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 A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...

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Temperance
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PostSubject: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 09 Aug 2013, 19:56

Did anyone else watch Michael Wood's King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons this week? Gosh, it was good. Tuesdays, BBC4, 9.00pm, repeated on Thursdays, 11.20pm. First programme of three.

So was Alfred indeed the man who created England? Did the Vikings really get as far as Chippenham and Reading? That amazed me - I always think of the Vikings as being well north of Watford Gap - just a bit south of York, in fact. To my shame, I am completely ignorant of this period of the history of my country - but, thanks to MW, whom the Radio Times calls "the Indiana Jones of TV history", I want to find out more.

Really good TV history can still excite and inspire - and that's enormously cheering.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 09 Aug 2013, 22:21

And I see Alfred is soon going to get the Dickon III treatment too:

BBC - 'King Alfred' remains in Winchester to be examined


PS : You're amazed at how far the Vikings got ... I am similarly always amazed at how far the Arabs got into Europe. Everyone knows that most of Spain came under Arab control but I was surprised to learn that they got as far as north-central France before their advance was stopped by the Merovingian Franks at the battle of Tours in 732AD. At its greatest extent the 8th century Islamic advance into Europe got to within just 200 km of Paris.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 09 Aug 2013, 23:11

Temperance wrote:
To my shame, I am completely ignorant of this period of the history of my country - but, thanks to MW, whom the Radio Times calls "the Indiana Jones of TV history", I want to find out more.
Temp - check out Michael Wood's seminal television series from 1979 called In Search of the Dark Ages. It's a classic.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 09 Aug 2013, 23:20



It's on Youtube already.

I must confess to becoming a little bit bored, I find Michael's delivery somewhat soporific these days and his tone just a bit too reverential. I will watch the others though.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 09 Aug 2013, 23:39

As will I watch also. Much interesting stuff - how is it that no gloves are used to turn pages of what to me are priceless tomes? And how certain are we that the ancient English as spoken from such readings is as it actually was? though I feel strangely comfortable with it whenever I hear it yet understanding little ... have the same feeling about Welsh too. Surely this can have nothing to do with my welsh side genes? Odd.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 07:26

Priscilla wrote:
And how certain are we that the ancient English as spoken from such readings is as it actually was? though I feel strangely comfortable with it whenever I hear it yet understanding little ... have the same feeling about Welsh too. Surely this can have nothing to do with my welsh side genes? Odd.

It's also very odd that you should mention that, Priscilla, because I feel the same, and I too wonder why. "Comfortable" is the exact word for how the sound of the old English readings makes me feel - there's a kind of recognition, even though I have not studied the language (one of my great regrets now - I went for the easier option). You mention Welsh genes - what is stranger for me is that three of my grandparents were Irish, yet I feel no affinity at all for the ancient language of that land; it is as alien to me as Russian or Chinese. But old English...

But no doubt there is a rational explanation. There usually is for my "strange" feelings.  

PS Vizzer - I have just ordered the Michael Wood book, "In Search of the Dark Ages" from A*azon. I'll search out the TV series on YouTube - it's bound to be there somewhere!

PPS ferval  - Bored?? I despair of you!Smile Smile
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 07:52

This was very interesting Temp, so I went looking for some old English on You Tube and I picked one which I thought at least I would know the modern version of, and you are right, a few more repeats and I may be able to say it myself, my Mother was Irish but I have no afinity with that language.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wl-OZ3breE
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 08:14

Priscilla wrote:
how is it that no gloves are used to turn pages of what to me are priceless tomes?
There's been a volte-face on this over the last couple of years. Apparently gloves in themselves promote sweating which needs to be avoided when handling paper and velum. Also gloves reduce manual precision and increase the chances of pages being scuffed or torn. It's now recommended that hands are simply clean and dry.

