Mark Steyn's recent column has Barack Obama creating a new religion à la Henry VIII. Henry is definitely more well-known than most other English monarchs, but there is another English king the President is emulating, King Charles I (Charles is on my list as one of the 10 worst kings of England and the U.K.). The reason is, Obama's religion is already in place, having been established by seven Supreme Court Justices in Roe v. Wade (and perhaps earlier by another seven Justices in Griswold), just as Henry's religion was already in place (established in 1534) by the time Charles became king in 1625. What I wonder and worry about is if history is going to repeat itself; Charles' tyranny led to the English Civil War.
Below is a primer on Charles and how many of his actions are being repeated by our own tyrant Barack Obama.
The Anglican Church, the Church of England, was formed by England's King Henry VIII officially in 1534. Henry did this so that he could annul his marriage to find a wife who could bear him a son and successor; Henry's wife Queen Catherine (of Aragon) had one daughter Mary but no sons and was past the age of bearing any more children. With the Act of Supremacy, as mentioned by Steyn, Henry became the Supreme Head of the new Church of England. Henry eventually found a wife who did bear his son Edward (by Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, who died shortly afterwards from the complications of Edward's birth in 1536). The new church expanded through the rest of Henry's and Edward's reigns (Henry died in 1547, and Edward died in 1553 at the age of 15). Henry's daughter Mary succeeded her half-brother Edward, restoring Catholicism as the faith of the land; this lasted the five years of her reign, which ended in 1558. Henry's second daughter, Elizabeth (by Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn), succeeded her half-sister Mary. A year later in 1559, the Anglican Church was restored in a modified version; the faith was to be less stringent than during Henry's and Edward's reign, and Elizabeth was given a title as head of the church, Supreme Governor, a title still in use today. After a long and mostly prosperous 44-year reign, the unwed and childless Elizabeth was succeeded by the King of Scots James VI, who was crowned in England in 1603 as King James I. Having been raised as a Protestant in the Scottish (Presbyterian) Church, he slowly modified his own faith to conform with the Anglican Church. James maintained separate governments for each land, each of which had its own Parliament, and maintained the separate religions of each country. He was also King of Ireland, but the rule of that land remained solely in the hands of the English government, as it had been since the mid-1150s. (James was also King of France, a residual claim for English monarchs, albeit with no authority or power in France itself, that had been in place for most of the previous 300 years; the title would remain until 1801 when King George III finally dumped it.)
Born in 1600, Charles was the second son of James. Charles' older brother Henry, Prince of Wales, was groomed to succeed James and was loved and nurtured by his parents; Charles, on the other hand, was seen by James as a disappointment and was often neglected. Here we see one aspect of Charles' life with that of Obama's, the neglected child who was abandoned by his father early on and later sent by his mother to live with his grandparents. Anyway, things went bad for James as the Prince of Wales died in 1612 at the age of 18, and Charles was invested as the new Prince of Wales and heir apparent. However, James never loved, encouraged, or trained Charles in any manner similar to how James worked with Henry. James more or less lingered as king for another 13 years, dying in 1625. The Prince of Wales was crowned King Charles I of England, Ireland, Scotland, and France.
A little more about James. His rule was somewhat benevolent for a 17th Century king. He promoted the Anglican faith to such a point that it drove both Catholic and non-Anglican Protestants in England (including those known as Puritans) to practice their faith in the shadows, although he didn't do this with non-Anglican Protestants in Scotland and Ireland. But James strove for a union of his kingdoms, seeking to bring them into one fold but recognizing the differences to avoid an unnecessary confrontation. This is what he taught his eldest son Henry about ruling such disparate lands and people. But because James didn't train Charles to rule in this manner, Charles ended up ruling with a different mindset. Uniformity and conformity were to be the hallmarks of Charles' reign. We see this today with Obama's attempts to tyrannically promote uniformity to his rule over 300 million people spread over an area 30 times the size of the lands Charles ruled over. As you'll see, Charles' incompetent tyranny led to his reign ending in miserable failure for himself and his people. Considering how Obama has ruled incompetently thus far, it's not hard to imagine the possibility of history repeating itself, although it doesn't have to be that way.
