I read an interesting op-ed piece yesterday regarding the pope's visit to Britain. No pope has ventured to the small isle in 476 years. Why?
History buffs will know that a little brat of a king, Henry VIII, decided to sever all ties to the Catholic Church in 1534. One could easily argue that he wanted the Church's lands - and the revenue from them - just as much as he wanted a divorce...and heir.
Britain had a rich history of monasticism from the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century. All of these lands were not taxable by the government. By removing the Church, Henry gained a substantial new income.
In case my tone is unclear, I've always disliked Henry....and British history. Everyone in my graduate program was intrigued by Britain and I could care less. Now, sixteenth century British history is more popular than ever before, with books, TV shows, and movies abounding. I hate it. There are more interesting stories in history than that of a fat, sex-crazed, tantrum-throwing monarch from a tiny, gray island.