Gloves are, however, still recommended for handling marble, metal and wooden artefacts.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 08:32

Hi Gran (and P., too, I think you'll both enjoy this) - Here's Benjamin Bagby performing the opening lines of Beowulf. I think this man is superb -  I want to see him performing live before I die. That amazing opening word, "Hwaet!" - here translated as "Listen!" (Seamus Heaney's version simply gives "So!").

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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 09:07

'Bored' was possibly the wrong word Temp, 'dissatisfied' might be better. There was too much of the hagiography about Michael's account for my taste and his solemn, one note delivery really began to grate. Based as it was almost exclusively on documentary sources, I was longing for some critical discussion of those and some more texture to the story. Alfred was, in the end, an early medieval war  leader on the make as well as his no doubt positive aspects so anything that cast a less adulatory light on his life might have made him more, frankly, interesting. 
I'm a miserable old cynic, amen't I?
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 09:22

ferval wrote:

I'm a miserable old cynic, amen't I?

You're a historian Smile (realist), whereas I just get lost in the magic of it all (sad romantic, but at least I don't go shivery Smile ). I'm determined to have a wander round the Somerset Levels now - all those King Alfred places I knew nothing about. Must go, maybe even next week.

I thought the actual filming of the programme was brilliant too - even the shots of the helicopters, trains and planes and those huge water cooling towers near Repton. Yet I'm at a loss to explain why they added so well to the evocation of atmosphere. Yet they did. Got to watch it again - which battle happened "under the Heathrow flight path" - can't remember now.


In haste.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 09:32



Tried to make a photo of Repton Church - with the Willington cooling towers in the distance -  appear, but it won't.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 10:31

Well I'm with ferval on this one (no surprises there I suppose), I'm only at the 20min mark and have had enough. This is obviously targeted at the English audience with too much nationalistic reverence and not nearly enough critical analysis, imo.

Alfred became king at 22 is all he says, and completely omits Alfred's usurpation of the throne from his nephew? That little act alone changes the course of history, yet is ignored? It became obvious from that point exactly where this series is going, which is a shame really because it is a fascinating period and Alfred a fascinating character. But all the more fascinating with all of his warts, without them he is rendered rather too good to be true.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 10:58

Oh, what rotten spoil-sports you two are - I'm all deflated now.

Mind you, I must admit I had downed two rather large G&Ts yesterday evening before and during the programme: I had better watch it again completely sober and then report back.

PS You'll be telling me next Alfred the Great had a hump too, ID...Smile 

PPS We're not all rabid nationalists here on our little island, you know, going around singing Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem and waving St George flags; and we only do it at Last Night of the Proms for fun. Can't think why everyone gets so annoyed at us. Smile
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 11:06

Here you are, ID, just for you, chuck Smile :

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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 12:05

Temp - in my jesting mode last week I sort of had a go at the amusing anti-anything-English lobby. You should be used to it by now. This week it is about Alfred; well, yes, it is centered about an old English guy of yore so I see how that might bore. And please note anyone if it galls, hallowed as he may be in this prog, he is not lauded, praised, venerated extolled or on the whole known about by most English who either have too many heroes in their past or couldn't really care less about any of them. Trivial quiz shows highlight that general lack of knowledge...... quote from yesterday's Pointless, "We dunno if Nelson died at Waterloo or Trafalgar -? -" (Confusing Station with Square, I assume).

With luck - but unlikely - there should  be a follow up prog/discussion that takes a more critical and balanced over all view of his life, role and works, but for the moment just telling the tale as extracted from the tomes with clever TV docu presentation, is pleasing a few of us who feel rather English - despite a stew of other genes within; our homogonisation (sp?) is actually what makes us truly English, I guess.
Regards, P

And PS. I was only watching Pointless to try to explain to a grumpy husband what it was about as he was switching channels and happened on it. Pointlessness; now there's a thread in the making.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 18:27

Ok let me get this straight. I critise a documentary and it's presentation, on a historical figure that I said I find fascinating, and somehow that is taken as a personal attack and I'm now a raving member of some nefarious anti-English brigade? Because I didn't get all warm and fuzzy at the presentation I'm anti-English? I say that I'd have preferred Alfred to be presented as he was, not as some knight in shining armor and that also makes me anti-English? And because I used the word usurp that must somehow mean that I'm sending some subliminal message on Richard III, although what exactly he has to do with Alfred is really beyond me.

