Monday, 11 February 2013

Look North

It is difficult to know which is more insulting to the deceased himself. That Richard III should be buried according to the confected rites of an ecclesiastical organisation set up 50 years after his death by the ersatz dynasty that overthrew him, killed him, publicly desecrated his remains, refused them proper burial, and then blackened his name for centuries. Or that he should be buried even as far south as the hostile city of Leicester, never mind in the very citadel of his enemies, where they themselves are interred. The two are not unconnected.

1485 is to the North of England what 1745 is to the North of Scotland, or 1865 is to the American South: the point at which one part of what had previously been at least a bicultural state became instead a power of military occupation and colonial exploitation in the rest of the national territory, and then rapidly elsewhere.

Those in the North who rose, peacefully or violently, against the imposition of the Tudors’ new religion did so not least on the grounds that the members of that House, at any rate in their male line of descent, was no more Royal than hundreds of other people. The Catholic sentiment was also Plantagenet, which, following the dying out of the House of Lancaster, could only have meant Yorkist. Recusancy, that remnant English Catholicism always far stronger in the North than in the South, was a key subculture put out of sorts by the further change of dynasty, in 1688.

The others were the High Churchmen (who subsequently became variously Methodists and Anglo-Catholics, as well as always including Scottish Episcopalians), the Quakers, and many Congregationalists and Baptists. Catholicism, Anglo-Catholicism, several stripes of Nonconformity: all vastly more Northern than Southern phenomena. Through Richard III’s niece, Elizabeth of York, the Stuarts were of Plantagenet lineage; it is also through her that the present Queen is descended from Muhammad, but that is another story.

Long after the death of any realistic hope of a Stuart, never mind a Plantagenet, restoration, the Catholic, High Church, Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist and Quaker subcultures continued to maintain the fundamental and ultimate illegitimacy of the Hanoverian State, that State’s Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology.

As well as forming much of the intellectual and cultural background to the creation of the American Republic (and to the opposition to slavery within the Southern Colonies and States), that sense produced the campaign against the slave trade, the Tory and Radical extensions of the franchise, the Tory and Radical uses of government action against social evils, the emergence of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.

Whether or not he killed his nephews, Richard III certainly did for the saintly Henry VI, the cause of whose canonisation, well-advanced when his namesake broke with Rome, would be very well worth revisiting today. But the only thing that would approach the sheer effrontery of burying him as a member of the Church of Henry VIII would be burying him in the imperial capital of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Margaret Thatcher and the reunited Whig Party that is the Coalition. Or even at some place in between there and where, in every sense, he truly belongs.

His remains must come home to the Catholic Church. And they must come home to the North, which the present Whig Government re-estranges more by the day from the Tudor Empire. A Requiem Mass of the Use of York. And interment in York Minster, on the site of the birthplace of Christendom in 306. But of that, another time.

3 comments:

Jack C said...

You say: "the birthplace of Christendom in 306".

I'm not sure what you mean by that. A little early surely?

David Lindsay said...

Not at all. That was where and when Constantine, Saint Helena's son, was proclaimed Emperor.

Robert said...

"Richard III," Mr Lindsay insists, "certainly did for the saintly Henry VI".

"Certainly"? Perhaps to those who still seriously imagine that Shakespeare was writing sober history instead of Tudor agitprop; but to anyone else?