Sunday, May 16, 2010


Lately of a Sunday I have made a habit of watching the Showtime drama series The Tudors in which Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a new-look Henry VIII. Although the primary attraction of the show is a pretty damned addictive cocktail of spectacle, lavish costume, fairly explicit sex, almost as explicit torture, Machiavellian intrigue, and a whole lot of beheading, it is of sufficient historical accuracy for me to notice that Henry – while a wholly reprehensible character, and heavy on the wives – did create much of the infrastructure for the Brit “golden age” of Elizabeth I. (Henry’s surviving daughter, who has been played on the screen by everyone from Bette Davis to Kate Blanchett.) His establishment of the British Navy as a force with which to be reckoned for the next five centuries, and way in which this kind of massive public spending strengthened and empowered the newly emergent middle class, was positively Keynesian. And how did he pay for it? When he fashioned the Church of England (or, as Eddie Izzard calls it “The Murdering Bastard Religion”) in order to divorce first wife Katherine of Aragon, a happy side effect was the chance to rob blind the riches centralized global Catholicism. It’s an idea that might be turned around today and applied to centralized global corporations. (Along with a bit of torture and beheading for good measure.)

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