Archive for the ‘British History’ Category

CONQUEST Of England, 950 Years Ago: End of Slavery, Birth of Modern Democracy

October 16, 2016

The BATTLE OF HASTINGS, WON By The FRANKS 950 YEARS AGO: Outlawing Slavery, Jump Starting Democracy

How did British democracy arise? With the exact opposite maneuver from Brexit. What is the opposite of Brit-exit? Frank-in. And when William the Conqueror, came in, conquered-in, he did not just bring, but enforced a more advanced civilization, and much more, a process to self-feed democracy.

The ascent of Britain, blossoming into the edge of world civilization is a long story which started well before Caesar’s two landings in England. The mighty, yet disorganized Celtic civilization had been divided into a diversity of a bewildering obfuscation (fostered by the Druids) of countless small units: Gaul had 60 nations, with 60 central banks, senates and three languages. Roman organization put an end to that non-sense, and Gaul came out much stronger, wealthier and more intelligent (the Druids cultivated stupidity, by outlawing written expression, except among themselves).

The collapse of the Roman state brought an even greater mess to Britain, while the continent got reorganized under the Franks’ Lex Salica (see chapter inside the essay on Outlawing Muslim Brotherhood). The reconquest of England by the Franks under the command of a Roman duke of Normandy added a whole new layer of complexity in the subtilty of government. It is William’s Conquest, a conquest by a plurality, and the most advanced principles, which instigated the rise of the world’s most advanced democracy, protected, as it was thereafter, by the insular nature of Britain (whereas the rest of the Roman empire, on the other side of the Channel, fell in ever worse divisions sheared from ever mightier armies).

After its conquest under Claudius, a Roman emperor born in Lyon (Lugdunum), Britannia was unified and pacified for more than four centuries. However budget cuts by the theologically minded plutocrats who ruled Rome around 400 CE, led to the withdrawal of the legions (which constituted the core of the crack field armies of the empire). Local Roman militia was unable to repel waves of invasion of determined Angles and Saxons in the next two centuries. Finally British forces retreated towards Wales or took refuge in what came to be known as Brittany (formerly Armorica, the large western peninsula of France advancing in the Atlantic). Then the Viking came, overrunning much of England, and all of Ireland.

By the Eleventh Century, the king ruling England, Edward the Confessor, had no direct descendant. (His earlier life had been astoundingly full of battles and unlikely events; suffices to say he was the seventh son of his father, from his second wife, Emma of Normandy who ended up marrying a Viking invader, Cnut, who conveniently executed some of Edward’s half brothers. Edward spent many years in exile in Normandy (and acted accordingly: Edward could see that Frankish civilization was superior). 

William The Conqueror Territories In Red, That Of His Other Frankish Allies, in Blue

William The Conqueror Territories In Red, That Of Some Of His Other Frankish Allies, in Blue (Poitou, Anjou, Flanders) or Green (Bretagne)

The Reconquista Of Britannia By A Dux Of The Roman Empire:

The reconquest of Britannia by a Roman Dux was no accident: five centuries after being overrun by the Angles and Saxons, the British Isles were more of a wasteland than ever, as waves of Viking sloshed all over. It was high time for re-establishing civilization. Only force can re-establish civilization (a theme of mine). William would apply overwhelming force, in the service of the most advanced civilization anywhere. And it worked splendidly: the progress he launched became self-feeding, and promoted peace. Indeed, after William’s conquest, except for a victorious Dutch invasion in 1688 CE (with the objective of defeating France’s dictator, Louis XIV), England would never be conquered again. 

The closest relative of king Edward the Confessor was the Norman Dux (“Dux”, Duc, Duke, was a Roman military title of the Late Empire: a Dux was the superior military officer of a large province, only subject to command from the Emperor himself). More exactly, Edward was the grandson of the maternal uncle of William the Conqueror. The accession of William to the ducal throne had been difficult because his father had died in Nicea (Anatolia), when William was seven years old. William’s mother was his father’s mistress, an independent business woman who then married somebody else. However, Dukes of Normandy were often “illegitimate”, and there is no doubt that his father intended William to be Duke (he made his vassals take an oath of obedience to his son, before leaving for the crusade, over his family’s objections).

