Hilton, Adrian. The Principality and Power of Europe: Britain and the Emerging Holy Roman Empire (1997).

The Principality and Power of Europe
“The Union is a creation of law, and is now an autonomous law-making body in its own right, with full and final authority over its citizens. British national law is now subordinate to European law . . .”

UPDATE: My reviews on this blog are based purely on my impressions of the books that I read. I would hate to mislead anyone, so by all means read Mr. Hilton’s response to this item that is in the comments area to get the full story. Cheers.

Adrian Hilton begins his book about Euroscepticism declaring that he should not called xenophobic or accused of bigotry towards Europeans. He’s right, too, no where in this book does he really say he hates Europeans. Instead the book is all about his fear of Catholics. So bigotry towards Catholics is a better accusation.

Hilton’s book is an attack on the United Kingdom’s integration into the European Union, and (while I don’t have a horse in the race) I agree that the EU is a bad fit for the UK. At the same time Hilton’s argument is terribley flawed in that it is primarily based on arguments about the Church of England and the powers of the Queen. These seem, to me, to be very weak arguments to be making about a liberal and autonomous society such as the UK. He argues that because England is a protestant country, it should stay out of the EU because the EU is essentially a Catholic entity. It makes a great conspiracy theory, but doesn’t hold water. He bases this on Pope John Paul II (the book is a bit dated) support of the EU and on his opposition to the Yalta Agreement which subdivided Europe.

He reaches all the way back to Henry VIII’s split with the Rome to assert that England should be autonomous of the EU. He refers to Henry’s statement “This realm of England is an Empire” as legal grounds for Englands independence. What he is overlooking is the ongoing jurisdictional battles that had been occuring between Popes and temporal Princes. Rome claimed that it had both divine and temporal authority (granted at the Council of Chalcedon) over the leaders of Europe. Henry simple wouldn’t play along anymore (for reasons of divorce), but Rome abandoned the policy of asserting the temporal power that it claimed (although it still claims it), and has continued to so. One of his major critique’s is the Pope’s political persona. For example the Pope can address the UN. He claims that no other religious leader has that right, but he fails to realize that the pope is also a head of state and this is what allows him to address the UN. It is disconcerting that Hilton is worried about the Pope’s abilities as a religious leader, but endorses the English law that keeps the Queen and Prime Minister from being ROman Catholic.

To be honest though, I’m way behind on my posting, and just can’t be bothered to delve deeper into this book. Its got some interesting legal history and a very skewed and dated approach to the European Union. Probably, not the best place to begin your research, but hey, its your research – do as you please.

Adrian Hilton


8 Responses to Hilton, Adrian. The Principality and Power of Europe: Britain and the Emerging Holy Roman Empire (1997).

  1. I hope you will permit me the right of response to this one-sided and misrepresentative ‘review’ of a book I wrote a decade ago. It is easy to post such an ill-informed partial truth on the internet, only for it to be quoted as categorical truth by others at a later date.

    1) There is nothing in this book whatsoever about my ‘fear of Catholics’. I do not fear them; indeed, I have very many friends who are Roman Catholic whom I like and love, and recently attended a service for a friend who was ordained deacon into that church. By superficially turning a detailed study into a ‘phobia’, you simply follow a tabloid mentality to assert a cheap headline.

    2) You accuse me of ‘bigotry towards Catholics’. My concern is with the ‘-ism’, but perhaps you would care to define what you mean by the term ‘bigot’? The Pope recently said that the Church of England is ‘not a proper church’; it holy orders are ‘null and void’ – is that bigotry? Paul Goodman MP has recently expressed grave concerns about ‘Islamism’ – is that bigotry? The gay community has also recently accused Roman Catholic adoption agencies of bigotry for refusing to place children with same-sex couples. Is a bigot simply one who happens to disagree with the opinions of another?

    3) You appear to understand very little, if anything, about the political and philosophical Protestant/Catholic divide in Europe. It has little to do with the Church of England and the Queen, and everything to do with what became known as the Protestant ethic versus Roman Catholic social doctrine. My concerns have always been the implications for the UK of the imposition of Roman Catholic social doctrine, and the corporatist, statist, bureaucratic continental system which challenges the Anglo-Saxon political right-wing philosophy of free markets, liberty, and tolerance. A sovereign legislature is the antithesis of the continental right-wing of autocracy, cohesion, catholicism and corporatism. It is the Corporatist section of the Conservative Party which favours the EU agenda, corporatism being an expression of Roman Catholic social doctrine (Inspired by two Papal Encyclicals: Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo anno (1931).). It advocates close co-operation between employers and workers, with the State overseeing wages, working conditions, production, prices and exchange. By eliminating competition, the system is meant to promote social justice and order. The connection between Catholicism and the Continental right-wing is evident in the various Christian Democratic parties, though it appears to be ‘evident’ only for those who have eyes, and to articulate such a link, leaves one with accusations of bigotry. The thesis hold as much water as the bucket has the capacity to comprehend economic and political philosophy.

