Hence changing to WordPress, which I shall keep expanding.
And one of the first things I have done is improve the font face, this is good old Baskerville, which is much easier to read with longer passages, due to the serifs in the font guiding the brain.
Initially the subjects covered are Early English Medieval History, covering the departure of the Romans in Circa 410 AD through to around 1050, this will be expanded through to some time around 6:00 late Monday afternoon 22nd August 1485 when the Middle Ages stops (oh alright, the middle ages doesn’t stop just then, but it winds up Historians full of their own Hubris and basically half wits, of which for some reason there are quite a few, perhaps having a sense of humour removed is part of taking a History degree for some?) but might just continue into Henry VII, we will see how things pan out. Also Economics, dealing with some of the basics, namely what fiat money is and how it works, also why money came into existence, and some Macro Economic themes explained, also some aspects explained like GDP, what the Balance of payments is, and why it is different from the budget surplus or deficit, and if all the Countries owe so much National debt who is it owed to. Money is tied into King Offa who first introduced the Silver penny in England which is the ancestor of the current penny/cent.
Also I shall now start adding a blog on a regular basis, this will reflect on matters arising, the first one was on Iran talking to USA, and the peace dividends it could bring, as there is always something going on in the world I shall no doubt be able to pontificate on all sorts, I have not decided how frequent they will be, on the principle that no doubt they will settle down into a regular routine of their own making. From these may well come other regular topics which people find difficult and I shall hopefully explain them in a way that is understandable to the averagely intelligent person, I will be honest if I can understand it then you probably can.
Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Dark Ages to Vikings
After the pause for breath.
Colour map midst of English Conquest
|The Angles had first conquered the coast of East Anglia (North Angle folk and South Angle folk becoming later Norfolk and Suffolk) but had not as yet made great inroads into the interior. After the stalling of the onslaught at Badon Mount, there was a serious pause in the advance of the Pagans. It was just over a generation later that further inroads by the West Saxons into the country were made pushing up to Old Sarum in Wiltshire in 552, then victory at Deorham against three British Chiefs around the River Severn laid open the Countryside beyond to the conquerors sword and eventually they slaughter their way to the Thames. We hear of a name in 571 when King Cuthwulf’s West Saxons took Oxfordshire and Berkshire, before being halted by the Christian Britons just before London, the time for the heathen men of Wessex had not yet come.|
Quietly in 565 across the Irish Sea a monk named Columba came from Ireland to the tiny island of Iona just off the Southern tip of the Isle of Mull which is itself situated off the Western coast of Scotland and here he set up a Monastery, from which to preach the Christian faith to the Picts.
It is from the North that the largest Pagan gains are made, as the Angles move down the Trent and into the East Midlands and as far West as Lichfield.
The fens of Holderness gave way to the tramp of Angle feet as they marched over the Yorkshire Wolds to found the kingdom of Deira, on upto the ancient Roman Capital of Eboracum, which is razed then raised anew by the marauding masters and renamed Jorvik which we know as modern day York, but the over building is on a much lowlier scale. The rest of Yorkshire to the Hamlet of Leodis (Leeds) also comes under the Anglo-Saxon yolk. There is a gradual conquering of the whole of the North East to Bamburgh. Pirates raided along the Tweed, followed by Ida (Eiden) and the ‘Men of fifty keels’ who founded a fort (Eiden’s Burgh) now Edinburgh. Jorvik was a Hamlet in comparison with what the Romans had left, and one wonders what happened to the majority of the people who populated the 33 Cities that the Legions left to the mercy of the invaders, slaughtered like so much livestock perhaps, is this where the idea that the Anglo-Saxons murdered nearly the entire indigenous population came from.
York was a substantial City under the Romans, were the citizens just taken into slavery, or was there wholesale rape, pillaging and massacre of all the 33 Roman Cities, which would be a large chunk of the population wiped out for greed and sex, our only source from earlier part of the campaign Gildas remains silent, and the later Bede breathes not a word.
By the end of the 6th Century the Kingdom of Deira had emerged in what is now Yorkshire, and Ida and the men of 50 keels had consolidated that part of the North into Bernicia from Edinburgh down to below Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast, which he made his Capital and built a wooden fortress on the rocky outcrop. There was then what seems to be a power struggle between the two Kingdoms with unrecorded skirmishes that went on between them until they were united under Aethelfrith, at the beginning of the 7th Century. He it was who had more vigour and strategy than any we have yet encountered in this History, he it was who united Northumbria and took on the rest of the North Britons in between these two Northern settlements to make something worthy of the name Kingdom.
The major conquest came in 603 when with his brother Theobold he fought the combined forces of the North Britons including an Irish contingent under Aidan Mac Gabran who were annihilated at the battle of Daegsastan, at Liddesdale Lothian in the Scottish border region, Bede informs us that Theobald was killed but is quite ambiguous and he may have been fighting against his brother Aethelfrith along side Aidan, whatever the line up of the opposing side the Northumbrians won the day.