By the age of 23, the battle tested William was the uncontested Duke of Normandy, and Edward was back, overlording an English realm streaked by Viking raids. Thus, in 1051 CE, Edward selected William as heir (no doubt feeling that Britain needed to be reintegrated in the Roman ensemble, for its own good as it indeed turned out). In 1064 CE, a top officer of Edward, Harold, showed up in Normandy, helped William wage war in Brittany, and told him that he, Harold, would support his claim to the throne (at least that is what Normand discrediting propaganda claimed at the time).

On January 5, 1066, Edward died and Harold, treacherously, took power as king of England. Many other claimants and grandees were not happy, and a complicated war started, with four parties involved.

However William was an official Duke of the Roman empire, had been named future king 15 years prior, and thus William was the only one with real legitimacy, and enormous clout (but making William king meant that Britain was reintegrating the Roman empire! And thus who thrived from the mess were going to suffer). Indeed, consent of Pope Alexander II for the invasion was obtained, and a Papal banner was flown by William. The Roman emperor also gave consent. On top of this, William was an extremely experienced military leader, used to command in the Roman imperator tradition (namely ready to execute miscreants as needed). William had been at war since age 8. And he was now 38 years old.

An enormous fleet was built, 3,000 ships it has been said. It sailed from the Somme river, once intelligence informed William that Harold’s army had been removed from the Channel and was battling in the north.

William led an army greatly composed of contingents under the direct command of many French barons who were not his vassals. In particular William’s forces comprised Breton, Anjou, Poitou armies (which made the left wing at the Hastings battle, commanded by Alan the Red, a relative of the Comte de Bretagne) and a French, Picardy, Flanders army (which made the right wing at Hastings, and was commanded by the Count of Boulogne, who was severely wounded in the pursuit of the Anglo-Saxon forces).

***

That two-third of William’s army was made of Frankish allies not his vassals was of great consequence: his non-vassal allies would shortly enforce upon the king the MAGNA CARTA LIBERTATUM, the Great Charter of Liberty.

During the battle, William’s left wing, the Breton army at some point cracked and fled, and was pursued by Harold’s forces, led by two of his brothers. That stretching of the enemy in the open enabled William’s cavalry to surprise and destroy them. The Normans feigned retreat twice more, to expose Harold’s army to cavalry (Harold had no cavalry, and no archers, William had both). William engineered attacks after attacks, changing strategy repeatedly, and had several horses killed under him. In the end, Harold was killed, some say by William himself (that Harold was killed by an arrow is apparently a later legend which arose when the Bayeux tapestry was misinterpreted).

The war was not finished.  English clergy and aristocrat nominated Edgar the Ætheling as king to replace Howard (whose body William had ordered thrown in the sea). To win the war, William instigated reforms right away.

William changed England in many ways. For example he was partly financed by Jewish financiers and brought rich Jews from Rouen to foster lending in England (an activity forbidden to Christians with Christians, but allowed from Jews to Christians). Thus William introduced Judaism to England (so Jews were not always victimized by it did not exist prior to that there).

William had made church reforms in Normandy. He extended them to England, and replaced English clergy by Normand clergy. William also enforced all the laws passed by Edward the Confessor (the preceding English king, who had spent most of his formative years in Normandy, thanks to William’s family, and much of his life, and had made his relative William his heir). Some laws protected especially the “Frenchmen who had come with William to England”, as one would expect after a conquest. But William went much further.

***

William The Conqueror’s Laws Created A New Polity And New Civilization:

William introduced ten major new laws. The first made Christianism the official religion (exit the pagan gods).

