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Questions, questions...

I am, as Charlie said yesterday in his introduction, a historian. More precisely, I'm a historian specialising in the history of the Celtic-speaking peoples - the Welsh, the Irish, the Scots, the Bretons, the Cornish - in the early middle ages (roughly speaking between around 400 C.E. and 1200 C.E., give or take a century or so at both ends, depending on the country). But I have sub-specialisms in Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Scandinavia (vikings!) and, out of pure awkwardness, 17th century France. My particular expertise in all that is Wales, 500-1300. All very neat and academic, all very remote, or so it often looks.

There are, as a result of this, three questions that I get asked a lot. The first is, most obviously, 'What's the point of studying that?' The early middle ages are remote from us now, and I specialise in areas that have changed almost beyond recognition in the succeeding centuries, through conquest and annexation and foreign influence. There are a number of answers I give to that question. One, which to me is the most obvious is: well, it's interesting. I belong to that set of people who were born curious, who want to know, who love to learn and study and explore, and the more abstruse or challenging the subject, the more I enjoy it. It is, I suppose, the thrill of the chase. The answer I give to parents of students, to journalists and to critics, however, is this one: we need to know our past in order to understand the structures and forms of our present. And, in many cases, the origins of those structures and forms lie hundreds or even thousands of years back. Why am I writing this in English and not Welsh or French even some modern reflection of classical Latin? The answer to that has its roots in the migrations and invasions of both the British Isles and a great part of Western Europe in the 3rd through 6th centuries by peoples from the north and the east, in the form and shape of the Norman conquest of England in the last part of the eleventh century, in the effects of the feudal structures imposed by that latter and their expansionist nature. Had some part of this gone another way, taken another turn, met a different barrier or reverse, I might well be writing this in a language much closer to German (and you might be speaking that latter, too, and all without any influence from twentieth century events). Our history helps to explain us as we now are, and that is always useful

The second question is more of a comment. 'I didn't know they had any history.' This is usually in response to me saying, 'Well, I'm a historian of Wales, sort of.' This remark is meant most often as a joke - Wales deliberately misheard as whales - but it has a serious undertone. Wales is not a major player in the eyes of the world, or, indeed, in the eyes of most of the British. It most commonly crops up in the media as a BBC measurement cliché, ('an area the size of Wales!') or in reference to a singer or actor (Charlotte Church, Ioan Gruffudd). But it's a joke with a sting. The truism is that history is written by the victors and we often leave out the separate histories of those we have conquered or who we hold unimportant. Removing histories is a means of colonialism, of Empire, of dominance. Remembering and teaching those histories is a means of resistance and celebration. When people make that joke, what they are saying under the humour is that only some peoples, only some cultures are worthy of serious attention. They don't say because they're mean, by and large, or even because they really think that. They say it because their background and education makes it an easy shot. The history of Britain, as taught in schools here in the UK (and most people don't study history after school) is, by and large, the history of the English, of England, which is the culturally dominant group. The other cultures are silenced - not just the Celts, but the Indian diaspora, the African and African-Carribbean population, the Chinese, the Italians and Jews and Poles, and all the other peoples who make up the modern British. When we study outside our cultural mainstream, it's a little act of subversion, a small rebellion, an act of reclamation. I believe in those. We need to know ourselves fully, in all our variety, not just the single story of the dominant.

The third question is; but what is history anyway? That's a big one, and usually asked by those who are genuinely interested. And there are many, many answers to it. My answers to the first to questions are part of it, as are every single other question I've asked myself, of the sources and materials I study. History is us, it is, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, now and this blog, it's the world as it is as it wakes today, and as it was yesterday. It's that rat in the arras and the flag over Capitol Hill, the wars that still damage the world, and the struggle against them, the people whose names and deeds we memorialise - Qin Shi Huang Di, Napoleon, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Gandhi, Kenneth Kenyatta, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Samia Nkrumah, George Washington, Isabella of Angouleme, Trahaearn ap Caradog, Brian Boru, Harold Bluetooth, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, Tecumseh, Catherine the Great, Lenin, Isaac Newton, Sappho.... I could go on and on. History is the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and where we came from, and the stories we rewrite to suit ourselves. It's the stories we try to forget and the stories we suppress. It's how we explain ourselves to ourselves, a source of comfort and a source of shame, a tool of war and a means of peace. History is us, history is why the modern world is at it is, and that is why it matters.

105 Comments

1:

Hi Kari

Thanks for that. It's interesting and I hope to submit a sensible question in due course.

In the meantime while CE 400 is presumably a bit late, is there any evidence as regards the Druids, whether they existed, what they believed and so forth. As far as I know what we know of them largely comes for Julius Caesar who (and while I know you might find this difficult to believe) may not have been an unbiased commentator.

Thanks a lot,
Conan (yes, I've not been well recently) E. Moorcock.

2:

Hi, Conan!
Good Breton name, that.
As you say, most of what we know about druids comes via Caesar: there are late references in some Irish texts, but these are all post-Christian, and the druids are largely presented as antagonists to saints, claiming powers which the saint then proves false.
There is, however, an interesting argument that the way that some saints are presented and described, again in Irish texts, is a reflection of the cultural space once occupied by druids: powerful individuals given to curses, as much feared as respected. We possess two items which were written by St Patrick (his Confession and his Letter to Coroticus -- an Irish leader in Scotland somewhere, probably): his personality as revealed by those seems quite self-effacing and community-centred. By contrast, Patrick as presented in later Lives of him written in Irish monasteries (and notably the Tripartite Life, late 9th century) depict him as a dominant, strong-minded, rather frightening figure. It's been suggested that this may have been the public persona expected of druids. Of course, there is no way of proving this.
Other than that, we know from references in law codes that they were high status individuals who had considerable freedom in relation to kings, say. (But this may be back projection from the status desired by senior clerics.) And Bede tells us that the island of Anglesey was a druid sanctuary, but gives no details.
All of this material dates from the 6th century and later -- after the establishment of Christianity. In terms of sources contemporary with active druids, apart from Caesar, there are a few other references in Greek and Roman sources. There are suggestions of human sacrifices, the collection of the heads of enemies (the skulls then used as cups by the druids), some form of reverence for ancestors, of respect for birds and their use in divination, the study of the natural world and druids acting as negotiators in war. You can find all of these collected in Philip Freeman, War, Women and Druids (University of Texas Press, 2002). The problem is that all these items are written by outsiders, often people who had only heard of these practices, not seen them, and who may well have conflated together the practices of various different peoples who were in reality dissimilar, under that label 'Celt'.
It's a fascinating subject, though!

3:

I guess my questions are:
--so how good is your Welsh then? Do you read the languages of the areas you specialize in?

--if you're talking to a 20th century audience, what's the strangest thing about the people you study, from our modern perspective? Sometimes we forget how much people change over time.

As context, I've been reading the history of the Korean Peninsula, and back in the 19th century, no one would have believed that the Hermit Kingdom, the most backward and isolationist nation in East Asia, would either be bifurcated now, nor that South Korea (the rebellious rural backwater of a agrarian backwater) would be one of the most wired countries in the world today. That's in 120 years, and mostly in the last 40. Change can be sudden and thorough, and it takes some work to see back through it.

4:

Kari said:

The second question is more of a comment. 'I didn't know they had any history.'

Hummm... When I was about 13 (which was a very long time ago) I had an argument about this... the general line of my argument was that anything that happens in the past is de-facto "history". Maybe not very perceived important history like Kings, battles, revolutions and so on, but history none-the-less.

But don't you think history is constantly reinterpreted in terms of what's going on now and some even well established histories become less important to the general metier of society and other histories become more important to them depending on current societal needs or trends?

Thanks


5:

Thanks for that reply. It will take me a while to go through that and do any justice to your reply.

Until Later!

Thanks.

6:

Hi Keri
Given your speciality what led you to it? Did an interest in fantasy come first or develop from your studies?

7:

Hi Kari,

Do you have any recommendations for a good history of Wales? I've read Gwynfor Evans's "Land of my Fathers" (years ago) and it seemed pretty good and reliable... but I don't have the background to say how reliable it actually is.

8:

The maddening bit about history for me is that it can be written by the victors so much of what we know may have already gone through revisionism. Of course, there's also the truth that academics don't make names for confirming known truths but for upending them so there's always the risk of being contrarian for its own sake.

If our modern era a thousand years from now is known as the digital dark age, then perhaps the only written records that remain will be political newsletters from fringe groups that refused to electrify. Future generations will know of the great leader Reagan who won the Cold War against the communists which lead to a Global Warming and the inundation of the coastal settlements. The people did not blame Reagan for this but instead accused the dirty hippies, a despised minority sect who practiced a religion called Socialism. They were also alleged to poison wells, steal babies and ingest mind-altering drugs. And who can argue with that if the few primary sources are in agreement?

I can't find the specific historian's name from a cursory googling but I remember reading about a westerner who had a romantic notion of how wonderful the Mesoamerican cultures were and assumed all talk of human sacrifice was just bad-mouthing by the Spanish. As he unearthed evidence that it did occur he remained in full denial. He'd painted a lovely picture of a civilization that did not really exist.

How do you handle the doubts you must surely have of getting anywhere near the actual truth of what really happened?

9:

I love history, entirely an amateur, don't really consider there to be a strong divider between history and historical fiction (other the HF is generally better written)

The question i always struggle with is how to apply a study of history to the modern era given the way technology changes things?

My suspicion is that 80% is still relevant, but how to tell which 80%? Especially given the answer is changing daily.

10:

Goodness, I'm going to have to be on my toes to keep up here!
Heteromeles: my modern Welsh is rusty -- I used to have basic fluency, but I haven't used it a lot in recent years, so I'm back to having to reach for dictionaries a lot. In terms of languages for sources materials, I can work with texts in Old English, Old Norse, Middle Welsh, Old French, Early Modern Irish, and mediaeval Latin. I can struggle through Old Irish with a dictionary, a grammar and a lot of swearing.
The strangest thing. Hmm, that's difficult, because I'm used to the period I work on -- it doesn't feel that strange to me, if that makes sense. In a lot of ways the thing that I find weirdest is the gap between popular belief about the Celts and their historical reality.
I would love some bibliography on Korea: that's a country I know less about than I should and I always want to learn more.

