historical fiction. One dramatizes real people and events. The other is an entirely made-up story set in the past. The current tendency is to blur the two, which Wolf Hall does spectacularly.

Thomas Cromwell, whose life it chronicles, comes across as a plucky, self-made Englishman, whose quiet reserve suggests inner strength and personal nobility. Back in the real world, Cromwell was a “ruffian” (in his own words) turned sectarian extremist, whose religious vandalism bears striking comparison with the iconoclasm of Islamic State or the Afghani Taliban.

Thanks to Wolf Hall, more people have now heard of Thomas Cromwell, and this is a good thing. But underneath its fictionalized portrayal of Henry VIII’s chief enforcer, there is a historical man, and he is one whose record for murder, looting, and destruction ought to have us apoplectic with rage, not reaching for the popcorn.

Historians rarely agree on details, so a lot about Cromwell’s inner life is still up for debate. But it is a truly tough job finding anything heroic in the man’s legacy of brutality and naked ambition.

Against a backdrop of Henry VIII’s marital strife, the pathologically ambitious Cromwell single-handedly masterminded the break with Rome in order to hand Henry the Church, with its all-important control of divorce and marriage. There were, to be sure, small pockets of Protestantism in England at the time, but any attempt to cast Cromwell’s despotic actions as sincere theological reform are hopeless. Cromwell himself had minimal truck with religious belief. He loved politics, money, and power, and the reformers could give them to him.

Continue reading Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his day.

whitby_abbeyWell, OK. But I don’t think that is any more accurate than the program. So far the program does seem to be downplaying Cromwell’s [shall we say] ambition a bit but he hasn’t consolidated his position yet, so we’ll see

This in particular “[…]the pathologically ambitious Cromwell single-handedly masterminded the break with Rome in order to hand Henry the Church, with its all-important control of divorce and marriage.” Strikes me as a description of any number of bureaucrats and politicians in Westminster as well as Washington. And many in history as well.

Still the dissolution of the monasteries did happen, and if we believe that England’s (and America’s) ascent to world power is an overall good, we should thank God that it did. At the time nearly half of the land area of England was owned by the church, and thus tax exempt, and if you consider the amount of art in England older than this period, just how much wealth was tied up in the church?

In my article today at All along the Watchtower (linked in the sidebar), I speak in passing of the utter destruction of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was one of the foremost pilgrimage shrines in Europe, and included the carrying off of a famous (and historic) statue of Our Lady to London to be burned in the streets.

So yes, there was a perhaps frenzied overreaction involved in the suppression, there nearly always is. Kristallnacht was no picnic for the relics of the Jewish population of Germany either. That poorly disciplined soldiers, irregulars or just people get out of hand is just a fact of life.

That said, comparing Cromwell to ISIS is just silly, Cromwell’s goal wasn’t to kill the population of England, it was to get rich. Henry’s illegal use of Prerogative power was a bad thing, as was recognized, even at the time. But is today’s Parliament (or our own bureaucracy) any better?  Only if we force them to be, and we’re not doing a very effective job ourselves.

So perhaps, after all, Wolf’s Hall is a morality tale for our times.

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