The first few years of Charles' rule was one of increased conflict between the crown and Parliament, similar to what we've seen with Obama and Congress. Things got so bad that in 1629, Charles dissolved Parliament, with the intent of never calling it again. Obama himself has promulgated policies without a mandate from Congress, going so far as to appointing officials completely outside of what is required in the Constitution.
During the next twelve years, Charles sought to put his policy of uniformity in place. It was a disaster. In Ireland, he managed to avoid confrontation with the majority Catholic population, but upset those adherents to the Protestant Church of Ireland who were not succumbing to Charles' attempts to replace it with the Anglican Church. Charles attempted to do the same in Scotland. But because Scotland had a separate government from the one in place for England and Ireland, the Scottish Parliament had a fit. This wasn't a problem for Charles; he ignored it. In 1639, the Scottish Parliament had had enough and rebelled against Charles. Charles sent an army north, but it was defeated. Not learning anything, Charles repeated his mistake and invaded Scotland again a year later; his troops were beaten so badly, Scotland was able to put occupation troops in much of northern England. The subsequent treaty he signed with the Scottish Parliament in 1640 required a recall of the English Parliament to grant a subsidy to maintain those Scottish troops on English soil! A new English Parliament was installed in 1641, one that was just as hostile to the king as it had been a dozen years earlier.
In the meantime, the Irish Protestants had also begun a rebellion against Charles' rule. But by this time, Charles was out of money and he needed Parliament to grant a new tax. Instead, Parliament called for the impeachment of most of Charles' ministers. To counter this move, Charles attempted to have members of Parliament in the House of Lords and Commons arrested and tried for treason; this failed as the accused MPs had fled from London. Parliament raised and armed troops for a potential battle with the king; their forces were able to take London without a struggle in early 1642, and the king fled north to raise an army. Further negotiations proved futile, and the English Civil War began later that year.
Obama's "religion" didn't start with him, just as Henry VIII's religion didn't start with Charles I; the "religion" in this country was established with Roe v. Wade nearly 40 years ago, and Obama is attempting to force the people to adhere to it through Obamacare, just as Charles attempted to force his religion upon his disparate kingdoms. I have no doubt Obama doesn't believe he is trying to provoke a civil war in this country. But his attempt to spend the taxpayers' money into oblivion and his unconstitutional and tyrannical attempts to press for uniformity, with the people yielding to his "religion", are leading this country down a path that wasn't even seen in the years before the Civil War. As was the case with Charles and other tyrants, control can be illusory; if we're lucky, Obama may learn this before it is too late. But it is good for everyone to be prepared for anything.
While not a preview, the history of the English Civil War was not a happy one for pretty much everybody. After four years, the king was soundly defeated and captured by the Parliamentary forces that were primarily led by Oliver Cromwell, a member of the House of Commons. Following the end of hostilities, negotiations were going on to figure out how to have Charles remain as king but with greatly reduced powers. Being impatient, Charles arranged in the middle of 1648 to have a Scottish army invade England and restore his rule. They did; Parliament beat them. Subsequent negotiations with Charles by Parliament were eventually ended by Cromwell, who had demanded the king be tried for treason. Cromwell won out; Charles was found guilty and beheaded in January, 1649, and Cromwell declared an end to the monarchy in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Charles' sons Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, and James, Duke of York, fled overseas.
The attempt to rule England through a quasi-republican government was a disaster. Factions were so hostile Cromwell ended up as a near-dictator for much of the 1650s. After he died in 1658, and the rejection by Parliament to have Cromwell's son Richard succeed him, Parliament commenced negotiations with the Prince of Wales to restore the monarchy with severely restricted powers, a constitutional monarchy. After two years, the negotiations were complete, with the Prince of Wales subsequently returning to England and being officially crowned King Charles II of England, Ireland, Scotland, and France.
To end this on a positive note, it should be said that while the republican "experiment" failed in England and was never repeated there or following 1707 with the establishment of the United Kingdom, it did succeed somewhat with one of its lands, Ireland. And, of course, republicanism succeeded spectacularly with one of England's former colonies, the country that is now the United States of America. Let us hope the current President remembers that.
Cross-posted at RedState.
- Obama as Charles I, not Henry VIII