Conan: yes, definitely. History is mutable in a lot of ways. There are things that stay the same -- X event happened -- but how we code that, what meanings we ascribe to it, change over time in response to new circumstances.

Mark: oh, the fantasy came first. I was reading it from my earliest memories (my first favourite book was Alice in Wonderland, when I was three). I read Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien when I was 12 or 13, and somehow convinced myself that in order to be a fantasy writer (my ambition) I needed to become a philologist. So I applied to study Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, which was the closest course I could find, at university. I then discovered that I don't actually enjoy philology and turned into a historian. However, I'd always enjoyed history and my mother had studied and taught it, so it was no hardship.

Tucker: the 'standard' work is J. E. Lloyd, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest. You want the 4th edition, (1949, I think). However, the first 4 or so chapters are now completely outdated and not worth reading. But the rest is still a very good introduction. For more of the social and economic history, Wendy Davies, Wales in the Early Middle Ages. And there's my The Welsh Kings (written with under my other name, Kari Maund), which is a popular introduction (though I feel odd, mentioning my own books).

JollyReaper: I have huge doubts a lot of the time and I am always aware of how much I don't know. I tell myself that the best I can do is to be as careful as I can and to try and do the best job I can. But there are areas where we have such thin material -- 10th century Scotland, for instance -- that all we can do is speculate in very, very careful terms.

Unholyguy: that's a really huge question, and one that, as a mediaevalist, I'm pretty sure I don't have anything like a decent answer for. I guess for me, I look at how and why we use that technology, who gets to use it, who gets to control it, and what attitudes and ideas we accept and deny about it. That gets us some way to seeing how it is affecting our society and culture.

Wow. Some great questions here! Thank you, all.

11:

@9:

Speaking from the "pro" side of the spectrum, I've always figured that the difference between history and historical fiction comes down to two things:

1) HF writers get to play with the "Well it could have happened that way!" wild card in their narrative deck.

2) HF has to make sense.* :-)

* I mean, try writing a historical novel in which the (fictional) evil warlord, at the moment when everything's going his way, double-crosses his most powerful ally and (six months later) gratuitously declares war on the most powerful country he's not yet at war with. "Wow," your editor will say as she skims your proposal into the recycling bin, "how implausible can you get?" And yet, between June and December 1941 . . .

12:

Is there anything about the history you study that really resonates for you, and that you think would resonate for the broader public?

13:

I've loved Wales since watching the tv drama Hawkmoor about Twm Siôn Cati in the late 70's, Susan Cooper's spooky mythological tales, and long family holidays in Caernarfon (*) and Beddgelert. Though I can't get there as often as I'd like, to me the people are fellow countrymen (and women) rather than foreigners. I long campaigned in my school to learn Welsh rather than French on the grounds that I can walk to Wales but can't walk to France. Plus, when I get there, although the French people I've met are great, the Welsh are wonderful. "And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes"..

I know a bit about the myths and legends of Wales, but less about the actual history apart from kings, dates and battles. Is there something for the lay reader, along the lines of Asa Brigg's Social History of England that you could recommend, please?

And how do you ever get any work done when it's so tempting to take the day off and go into the hills?

(*)It's possible to rent one of the towers of Caernarfon's walls as a holiday cottage, which is spectacular.

14:

I have not particularly studied the history, but one side of my family built Pembroke Castle (not the first bailey, but the main castle) out on the Welsh border, and the other side was down in the city looking up and throwing things.

15:

Hi Kari

I have this romantic notion of the Welsh being the refuge of the Romano-British as the western empire collapsed. I always wonder what it must have been like to be one of the secular educated citizens of a society that had disappeared. Is this an accurate picture in any way? Did education continue? Factories stay open? At least to some degree? I suppose with all the trade links gone, a subsistance life was forced upon everyone, leaving less and less time for the "softer" aspects of civilisation...

16:

History matters. Whats going on matters more. I loved history till I found how its rewritten for whoever is in power. Look at how the causes of WW-2 a still in a flux. Hardly anything everyone knows seems to be right. Like what the old English public schools pounded into young heads. If that happened? Over here we moved to the Prussian model to pull the country together long after the Civil War. So what we have are our students being tested on bunk. But its the right kind of bunk. A kid wins awards for his writing on American history and goes to collage. Then finds most a what he was told was wrong. So there is much worry over the educated who are too smart for their own good. This is a cause with our right wing complete with volunteer monitors reporting teachers. Some collage teachers have lost their jobs for unpatriotic teaching no mater if they are true. DNA is great I love it. But jails have many who would not be there if there had been DNA around. DNA maybe great, on very, very long ago things that are far, far away.

17:

ABVR: oh yes! Plus historical fiction can make things tidy, which the reality so often isn't.

Jay: what resonates for me most is the way that some stories are written out early, and that silencing is carried on into modern versions. To take an example, Wales down to 1283 wasn't a single political entity: it was made up of a variable number of separate kingdoms, each with their own leaders and legends. One of the longest lasting of these was Powys (North East Wales, more or less). However, the most *successful* kingdom was Gwynedd, North West Wales, whose ruling line was a consistent enemy to Powys. In the ninth century, the then rulers of Wales, known as the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd, overran several of their neighbours and drove out their native dynasties. In the case of the South Western kingdom, Dyfed, the 2nd Dynasty set up a branch of themselves as the new rulers, who became independent of them (known as the Southern Branch of the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd. We aren't good at catchy names!). In Powys, it's less clear: the last king of the original dynasty died in exile in 856, but after that there are very few references to it until the mid-eleventh century. However, under the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd, the earliest surviving written records we possess from Wales were created -- the Historia Brittonum, written in Gwynedd in c. 830, and the Annales Cambriae (A-text) along with a set of genealogies, written in Dyfed in around 950. Both set out history according to the views and needs of the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd, both the original Northern Branch and the Southern Branch. This includes claiming descent from several the other ruling Welsh dynasties, including those they'd displaced and, in the case of HB, stories that present very negative images of the ancestral figures of the old ruling house of Powys.
Our once surviving piece of history written down from the point-of-view of the Powysian dynasty is an inscription (now eroded away, but recorded by earlier scholars) from a monument known as the Pillar of Eliseg. It was commissioned by that same king of Powys who died in 856 (his name was Cyngen) in honour of his father and ancestors and recorded his version of his genealogy (which makes no mention of a connexion with the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd) and the victories of the Powysians against their eastern neighbours (the Anglo-Saxons of the kingdom of Mercia). One of his ancestors, according to the Pillar, is Vortigern, who appears to have been thought of in Powys as a hero. This is the same Vortigern who turns up as a bad guy in some Arthurian stories and who we know from another earlier source to have been a genuine 6th century leader (who may not have been too popular with some churchmen).
HB presents Vortigern as a coward who was duped by the Saxons, and then slaughtered them by treachery, as a sinner, committing incest and consorting with magicians, who eventually died through as a result of divine punishment. The same text goes on to describe one of the other early leaders of Powys as a descendant of serfs -- decent kind serfs, but still inferior. This is the version of the victor: if Vortigern had had such a reputation widely in the ninth century, it's unlikely that Cyngen would have honoured him. What we have here is a winning dynasty rewriting the legends of those they have conquered.
They continued to claim to be the only real legitimate rulers of almost anywhere in Wales right down to the end of the 13th century, and this version -- the legitimacy of the 2nd Dynasty to control everything -- has largely been accepted by later historians, including the great J E Lloyd, who was in many ways the founder of Welsh history as an academic subject and whose book is still very good and widely read. It's quite clear, if you look at the sources, that throughout the period 800-1300, there were a number of other royal lines in the various parts of Wales, who were not part of the 2nd Dynasty and who at the time were considered perfectly legitimate and acceptable by their fellow Welsh, notably the 2nd Dynasty of Powys (the line of Bleddyn, who enter the record in 1064, but probably originated earlier). But Lloyd and many historians since describe them as 'intrusive' because this story that started in the 9th century -- only the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd are the real rulers in Wales -- was accepted, and still is in many places. It's led, amongst other things, to the persistent labelling of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as the 'Last Native Prince of Wales' -- he was the ruler of Gwynedd in 1282 when Edward I invaded and conquered it. He wasn't, however, the last prince. For a start, he was briefly succeeded by his younger brother Dafydd (d.1283). More to the point, Powys still possessed its own prince, Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, who had been a consistent enemy to Llywelyn (who had spent much of his reign trying to conquer Powys and force Gruffudd into submission to him). Gruffudd died in 1286. He gets to be ignored, because the doctrine of the legitimacy of the 2nd dynasty gets in the way -- he 'ought' to have submitted, because, well, they had a right to be top. He 'ought not' to have sought alliances with his other neighbours, the Anglo-Normans, because they were Llywelyn's enemies... He's usually written off a a weak traitor who should have accepted his inferiority and done what his aggressive neighbour told him. The story, in other words, that represents the interests of the dominant group, the 2nd Dynasty of Gwynedd. Historians are still telling that version today (it gets tangled up with nationalist politics, too, in unhelpful ways). Drives me nuts. But it resonates, because it's all about how we make some people not matter, rework their stories to suit us, justify the strong at the expense of the weak, justify imperialism, conquest and oppression. It's a hateful human habit, now I think about it, and you can see it at work in every form of history. It's why governments and pressure groups are so keen to gain control of history teaching, too, because that lets them impose *their* version on their subjects. That resonates big time -- it's the same process that's trying to force creationism and climate change denial onto school curricula, too.

Phi: do you want modern history or mediaeval? For the early mediaeval period, the best one is Wendy Davies, Wales in the Early Middle Ages, which I mentioned above. For later on, you might try Jon Gower, The Story of Wales (a tie-in to a recent BBC series), Russell Davies, Hope and Heartbreak: a social history of Wales 1776-1871, and Gwyn A Williams, When Was Wales (old, but very good and very readable).
As to getting work done... When I worked in Bangor, it could be hard, as I could see Snowdonia from the library. Later on, though, I was in the middle of cities and, well, somehow the work kept piling up.

18:

George: ah, you're one of *those* Herberts! That's rather cool. And Pembroke is a magnificent castle and has the distinction that it was never taken by force, due to its excellent position.

