Friday, May 16, 2008

The Continuity of History


A month ago I stood in the cathedral of Lisieux, in which, when the mortar of the church was hardly dry, Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine. That marriage gave the kings of England a great domain in France and entailed long wars between the two countries. This struggle, lasting throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, was the chief cause of the baronial anarchy which culminated in the wars of the roses. The Tudor despotism was the outcome of those wars, and in trying to maintain that despotism the Stuarts lost their throne. The revolution which overthrew the Stuarts gave supremacy to parliament and led directly to the union.

Finally the parliament of Great Britain, after proving its capacity by creating the British empire and defeating Napoleon, formed the model for constitutional government throughout the civilized world. Thus the effects of the marriage of Henry II are felt to this day throughout the civilized world. And so we may — nay, we must — treat any great historical event until the ages are "bound each to each by natural piety." This is what is meant by the continuity of history. — National Review.

No comments: