Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tudors and Adapting to Change

Reading a book about the Tudors the first thing I learned was that there were only three generations of them. Henry VII, Henry VIII and his children, the third of which was Queen Elizabeth I. This was a surprise because with the amount of history and influence they had, you would think that they were a much more successful dynasty.

The second thing was that I need to read more about English history. It is much more complex that reading one book can express. There is much more going on than just kings and queens and such. The religious life of the country, the complex relations with Scotland, Wales and Ireland, (each of which could fill libraries) and the complex weaving genealogies of the nobility. Though I could follow the book just fine I always had that uncomfortable feeling that I was missing subtext. I hate that, I makes me want to read everything else about that period, just to catch up.

The third thing that really struck me about this book was how evil of a man Henry VIII was. Changing the religious life of your entire country from honest faith and sincere feeling is one thing, doing it because you have never been denied something in your entire life and aren't about to be stopped now is another. The Tudors have remained famous through history because it doesn't take all that much time to run a country into the ground. The author makes a good case for this century of misrule being the reason for the Reformation and rebellion and social cataclysms of the 17th century in England.

Henry basically forced religious change on his people. They weren't happy about it but when enough stalwart priests had been brutally executed they didn't have much of a choice. I kept thinking about the regular people, being subject to changes they couldn't alter, protest or avoid and that could very well affect their immortal soul. The prayer books and the commandments and who you should pray to and who was head of the church kept changing. There were a number of peasant protests, none of which amounted to much. It seems the common people did what they have always done: put their heads down, minded their own business and prayed they wouldn't get caught in the arguments of those above them.

Oddly enough this made me think about myself. Right now my family is caught in circumstances we cannot change. My husband's business closed. He was able to find a new job, a very good job in fact, but we are still saddled with the mortgage of our previous house, as well as debt and burdens relating to the business. We cannot change the nature of the economy. We cannot make Congress or the President or any given law making authority see reason and do things that might hurt temporarily but will strengthen our country. We can't sell the equipment we bought for the business. We have been trying, but no one is buying. We can't even sell our house, though we have dropped the price significantly. The small town real estate market is slow even in the best of times. So what do you do when stuck in the middle of things you cannot change or avoid?

We adapt. At least that is what we are trying to do. Change is a part of life. Yet we spend so much of our emotional life avoiding it as much as possible. Not only in our personal lives. So much energy is spent trying to keep everything the same, socially, economically, climate and whatnot. Some of those changes are going to be bad, but not all of them. For example, climate change (a change of phrase from global warming after the bad winter) is bad, especially for coastal cities, yet some change is normal and natural, fires, floods, moving of populations from one place to another. Though biologists might wish for static populations to study, these things have always been in flux. The key is to know how to adapt and survive.

Things aren't really that bad for us, because we have been blessed and helped in innumerable ways. But we must adapt and know that change is always with us, we can't avoid it, we must grin and bear it.

The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty. G.J. Meyer. Delacorte. 2010

1 comment:

jendoop said...

Nice insight, thanks :)