Carlos: it's true up to a point, that Wales remained a late bastion of the Romano-British. We know that the church survived there (the Anglo-Saxons were pagan) and that some form of villa life survived in the south east of Wales into the 4th century. Magnus Maximus, who had been a commander towards the end of Roman Britain and was emperor of Rome 383-388, was remembered in Wales as Macsen Wledig, claimed as an ancestor by some royal lines there and became the subject of stories. Same with the emperor Constantine the Great (Custennin, to the Welsh), who was the person who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman emperor. A tradition arose in Wales that his mother Helena (Elen to the Welsh) was Briton, too. And there are inscribed stones using Latin and showing Roman influence that date to the sub-and post-Roman period. In the 9th century, Historia Brittonum (written in north west Wales) depicts the Welsh ('the Brittones' as the heirs of the Romans). And there are lots of Latin loanwords in Welsh. So the influence lasted and was valued and remembered. We know that some of the more powerful Romano-Britons fled to what is now Brittany in France, too and they seem to have kept up links to Wales into the early mediaeval period. (Same in Cornwall.) However, only South East Wales was every fully Romanised: that's the only area with villas and so forth. I know of no factories down there by the sub-Roman period -- the Welsh hill-forts are aceramic, which native Welsh culture seems to have been at this point, and there are few Roman coins and artefacts surviving from most of Wales. Caerwent (Venta Silurum) was inhabited down into the 7th century, though seems to have declined in size and importance. (It may have been the stronghold of the rulers of Gwent, but it's not certain, and it lay in an area that was fairly vulnerable to incursions by the new Anglo-Saxon neighbours). You might want to look for K R Dark, Civitas to Kingdom, on post-Roman Britain, for this sort of material.

D Brown: as I said above (in comment 17, to Jay) one of the reasons history matters is that those in power now try to manipulate it, as you say, and make sure only the stories they like and which support them are taught and remembered. Teaching and thinking about the histories which don't suit the powerful matters because it's one of the ways we can undermine their power and their control. Telling unorthodox history can be one of the tools of rebellion -- it's why feminists uncover and teach and promote the stories of women, why conquered peoples value and pass on their histories, and so on. Of course what is happening now matters hugely and must be addressed -- I would never argue that history should come before that. But understanding it gives you more ways of understanding and dealing with the present.

19:

never mind "what is history?", what is historiography? I keep on bumping into the word and have never been able to understand what it means.

20:

Hi Kari, nice intro.

I think I would have to take issue with you on one comment though. You wrote:

"The history of Britain, as taught in schools here in the UK (and most people don't study history after school) is, by and large, the history of the English, of England, which is the culturally dominant group."

I grew up in Scotland in the 70's and even then, Scottish schools and universities taught history with a distinctly Scottish inflection. We had the Picts and Scots, Vikings, MacBeth, the Declaration of Arbroath, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, the Rough Wooing, Bannockburn, Flodden, Culloden and more history than you could shake a stick at and it was not neglected. I would not imagine that inflection has been diluted recently! It may be true for Wales and England, but certainly not for Scotland.

21:

Thanks for taking on my awkward questions.

My personal favorite history of Korea is Bruce Cumings' Korea's Place in the Sun. Admittedly Cumings is white and the book is written for an American audience. Still, he speaks Korean, married into a Korean family, has both a clear eye and a great affection for the Korean people, and has traveled in both North and South Korea. He spends less time on the deep history of the Korean peninsula, and more on its history since 1860. Others do a better job of covering the entire history of the peninsula, but this is the book I'd recommend for an introduction.

22:

Nick: historiography is the study of how history has developed and been written as a subject over time -- in a way, it's the history of how we do history. It also gets used to mean the bibliography of a particular historical field ('the historiography of Wales' could be used to mean the total of all the books, articles and so forth about Wales).

Kevin: that's good to hear. Welsh and Scottish history have been increasingly taught in schools since the 60s, but for a long period before they were downplayed or even forbidden, and in Wales Welsh history is still alongside more general history which has, until relatively recently, been mainly English. And we don't get much Welsh, Scottish or Irish history in English school as part of 'British' history. But history has got a lot wider in schools, and that can only be good. (I hope it lasts. Being a dyed-in-the-wool Old Labour type, I suspect the Tories of trying to reintroduce their version of history, which tends to be very Anglo-centric.)

Heteromeles: thank you! I will look for that.

23:

As a child, I read with pleasure Lloyd Alexander's "The Chronicles of Pyrdain". It's (very loosely) based on the Mabinogion. What adult fiction would you recommend in this kind of area? By this area I mean Welsh mythology, so I would exclude things like T. H. White and most Arthurian stuff.

24:

James: to be honest, I don't read much Celtic fantasy of any kind as it tends to wind me up. I do like Evangeline Walton's series of 4 books based on the Mabinogion -- The Island of the Mighty, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and Prince of Annwn -- which are beautifully written and very evocative. And there's Alan Garner, The Owl Service, if you haven't read it. It's technically young adult, but very dark and very very good.
I love The Chronicles of Prydain. Huge fun.

25:

Actually, I've been looking at material tangentially related to your specialty over the past few months: I've just started a campaign set in a university in 1300 with a large Faculty of Magic, which I decided to situate in Shropshire. In the course of my research I read a fascinating book called Barons of the Welsh Frontier, which was a detailed study of the politics of the Marches and the ambivalent relationship between English and Welsh lords. Then a friend started lending me his copies of the Brother Cadfael novels, which take place a century or two earlier but just a few miles down the road.

And much more recently, I came on Jo Walton's first two novels, The King's Peace and The King's Name. I'd be curious to know how they read to a historian; I liked the sense of technology and military arts, which felt like something that could have evolved out of the late Roman Empire, but I'm not really competent to judge the level of historical authenticity.

26:

"Conan: yes, definitely. History is mutable in a lot of ways. There are things that stay the same -- X event happened"

I don't think there is anything immutable in history. There is no way to objectively prove X happened, at least not before we started recording things.

I became much happier with history once I realized that I'm essentially reading stories written by novelists no matter how it is billed. Still things to learn, loosely based in probably-fact...

27:

William: that's a good book, and an interesting time and place. I'm rather envious of your players!
Jo is a talented, careful and thoughtful writer, who researched her books thoroughly. They're a good read. There are things that hit my historian button -- I tend to avoid Celtic fantasy for that reason -- but they were very minor, nit-picky things (mostly to do with names and such like) that aren't serious problems. I like them a lot more than I like most Celtic fantasies that I have read. My favourite 2ndary world Celtic fantasy is Katherine Kerr's Deverry series, though, as she has done some really interesting stuff with late Roman and early Roman Breton material.

28:

How do you feel about studying a field (anything related to the C-word) which has so many people passionately interested but deeply misguided? The promoters of the new Celtic identity which emerged in the 18th century, and archaeologist too quick to equate archaeological cultures, language groups, identity, and outsiders' ethnic categories, dug a historiographic hole which subsequent scholars have had trouble leading people out of.

29:

I've been reading about British history the last few years after having my Y chromosome markers tested. My interest is in the circumstances under which my ancestors emigrated (economic and political events of 17th and 18th centuries) and the early population genetics of how they came to the British Isles. Historians may be getting more questions along these lines as DNA testing becomes more common. It shouldn't matter, but the history is more engaging for me if I can imagine a specific person going through it.

I'm in a genetic group (haplotype) denoted R1a. The bearers started off somewhere south of the Urals and spread across northern Europe, intermarrying with German and Scandinavians. They entered Great Britain as Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Danes. I plotted 20-40 individuals with my markers on a map and there's an even, moderate density over the south of England that plays out going north and is sparse south of the Border. That could be Anglo-Saxon, with some Scandinavian on the coast. There's a high concentration in the Orkneys and a sprinkling over Scotland, heavier in the north. Looks like Vikings.

My surname Acton, is a Saxon locative found in several places. Te highest density of the surname is in Shropshire. There's a poorly sourced indication that my immigrant ancestor was born in London. There's a place name in London that could have been the basis for adoption, but London was a sink for population until the 19th Cent, so I' guessing that some of the family from NW England. Sooner or later someone in England will turn up to provide better information.

One question this rings up is the conditions of the Anglo-Saxon conquest. Since the markers play out moving north, was it the case that Celts adopted the language and customs of the conquerors, so by the time they got to the Border the population had considerable Celt ancestry? Looking at place names in western Shropshire, there's a sharp dividing line between Celtic and Saxon place names, suggesting a political conquest. Was there much population movement?

I wonder about the same process regarding the Celts. Apparently the Isles were inhabited when they arrived. I've seen a statement that they spoke a language related to Basque, based on place names. Any survivors would be thoroughly mixed into the gene pool by this time, but there may be some markers in western Celts.

30:

So I hear Cú Chulainn was Roman?

31:

Geoerge Acton writes:
I wonder about the same process regarding the Celts. Apparently the Isles were inhabited when they arrived. I've seen a statement that they spoke a language related to Basque, based on place names. Any survivors would be thoroughly mixed into the gene pool by this time, but there may be some markers in western Celts.
There's archaeology of pre-homo-sapiens hominids back a half-million years or more. Homo Sapiens rose while there was ice over most of what's now the British Isles. When the ice left, hunter-gatherers moved in, with poor archaeological records left (that are starting to see more light as the surprising fact that offshore oil exploration seismology seems to have found good settlement sites to explore on the Doggrel Bank dating back to 8,000 years ago or longer...).

When the sea rose, and eventually (maybe) came in with a Bang and isolated the Isles ( Storegga Slide ), there were some peoples there. The history is very murky from about 6,500 BC to the Celts in the hundreds BC. We know that someone around 3200 BC built Newgrange and had a fairly advanced culture; some other archaeology of those peoples exists, but it's archaeology not history. After then, things slid somewhat, the Beaker People were inhabitants in the 2000s BC, then the Celts after them.

The Celts, we have from language and Roman records.

As far as I know, there isn't any writing associated with the Beaker People or their immediate predecessors in the British Isles, and poor written language examples associated with them on the continent if anything. Their cultures are probably lost to time. The Celts lucked out that they overlapped far enough into the Roman and Christian eras that they got documented, even if it was poorly.

32:

Without such expert Historians, I'd never be able to write historical fiction that would pass scrutiny. Still, I felt that I could take liberties with inventing the culture of the lost subcontinent of Doggerland, back when glaciation lowered the ocean level to expose this land between Britain and the Continent. One can use trickery, such as suggesting that the 'obby 'oss rtitual goes back to the Ice Ages, and is related to the reason that, in the year 1458, Pope Calixtus III, a Borgia from Valencia, decreed that no more pagan religious ceremonies should be held by nominally Catholic people, referring to the pagan worship of horses still prevalent at the time in northern Spain, in "the cave with the horse pictures."

