As a student of history, I can’t help but reflect on the similarities and differences in our country between yesteryear and today. A few days ago I found myself in a study of Tudor Britain, a period that lasted for roughly118 years, beginning with the reign of Henry VII in 1485 AD and ending with the spectacular reign of Elizabeth I, known as the Golden Period, in 1603 AD. I suppose a comparable period would be from roughly 1898 AD to roughly today. We certainly could not say this latter period is a Golden Age.
Let’s begin by taking a brief journey through Tudor Britain. In doing so, I will make use in great part to the words of a writer, C.W. Airne. He wrote, “The Tudor years were a turning point in English history and marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age. When you think about this period, revolutionary changes like the Renaissance, the Reformation, the great maritime discoveries, the consolidation of the English Nations, the Spanish Armada, the effect of increased wealth on the people and the effects of absolute authority of its monarchs”.
It was a period when Britain was rising. Today, in the comparable period, its star is falling, maybe even fallen!
I suppose if I was asked to pinpoint the greatest achievement of those Tudor days, I might have to say the “Reformation”. We have Henry VIII to thank for this, but his opposition was more political than religious. Nevertheless, he did make England independent of Rome and he achieved a series of reforms, including the abolition of payments to Rome and the destruction of the old system of monasticism. Progress took a step back under the Catholic Monarch, Mary I, known by the people as “Bloody Mary”. But under Elizabeth I, The Church of England was established by the Act of Supremacy in 1559 AD. Jesus was to say of its over 200 years into the Reformation, a period that the Bible refers to as the Philadelphian Church Age, “I know thou works … hast keep my word, and hath not denied my name … I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.” (Rev. 3:8&10) There are still Philadelphians around these days, yet most of true Israel have succumbed to the Age of Laodicia, or worse, to the false doctrines of other gods. So, instead of the Anglican Church, we have virtually hundreds of offshoots, most struggling to survive through such things as feel-good messages and rock bands. As to the Anglican churches, on the whole they are suffering attendance problems. Indeed, it was disheartening to read recently that many of its churches are planning to open only at Christmas and Easter because people are simply not attending. In the meantime, all over our lands, temples, shrines and mosques are springing up. So, it is not surprising that Jesus told True Israel, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will reject you”. The best advice for us, “read 2 Chronicles 7:14 often”.
Tudor Britain was an era of the revolutionary changes wrought by the influences of great Movements, most notably the Renaissance, which led to the Revival of Learning and to the evolution of a new civilization throughout Western Europe. The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement with the dominant art forms of literature and music. Probably we will never again see the likes of the great composers or artists of that day. Indeed, it could be said that we have lost the whole concept of beauty and grandeur.
Under Henry VII the nation had been faced with ruin owing to the struggles of the feudal nobles in the Wars of the Roses. The resultant social disorder, financial chaos, administrative confusion and impotence of the Law was a natural outgrowth. Happily, conditions got better and by the time the Tudor reign ended with Elizabeth I, England was very prosperous and out from under the shadow of the great European powers. So, sad it is, that in this second 118-year period, Britain is again debt-ridden, and once again under the shadow of European powers through its membership in the EU. It just seems that all things built up in the past are being torn down. Here’s an example, the steel industry at Port Talbot which was taken over by an Indian company years ago is now slated for closure. In my view, these are just examples of Deuteronomy 28:41, “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low”. Last month, I wrote an article entitled, “Come Out of Her” and while the powers in the nation are very much for remaining in the EU, there is still a slim chance that the people will wake to the dangers of remaining a member and clamour for the greatness of the past.
England was truly a great colonizer in the Tudor years, particularly under Elizabeth I when exploration was encouraged and many overseas colonies were claimed for England. That was the beginning of becoming the largest empire in history and the world’s foremost global power. Think about this! By the early twentieth century the British Empire held sway over one-fifth of the world’s population and almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. This is why she was called, “the empire on which the sun never sets.” We simply followed the counsel of God through Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the place of thy tent …. Lengthen thy cords”. The sad comparison of this once great colonizer that Isaiah told to break forth and no longer be just an island people is again just an island people, a people who live in an England that is now being colonized by non-Israelite peoples. And reaping all the curses of Deuteronomy 28. We can’t say we weren’t warned, for one, the prophet Ezekiel told us, “….. I will send mine anger upon thee, ….. and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.” And “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes …. I will bring the worst of the heathen …. Destruction cometh …” You see, from the moment our nation and most of our people departed from the Lord God Almighty, the journey was all downhill. We reap what we sow.
It’s interesting in how Mr. Airne described the Tudor years because what he wrote mirrors our conditions today, to some extent anyway, “Food was plentiful and, for the upper classes, luxurious. Dress was extravagantly rich; many new fashions were introduced and money was spent lavishly on ornament and jewelry. Under Elizabeth especially the general prosperity was expressed in extensive building … the influence of the Renaissance led architects to erect palatial stone buildings characterized by a stately beauty in style, wealth of ornament and decoration, and dignified, superb proportions”. Two differences of then and now are probably obvious. Although new structures are constructed in our nation at break-neck speed, the structures are no longer beautiful as in the Tudor days because they lack character for the most part. Secondly, as enlightened as we think of ourselves today, poverty then was nothing like it is today, for people had the opportunity to work for a living in the bustling times when usury was basically non-existent.
History tells us that Elizabeth I travelled to the anticipated landing site of the enemy during the Spanish Armada. She was quoted as saying, “I am here to live or die for my people”. Great leaders like John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard stood by her side but England won because God was on our side. Consequently, they and all the people of England paid homage to the source of our then greatness. Indeed, though it was not always pleasant in Tudor England, most things accomplished by their great leaders were undertaken for the benefit of the people. They knew what we don’t seem to know, that God is everything. And so where Tudor England for the most part went against things that were wrong, it’s now the opposite. So, it should be easy to understand why today’s leadership have no problem with such things as easy divorces and all the other things that Isaiah wrote about, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil …” (Isaiah 5:20)
Also, England entrusted the Tudor sovereigns with absolute authority and because they seemed to have the benefit of the people as the ultimate goal, it worked out well. Elizabeth, the greatest of them all made the most agonizing decision of the entire Tudor reign, she approved the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots to avoid having the Kingdom slip back under Catholic domination. Leaders today are self-driven and as a result, morals have rapidly gone downhill. Today’s governments rarely listen to their people! As an example, think of the arbitrary decision by governments to bring in Syrian refugees without proper vetting or going to the people for guidance. Paris, Brussels and elsewhere are examples of the absolute authority by which they operate and all too often goes wrong.
There is so much more I could write but it is discouraging to know that our nation’s time of greatness during Tudor England is basically unattainable again. It’s true there have been flashes of greatness, like the inspiration of men like King George VI, Winston Churchill or women like Margaret Thatcher but no one stands up today with courage and the avowed purpose of doing what is best for the nation and its people.
Only the Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, can bring us back from the brink.