Good grief, far too much Daily Wail ladies. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 10 Aug 2013, 22:30

I must say that Bernard Cornwell does an interesting take on Alfred in his Uhtred of Bebbanburg books. If nothing else there is the usual, plenty of action, he portrays Alfred as a religious man who wanted to take Christianity (and presumably his rule) to the whole country.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 04:39

I think sometimes your concerns about nationalism, ID, mean it looks as if you don't approve of anything where a country seems to be enjoying or praising itself, even if that looks quite innocent and fun to other people.  It is nice when you are enthusiastic about something to have other people join in, at least to some degree, rather than list all the detractions immediately.

I don't think primogeniture was automatic in those days, so Alfred didn't really usurp the throne of Wessex.  He took it on after his three brothers had all been king and died successively.  There was still a Danish threat around so minority rule would have been unlikely to be either successful or desired.  But there aren't a lot of varying written records so I suppose a lot of the historical discussion has to be somewhat speculative.  (Even when there are written records, who knows what goes on behind closed doors. "Robust discussion" or "agreement between the parties" can cover a lot!)
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 07:30

Caro wrote:


I don't think primogeniture was automatic in those days, so Alfred didn't really usurp the throne of Wessex.  He took it on after his three brothers had all been king and died successively.  There was still a Danish threat around so minority rule would have been unlikely to be either successful or desired.
This would suggest you are right, Caro. However, it's only Wiki, so we must be wary: any experts out there who can confirm - or refute - that election by the Witan was the usual practice? (If it is true, then it could be argued that in 1483 Parliament reverted to their old Saxon ways! I'm not trying to drag Richard III into this, honest, but it is an interesting point. Might mention it over on the PITT thread.)

The Witangemot, or Saxon council of wise men, met after Ethelred's death from wounds sustained in battle and elected the twenty-one year old Alfred, who had already demonstrated himself a confident leader of men, as King. His brothers between them had lasted barely a decade. In electing Alfred king, the Witan passed over the two young sons of Ethelred. The law of primogeniture was not then established in Saxon England and it was normal practice for the King to be elected in this manner.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 09:41

I have always thought the Witan chose the king, but I wasn't certain enough that it operated in 861 or whatever the date was to mention it. But the early English kings were chosen by the Witan generally.  The site I saw said something to the effect that there was an agreement between Alfred and the brother next in age to him, which effectively (though not literally) meant Alfred would be expected to become king. 

Tim would know the details of Alfred's election or usurpation (as far as can be ascertained), but I think he is away at the moment.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 10:41

Now that's exactly the kind of issue in which the programme was sadly lacking: any proper context.

I have a problem with statements like *early English kings* - what does that mean? Terms like *English* and *England* tend to be used indiscriminately to refer to a time when the concepts that they represent were entirely different to those which we ascribe to them today and so become entangled in issues of personal and national identity.

I've mentioned that I've been digging recently at Govan Old Parish. Among the wonderful 9th -11th c. Govan Stones (sadly little known even in Glasgow) is a sarcophagus thought to be that of either a saint or a British (in the sense of being a Briton, same problem) King of Strathclyde as well as cross slabs and Viking hogback stones. Talking about any of these in terms of *Scotland* or *Scottish* or *Scots* would be just as inaccurate and open to disputation as referring to a king of Wessex as *English*.

Here's the sarcophagus.


