A Portrait of an Eligible Ruler

From the comments of the previous post, everybody knows what they dislike about their rulers, but let’s try and be constructive: what makes a politician fit for being in charge of a country? Would you like him to be a sort of shrewd leader as the one suggested by Machiavelli, a heart inflaming dreamer or simply an honest anybody, as it seems to be so “en vogue” here these days? Well, my answer is: a sharp-witted accountant, and by accountant I mean somebody who knows exactly figures, understands present situations and pursues his goals according to the real possibilities the State budget offers him and nothing more. A leader with such skills would make the fortune of his country, and I know this is to be true as in the past there was a ruler I do admire, a king, that somehow had many of these characteristics: Henry VII Tudor.

When Henry became King, he had inherited a nation shattered by a long civil dynastic war between the noble families of Lancaster and York. For what concerns foreign policy, the importance of England in Europe had become quite marginal especially after the loss of the Hundred Year’s war and furthermore, he was aware that his claim to the throne was shaky, plots and conspiracies were, in fact, always behind the corner. Differently from the other European countries, we have to remember that English kings did not rule by Divine Right, hence, they could not act as freely as they would, because their actions were submitted to the Common Law and the Magna Charta. Apparently weak, in charge of a country torn to pieces, what could he do? Not much, it would seem, but Henry accepted the challenge. First of all, he didn’t search for the limelight with great, noble actions that would have made his people dream, he was not a man of dreams, but facts, hence, he put on the clothes of the inflexible “accountant” and set to work.

He targeted two main objects: unifying the country and centralizing the power in the hand of the monarchy. Being an attentive “accountant”, he accurately pondered about what was advisable to do and not to do. First of all, he aimed at avoiding troubles with foreign and more powerful countries, as any other war would have made him at the mercy of Parliament. He chose to make commercial treaties with France and The Netherlands, thus opening up trade with both countries and arranged the marriage of his children to the crowned heads of Europe forming stronger alliances.

Stability was the main goal of his domestic policy.  First of all he married Elizabeth of York thus uniting the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Then he deprived the noble families of their private armies, enforced royal taxes, modernized administration, promoted trade and the making of a fleet, thus demonstrating that he well understood what was necessary to face the new era marked by the discovery of America. When he died, he left a safe throne, a solvent government and a prosperous and reasonably united country. Of course his son Henry VIII and his grand-daughter Elizabeth I are more interesting and well-known sort of rulers, but it was Henry VII, who actually laid the foundation of modern England.

I can’t imagine of any ruler with such determianation and clarity of purpose nowadays and certainly not here in Italy. Sunday’s vote has nothing to do with innovative or clever politics of enlightened candidates, but rather, it will end up with choosing between the frying pan and the fire and we are well aware that you might get burnt with both of them, unfortunately.





8 thoughts on “A Portrait of an Eligible Ruler

  1. What a shame then that this shrewd, economically savvy ruler was succeeded by his second son, another Henry, who proceeded to waste the legacy given him by his father on extravagant display, so much so that he then needed to despoil monasteries and other religious foundations to make up his shortfall. His father was, as you say, a kind of ideal ruler: a diplomat with business acumen and common sense. We need more of his sort.

    • True, but we have to add that the break with the Church of Rome brought great political and economic advantages to England. Of course, being a woman, there is no place for him among my top rulers.

      • When I was teaching had one Head (now deceased) who was a cross between Stalin and Henry VIII. He had the girth, moustache and ruthlessness of the former, and the religious leanings (a PhD in divinity) and the Welsh extraction of the latter. I hated him with a passion as a bully, bigot and hypocrite, though his death from inoperable cancer was not a fate I’d wish on anyone.

        My point is that he dragged an otherwise mostly liberal and caring staff into the brave new world of business models, accountancy and statistics, where facts mattered more than pupils and government diktat counted for more than true education. And I’ll never forgive him for the way he ushered this all in.

        The political and economic advantages Henry brought to England (and let’s not forget Wales, which he sadly abused) is not the absolute parallel with the Brexit shambles that we’re seeing now — though there are some — but led to religious and political persecution that I fear is indeed echoed in current events here.

  2. So many of today’s ‘rulers’: in UK, USA, and Italy are essentially kleptocrats: they’re in it for what they can get out of it, mainly by plundering the public purse, rather than having any sense of moral integrity, or governing for the good of the many. I’d vote for Gandhi or the Dalai Lama or St Francis…

    • Those are great men of ideals or faith. I prefer to choose my leader according to what he can do, rather than what he represents. Thanks for dropping by, Tony.
      Stefy 🙋

  3. ” pursues his goals according to the real possibilities the State budget offers him and nothing more.”
    But the State budget comes through taxes, so you have to have taxation policy – accountants’ attitude to taxes is that the best you can do is avoid them as much as is possible under the law.
    Surely, before managing the finances, you have to have some sort of philosophy about what a State is and should be. Some want it to get out of the way and others want it to be at the heart of everything. My belief is that in a decent society people think others’ welfare is as important as their own, and my ideal leader would be someone who isn’t afraid to say that and to make policy accordingly. I don’t see too many of them around.

    • I see accountants are the same in every part of the world ;), however, for accountant I meant somebody who is used to dealing with the reality of figures rather that vain promises. An honest accountant, let’s say.

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