    4) You say the book is ‘a bit dated’. You appear to have reviewed in 2007 the 1997 version. In fact, it was updated in a 2000 edition (which you misleadingly display). I apologise I refer to John Paul II, but in 2000 I could have foreseen neither his death nor the name of his successor. To state that a political book written in the confines of time and space is ‘a bit dated’ strikes me as a statement of the blindingly obvious, but I would be interested to hear your strategy for perpetually up-dating every edition such that the names and circumstances mentioned are constantly updated.

    5) To state that I overlook ‘the ongoing jurisdictional battles that had been occurring between Popes and temporal Princes’ is to completely misrepresent the book, for it is the foundational concern I express. Indeed, one wonders if you bothered to read the book at all. That Rome still claims ‘temporal power’ is the precise reason there are implications for a nation that is Protestant by law being a member of a union that is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. It has nothing to do with religion in the private sense, but everything to do with politics in the public sense. That the Pope can address the UN by virtue of his temporal authority is the precise point I make, and it is that temporal authority to which a Roman Catholic monarch would be subject. Far from ignoring the point, it is the principal contention. Quite why you have chosen to overlook it is incomprehensible, unless, of course, you have a horse in an alternative race.

    6) You appear to be critical of my historical perspectives – Henry VIII, Reformation, WWII, Yalta. As an educator, I just happen to believe that history is the best lens through which to view the present. If we do not learn the lessons of history, we are simply doomed to repeat them.

    7) You say it makes a great ‘conspiracy theory’, yet ignore some very eminent politicians who have made the same observations, not least Perry Worsthorne in The Daily Telegraph (25 Aug 1991), and Baroness Shirley Williams, who said as far back as 1975: “We will be joined to a Europe in which the Catholic religion will be the dominant faith, and in which the application of the Catholic Social Doctrine will be the major factor in everyday political and economic life.” But then this is history, so perhaps out of your radar.

    8) You say it is ‘disconcerting’ that I support a law which ‘keeps the Queen and Prime Minister from being Roman Catholic’. There is no such law, and again you misrepresent what I say. The legal restrictions apply to the Monarch and his/her spouse only. I agree with it both because I am a supporter of Establishment of the Church of England (which as far as I am aware does not place me outside the pale of Conservative society) and because I believe that the proper role of a constitutional monarch is potentially undermined if (s)he owes allegiances to foreign powers (as Catholics owe fealty to the Pope). The reason people get away with labelling such ideas as ‘bigoted’ is that no argument of any serious sort has been made either for the constitutional monarchy or for the Establishment of the Church of England for some 40-50 years.

    I hope this clarifies a few points for whomever you are setting off on their research.

  2. PJ Blount says:

    Mr. Hilton,

    Thank you for your very complete (and prompt I might add) response to my review of your book. I would just like to say a few general things. I did indeed read the 1997 volume of your book (as indicated in the title of my post). Unfortunately, Amazon does not have a picture of that cover. I regret that I haven’t read the updated version. However when I make the claim that the book is dated, its because it is. It is not meant to be a slight upon the author, as there can be no expectation for him or her to constantly update names and dates in a work already printed. As a result though, books become dated through the lapse of time and it becomes a statement of fact to say so.

    When I say that I don’t have a “horse in the race” its because I am an American, and any speculating that I do on the EU is purely an academic exercise. I have lived in London for the past year, though, and I do agree with you that the UK does not belong in the EU. However, it is your strong religious reasons for your argument that I take issue with. Sovereignty is a genuine issue for the UK and its intergration into the wider European community, but sovereignty does not pass from God as was once reasoned, and a country that has embraced a separation of Church and State should not base arguments for remaining outside the union on the idea.

    I will say that I regret that I didn’t give the book a closer look in my review. To be honest I read it some time ago, and it had been sitting on my desk with a pile of notes. However, these were the impressions that I got from my read of the book, so I will leave the review as it stands. I apologize for any mistatements of fact that I may have included, but instead of changing them though, I have directed readers to your comment and left them so as not to rob it of its context.

    Thank you again for you discussion.

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  6. Franklin Samraj says:

    TO Hilton Adrain,

    Just yesterday in our service an American lady spoke about your book and Ideas in the book. I have not read your book but I would like to ask you a few questions. From what I heard yesterday your book deals with the EU, and today much more than 10 years back it is a hot subject.- My question: do you link your thoughts with any biblical passages in a prophetic context ? If so what passages are referred. I ask this because I dont have access to a book at the moment


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