Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Historical Political Appeal of Myth

In , Michael Wood tells the story of a table once believed to be the famed Round Table of King Arthur. Preserved and passed down through history, the table was at one point preserved by Henry VIII, who regarded himself to be the heir to Arthur's legacy.

Many British rulers have -- publicly or privately -- regarded the mythical Aurthur as a paragon of a virtuous king, to be emulated. Arthur is regarded as the penultimate benevolent ruler.

Arthur's myth came to possess a great amount of political appeal.

Henry VIII established the Anglican Church, and broke the Catholic Church's hold over England.

Of course, Henry VIII did not act out of noble ambitions. He acted out of the desire to divorce his wife, in the desperation to produce a male heir to the throne.

The Catholic Church wouldn't allow Henry to to divorce his wife. His actions eventually resulted in his excommunication from the Church.

In time, Henry's legacy would be religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants throughout British colonial holdings -- particularly in Ireland and Canada.

Depending on which version of the Arthur legend one ascribes to -- the classic legend, or the one many historians promote, in which Arthurius led northern Pagans to ally with Woads to create a society based on religious and ethnic tolerance -- the legacies of King Arthur and Henry VIII couldn't be more disparate.

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