Moving west in 607 Aethelfrith hit Chester where 2,000 Christian monks had come from Bangor in North Wales and were lined up on a vantage point to pray for the Britons with wild gestures and outstretched arms. To the king it made no difference “Bear they arms or no they war against us when they cry against us to their God.” This was the signal for attack and the Monks were the first to fall in the rout that followed. Aethelfrith then moved up into Lancashire with his Angles and effectively split the Britons in twain, one part receding into Wales, the other towards Carlisle, and Hadrian’s Wall the old border with Scotland.
This had pushed his forces to the West coast of England at Lancashire, and now his kingdom stretched from there to the East coast north of the Border to Edinburgh and down as far as Essex and Leicestershire in the midlands, where they bordered with the Saxons. From this time on the war settles down to a long running sore between the Britons of Wales and Scotland and the Anglo-Saxons that would continue on and off until Edward 1st time.
The Britons being split in two would no longer pose any serious threat, and thus the struggle would turn in on its self. Fighting would break out when the Politics failed, as this would be a struggle for the heart of England and overlordship, but by the nature of the split and the Countryside involved, it seems that the invaders did not regard the highlands or less productive land worth losing life over. A single King would emerge and a single people but the road would take over three hundred years and be potholed with troubles.
Although we refer to Angles, Saxons and Jutes before this unified Kingdom was come into being, they were not three tribes under three individual Kings that were invading, they were separate raiding parties possibly different tribes and families under one leader from the same regions who were finding areas to attack and then settle, as they did so and inter married the three peoples slowly melded into first Angles and Saxons and then to see themselves as Saxons.
It is important to note the part about not being separate clans as they seem to be mixed tribes and families under the leadership of an individual or gang, later this would make it easier for the different ‘tribes’ to intermix as the strict loyalties of ‘family’ were much looser. Certainly by the time of the Normans they seem to call themselves Saxons, the later Vikings included. In the 6th and 7th centuries there is so little written information, we have to go on conjecture and Archaeological evidence to come to any worthwhile conclusions, and pots tend not to tell what one person thought of another.
The difference with the mainland of Europe and England is that the conquest by the ‘English’ is complete, we may now have revised the idea that all the indigenous Britons were wiped out, to the idea that it was a percentage who were slain or the alternative that a minority who were put to death, but whatever you say Britannia was conquered and it was Germanic tribes that were the conquerors speaking a mongrel Germanic language that had lost its genders, the language is also related to Flemish and the Scandinavian languages.
The Archaeology tells us that both men and women were tall and well built, in fact very close to modern day heights. Their life expectancy however was short (probably shorter than the Romans who did have good sanitation that is worth more than medicine, and also quite good medical provision for the time) although it appears the Anglo-Saxon diet was generally very good, this however should be tempered with the thought that famine easily occurred when there was a series of bad harvests due to the weather. There is ample evidence they stored food for the bad times, but the very nature of their more local way of life precluded vast imports from distant lands as would occur while the Romans and capitalist free trade were in control. Also they had no idea about hygiene or personal cleanliness, running water was not the essential that the Romans had, the Anglo-Saxon toilet was a dry midden, whereas the Romans usually made their toilets over running water and had a sponge on a stick to wipe their posteriors clean, so less likelihood of transmission of disease.
The World they created was different again from that of the ordered Roman society, ornate mosaic floors and the hyper course central heating of the grand villas were gone, the Forum in the Town with the market and Government buildings forgotten, no centralised Government so no centralised Laws, the Coinage and Religion of one God swept away like a steady tsunami that went on and on and on, but then what was left behind exchanged for a new way of living, much poorer but as will be seen much potential.
In Europe the chaplains of Christ were often the mediators, between the Barbarians and the indigenous peoples for whom Rome had been their protector, in England any priests were often slain first with added ferocity, the English rejected the faith of the Empire. This was to be a purely Germanic Heathen tradition until the mingling gave way to others. The Days of the week were named after heathen Gods Woden (Wednesday) and Thor (Thursday) or celestial bodies like Moon (Monday) or Saturn (Saturday).
There is at this time more than one line to follow, as the different tribes of Angles, Saxons and Jutes invade the Island different stories can be pursued, some run into a cul de sac, others flourish before being eased aside, some come to an abrupt end by conquest.
What emerges is England, but the route taken is not clear cut, many of the people involved are just names, these are taken to be Kings some more kingly than others. As the Saxons came up from the South coast as far as Chester in the West, the Angles penetrated from the East. The estuary of the Humber, which unites a multitude of rivers, also gives access like open highways into the heart of England, and it was by this inlet that the great mass of the invaders penetrated into the interior of the island. One body says J. R. Green turned southward by the forest of Elmet, which covered the district around Leeds, but they followed the course of the Trent, and those between the Trent and the Humber took the name of Southumbrians.
A second division, advancing along the curve of the Trent crept down the line of its tributary, the Soar, until they reached Leicester and became the Middle English. The headwaters of the Trent were the seat of those invaders who penetrated furthest to the West, and camped round Lichfield and Repton. This Country became the borderland between Englishmen and Britons, and the settlers bore the name of ‘Mercians,’ men that is, of the March or border, we know hardly anything of the conquest of this part of Mid-Britain, and little more at some points of the conquest of the North.