33:

RIGHT ON!!!

34:

Not sure if it is Welsh but check out (if you can find a copy) John James 'Men went to Cattraeth' based on the Gododdin of Aneirin

35:

Isn't the Celtic question one of those things that is having to be re-thought in light of the genetic markers?

There is evidence consistent with the celt-saxon split going back to the repopulation of Britain after the Ice Age. It tells you even less than archaeology, in the end, but the sort of mass-migration image of history that I recall from school is looking rather wrong now.

I've been reading Oppenheimer's The Origins of Britain, and he gets into the historiography over things such as what Julius Caesar wrote about the Celts, and how SE England is a place he didn't describe as Celtic. And I can see how he's assembling a pattern that might not seem so certain to a "professional" audience.

On the other hand, there's Kipling, and his poem The Land, and you can't read that as by somebody who was taught about mass-migrations in school.

36:

Hi Kari, I'm an Australian with Celtic heritage (Scots. Irish, English and my son has additional Welsh and Cornish). I'm interested in the cultural overlay/elite theory (my take on it) which replaces the previous invasions theory (prehistoric, followed by pre-celtic Halstatt, by La Tene Celts, followed by germanic etc.). The mitochondrial DNA work done at Cheddar Gorge showed that the majority of the British population were related to Cheddar Man, in fact a direct descendant lived close to Cheddar Gorge.
So in the main, an elite cultural group came in, knocked off the previous elites and took over. Culture/language changed but the people largely remained the same.
There was also the change from ancient Brythonic to Welsh, which took place over a very short period? To the point where grandchildren could barely understand their grandparents? What actually happened - was it cultural/economic associated with the Romano-British collapse trauma or just adapting to a new environment in Wales?

37:

Welcome aboard, Kari. Since no-one else has yet dared to broach the subject, I'll ask for your opinion on the historicity of Arthur.

38:

And where did my post of yesterday go?

Admittedly, something wierd is happening to my browser right now .....

Right, there is a load of total (& usually very petty, spiteful & bad-nationalistic) rubbish talked about the "Celts" ... they came from mainland Europe, but both Britannia & Hibernia were already populated by then.
I think it was Agricola who said that the SE Britons looked like Gauls & Belgae, & the Hibernians, Scotia and Cambrians looked like Lusitanians (?)
Speaking as a Huguenot-&-Viking descendant (my last name means "someone who speaks at the Thing" {Tynwald/Allthing}) I'm also interested in your French connections.
After all, it was Louis XIV's religious bigotry that handed the planet on a plate to the Anglic-speakers, by his edict of Fontainbleau, October 1685.

Even without genetic testing, one can find very interesting things about ancestry from family names ...
others of mine include: "Paramour" - ooh-err missus!, "Gascoine", & therefore Cecil, & also W-cost French ... "Pydd" - which is about as muddy-webbed-feet Saxon/Jute as one can get - it's from fenland .....
All interesting stuff
"Barton" - which I THINK is Saxon(?)

RE: Certainty in History.
No we can be cartain some things happened, even without written records - it's called "Archeology", remember?
Does the Storegga slide count as Archaeology, or recent geology? But, it happened.
There was a Thames crossing, very close to where Vauxhall Bridge is now - evidence? A palstave axe, found embedded in a piece of very ancient piling, uncovered at an extreme low spring-tide .....

39:

Kari@24: "Alan Garner['s] The Owl Service... technically young adult, but very dark and very very good."

Thank you, and keep beating the drum. I've never understood why TOS isn't more widely recognized as the spare, terrifying masterpiece it is, worthy of comparison to The Turn of the Screw. I like high fantasy too, but TOS shows much more of how real magic, real fate, and (obThisThread) real inheritance from history and culture work in our lives.

40:

SM: I have very mixed feelings about it. It's good the so many people are interested, but the amount of disinformation, popular myth and plain wrongheadedness out there is... Well, the polite word would probably be frustrating. I have a whole rant about the fake-Celtic thing and the persistent idiocies about women, native cultures, pan-Celticism and all their fellow travellers (my shorthand for this is 'the myths of Avalon).

Geoerge: plus, of course, it's now questioned to what extent the peoples who the Greeks and Romans referred to as 'Celts' were part of a single culture. It's more probable they were disparate groups who may have spoken related languages and who had some similar cultural practices but who were mainly different and varied and who would not have considered themselves as part of a Celtic overgroup.
On the Celt/Saxon thing, the straight answer is that we don't know. There are good arguments put forwards for both possibilities -- a mass Anglo-Saxon invasion with associated mass pushing west of the Celts, and for the idea of the Celts assimilating and taking on Angl-Saxon culture and language. I tend to the latter, because we know this happened under the Romans and there are other indications that the British Celts were imitative and open to new ways; because there is evidence for assimilation and inter-marriage in several areas, not just the West (the most interesting one is Kent, where the Saxon presence was early, but where a line using Celtic names rapidly established itself as rulers and seem to have been of part-Celtic descent); because there is, to date, no evidence of mass slaughter or mass destruction; and because Germanic peoples had, in fact, been in Britain since at least the 2nd century C.E., brought in by the Romans, who had settled and intermarried, especially in the South East, which was the focus of the early invasions, so cultural assimilation was already under way.
My birth surname (Maund) probably descends from Magonsaete. They were a population group in what is now the Wales-Shropshire-Herefordshire border, who were mixed Celt and Saxon as far back as we know (which is to about the 7th century). Acton is a good name -- the Cambridge University Library is the home of the Acton collection, which was the personal library of Lord Acton, who was the professor of history here in the late nineteenth century.

Jonathan: that sounds like a really interesting subject for fiction. And, y'know, glad to be of use, though I work on a period that's waaay to late for you, I suspect.

Mark: the Gododdin is indeed Welsh. Down to the late 8th-early 9th centuries, Celtic kingdoms also existed in parts of what is now Northern England and Southern Scotland, though under pressure both from the Anglo-Saxons and the Irish (who were in the process of colonising Scotland). Yr Gododdin is about one of those kingdoms (they're usually referred to as the North Britons). I read the James books years ago and remember it as fun.

Dave: yes. The whole mass migration thing and the ideas about monocultures is being reviewed thoroughly in the light of new techniques in archaeology. Which is a very good thing!

Chris O: yes, I tend to that side of the debate, too. I'm afraid I don't know about the Brythonic/Celtic shift -- you need a philologist or a specialist in proto-Celtic for that. Sorry!

Chris J: I knew someone would ask! I don't believe in him as one big thing, if that makes sense. He's probably a folk memory of several different early leaders and rulers, all mixed up with hero tales. The corpus of Arthurian material is fascinating, though, and full of all sorts of obscure and interesting things, mostly 12th - 14th century.

41:

Daniel: that's a new one to me!

42:

Greg: yes, the Greeks and Romans tended to assume that the peoples they met were connected based on things that they thought were similar (but which the peoples themselves probably thought were very different). Archaeology is a wonderful subject and one which brings forward so much material. I am perpetually grateful to my colleagues who are archaeologists. In a field like mine, where the written sources are so scanty, they are invaluable and lead the way.
I'm not quite sure what you mean about the edict of Fontainebleau. Protestantism was widely practised in Europe by then, and the heartland was the Germanic-speaking countries, not Britain. Do you mean that this was one of the factors that led the Puritans to been to migrate to what became the USA? The US also has had many many German speakers in its history, and German was widely spoken until relatively (by mediaeval historian standards) recently. It was by no means certain in 1685 that English would end up being the language spoken there. Could have been German or French or Spanish or one or more of the native American languages, if various events had gone differently.

43:

If you'll excuse me pontificating a bit, I feel a little disambiguation of 'Celt' is necessary because I don't see that it has been done already in this thread. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong upon production of other evidence against what I wrote whereupon I shall change my mind.

The term 'Celtic' is often used to refer to a number of different things. Firstly, the material culture of a sort which appears to have originated in central Europe about 7 or 800BC or so, and spread across the north, wwest and north west over the next few centuries.
There's 'Celtic' to denominate the people who originated such a material culture.

THen there's 'Celtic' languages. The old theory was that successiv waves of invaders spread the languages across Europe and into Britain, but in fact it looks more like the different types were already in place in the bronze age, which rather kills the whole 'Celtic languages spread by conquest and trade in the iron age' thing.
This sort of thing is confirmed by DNA analysis, some of which shows that people in the NW highlands have some interesting mutations for red hair which are at least 3,000BC in origin. These and others indicate that there was not a great change or replacement of the British and Irish population in the pre-Roman times. If anything it was more a matter of elites intermarrying and long distance trade. See for instance the Avebury archer, who was born in Switzerland over 3,000 or was it 4,000 years ago, but ended up in a posh grave at Avebury in England.

One of the interesting things I've come across in reading up on archaeology stuff is that some of the Irish bronze age items are copies of 'Celtic' stuff which are more home made, i.e. they wanted to fancy foreign look yet didn't/ couldn't import it themselves. Meanwhile the languages are older than people thought, yet overlay more languages as evidenced by place names, probably stretching back into the neolithic 5 or 6 thousand years ago.

For a more modern example of language change, see Scots, which was effectively a sibling of English, derived from similar roots with somewhat similar inputs, but has evolved separately. Scots is dying out under the cultural pressure of south of England English. A similar sort of thing happened to Gaelic in the medieval period; widely spoken over much of Scotland, especially ouside the borders and Lothians, it stopped being the language of state and then began dying out.

44:

If you'll excuse me pontificating a bit, I feel a little disambiguation of 'Celt' is necessary because I don't see that it has been done already in this thread. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong upon production of other evidence against what I wrote whereupon I shall change my mind.

The term 'Celtic' is often used to refer to a number of different things. Firstly, the material culture of a sort which appears to have originated in central Europe about 7 or 800BC or so, and spread across the north, wwest and north west over the next few centuries.
There's 'Celtic' to denominate the people who originated such a material culture.