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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 10:54

Caro wrote:
I don't think primogeniture was automatic in those days, so Alfred didn't really usurp the throne of Wessex.  He took it on after his three brothers had all been king and died successively.  There was still a Danish threat around so minority rule would have been unlikely to be either successful or desired.
Yes. Agnatic seniority was used to determine the succession rather than agnatic primogeniture in order to avoid the succession of a minor. Agnatic seniority is still used, for example, in Saudi Arabia today. I always think it amazing to think that the current King Abdullah is the son of Ibn Saud himself.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 12:09

If only the issue of Alfred's accession and succession was so cut and dried, all would be clear. However as ever, it isn't.  There IS contention that Alfred agreed to stand down when his nephew came of age, and the fact that Aethelwold and his supporters made a bid for the crown (he was defeated in battle by Edward) on Alfred's death is suggestive that there may be some accuracy to the theory. In the only surviving charter Aethelwold is actually listed above Alfred's eldest son Edward, implying that Aetholwold was higher in rank than Edward.

Alfred, of course, favoured his own son Edward, so accordingly left the bulk of everything to Edward on his death. Seems Alfred was not so keen on primogeniture when it came to keeping his own bum on the throne, but all in favour of primogeniture when it came to his own line. 

And no-one has yet answered my question, why was all of this glossed over in the documentary? It is important to Alfred's reign, it also demonstrates that things may not have been quite as rosy in Alfred's court as the doc. would have us believe. But it seems we are not permitted to question the building of a myth without labels being hurled, funny that, I thought we were all in favour of historical accuracy around here. 

PS. Well said above, ferval.


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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 12:32

Quote :
 *early English kings*
I just used early English to give the timeframe.  Thought of saying Anglo-Saxon or Saxon (people don't seem to ever talk of Anglo kings or people) but that usually brings forth objections.  And since they are early kings in the place we now call England that seems a reasonable way to describe that particular time.  Beowulf is usually referred to as an Old English or Anglo-Saxon poem, so I presume the kings of that period can be too.  Alfred did style himself King of the Anglo-Saxons apparently.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 15:29

Gran wrote:
I must say that Bernard Cornwell does an interesting take on Alfred in his Uhtred of Bebbanburg books. If nothing else there is the usual, plenty of action, he portrays Alfred as a religious man who wanted to take Christianity (and presumably his rule) to the whole country.
Doesn't he just Gran, and full of historical accuracy also. Unlike a certain author (I won't invoke her name), Cornwell doesn't need to indulge in flights of fancy in order to make story and history interesting. I rather enjoy Cornwell's take on Arthur as well, and both characters he portrays as having all the faults of any human rather than as mythological beings, a great gift and all the more believable. imo.

PS. If indeed there ever was an Arthur, that is.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 15:35

Islanddawn wrote:
If only the issue of Alfred's succession was so cut and dried, all would be clear. However as ever, it isn't.
 

Islanddawn wrote:
And no-one has yet answered my question, why was all of this glossed over in the documentary? It is important to Alfred's reign, it also demonstrates that things may not have been quite as rosy in Alfred's court as the doc. would have us believe. But it seems we are not permitted to question the building of a myth without labels being hurled, funny that, I thought we were all in favour of historical accuracy around here. 

Is anything ever "cut and dried", in history, or in life? I think not.

Thank you for the information you give above, ID, offered, as ever, in robust and challenging style. I am sure we all are concerned here with historical accuracy, as far as such a thing exists. It is unfair to suggest we are not. Perhaps Michael Wood - who is after all a respected historian and broadcaster - will address your concerns in a later programme; the one aired last week was the first in a series of three.

Ferval's point about context is surely important and relevant: context is such a difficult thing in history. I'm reminded again of L.P. Hartley, whose book, The Go-Between has been mentioned elsewhere. The opening sentence of Hartley's famous novel has become almost proverbial: "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

Don't they just? And we can only visit that country as gawping tourists, clutching our various and often contradictory guide-books; we can never see and hear and feel as the locals do, born and bred in their own times - their own "country". I looked up "context" and the word's etymology is interesting: "context"comes from the Latin contexere - "to weave together". Weft and warp. I can never remember which is which, but, inevitably, in even the most skilful weaving of the story of the past, our own threads get tangled up in the pattern; and so produce a fault running through the whole fabric. Impossible to avoid, I suppose.

