Foreshadowing Brexit?

March 31, 2017—As Britain considers how to extricate itself from the European Union, it is looking to history—and Henry VIII in particular. The Tudor king, whose court member is likely depicted in this portrait, prompted his own schism with Continent Europe in the 1500s. Seeking to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the king broke with the theological leadership of Continental Europe, based in Vatican City.

To remove references to European regulations, today’s government plans to deploy so-called Henry VIII clauses, dating to 1539, which gave the king power to legislate by proclamation. Members of Parliament from the Scottish National Party condemn the approach as fundamentally undemocratic.

Image credit: Henry VIII by Studio of Hans Holbein the Younger, 1540-1550 © National Trust

Source: Stephen Castle, “Britain, Breaking Up With E.U., Looks to an Expert: Henry VIII,” The New York Times, March 31, 2017