THen there's 'Celtic' languages. The old theory was that successiv waves of invaders spread the languages across Europe and into Britain, but in fact it looks more like the different types were already in place in the bronze age, which rather kills the whole 'Celtic languages spread by conquest and trade in the iron age' thing.
This sort of thing is confirmed by DNA analysis, some of which shows that people in the NW highlands have some interesting mutations for red hair which are at least 3,000BC in origin. These and others indicate that there was not a great change or replacement of the British and Irish population in the pre-Roman times. If anything it was more a matter of elites intermarrying and long distance trade. See for instance the Avebury archer, who was born in Switzerland over 3,000 or was it 4,000 years ago, but ended up in a posh grave at Avebury in England.

One of the interesting things I've come across in reading up on archaeology stuff is that some of the Irish bronze age items are copies of 'Celtic' stuff which are more home made, i.e. they wanted to fancy foreign look yet didn't/ couldn't import it themselves. Meanwhile the languages are older than people thought, yet overlay more languages as evidenced by place names, probably stretching back into the neolithic 5 or 6 thousand years ago.

For a more modern example of language change, see Scots, which was effectively a sibling of English, derived from similar roots with somewhat similar inputs, but has evolved separately. Scots is dying out under the cultural pressure of south of England English. A similar sort of thing happened to Gaelic in the medieval period; widely spoken over much of Scotland, especially ouside the borders and Lothians, it stopped being the language of state and then began dying out.

45:

Sorry, got lovely server error message and then it posted twice.

And thanks to KAri for the interesting information on Welsh kingdoms.

46:

When I was an undergraduate I took a course in Scots Legal History which included the study of many medevil Scottish legal documents, written in Scots. With the added excitement of generally being written with phonetic spelling. Some of the documents were easily comprehensible. Other’s required some close work with a dictionary and grammer. I found you had to be very careful because occassionaly you’d get a word that looked very much like a Modern Scots or English word but was in fact different.

For example, at some point in the past beggars were licensed in Scotland. There were given a Token to show they were properly deserving poor. Token was spelt Taken. For about a week my entire class was deeply confused about where these licensed beggars were being taken and by the time the tutorial we’d convinced ourselves that the government was exiling the poor, again.

47:

And there's my The Welsh Kings (written with under my other name, Kari Maund), which is a popular introduction (though I feel odd, mentioning my own books).

Just as long as you don't ask us to proofread them for you...

48:

"back in the 19th century, no one would have believed that [Korea] would either be bifurcated now, nor that South Korea ... would be one of the most wired countries in the world today. "

19th Century? No one would have known that in mid-1945. The division was the long-term result of a hasty, arbitrary agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the economic success of both Koreas (the DPRK had a stronger economy into the 1970s) was largely due to Cold War subsidies. These circumstances were strange at the time, and they're still strange now: we've just normalized the resulting situation, as Korea was once normalized as rural and backwards.

49:

"back in the 19th century, no one would have believed that [Korea] would either be bifurcated now, nor that South Korea ... would be one of the most wired countries in the world today. "

19th Century? No one would have known that in mid-1945. The division was the long-term result of a hasty, arbitrary agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the economic success of both Koreas (the DPRK had a stronger economy into the 1970s) was largely due to Cold War subsidies. These circumstances were strange at the time, and they're still strange now: we've just normalized the resulting situation, as Korea was once normalized as rural and backwards.

50:

in response to heteromeles, #3

51:

Karen @ 42
After the French "Wars of Religion/War of the 3 Henris'" where HIII had to give way to the Guise (ultra-catholic faction and the determined (intermittent) persecution of the Prods [think Bartholemew's eve] Henri finsihed the business by having Guise killed at or about 26th Dec 1588.
Henri was himself murdered by a catholic fanatic the following year.
His sucessor was the Protestant/Huguenot prince Henri of Navarre - Henri IV - who famously publicly converted to catholicism ("Paris is worth a mass") but ennacted strict toleration for the protestants in the edict of Nantes.
Hw was himself murdered by another catholic fanatic ....
Louis XIV was his grandson, who revoked said edit by that of Fontainbleu.
Which resulted in mass-emigration of Huguenots to the Nethelands & Britain.
Huge numbers came over, in a very short space of time (the equivalent of over 2 million people intoday's population) most with a large portion of negotiable wealth [The first governer of the Bank of England, Jaques d'houblon, was one such] my ancestors were among the exception - I get the impression they left fleeing until very late, and basically had the clothes they stood up in.....
Now, consider the number of peolpe since then, especially in the Army, Navy & finance in this country who have Huguenot names.
Yeah.

NOTHING AT ALL to do with Germany, as the war of catholic reaction & bloody repression had already been fought out to its' bitter end in den Dreizigjahrenkreig, 1618-48. The catholics got to keep the religiously-cleansed South & Bohemia, but the prods retained & regained most of the North (excepting Münster itself)

Puritan emigration to the USA (Mayflower 1620 - James I & VI was still king, but the anglo-catholic leanings of his incompetent & untrustworthy son, Charles II were already apparent by then) was largely so that the extreme prod-bigots could exercise their own special forms of intolerance, rather than submit to other, usually state-promoted intolerance, which wan't, actually as bad as their own. And later, again, often in the period 1660 onwards. Exception - the taking of Jamaica, 1655 under Cromwell's Protectorship, though taking land for SPanish catholics was regarded as "god's work".
Isn't religion wonderful?

52:

I would have expected the first question to be "were the Welsh druids a bit like Panoramix / Getafix?"

53:

Going back to great-grandparents, my ancestry is already an 'orrible mixture, including (Northern) Irish, Scots Ayrshire and Western Isles and Cornish.

Anyway, as a supplimentary to #2 about sources regarding the Druids, and noting your comments about sources being Roman and Christian (like Bede {I'll ignore the bit where Bede relies heavily on hearsay since he rarely left the monistary}), do we have Christian sources other than the "Church of Rome"? For example, I'd consider the Celtic Church to be a separate source.

On Arthur, my own view is that the "Chivalric knight" (See Mallory, most Hollywood films) definitely did not exist (he's several centuries too late for one thing), but the Cornish and/or Scots and/or Welsh warlord of circa 400 to 700AD is at least based on actual historical personae.

Finally, for now, don't feel wierd about mentioning your own books. There's exactly one of Charlie's guest bloggers that I've not bought at least one book by and it's not you!

54:

Kari, "Deuet Mat!"

My Mother was Breton and I have many, many fond memories of time spent there in my childhood.

This is just a fanboy post, no significant questions, but do you have any historical fantasy favorites for the Celtic areas?

My personal favorites:

Mabinogion Tetrology by Evangeline Walton. (I'm SO glad it is back in print again)

"Bran Ruz" a French GN by Deschamps and Auclair about Ker Ys, seems to take place right around 400-500 CE involving the invasion of Brittany from England.

"The King of Ys" by the Andersons.

Can you recommend any good references on the history of Brittany?

Thanks!

55:

It's important to know the history of the conquered. Their influences are not always acknowledged.

I've been reading 1491 which is about the Americas before /after Columbus. One of the points brought up was that the colonialists in the northeast in the 1690s-1780s live near the natives. The natives had a more democratic society and was likely a source for the thinking in the Declartion of Independance.

56:

George and Kari:
Thanks for the helpful answers. It looks like the Celtic invasion was so long ago that it will be difficult to decide between cultural and genetic replacement. DNA may help with the Saxon/Celt issue. My tiny sample of Y-chromosome markers suggests that the genes didn't move as fast as the culture. If this is a general pattern, it suggests that the Celts assimilated Saxon ways.

To what extent were the Anglo-Saxons displaced or culturally influenced in East Anglia by by later immigrants? Their culture was more egalitarian, communal and orderly compared with the feudal social stratification of SW England (think Thomas Hardy novels). I have a crank theory that this difference in attitude led to the religious and political conflicts of the English Civil War, replayed in the US Civil War. (Of course, crank theories are rarely original and I may have read it somewhere.) I don't understand why the Saxon advance played out at the Border, as the Norman takeover did later. And how did the eastern Scots come to adopt English?

In the US, Lord Acton is a minor hero to conservatives, with an Acton Institute think-tank. And everyone with pretensions to a liberal education knows the "power corrupts" quote. It turns out that I'm not related. I've been in email contact with a descendant of Lord Acton, who has been very generous with his information and patient in explaining history and customs to this backwards colonial. Our DNA markers are totally different. His family, the Actons of Aldenham, started out as "de Leye", then "de Acton" from a place in Shropshire. Odds are my surname is a locative adopted by some farmers in the 11th or 12th Cent., probably around Shropshire.

Many files on the internet say my immigrant James was born in England in 1746. This sounds like a family Bible entry, but I can't find the source. There's a record for a James Acton born in London in 1746 to a soldier in the Third Regiment of Foot ("the Buffs"). Playing the odds on known demographic flows, he could have served an apprenticeship which involved an indenture, finished the indenture in southern Virginia, and at age 18 was free to marry, which he promptly did. But there's no way to make the connection on the records currently available. Nothing on this side of the Atlantic mentions London or a skill requiring apprenticeship.

I'd have a sense of closure if my markers turn up in Shropshire. Any research into genealogy or history comes to a blank wall, but some findings fit into a narrative to give a sense of completion. The underlying drive is the need to tell stories about ourselves.

57:

George and Kari:
Thanks for the helpful answers. It looks like the Celtic invasion was so long ago that it will be difficult to decide between cultural and genetic replacement. DNA may help with the Saxon/Celt issue. My tiny sample of Y-chromosome markers suggests that the genes didn't move as fast as the culture. If this is a general pattern, it suggests that the Celts assimilated Saxon ways.

To what extent were the Anglo-Saxons displaced or culturally influenced in East Anglia by by later immigrants? Their culture was more egalitarian, communal and orderly compared with the feudal social stratification of SW England (think Thomas Hardy novels). I have a crank theory that this difference in attitude led to the religious and political conflicts of the English Civil War, replayed in the US Civil War. (Of course, crank theories are rarely original and I may have read it somewhere.) I don't understand why the Saxon advance played out at the Border, as the Norman takeover did later. And how did the eastern Scots come to adopt English?

In the US, Lord Acton is a minor hero to conservatives, with an Acton Institute think-tank. And everyone with pretensions to a liberal education knows the "power corrupts" quote. It turns out that I'm not related. I've been in email contact with a descendant of Lord Acton, who has been very generous with his information and patient in explaining history and customs to this backwards colonial. Our DNA markers are totally different. His family, the Actons of Aldenham, started out as "de Leye", then "de Acton" from a place in Shropshire. Odds are my surname is a locative adopted by some farmers in the 11th or 12th Cent., probably around Shropshire.

