Did Henry VIII’s Tudor ‘Brexit’ Lead to England’s Trading Glory, or a Century of Depression?

Our Tudor Brexiteer, by Hans Holbein the Younger

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Nomura has a sober warning for Brexiteers. The last time England defied the European order in such a drastic fashion, the schism was followed by a century of economic stagnation and simmering conflicts that culminated in the Civil War.

The Japanese bank says the “obvious precedent” for Brexit is the English Reformation of 1534. “King Henry VIII passed the Acts of Supremacy making him ‘supreme head in earth of the Church of England’ and repealing any ‘usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority’.”

This act of petulance or patriotism – depending on your point of view – failed to usher in the golden age of Elizabethan prosperity that we have mostly come to believe. Or at least, that is Nomura’s reading of the reconstructed data on the real GDP per capita. There was no rise in living standards for the next hundred years. It was a depression.

The parallels with the Reformation are certainly striking. Church law was under the foreign jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, enforced by a clerical apparatus that asserted supremacy and was widely resented. Church taxes were paid directly to Rome.

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