It was Henry VIII who first proved the irrelevance of religion (except for personal gain). He didn’t care about theology. He just wanted what the Protestant monarchs had – freedom to act without approval from the Church. From the beginning, Anglicanism was all about the king. His supporters converted straight away. Those who opposed him remained Catholic. For those in power the independence of church and state became a classic example of, “Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.” I suspect the barons and earls who controlled parliament felt much the same way.

Henry VIII (1491–1547), son of Henry VII; reigned 1509–47. Henry had six wives (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, Katherine Parr) and three children (Mary I, with Catherine of Aragon; Elizabeth I, with Anne Boleyn; and Edward VI, with Jane Seymour). His first divorce, from Catherine of Aragon, was opposed by the Pope, leading to England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1689 (about the time of Britain’s “Glorious Revolution”) the Camerons, the Macdonalds and the Macleans cared little for either King James (James Stuart II, the Catholic) or King William (of Orange) and Queen Mary II (the Protestants).

James II (1633–1701), son of Charles I, king of England, Ireland, and (as James VII) Scotland 1685–8. His Catholic beliefs led to the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 and to James’ later deposition in favor of William of Orange and Mary II. Attempts to regain the throne resulted in James’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

In 1689 Parliament declared that James had abdicated by deserting his kingdom. William (reigned 1689-1702) and Mary (reigned 1689-94) were offered the throne as joint monarchs. The exclusion of James II and his heirs was extended to exclude all Roman Catholics from the throne, since ‘it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist prince’. The Sovereign was required in his coronation oath to swear to maintain the Protestant religion.

Contemporaneously the reigning monarchs (who were largely bridled to Westminster Abbey and London) thought little of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands.

“From the shepherds and herdsmen who fought in the ranks up to the chiefs, all was harmony and order. Every man looked up to his immediate superior, and all looked up to the common head. But with the chief this chain of subordination ended. He knew only how to govern, and had never learned to obey. Even to royal proclamations, even to Acts of Parliament, he was accustomed to yield obedience only when they were in perfect accordance with his own inclinations. ”

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3
Thomas Babington Macaulay

The British were intent upon preserving parliamentary rule and alliance with the Church of England (the retail advocacy of which involved an earlier King James I). It was all about getting organized; putting things in order; setting the course.

James I (England) or VI (Scotland) ruled England from March 1603–March 1625. His grandson, James II (England) or James VII (Scotland) ruled both England and Scotland from February 1685 until he was deposed in December 1688.

The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version (AV), is an Early Modern English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and published in 1611, by sponsorship of King James VI and I. The 80 books of the King James Version include 39 books of the Old Testament, 14 books of Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament.

Noted for its “majesty of style”, the King James Version has been described as one of the most important books in English culture and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world. The King James Version remains the preferred translation of many Christian fundamentalists and religious movements, and it is considered one of the important literary accomplishments of early modern England.

The KJV was the third translation into English approved by the English Church authorities: The first had been the Great Bible (1535), and the second had been the Bishops’ Bible (1568). In Switzerland the first generation of Protestant Reformers had produced the Geneva Bible  which was published in 1560 having referred to the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, which was influential in the writing of the Authorized King James Version.

Meanwhile the Scots began what in many ways has been a history of isolation and independence.

A tolbooth or town house was the main municipal building of a Scottish burgh, from medieval times until the 19th century. The tolbooth usually provided a council meeting chamber, a court house and a jail. The tolbooth was one of three essential features in a Scottish burgh, along with the mercat cross and the kirk (church).

Burghs were created in Scotland from the 12th century. They had the right to hold markets and levy customs and tolls, and tolbooths were originally established for collection of these. Royal burghs were governed by an elected council, led by a provost and baillies, who also acted as magistrates with jurisdiction over local crime. The tolbooth developed into a central building providing for all these functions. Most tolbooths had a bell, often mounted on a steeple, and later clocks were added. As well as housing accused criminals awaiting trial, and debtors, tolbooths were also places of public punishment, equipped with a whipping post, stocks or jougs. The tolbooth was occasionally a place of execution, and where victim’s heads were displayed. The tolbooth may also have served as the guardhouse of the town guard. Other functions provided in various tolbooths included schoolrooms, weighhouses, storage of equipment and records, and entertainments.

The Acts of Union 1707 refer to both England and Scotland as a “part” of a united kingdom of Great Britain. The denomination, like the underlying religious controversy between papacy and protestantism, had however faded into obscurity. Once again the sole ambition was the exercise of authority.

Martin Luther (1483–1546), German theologian; the principal figure of the German Reformation. He preached the doctrine of justification by faith rather than by works and railed against the sale of indulgences and papal authority.

I mention all this for what must at first seem a curious reason.  Yesterday I read that Donald J. Trump, when asked in a scheduled interview whether his proposed agenda as president were authoritarian, replied, “A lot of people like authority.”  And you know what, my immediate reaction was to agree.  It surprised me that I did so, not merely because I haven’t overall a thing for Trump but more exquisitely that I hadn’t anticipated embracing so vigourlessly the monopoly of power he so clearly exemplified. Herein lies the curiosity; namely, privately I govern my life by rigorous strictures, habits, customs, repetitions, models and limitless other rigours of jurisdiction, dominion and leverage. I cloud my life with authority. And, yes, one can dismiss some or all of the mastery upon incisive reflection; but it still remains true that there are those who would prefer to be governed. Period. The analysis is redundant once convinced of the certitude.

Even if it were possible to contradict the endorsement of authority, it has its inducement and invitation.  Predominantly I see the attraction of authority as the simplification of problems.  First, you get to abandon your own analysis of decisions to the care of someone else.  Second, the mere rush of the concept is its immediacy and finality.  Meanwhile whatever problems might have otherwise prevailed have summarily evaporated.

A resolute future is enticing. Many people no doubt blame other people or events for their current dismay. Authoritarianism overcomes the answer by removing the question. Naturally in the process we remove ourselves from the dialogue. But reason and logic can be so disruptive. Making conclusions about life is something best left to those who know.