Many files on the internet say my immigrant James was born in England in 1746. This sounds like a family Bible entry, but I can't find the source. There's a record for a James Acton born in London in 1746 to a soldier in the Third Regiment of Foot ("the Buffs"). Playing the odds on known demographic flows, he could have served an apprenticeship which involved an indenture, finished the indenture in southern Virginia, and at age 18 was free to marry, which he promptly did. But there's no way to make the connection on the records currently available. Nothing on this side of the Atlantic mentions London or a skill requiring apprenticeship.

I'd have a sense of closure if my markers turn up in Shropshire. Any research into genealogy or history comes to a blank wall, but some findings fit into a narrative to give a sense of completion. The underlying drive is the need to tell stories about ourselves.

58:

Guthrie: yes, absolutely. I've been using Celt because I don't know what people know, if that makes sense, and it's the word most people are familiar with. In my academic mode I tend to say 'Celtic and Gaelic speaking peoples'.

Ajay: I promise faithfully not to make anyone proof-read any of my Welsh history books. Or Irish history, for that matter. (Toirdhealbhach ua Conchobhair, anyone?)

Daniel: that's interesting -- my Scottish history stops at around 1100, alas.

Greg: ah, right. I hadn't looked at it from that way. Interesting.

Paws4thot: most of the non Graeco-Roman material on druids comes from the churches in the Celtic and Gaelic speaking countries, rather than the church of Rome. All the material on Patrick, the references in law codes and saints' lives etc is mostly Irish. There is very little from what we might consider the Roman church -- Bede being one of the examples. But most of this latter derives either from accounts from others who had contact with the Irish and Welsh churches, or from the Graeco-Roman records, anyway.

Tom: diolch yn fawr! Neis cwrdd a chi. I've never had a chance to study Breton properly. I'm envious of those who have. I don't read a lot of Celtic fantasy at all, but I love the Evangeline Walton books, and remain very fond of Sword At Sunset, Rosemary Sutcliff, which I read as a child. Katherine Kerr's Deverry books are very well-researched and written, too. Otherwise, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books; The Owl Service, which I mentioned earlier; Pauline Gedge, The Eagle and the Raven; Victor Canning, The Crimson Chalice; and Fay Sampson, Daughter of Tintagel. Oh, and for a later period, Sharon Penman, Here Be Dragons, which is a straight historical novel about Llywelyn Fawr, but really painstakingly researched -- it's the one novel I've been known to encourage undergraduates to read.
I haven't come across Bran Ruz: I shall look for it. Thank you.

59:

George: East Anglia was one of the areas that suffered from viking attacks and immigration in the 9th, 10th and early 11th centuries, but was less heavily settled and influenced than the Danelaw and Northern England, and same under the rule of Anglo-Saxon dynasty of Wessex fairly early in the 10th century, so you're probably looking more at intermarriage and mixed settlements than full displacement. But yes, socially they were more egalitarian than many other contemporary cultures and women had far more rights under them than they did in the Celtic and Gaelic speaking countries and territories.
I don't know much about the adoption of English in Eastern Scotland, but I suspect it's a mix of things - the border moved a lot, and modern Scotland includes areas that were in England in earlier centuries and territories that were controlled by ANglo-Saxon rulers. Also, in the first part of the 12th century, King David of Scotland invited a considerable number of Anglo-Norman nobles to settle in Southern Scotland, and they brought their tenants and clients with them, many of whom were English- speaking.
On Shropshire and the Actons, have you tried R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire, 12 vols (London 1854-60)? This is an astonishing book -- a lifework by a Shropshire minister, who collected and studied and wrote up every single piece of evidence about mediaeval Shropshire that he could find and recorded it. He was really careful about it, too: it's a fantastic resource. Also, the Shropshire Record Office is one of the best in Britain: they may well be able to help you (http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/archives.nsf)

60:

Thanks Kari.

61:

Croeso! You are very welcome.

62:

Oops ...
@ 51 - I MEANT Charles I & NOT the second - a very different man....

63:

Greg @62:

I wouldn't trust Charles II any farther than I could throw him! Despite this, he was more trustworthy than Charles I. The difference between the bad and the worse....

64:

> but one side of my family built Pembroke Castle

So are you in the line of succession for the Earldom?

That would be cool. I've known Earls, but they tended to be of the bubba sort, not of the Peerage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Pembroke

65:

The whole 'Celtic invasion' thing is irrelevant nowadays, at least as applied to Britain and Ireland. Yes, some Belgian tribes did move from the continent to England in the centuries before the Romans got here. The appelation 'Celtic' nowadays, in more scholarly circles, applies to the languages and the groups of people who use them, which does not in any way imply actual genetic relationships.

I can't really summarise it all here, but a perfectly good explanation can be found in "Celtic Scotland" by Ian Armit, a Historic Scotland publication for the general public, first published in 1997, which tells you how long ago the whole invasions theory was destroyed.

And yes, it is most likely that the locals assimilated Saxon ways, similar to the number of teenagers in the UK who ape dress styles of people in the USA, or the waves of French fashion which swept through the country at various times in the last 700 years.

66:

Kari:
Thanks for all the information. Several volumes of Eyton's Antiquities are on the internet, and my correspondent has contributed to some discussions. My impression is that that it mentions only members of the upper tier of feudal society who took the name from places they held property. There's no reason to expect my ancestors were in either family. Many church records are on the internet, but they aren't complete. The most helpful record I can reasonably expect is matching DNA from someone whose family has resided there for a few generations. That would suggest that the name was adopted there.

I suspect the cultural distinction of East Anglia came from Danish or Dutch immigrants. There was little effect on the language. I've read that there are a few local words in the Danelaw, but I don't know how far south they extend.

There's some confusion about the meaning of "Anglo-Saxon" as well as "Celt". In the US, the term "WASP" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was invented by some social commentators in the 1950's as a humorous term for the Northeastern Establishment. But those people were the heirs of the Puritans, who mostly came from East Anglia. The armigerous, stratified society of SE England may have better reflected the Anglo-Saxons of the invasion, whose heirs were the Virginia Dynasty of the early Republic.

My ancestry is roughly half common folk from southern England and half Borderlands (rednecks), some via Ireland for a century or so. One German and a couple of Scots. My imprinting experience occurred when my grandmother showed me two huge scrolls with the genealogy of the Randolph and Keith families of colonial Virginia. It was awesome finding my name among the hundreds cascading down the pages. When I was a little older and could do serial division by 2, I realized that the amount of genetic material I'd inherited from them was effectively zero. But at the time it appealed to my obsessive instincts and gave me a sense of connection with history. (Someday it will be clear whether that was a good thing.)

67:

J Reynolds @ 63
Charles II was greatly underestimated.
It was VERY DIFFICULT to get an actual promise out of him. But, if you did, he kept his word - unlike his father.
He presided over the cultural & technical renaissance of Britain, which primed the ground for Britains great leap to world power, which began under his two neices (Mary - married to William of Ornage, & Anne). PErsonal freind and associate with many founding members of the Royal Society ... Hooke / Newton / Wren etc ... NOT an idiot.
Kept his throne, too, unlike his stupid brother.

68:

In spite of a short period in the mid-19th Century when it was fashionable to refer to Scotland as "North Britain", the Scottish system has always been very different, including education. I don't see an anglo-centric view of British history gaining much traction in Alec Salmond's Scotland. The history of Wales and its peoples relations to England is in many ways a lot more "colonial" than that of Scotland.

69:

I like to joke that the Union between Scotland and England is a score draw - Our King went south, they bribed our parliament to dissolve itself.

Wales by comparison was conquered and unlike Ireland, never escaped.

70:

Allen Thomson wrote:
So are you in the line of succession for the Earldom?

Not in any practical sense. Our branch has been in the United States since before the Civil war; as I recall, someone emigrated right after their father was killed in the Crimean War. Last I checked there were a lot of people in closer line ( a couple of dozen at least) currently alive before you start looking that far back for second and third sons' descendants.

Theoretically yes, but really no.

71:

Thanks Keri.
I wasn't certain as I got it as Welsh from the Skene books but came across some reference to the events taking place elsewhere.

72:

I have another comment in moderation, if someone would be so kind. Or does it mean I am getting more controversial these days?

73:

Agreed, except that the 19th Century characterizations were ever so much more patronizing, although that might be due to the selective quotes from the history writers.

As for the Korean economic miracle, that wasn't just Cold War spending. For example, the US wanted Korea to remain in the raw materials and light manufacturing sector up through the 1960s and 1970s, while letting Japan have the heavy manufacturing. The South Korean leaders at the time refused this. They had noted that countries with a heavy manufacturing sector (i.e. one that was able to make the manufacturing machines for factories, along with having things like a steel industry, were the countries that suffered less under neo-colonial economic relationships. The Korean proceeded to build these companies, even though US economists told them they were being monumentally foolish in doing so, that there was no market capacity for such industry. You may have heard of some of the results: Daewoo, Hyundai, and Samsung (although Samsung already existed at that point). Turns out the economists were wrong.

As for North Korea, even under Japanese colonial rule, the north was the industrial area, due to nearby deposits of metals and such. Before division north Korea was the industrial heartland while the south was the agricultural sector. That has now switched more than a bit. The North has always been a bit short of farmland, but they still have no excuse for starving their people the way they do now.

74:

My apologies, I meant Thanks Kari.

75:

I'm glad to see you write about dis or is it miss information. The older I get the crabber I git. And more of what everyone knows seems wrong. (me too) Especially about history. Even over here where there is not that much. The saying the facts are a agreed on fable seems to be true, Of course much of that is driven by people who wanted their own view to be believed for their own good. Look at what a few people still believe about good old Joe Stalin. Or the long love of the King over the Ocean. To my eyes he looks like one more murdering, power hungry royal SOB. Heck, look the BS about tartans and kilts, That's not even old.
I love DNA. Look at the history we now know was wrong. That can’t be a bad thing and I like like it. But in the real modern world I don't know how much difference it makes. Outside of the value of knowledge that is. I guess that's no small thing. But???
You know after the Nazi like invasion and occupation of England you were a Earl, the winning side, or a Curr, the losing one. It was important to keep whose boot was on whose neck clear. Remember in WW-2 there were lots of the occupied who were more Nazi than the Nazis. Well, they lived longer. And would have bred and I think would have kept some of the believes.