I'm tempted to withdraw from this discussion until I've read more: it's always unwise to argue when one is woefully ignorant. However, I have made a start this afternoon: I've read a little about Alfred in Chapter 1 of Simon Schama's "A History of Britain." Two  points he makes grabbed my attention. May I offer them, hopefully to provoke further discussion?

"...it took the threat of common, irreversible catastrophe for the rulers of what remained of non-Viking England (sic) to bury their differences and submit to the overlordship of a single king, a king of all England. To attract this kind of unprecedented allegiance, such a figure would have to be exceptional, and Alfred, of course, fitted the bill. The Tudors thought him inspiring enough to award him, alone of all their predecessors, the honorific appellation of 'Great' in direct analogy with Charlemagne, Charles the Great. And for all the mythology about Alfred, it can't be said that they were wrong. The Anglo-Saxons (sic) called him Engele hirde, engele dirling (England's shepherd, England's darling)."

"Although the dynasty of the house of Wessex was battered and bloodied through all these years of tribulation, and was often on the point of being wiped out altogether, the ideal of English (sic) kingship that had crystallized under Alfred had persisted. And it is one of the most profound ironies of early British history that it was, at heart, a Roman idea of rule that was implanted in the breasts of the Saxon cultures usually thought of as having buried the classical tradition...Alfred had, in many ways, been the most Roman of Saxons..."

"The most Roman of Saxons..." - now that is interesting, but is Schama correct?
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 15:51

I would agree with Schama. Alfred, from a very young age, was taught to think of himself as a consul of Rome - a particular secular and political philosophy vigorously encouraged by the church and which by Alfred's time had been firmly established by the Carolingians as the predominant one for European rulers. The Wessex rulers, including Alfred's father, were heavily influenced by this philosophy and Æthelbald's rebellion against Æthelwulf has been interpreted by some historians as an attempt to reinforce more traditional Saxon notions of rule. When Alfred became ruler and reintroduced his father's political philosophy he realigned Wessex alongside the great Frankish kingdoms and back within the authority structure derived from the church's interpretation of its place in a Roman tradition.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 16:44

Now that's just what I wanted from dear Michael - there's more of interest to me, and more to mull over, in the previous couple of posts than in his whole programme. Thanks folks, any more?
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 18:01

Temperance wrote:


"...it took the threat of common, irreversible catastrophe for the rulers of what remained of non-Viking England (sic) to bury their differences and submit to the overlordship of a single king, a king of all England. To attract this kind of unprecedented allegiance, such a figure would have to be exceptional, and Alfred, of course, fitted the bill. The Tudors thought him inspiring enough to award him, alone of all their predecessors, the honorific appellation of 'Great' in direct analogy with Charlemagne, Charles the Great. And for all the mythology about Alfred, it can't be said that they were wrong. The Anglo-Saxons (sic) called him Engele hirde, engele dirling (England's shepherd, England's darling)."
Well that was Alfred's dream as fas as I am aware, one country under one rule. But as long as it was his own rule it must be remembered, I don't doubt he would have entertained the thought of anyone else being king but himself. And again the term England (when the England in the sense that it is used here) didn't exist at that time.

Even though the excerp is still a little jingoistic for my liking, I agree that Alfred was indeed an exceptional person and deserves the appellation of Great. All the more deserving of it because he wasn't perfect, not because he was.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 18:15

Islanddawn wrote:
 And again the term England (when the England in the sense that it is used here) didn't exist at that time.
I think you should write to Simon and put him right, ID. Smile 

Islanddawn wrote:
Even though the excerpt is still a little jingoistic for my liking...
Oh, groan...Smile

Anyway, I don't know enough to comment further about Alfred. Will do some reading, and will watch the next two programmes.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 11 Aug 2013, 23:59

The concept of 'England' and 'the English' was evident well before the unification of England in the 10th century. This is in much the same way that people spoke about 'Italy' and 'Italians' before 1861.