Under the power of the Romans the Politics had centred on Eboracum (York) this was the Provincial Capital of Britannia Secunda which stretched between the Humber and the wall, a new Province between the wall and the Firth of Forth called Valentia had been created to reduce the strength of the Britannia Secunda Prefect by splitting the number of Legions under his control as the majority of troops were stationed along the Roman wall from Carlisle to Wallsend, and upwards in the recently created Province of Valentia The signs of wealth and opulence were everywhere, Towns rose beneath the shelter of the legion camps and Eboracum was granted the premier status of Colonia one of only four in the Island. Villas of British landowners studded the vale of Ouse and up to the far off uplands of the Tyne, the shepherd of two centuries earlier could trust to the power of the Roman army for protection against any Pictish marauders, now the legions were long vanished, and the district was assaulted from both North and South, as well as from the coast on the East.
However in some senses Rome itself never left as there were still some remnants of Christianity at the edges, and in Rome proper, as long ago as the 580s A.D. a future Pope had been thinking of a return in some form or other. The story is told that a monk, the future Pope Gregory, saw some slaves for sale in the Forum in Rome, they were blond haired, blue eyed and very pale skinned when he enquired from the slave owner what region they were from he was told they were Angles and Gregory is said to have replied “Non Angli Sed Angeli” (Not Angles but Angels), from the Kingdom Deira the merchant continued, “plucked from God’s ire” the monk said in response to the untranslatable Deira. What is the name of their King, Gregory enquired, Aella came the reply,”Then Alleluia shall be sung there”. True to his word when he became Pope in 590 Gregory started to organise Augustine one of his Abbots with other monks to preach the word of Jesus to the heathens.
In fact Augustine did not arrive unannounced in England, Aethelberht King of Kent was married to Bercta, she was the Daughter of the Frankish King Charibert and was already a Christian and Gregory had organised through Charibert that the party of monks should pass through his court in readiness for their travel to the land of the Angles. So when Augustine landed at Ebbsfleet in 597, just as years earlier Hengest and Horsa had come ashore at this seaward anchorage in Thanet he was not unexpected.
Excerpt from Chapter 16,
10th & 11th Centuries
England now started to form into a coherent Country, this was brought about by the efforts of the Kings, from Alfred the Great onwards. There is no evidence that any area constituted what a specific king thought should be the area he ruled, merely what he could rule, and where he could gather taxes. In the case of Aethelred II as much in taxes as possible to pay the Danegeld. It does not seem to occur to the raiding armies that just collecting a percentage of money would be a more efficient means of making a profit than raping and pillaging, although it may well mean the latter two ceased to become an option so was probably the reason it was not thought of.
That is until Swein sees that England is there for the taking, and so decides to tap the money supply at its source, but here fortune intervenes because the person with whom the fates will decide should get the interminable mint of money, is Canute and he is not just in it for the wealth.
He is a man of his time, and being a good King in the eyes of his God, to him seems to mean more than an extra dollop of dosh, to the extent that he clamps down on corruption, and while others may have said they were for the observance of the Laws, Canute has it proclaimed in the Village in the Town, that any officials not fulfilling their duties under the Law are to be reported to him so that punishment can be seen for all.
In 11th Century England there would most likely have been disparities in its enforcement, but it does seem to have been largely observed in deed, not just word. This is probably why the wealth of the Nation came back so quickly once the pent up demand is beginning to be serviced after the Danegeld ceased to be paid.
The Architecture however suffered severe blows, the lack of regular income due to the ravages of the Danes took its toll in building development, and it seems to have nearly halted at the beginning of the 10th Century and little improved later, the continual depletion of the treasury stymied any advancement of design. There is little left now of the building from this period, mainly due to the paucity of new works, probably caused by the upsets of Aethelred but then with no impetuous from the King, it is not until Eadward the Confessor that any building of note is erected, and the Westminster Abbey he constructed was not the one we see today.
The Counties or more properly the Shires were by the 11th Century fully in place below the Danelaw that is, and the Shires themselves were divided into Hundred’s, and the Hundred’s were there for Tax raising and administrative purposes like the settling of legal disputes between farmers and holding the Courts, which in many places was every four weeks, these Hundreds seem to have come into being about the reign of Edgar.
The Courts and Taxes would require people who could read and write, so the Monasteries kept on supplying the people with these skills, from Alfred’s day onwards even in Aethelred’s reign the Taxes were raised very efficiently by contemporary standards in Europe, the Children of the Royal court and Ceorls are the ones who seem to have been ‘Educated’ and trained to the civil service.
It is now in the British Library Cotton Collection. This is taken from the 19th Century Quarto Edition of John Richard Green’s Master piece “A Short History of the English Peoples” the First History of England that concentrated on us the people rather than just the Kings.
I have this picture as wallpaper on one of my PCs, and the more I look at it the more I see.
Much preferred in my eyes to Van Gogh, as there is so much more ART contained within.
The picture Enlarges if you click on it, so you can study the detail, Kebab anyone?