76:

guthrie @ 69
And look at what Hibernia "escaped" to.
POverty, rule by the most evil body of guvmint on the planet (the RC church) for 80 years, navel-gazing and reaction.
So nice.
In the same way that Welsh nationalism was, for many years expressed as "crap on the people who provide the money" - the local licensing laws and restrictions being the obvious example!
Or removing English-only temporary road-signs that warned people of real danger (about two years back)
Stupid.

Oh, and what is this "Alex Salmond's Scotland" of which you speak?
That of the Wee Free & other narrowminded bigots, I presume?

77:

The US economists were chained to their theories, pretty much like the French economists at the transition phase between the 17th and 18th centuries.

In contrast the Korean economists were eminently practical, like the British economists at the same transition phase between the 17th and 18th centuries.

Of course the Korean economists had the advantage of hindsight, having seen what it takes to create a true industrial take-off, in a flurry of examples from the UK to Japan. They also had the example of late 17th century, early 18th century French society to see how you can fail at doing an industrial take of even if you have all the ingredients in your own back yard.

78:

No, that's some chap called Kevin you are ranting about re. Alex Salmonds scotland. Regardless of that error of yours, the fact is that independence has a much more broadly based support than Siol na Gael folk, contra to your bigoted opinions. I've met quite a few nationalists who would dump Salmond ASAP, and many more who don't fit your stereotype of small minded bigots.
Your hatred of Eire is also noted, and we well know your opinions of the RC church. Do you put self determination ahead of economic development, or, as appears likely from your comments, your personal prefered form of economic and cultural development ahead of any form of democracy and self determination?

79:

Once again I am forced to type with one hand, palming my face with the other.

Why is this such a "hot button" issue with you, Greg? Why does it excite such venomous bile on your part?
Do you feel that the existence of an independent Irish state violates your sense of manhood in some way?

You're an intelligent person. Why do you feel the need to perpetrate this sort of travesty?

"POverty, rule by the most evil body of guvmint on the planet (the RC church) for 80 years, navel-gazing and reaction.
So nice."

It was a great deal more complicated than that, as I've tried (and obviously failed) to show you on numerous previous threads.

80:

If you're using English, you're really just speaking appalling German, as opposed to the Dutch, who are speaking bad German (though I've no doubt they rather die than admit it). Vis words in Scots English which are German words that didn't make it any further south, like 'loch' or the use of the verb 'ken', to know; that's pure German.

81:

Many of the Germanic words in use in Scotland are descended from Old Norse, in fact -- which is also a Germanic language.

All this debate about religion and Scottish Independence is giving a wonderful demonstration of why and how knowing our histories matters. :-) But let's keep it calm and polite, please, everyone.

82:

Also in Scots are words such as Kirk and kist, which come more from the Dutch in the last 6 or 700 years, or so I understand.

83:

Puritan emigration to the USA (Mayflower 1620 - James I & VI was still king, but the anglo-catholic leanings of his incompetent & untrustworthy son, Charles II were already apparent by then) was largely so that the extreme prod-bigots could exercise their own special forms of intolerance, rather than submit to other, usually state-promoted intolerance, which wan't, actually as bad as their own.

Interesting factoid of history:

The people who voyaged in the Mayflower were split between religious Separatists of some stripe and a group of adventurers looking to make a name for themselves on the new continent. The Separatists first attempted to settle in Holland in 1608. Sometime between then and 1620, a different group of English-speakers settled in Jamestown, Virginia. These Separatists decided that Holland wasn't conducive to their idea of the proper religious life, and attempted to travel to Virginia. A combination of weather and other travel-problems forced them to set up shop in Massachusetts and hope to survive the winter. Half of them did survive.

(What did Kari say above about German-speakers in the United States? This group included many who had spent a decade and a half in Holland...)

The next wave of settlers in Massachusetts were Puritan, but they tended to land in Boston. And popular history of American settlement doesn't remember the names of their ships. (It's highly probable that one of my ancestors arrived in Boston Harbor on a ship named Mary and John in 1636. This was one of many ships to land Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s. But I mention that at a party, and people look at me funny. What ship was the Mary and John?)

Anyways, the pilgrims-and-friends are remembered in popular history as the image of the First Settlers. And most people don't care to distinguish between them and the Puritans. Even though they weren't Puritan, and were preceded in settlement by Jamestown.

Of course, the fact that Will Bradford wrote a book about the experience probably helped cement it in American consciousness as the First Settlers...is that another instance of the victors writing history? Or the more literate first-adopter writing history?

A couple centuries later, the victors of the American Civil War may have decided that the first settlers in New England got primacy over the first settlers in Virginia in history-books. But I doubt anyone asks the question of how that victory (or later victories in other political struggles) have caused history to be re-written.

84:

An argument which rapidly ounders, holed below the waterline by the fact that there is no such thing as "Scots English". The Scots Leid that I imagine you're referencing is a separate language in its own right (albeit in the Germanic family). So is Doric.

Glesca is a dialect of English sure, but it's not sufficiently widespread to be a national dialect.

85:

Characterizations of Korea are still pretty patronizing, which is more or less the point I was trying to make. We often don't appreciate circumstances that led to one or another situation, and instead judge it by whatever narrative suits our worldview. (At best, the Japanese treat South Koreans with a begrudging respect. And North Korea? Americans have a more considered opinion.)

Regarding economies, you’re not wrong, but I still maintain that Cold War rivalries drove much of the success: yes, the DPRK inherited Japanese factories, but most of that and all other infrastructure was bombed all to hell during the War. Soviet engineers largely drove their economic miracle. And I don’t think South Korea would be the “most-wired” country if not for very particular and peculiar circumstances circa 1945 which shaped the post-War Pacific region.

I’m going to attempt to furnish this broad point I’m making. You stated that North Korea starves its population. Cummings makes a point, one I agree with, that the DPRK’s worst sin is that it has a government that is more integrated into its population than any other country in the world, such that it could deliver significant material and social benefits to all its citizens at once with a stroke of the pen, and that it doesn’t (or it does, but far, far too hesitantly). But the calorie-per-capita thing isn’t the issue. The famine was highly atypical - it was due to a severe drought, which was compounded by the collapse of the USSR which would have come through with the grain otherwise. For a country deprived of industrial fertilizers and pasture land, with an isolationist economy which isn’t entirely self-imposed, their people are fed okay. I think East Germany is a fair comparison: eggs were hard to come by, but getting your RDI wasn’t a struggle. “North Korea starves its population” is a characterization. There’s some truth to it, but also quite a lot of inaccuracy. Where I ultimately think history is the study of the human condition through a series of case studies, I also feel history has a role to demonstrate how convenient narratives ride roughshod over ambiguities and contradictions.

86:

@77:
The US economists were chained to their theories
...
In contrast the Korean economists were eminently practical

--

It's an example of the "expert problem." You train experts similarly, and their status is partially determined by how well they perform to the expectations of other experts. You get a nice closed loop going there. When such experts are put in charge of things, things can go awry in particularly nasty ways.

"Expertise" is one indicator of proficiency, but success is a better one.

Like Mack Reynolds said long ago, if those economists can predict the market better than random chance even 1% of the time, they ought to be wealthy on their own.

87:

85: The famine was highly atypical - it was due to a severe drought, which was compounded by the collapse of the USSR which would have come through with the grain otherwise.

Droughts alone don't cause famine: see, for example, Amartya Sen.

You're wrong anyway. The natural cause was floods, not droughts, which destroyed not only harvests but also grain reserves (kept underground).
Doesn't explain, though, why the North Koreans are still living in semi-famine conditions 15 years after the floods... that's a governmental failure and nothing else.
Cumings is really not reliable.

88:

You grossly simplify expertise: economics is not even remotely about personal wealth accumulation. Nurses and doctors can both acquire expertise in medicine, even if their expertise is of a different nature. Specialized doctors aren't experts in tapping veins, so why hinge their credibility on their ability to draw blood? Likewise, financial transactions aren't the domain of economists.

Cliches become popular because they seem sensible but that's no excuse for reproducing them.

89:

there's a lot of Cummings haters, but he's a formidable historian and there are plenty of other academics who conform to his views. and even where he's contentious, most of his points are widely acknowledged.

I live in a country where a dry spell and a flood are equivocal as a drought. forgive the local usage. but you say "semi-famine". you accept North Koreans aren't currently starving, I guess, or else you would have just said "famine"? What could the DPRK do right now to alleviate the state of "semi-famine"? Considering there's always one or another who will throw the six-party talks.

90:

Sen's work on famine is good, but if you like him I would urge you to seek out Alex de Waal's 1997 work Famine Crimes.

de Waal proposes a concept of the "political contract" between rulers and ruled, a contract against famine which can only be fulfilled if ruling groups take measures to ensure that natural disasters (drought, potato blight) do not metamorphosise into the political disaster of famine.

de Waal is highly critical of what he calls the "humanitarian international", the vast network of humanitarian NGOs who regularly flock to this or that natural disaster site. These, he avers (I'm quoting from memory here, btw) risk eroding the political contracts which might allow famine to be averted, not merely alleviated. In Sudan 1970s, he states (again, this is from memory), there was a national state-run famine early warning and prevention system. By the 1980s this had been run down, with foreign NGOs filling the gap, allowing government resources previously devoted to famine prevention to be diverted to the war in the south.

91:

Guthrie @ 78 & DJP O'K follwing...

What "hatred" of Eire?
It's a lovely country, only recently emerged from 80- years (1922-2002 approx) of slavery to the RC church.
I despise people like De Valera, who was complicit in the murder of Collins - the worst thing to happen in that country since 1900 was not even the only time the brits made the classic mistake of using a militia (The "Black-&-Tans" were NOT nice to know) but the post 1922 Civil War, which really polarised opinion, splitting the country bitterly between Fine Gael and Fianna Foyle (sp) ....
Yes, it may suprise you - I do actually know quite a bit of Irish history, and the desperate way in which at every turn a solution is screwed by some idiot splinter group or other (1916 being the classic example, given that Home Rule was already on the books, with a stopped clock, beacuse of a little difficulty in Belgium).
What annoys me is the constant repitition of missed opportunities, usually done to Irish people by Irish people....
REPEAT.
My own preferred solution, opposed by Salmond, and many in the Tory party & Labour is for a "Federated Union of the Isles" With each section having something approaching Salmond's "Devo-Max".
But vested interests and spite and religon will ensure that it is very unlikely to occur.