For the word 'English' then there is, of course, the obvious case of Bede's 'Anglorum' from the 8th century. And although it is true that the word 'England' was not written down in the English language before the 9th century, the concept of England already existed in languages other than English. The Welsh name Lloegr would be a case in point. Similarly the Danish word 'England' would almost certainly have been used by those going viking to, say, Lindisfarne in the 8th century and afterwards.

With regard to Latin usage then the monks of Lindisfarne themselves would have varyingly described themselves as being Angles living in Northumbria in Britain. This would have been in keeping with their training. And it is an important point. The Church had a virtual monopoly on literacy at that time. And as part of a (universal and internationalist) catholic church based in Rome the monks' training would have had them as sticklers for political precision and diplomatic protocol. And as 'England' did not exist as an official political entity - then they were not going to write it down.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Mon 12 Aug 2013, 08:27

Irish monks and scribes from the fifth to the 9th centuries had a workaround for the problem of nationality in their neighbouring island. They used "Albion" (or variations of Britain) when discussing the people in terms of a Christian congregation, "Saxon" to denote the predominant ethnic label when discussing political activity, and "Insula" when discussing what might be called cultural activity such as literature or art (and monastic as opposed to Roman-administered religious activity). The rise of Wessex under Alfred and his successors posed a problem for them, as it seems also to have done in England. Alfred, and more particularly Æthelstan, required to promote a non-sectarian identity that would make what was effectively a Wessex-domination of the previous rival kingdoms - achieved with extreme brutality and force at times, especially in Edward's reign - appear to Mercians and others to be a common cause against Danish encroachment and ultimately justification for eventual control over the Danish territories too. The Irish at this point settled for "Saxon-land" to denote this new political entity. In England monastic scribes settled for Bede's ecclesiastical definition as fitting for the political state that the Wessex kings were forging. Æthelstan sealed the deal with his successful takeover of Danish lands - there could be no reversal to "Wessex" or any sub-dominion after that point and the monks' term became the official one. From that point on the chosen terms "Saxon-land" and "England" became the universal terms also for the community described in ecclesisatical terms too.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Mon 12 Aug 2013, 10:14

Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum  is named by Bede circa 730AD for his famous opus. Whereas firm boundry lines - and for that matter the mention of many territorial 'Kings' - because they were pagan, I think - it surely identifies a clump of people - Angles - who in translation are always called the English people and surely  establishment enough of the concept of England as a whole. Could this be compare to long understanding of 'The Greeks' who were in fact many city states bonded by a common tongue and not quite an entity?
And the history of this manuscript and the many copies and translations made of it down the ages is fascinating.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Mon 12 Aug 2013, 10:17

Bede was writing an ecclesiaistical history and needed a common term for the broader Christian community on the island (or potential Christians) that traversed the political borders of his period.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Mon 12 Aug 2013, 10:29

Well, if it it was good enough for Bede when fumbling about for a label such people in 730 then perhaps documentary producers might tbe forgiven for using the term English for similar description of folk about Alfred circa 850..... a tad earlier than Aethelstan's seal of establishment.

I have heard English described as really only the lot who keep the Scots and Welsh apart... I digress and don't want to upset ID   further. Oh dear - this is turning out to be five thorny tracks thread.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Tue 13 Aug 2013, 16:23

Vizzer - my Michael Wood book arrived this morning - it's really good. Thank you for recommending it.

PS A lone voice against Alfred - the Abingdon Chronicle (sounds like a dreadful provincial newspaper) - clearly did not rate Alfred: he is described as a "Judas...piling bad deeds on top of each other." Something about the king "violently alienating estates from the monastery". So he wasn't all good then.

Must read on...


