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Sunday, October 06, 2013


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Any chance of making the maps scroll more slowly? It's annoying to have to watch the whole thing a dozen times through because you can only take in a fraction of each screen in the few seconds it's visible. :)


I always find it fascinating that modern English view battles like Crecy, Agincourt etc. as great victories of the English over the French. They were of course no such thing; the very concept is an anachronism.

Crecy was a *French* victory, over other French. (The use of "French" here is a looser one than the modern.) These were French, or Frankish, nobles and Frankish families (Capetian and Plantagenet et. al.)fighting over Frankish lands and titles. And I don't just (or even) mean that the fighting was in what is now France. I mean that England *was* France. It was, and remained for centuries, a fundamental part of
the larger Frankish lands and culture.

It wasn't just the nobility, either. Yes, the English peasants spoke a Germanic language, but one that soon merged with French to become Middle English. Even before, it was simply a patois like the many different dialects spoken throughout the regions of what is now France. England was no more separate from "France" than, say, Guyenne or Anjou, or Aquitaine.

It's sad how how much of the Frankish heritage of England has been subsumed and (deliberatley, at least initially) forgottenin the past few centuries.



The History of England

Hi Joseph.. and yes, I can get the gifs it move more slowly. I'll have to wait for a while until I can get to a proper computer, but fair dos.

Interesting comment about Crecy. I know what you mean, though not sure I share your view. I agree that the ruling classes in England, and therefore inevitably the rest of the population after the Norman invaisions shared a lot with the French. and indeed, the concept of Christendom was still strong. And I have a feeling that we make make a lot less about this inheritance in our culture than we could do.

But that is the way we like it I think! We have lived for centuries next to a kingdom much bigger, much richer much more powerful than our kingdom. Now for much of the middles ages, I accept these are dynastic squabbles for the large part, but actually in the chroniclers from a very early age (Orderic Vitalis) you can see a sense of patriotism - people felt the sense of belonging to their own king, people and region very strongly.

And at this point, things are changing; English is now much more accepted and becomes the official language again; although Edward is claiming the French crown, the very process of doing so clarifies the differences. But even in william the Marshal's time he felt the difference.

I can't really accept then that England was part of a larger 'Frankia'. Yes, as now, it shared a lot of things with France and other European countries, but it had a different history, different institutions, and felt that to be so. And I'd argue that England was much more separated from France than were Guyenne, Anjou and Aquitaine separated from France. For the latter, the feudal relationship with the kings of France was clear; and England had a remarkably coherent shard set of institutions for the time, very different to France.

Anywahere there you go - I suspect we'll have to agree to differ! But I enjoy the comment and having to think about it!


Thanks for the reply. As a Boston bred American, I'm coming from an external viewpoint, and am glad to get your perspective as an Englishman. I'm willing to agree to differ, though I always prefer a friendly debate. So, I'll debate a bit more below, and you can feel free to amicably ignore it you so wish. (Or, amicably shoot down anything you find preposterous!)

I still think nearly all claims of nationalism are anachronistic. 'Patriotism' existed (though I might not use that exact word), but the loyalty I see was dynastic, regional or local, with dynastic superseding the latter and subservient to what I'd call 'Latin Christendom'.

Imagine the Plantagenet claims had been pressed successfully, utterly, and the dynasty or its legitimate descendants had kept both groups of regions (modern England and France) for an extended period. The immediate changes would be small. The specific characters at the top would be different, but you'd still have nearly the same nobility running things. They'd still be speaking the same language and living the same culture, while ruling over disparate areas where the humbler people spoke several other, non-mutually intelligible languages (much as with France and the langue d'oc). Now let time pass.

If one runs with that hypothetical, that the Plantagenets etc. won totally that version of the 100 Years War, would a modern Parisian say that France lost Agincourt? Would a man from London say England had won it? It seems to me, rather, they'd talk about how one family superseded another in their joint history of England/France, how a duke-king overthrew his liege, or something to that effect. It's only our intervening history that retroactively makes Poitiers an English victory, or Joan a French heroine.

The History of England

Hi Joseph, and yes, always up for a friendly debate..!

Well, I agree that claims of nationalism are anachronistic, but I don't see that this affects the Statement 'The English won at Crecy'. Hate it or loathe it, by this time (and actually well before - a few hundred years before) the word the English was in common use. While loyalties were very much local, regional, dynastic there was a clear understanding that they were part of a wider community, and the chroniclers drip with poison about external communities - the Scots for example!

On the second point I'd say that if the Plantagenets had won, the world would be different!

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