TRX @ 86
Like J M Keynes, you mean, whio DID make himself wealthy.

92:

I agree. The short-hand of "North Korea is starving its population" was an oversimplification for a much more complex situation, because I was writing a minor point in a short blog entry. As I understand Cummings' point, North Korea has the ecological/environmental basis to feed its people (it's not too short of arable land, for example, even with the current weather problems), but rather that the famine is due to a failure of its political infrastructure.

One of the points I tend to reiterate on this blog is that political feasibility can often be a bigger problem than technical feasibility, and that many of the more grinding problems we face today are based on a failure of politics, not a failure of technology. Since this blog tends to draw techies rather than politicos, it's a point that does need to get made.

Sadly, North Korea's famine appears to be another case in point.

93:

Greg - As O'Kane has already said, your view appears too shallow and one sided. The language you use in post 76 makes it appear that you are implicitly deriding everyone there, as if they were at fault for the Catholic church and by implication Eire was wrong about lots of things. Especially 'look what they escaped to', as if staying in the empire was the best thing possible.
As for the Collins thing, it sounds exactly like you have been reading too many conspiracy theories. And opinion was already split, with the drift towards civil war apparent long before it broke out.

Your comment about Scotland has the same flaws - based on an opinion which appears to ignore most of the last few decades and the realities of Scotland in favour of your own bad mouthing of people you hate.

94:

Indeed, Ireland "saying in the Empire" wouild have been much better than what actually happened. Even allowing for the fact that said Empire was regretfully preparing itself to use military force against a splinter group in the North (The Curragh mutiny) just before Archduke Ferdinand's assaination.
I've said before, that each "side" or grouping seemed to take turns in completely wrecking a peaceful &/or sensible solution to the problems there. One of my (very distant) relations put his own tuppenyworth into it by ensuring that Gladstone's Home Rule bill failed, purely for temporary English political advantage. [Salisbury, in case you were wondering]

You are correct in detecting that I will cheerfully blame the RC church for almost anything - but then that is usually a correct stance to take.
Not that the ultra-prods in the North have done anything other than construct a fun-house mirror-image of the RC set-up with their own institutions.
Are either of you familiar with the story of the only (IIRC) N Irishman to win a VC in WWII?
And how, because he was a catholic, he gave up, and moved his family to Liverpool, because no-one, in either bigoted grouping, would give him the time of day?
Says it all, about both sides, doen't it?

95:

"Even allowing for the fact that said Empire was regretfully preparing itself to use military force against a splinter group in the North (The Curragh mutiny) just before Archduke Ferdinand's assaination."

Wow. Just. . . wow.

What Greg is referring to, folks, when he refers to the Curragh mutiny, is an incident in which British officers stationed in Ireland threatened to resign their commissions if ordered to suppress the anti-Home Rule militias in the north of Ireland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curragh_incident

"The event contributed both to unionist confidence and to the growing Irish separatist movement, convincing nationalists that they could not expect support from the British army in Ireland. In turn, this naturally increased nationalist support for its paramilitary force, the Irish Volunteers."

96:

We can't tell you what you think about things but we can tell you when you are coming across as arrogant, angry, and just plain wrong and this is one of those times.

97:

karrde:

The New England settlement makes a much better founding myth. The Jamestown colony was purely a commercial enterprise and wasn't well managed. Only 10% survived the hard year 1622, and the greed-heads in London still wouldn't shut it down. It was mostly men and there are no stories of family life. The only romantic story is Pocahontas.

The Pilgrims and Puritans did have some religious motivations, and they traveled as families, which is a nicer image than a bunch of horny guys getting drunk and making moves on the locals. The First Thanksgiving probably didn't happen, but scenes of domestic life were commoner than in VA.

My earliest arrival was a woman named Katherine Banks who showed up in VA in the early 1640's. She may have had a recessive literary gene, because two of her descendants are William Faulkner and Ray Bradbury.

98:

guthrie @ 96
NO
DJPo'K is correct and you are both wrong & out of order.
I suggest you re-read my comments on the Curragh & the VC submariner (I think) who had to flee to Liverpool.

Following my theme of taking turns to screw it, the Prods tried the Curragh - which would have failed ... to be follwed by the idiot ultra-catholics who took Imperial German assistance in the middle of WWI in the Dublin so-called "easter rising".
Which, lets face it, fucked the whole thing completely.
It is very doubtful indeed if any solution could have been found after that.
Note how, in both these cases, various extreme splinter groups of IRISH people completely wrecked the whole thing for everyone.
Neither group was representative of anything or anyone except their own selfish, bigoted little inflated egoes ( & their own version of "true religion", of course ).

99:

Ireland

Okay, people, let's cool this, please. It's a highly emotive subject, and never easy to discuss. But this is Charlie's space, and probably not the best arena for the topic.
Thanks.

100:

Kari
Agreed
I was given a step-function introduction to the subject, visiting Belfast for the first time in 1965 - where the first thing I saw was was graffiti on a grotty set of steps leading to the river: "Kick the Pope" - ( You WHAT? WTF? )
I went there for the railway (STEAM) interest at the time .....

101:

Actually, Greg, I wasn't agreeing with you.

The incident at the Curragh in 1914 demonstrated that the national question in Ireland could not be resolved within the horizons of Home Rule. The only way the historical cycle of conflict could have been broken was by breaking the circuits in which that cycle was carried on. And that meant independence for John Bull's Other Island, not only home rule.

Even if a Home Rule administration had been formed, it would have involved partition of the island, conservative hegemony in both of the jurisdictions formed by that partition, with the attendant sectarianism that we saw in our own timeline.

Such an order might have been stable for five decades, as (in our timeline) the Stormont regime was in the north of Ireland: but in the end it would have collapsed, as the Stormont regime did, under its own contradictions.

102:

DJPo'K
Unfortunately, you may be correct, but let's not argue about that now.
However, after my sudden introduction to Irish internecine divisions (see above) another example startled all of us railway enthusiasts.
Most unusally, NIR appointed an Englishman to run the show, about that time ...
Very shortly after, the corrupt establishment in the North (as opposed to the similar one in the South) decided they were going to close ALL their railways, and concentrate on buses [ Needless to say, there was a lot of graft involved.] but it was presented as being different from the horrible South, where CIE were doing quite a good job.
In the end, the Englishman was sacked for standing up in public, & telling everyone that this was a load of shit.
Still, with the exception of the disgraceful closure of the GNR(I) route Portadown-Armagh-Omagh-Londonderry, the rest was saved.

An example of really effective N-S co-operation is the RPSI, who have some fine locomotives in working or semi-working order.

103:

I recently visited the British Museum and was disappointed to find almost nothing on the early history of the British Isles. Small room, a mummy of a woman and some strands of wire. Plenty of Roman coins, etc. but almost nothing of the indigenous populations. Were those artifacts destroyed or did I go to the wrong place?

104:

Agreed on that. Its very much more complicated than, say, our US of American Cousins might suppose as they push a chunk of their current income in the direction of American Politicians who they fondly suppose best support their own given - by History as they understand it - Ancestry so that they feel that to support their Ain Folk and Parade down the Streets of New York clad in Green Stuff is not just desirable but also utterly necessary ...the ever so Evil English must needs must PAY for their iniquities.

There's no lack of Disinformation on the History of The Island of Ireland ..that bit of the I land that holds your own Tradition that is. My Fathers family came from Over There and, I gather, were UN-desirable immigrants by the standards of my Mother's Highland Scottish Ancestry family ..she married beneath her by traditional British Working Class standards.

Civil Wars are the Worst of all Wars and most of British History past What Have The Romans Done For Us is the History of Civil Wars.

A good deal of the source of the Scottish Problem springs from the War Between The Highland Scots and the Low land Scots who had the sense to employ vicious English Mercenaries against those Wicked Papist Highland Scots and CLEAR them from the Land in favour of Sheep ..who were ever so much more biddable by duly authorised Authority as that Authority was Royally Mandated by the correct model of Christian God.

The Stuart Clan really Believed in the Divine Right of Kings ..all of 'em did including Charles the Second ..The Merry Monarch ..and his brother and Heir, and their Heirs and Successors did too and still DO. Its just that they do have the sense not to advertise this. Which is why people of the UK do get ever so sentimental about our present Monarch Good Queen Bess who is an astonishingly good 'Spin Doctor ' who rarely puts a foot wrong in the political dance.

So.. my own ancestry? Well I have typically Scandinavian skin colouration ..I don't just get sun burn I get light triggered dermatitis. And then I do have the typically male pattern baldness - alas for my .. well...


I recently encountered a woman who recognised me from school-days of nearly half a century ago, but who was not a girl friend as such of way back then, and she said " How we did love your pretty Golden Hair " SOB ! So, " Pretty Golden Hair " - SOB !! - tending towards male pattern baldness. And then theres that Hamlet -ish tendency to BROOD more than is good for us?. Hamlet Prince of Denmark? Typical case of Stress triggered Clinical Depression with extremely dangerous levels of Anger. Though that RAGE, er, that is to say, Moderate ill temper can be controlled before we reach the level of chewing on the rims of our Shields.

We make very good soldiers, which is why the British army did tend to recruit us from way UP there in Scotland to way down towards Jorvik ...


http://www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk/

Though we were - and remain! - ever so Cute and Lovable really ... I SAID CUTE AND LOVABLE!!! All right?!!!!


Oh, and Note to Mods ? I did make an entry awhile ago on this thread on my current reading with a reference to Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan and how I did once ,when Young, Run someone Through with a Sword.


I suppose that I could reconstruct it if the post has vanished into Hyphen Space ..much better than Hyper Space ..but if it hasn't been confused with spam and zapped could it be retrieved ? In the Interests of all Cute and Lovable persons of Scandinavian Ancestry? Pretty Please?

105:

" Were those artifacts destroyed or did I go to the wrong place? "

Well, not entirely the Wrong place but near enough to it as makes no difference.

My own personal recommendation in Londinium ? ... Brace yourself and Prepare to be amazed! ...


http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/j/jewellery/

Specials

Merchandise

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This page contains a single entry by Kari Sperring published on August 22, 2012 11:15 AM.

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