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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Tue 13 Aug 2013, 17:41

I think it also should be noted that much of the records we have on Alfred were written at his behest, therefore just a wee bit biased. Like Asser's Life of King Alfred, where we have this description of the King

"He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king. As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things; but, with shame be it spoken, by the unworthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more; but, he listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted with great assiduity and success; for skill and good fortune in this art, as in all others, are among the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed."
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 16 Aug 2013, 08:40

The second programme did address your concerns about how Alfred dealt with the succession ID. Perhaps it's been posted on YouTube by now - we need Trike!
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 16 Aug 2013, 09:23

OK, both episodes that have been shown so far;





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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 16 Aug 2013, 11:32

Heavens more viewing, I've really got my work cut out with all these docs to watch. 

And relaxing with all these history programmes is going to be such a chore too! lol Smile
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Fri 16 Aug 2013, 12:25

Temperance


Quote :
PS A lone voice against Alfred - the Abingdon Chronicle (sounds like a dreadful provincial newspaper) - clearly did not rate Alfred: he is described as a "Judas...piling bad deeds on top of each other." Something about the king "violently alienating estates from the monastery". So he wasn't all good then.
The Abingdon Chronicle can refer to two versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or a medieval chronicle written at Abingdon Abbey in the 12th C AD.  Which one did you mean.

Unfortunately I missed the prog as I was training it across Canada at the time.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sat 17 Aug 2013, 16:24

Don't know, Tim. Still reading about it all...Smile
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 11:23

That's what I like about a good documentary prog - something that sends me to further enrichment reading and research. This week I learned of raids from Vikings from Ireland - I had no idea that they had settled in Ireland. The Romans had not found anything there of immediate value enough for attempting conquest, so were the Vikings after land to farm did they settle successfully?
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 12:28

Priscilla wrote:
That's what I like about a good documentary prog - something that sends me to further enrichment reading and research.
Yes, and - dare I say it - perhaps the much maligned fiction of  The White Queen has had the same effect (and I readily confess that I have ridiculed that BBC offering - and of course the source whence it sprang - as gleefully, maliciously and readily as anyone else around here).


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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 12:29

But I still hate Philippa Gregory.
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 14:59

They certainly settled successfully in Ireland P, Dublin and Waterford began as Viking settlements for example. 

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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 15:04

And settlements further afield than the UK and Ireland, it is quite astounding just how far the Vikings did raid and settle.

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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Sun 18 Aug 2013, 16:08

If I remember it aright (from doing some research into place-names in the Yorkshire Dales), Danish incursions and settlement into the Three Peaks district of western Yorkshire mostly came in from bases in Ireland rather than across country from the North Sea coast. Although even that is too simplistic as there were of course numerous incursions at different times.

EDIT : And coincidentally I have just seen in a book club catalogue a history book for younger readers about the Vikings ... the lavishly illustrated cover depicts a band of Norsemen wading ashore from their long-boats, bedecked in iron helmets, cloaked and trousered, and weighed down with swords, axes and shields, as they incongruously struggle ashore under a blazing Mediterranean sun and against a back-drop of date palms, en route (so the caption says) to harrass the local population somewhere in the vicinity of modern day Tangiers. ("Olaf, I told you we should 'ave turned right and not left after the Channel but no you wouldn't listen would you!")
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PostSubject: Re: A naked thorn, where five tracks meet...   Mon 12 May 2014, 12:54

If someone is in London next Saturday and has £7 to spare the Hyde900 organisation (set up in 2010 to celebrate 900 years since Hyde Abbey in Winchester was founded) is organising a Walk King Alfred’s London tour by Shank's mare which starts from St Paul's crypts at 11.00am.

I'm a great fan of the Hyde900's role in discovering and its whole approach to King Alfred's (or Edward's) pelvis - a much less hysterical, more respectful and infinitely more intelligent treatment of immensely important royal remains than has been evident in the Leicester scenario. Their understated and informative résumé of the bones' history and most recent excavations when compared to the histrionic claims and media-glare distorted "bites" of info churned out on Richard's behalf are akin to finding oneself delightfully transported to a cloister of serenity, sagacity and sanity having just come from a roller coaster ride shared by amphetamine fuelled ignoramuses on day release from a home for the academically bewildered.
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