William’s second law made all Englishmen take a direct, personal oath of loyalty to the king, as if they were soldiers in the Roman army. Those who did not take the oath would not be considered to be freemen. The oath had to be witnessed by many. That was a very significant advance: prior to this, citizens did not have to take an oath of loyalty (only the Roman soldiers had to, except for a few years under Roman emperors Diocletian and Galerius around 308 CE).

All problems have to be solved in court, ordered William. Non-attendees were heavily fined, up to the amount of the charge against them.

The final two laws passed by William were stunning:

No man is allowed to sell another man. Anyone breaking this law will pay a fine to the king.” This law outlawed slavery in England. 20% of the population had been enslaved under Harold. William, as a Roman Dux, had to implement the Lex Salica’s most prominent feature, the one that distinguished it more saillantly from Justinian’s refurbishing of Roman Law, was the interdiction of slavery. It is also on that law that the prosperity of the “Renovated Roman Empire” rested. Britain had been reunited with the empire (although, it was implicitly intimated that it never left).

No one shall be executed for crimes they have committed; but if they are guilty of a crime, they will be blinded and castrated. This law is not to be challenged.” Outlawing the death penalty was very much a world first. (Although the EU has outlawed the death penalty, the USA still uses it, 950 years later.)

***

Outlawing Slavery Was Not Just Frankish Law, But An Essential Part of William’s Power Grab

As a Dux of the Roman empire, William had to implement (Franco-)Roman law. Slavery had been made unlawful by the (English-born) Queen Bathilde of the Franks in 650 CE. Later the Franks conquered most of Western Europe, including the British isles and the part of Iberian and Italian peninsulas still held by the Muslims. The outlawing of slavery by the Franks was extended to these liberated territories where Roman rule was re-imposed.

In turn, the outlawing of slavery no doubt facilitated this Roman reconquest. For example, the 20% of Englishmen who found themselves to be “freemen” as long as they took a loyalty oath to William were no doubt enthusiastic supporters of William.

***

Frenchmen, and French

In the following centuries, many powerful French characters and adventurers in England, would try to preserve their power, or try to seize power, and would push for various democratic reforms limiting the power of the king. Out of that came the Magna Carta Libertatum (the descendants of the allies of William wanted to keep the powers William had conferred to them, that of allies, not vassals), the power of Parliament (Lancastre hoped to be elected king through Parliament, so he boosted its power; Lancastre was killed on the battlefield, but his reforms stayed). And so on.

Ever since William’s conquest, France and England have been entangled (although intellectual life on both sides of the Channel had been entangled for two millennia already: Druids would study in Wales, Saint Patrick was educated in Cannes, Anti-slavery queen of the Franks Bathide was from Kent, Alcuin, Charlemagne’s main PM and philosopher was English).

The reason for thinking otherwise, that England and France have serious differences (instead of being family), was the dictatorial drift under the fanatical Jihadist tyrant Louis XIV, while England went the other way, towards more democracy. Democracy brings power, dictatorship, weakness. The result was that France became weaker and England blossomed into a superpower. In the (world) wars of the Spanish Succession, the Seven Year War, and the Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars, a haggard France was defeated and more subtly plutocratic England became a world empire.  

It is the mess of more distributed power which rendered England ever more democratic. Whereas in France, the emperor-in-his-own-kingdom (that was the official expression!) Philippe-Auguste (literally: the lover of horses who augments!) colluded with the Pope to destroy the (quasi-republican) giant County of Toulouse (which was ruled under a Count, but mostly by Parliament).

However, moods perdure. Lancastre, one of those who exploited Toulouse got there the idea of using Parliament as a weapon against the king, and implemented the idea in England.

Intelligence is greater, the greater the ability to detect, distinguish, identify & imagine (knowledge, distinctions, equations & allusions).

Contemplating history shows that reason is not linear, but a web. And guess what? Quantum Theory says the same, and it has a name, entanglement. This is an entangled world, and to reveal it, one has to reveal its implicit order. It arises from occurrences. By building one’s neurology while missing the most important occurrences in the world pertaining to it, one risks becoming stupid. 

Patrice Ayme’.   

 

Advertisements