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 Dan Snow distorting history

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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Dan Snow distorting history   Sun 27 Sep 2015, 12:26

This is a post that I wrote for another site about a year ago at the time of the referendum on Scottish independence about an newspaper article by Dan Snow.  Not sure that this is the correct place to post it.

I do not normally read the Daily Mail but it was a freebee on the plane back from Joburg last September.  In it Dan Snow (BBC presenter and supposed historian) wrote an article to in favour of the Act of Union between England and Scotland but, in order to put across how wonderful it was, he completely distorted the history leading up to the Act of Union, not something a historian should do.

He wrote 'these two war-torn, penniless states came together'.  Now Scotland in 1707 might be possibly be described as penniless because of its the Darien fiasco, when it made a disastrous attempt to set up a colony on a malarial swamp in Central America that failed completely and left many Scots heavily in debt.  England, however, was certainly not penniless and in fact, as part of the Act of Union, cleared the debt.  England was also at this time able to finance not just its own army in the war against the French, but also thousands of other soldiers of other nations also fighting against the French in the War of Spanish succession.  Additionally England was already supplanting the Dutch as the major maritime trading nation and had a successful colonies in North America and the Caribbean plus trading posts in India, as well as having captured Gibraltar from the Spanish in 1704.

Snow correctly refers to the Dutch sailing up the Medway in 1667 (40 years before the Act of Union) and that the French navy had defeated the Royal Navy in 1690, but then fails to mention that the Royal Navy decisively defeated the French at La Houge in 1692 and that by 1707 the English Royal Navy was the world's most powerful oceanic navy.  Scotland's navy, at this time, consisted of just 3 warships. Similarly Snow refers to the English army disintegrating in 1688 when William of Orange landed.  However, he fails to mention that in 1704 at Blenheim and in 1706 at Ramillies an English General, the duke of Marlborough, commanded an allied army that won decisive victories over the French and that the English army played a major role in both of those victories. 

I have no objection to Snow campaigning for a No vote, but he should be able to do without distorting history.

Tim
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Sun 27 Sep 2015, 16:46

Good to see you back, Tim.

I will leave it to others better qualified to discuss the content but Dan Snow is an excrescence on the  body historical, I refuse to watch or read anything with which he is involved. On Twitter, he calls himself #thehistoryguy, pretty much says it all really.
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Sun 27 Sep 2015, 16:55

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Not sure that this is the correct place to post it.

Hello Tim. This thread might have been better posted on the Civilisation and Community board or the Places board or the War and Conflict board or the Political ideology board or even on the history of history board. To post it on the Individuals board, however, would only seem to serve to further expand Dan Snow's already over-inflated ego.

That said (and although I agree wholeheartedly with the main thrust of your post) I have to challenge the assertion made in it that 'England ... captured Gibraltar from the Spanish in 1704'. This is inaccurate and a distortion just as bad as any made by Dan Snow. It belongs in the same catalogue of historical clangers and pseud cliches along with, say, stating that the Battle of Culloden 1746 was a battle between 'the English' and 'the Scots'.

The taking of Gibraltar in 1704 was in large part down to Dutch marines under Georg von Darmstadt working in close co-operation with English marines (or maritime infantry) under George Rooke. Those marines (both English and Dutch) did not 'capture Gibraltar from the Spanish'. Gibraltar in 1704 was claimed by them in the name of the Habsburg Charles III of Spain (Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire) rather than the Bourbon Philip V. In other words the Anglo-Dutch forces in control of the rock in 1704 still recognised Gibraltar as sovereign Spanish territory. It was only 9 years later at the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession with the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 that Gibraltar was ceded to the new Kingdom of Great Britain.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Sun 27 Sep 2015, 19:35

Vizzer,

"The taking of Gibraltar in 1704 was in large part down to Dutch marines under Georg von Darmstadt working in close co-operation with English marines (or maritime infantry) under George Rooke. Those marines (both English and Dutch) did not 'capture Gibraltar from the Spanish'. Gibraltar in 1704 was claimed by them in the name of the Habsburg Charles III of Spain (Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire) rather than the Bourbon Philip V. In other words the Anglo-Dutch forces in control of the rock in 1704 still recognised Gibraltar as sovereign Spanish territory. It was only 9 years later at the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession with the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 that Gibraltar was ceded to the new Kingdom of Great Britain."

Thank you for this correction. One learns so something every day.

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Sun 27 Sep 2015, 20:04

But is Dan Snow an historian? ... I thought he was a TV presenter, with a poor history degree, who's currently making his living by riding on the tails of his father's name as a political TV journalist. To my mind he is just a vacuous glove puppet, bouncing around presenting light-weight history storyettes, for the masses (and for sale to the US). So frankly I'm not surprised by what he says.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Fri 02 Oct 2015, 07:56

Thank you for your reply and welcome back Ferval but I am afraid I am not back – this was just a fleeting visit.  My problem with the site – Nordmann’s persistent stating things as facts when they are not, his failure to provide any evidence for his ‘facts’ and then using his undoubted rhetorical skills to cover up his lack evidence – remains.  I would also add that posts such as Vizzar’s needless snipe also confirm that problem.  I have grown to prefer sites conducted on a friendlier basic.

regards

Tim
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Dan Snow distorting history   Fri 02 Oct 2015, 07:58

Vizzar your response seemed to me to heap an unnecessarily large amount of obloquy concerning the taking of Gibraltar.  You need in history to be able to identify between what facts are relevant and what facts are irrelevant to the premise that one is setting out.  Snow, I presume writing under instructions from the editor of the Daily Mail, distorted facts to try to show that England prior to the Act of Union was a ‘basket case’ while I was pointing out that in fact England and the English Empire was doing very well prior to that Act.  That Dutch Marines took part of Gibraltar is an irrelevant fact – the forces defending the place at the time were so weak that it would have made no difference whether they were there or not.  Admiral Sir George Rooke, who you mention was in command of the whole fleet without which Gibraltar would not that been taken.  England was the dominant naval power in the alliance.  That they captured it in the name of ‘Charles III’ is also an irrelevant fact.  What you should have realised was the relevant fact was that England now controlled Gibraltar, the Dutch troops were withdrawn, realised its immense future strategic value, and had every intention of hanging on to it if they could – and they did.  Anyway as I said to Ferval, I have no great desire to continue such exchanges.
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