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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Border Control   Thu 12 May 2016, 23:23

Some time back, nordmann gave us a fascinating set of maps showing the fluctuations of rule in Europe. And of course many of those boundaries became the starting point reasons for several large and small conflicts. 
Apart from obvious ones such as walls and natural feature, how have borders been marked? And when and how have they been manned? In cowboy film lore, the outlaws crossing the river into Mexico  was made out to be respected with no one taking a pot shot across the water though within range - or so it seemed. It seems to me that border control is the nub issue of the current Brexit situation; insularity being somewhat an engrained notion.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Fri 13 May 2016, 10:00

To stop people trying to cross from Cuba into the US base at Guantanamo Bay the Cuban authorities planted a 17km long hedge of Opuntia cactus (prickly-pear) ... tough as old boots, self-maintaining, very prickly, and a very effective deterrant to would-be asylum seekers.

In contrast the US military laid thousands of anti-personel mines along the same border. The mines have had to be replaced several times over the years (and have now been completely removed) ..... but the "cactus curtain", whether still relevant or not, is still there, as inpenetrable as ever decades after it was first planted.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Fri 13 May 2016, 23:17

And what of a couple of centuries or so ago - in Europe, say? Roads and tracks cross borders. Were they marked? 

And just out of interest, why do mines have to be replaced? I doubt I would picnic in an old mine field because they must be out of date.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Sat 14 May 2016, 09:14

I wonder about the border near me, and more recently than two centuries ago.

During WW2, where I'm now living was in Vichy France, and then in German-occupied France, with the border to Franco's neutral Spain about 15km away. The immediate area was close to the surreptitious transport routes used by the resistance to get their supplies in, and to get shot-down allied airmen out, of France. The frontier then as now basically follows the line of the mountain peaks, although the mountain summits (of the South-Eastern Pyrénées) are not particularly "peaky", and are mostly covered with forest or dry maquis-type scrub, from one side to the other. The terrain is nevertheless quite rough with steep-sided valleys, gorges, and escarpments. Few proper roads or even tracks cross over, except for half a dozen long-established routes over the main passes (such as the ancient Via Domitia/modern E9 motorway route, which is still dominated by Vauban's superb 17th century Fortresse de Bellegarde).



But during WW2 how was it controlled? There is now a long distance footpath that runs along the mountain ridge essentially following the border, but as I say these aren't bare rocky alpine mountains, and one can easily wander a 100m either side of this track and get completely lost, or hidden, in a maze of goat-tracks, tumbled boulders, and wooded gulleys. If following the forestry dirt-roads it often isn't evident that one has actually crossed the frontier until you arrive at a village. There are obvious frontier markers, if at all, only on the half dozen metalled roads ... or, as trig points, on some of the higher exposed summits. Just to complicate things further, as a quirk of the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) that defined the current French-Spanish border, there are a couple of Spanish villages cut off from the rest of the country: pockets of Spain completely enclosed by French territory. And of course higher along the Pyrénées there is also Andorra, a sovereign state, wedged between Spain and France but independent of both, which was also neutral in WW2, though not on particularly friendly relations with either Nazi occupied France nor Franco's fascist regime.  

During the war the frontier certainly was patrolled, and combined with the difficult terrain this didn't make for an easy route from France into Spain, but nevertheless patrolling the frontier must have tied up thousands of troops.

PS. In answer to your query P .... I am not an expert but I gather that anti-personnel mines have to be periodically replaced, not so much because they've gone past their use by date (!), but because they get moved, uncovered, washed out, or buried deeper "than is effective"  .... whether through the actions of the weather, or through the actions of rabbits, moles, gophers, badgers, worms .... and all other, similarly pacific creatures.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 14 May 2016, 15:14; edited 23 times in total (Reason for editing : Yup ... I added a few bits)
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Mon 16 May 2016, 23:45

So no one else here knows how travellers across Europe knew when they had crossed a border. Parish borders about here are trial enough - or used to be. Although next to a church, our row is in the parish of another more distant church. In days of yore this led to problems at funerals, so I have been told. I can't quite see why. Fees?
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 08:14

I doubt there was much attempt at controlling borders for ordinary travellers, other than the usual demands for tolls to use turnpike roads and cross bridges etc. For example there were regular stage-coach and wagon services between Barcelona (Spain) and Perpignan (France) since at least the 18th century (which continued running throughout the Napoleonic Wars) with usually just a cursory check that none of the passengers were on the local wanted list (I'm pretty sure that generally no actual passports,  ID papers, proof of business, or permits to travel were required). National control of borders was more focussed on armies than simple travellers ... hence the massive fortress of Bellegarde (pic above) that dominates the main pass through the mountains: the Barcelona to Perpignan road skirts its base.

Incidentally the old road then passes by the remains of an imposing roman arch, which was erected by Pompey the Great to mark the limit of the province of Hispania, and so the transition of the Via Augusta to the Via Domitia (although both these roads didn't acquire those specific names until many decades later). Then for centuries after it served as the frontier marker between the county of Girona, (Kingdon of Aragon then Spain) and the county of Roussillon (duchy of Toulouse then France), whilst in between times it was wholly within Catalonia, part of the kingdom of Mallorca, and so it was redundant as a frontier marker. (NB, that is of course is a gross simplification of the shifting loyalties, obligations, rights, claims, and changing boundaries that have existed here over the past millenium).

How did travellers know they had crossed a border? They probably had to ask the locals. And how did the locals know? Well I'm sure they knew very precisely where their parish boundaries were, and accordingly to whom they paid their taxes and owed military service. As you've suggested, local boundaries - who owns what woodland and how far your own fields extend - were rigidly enforced and the rights jealously guarded. In Britain, old parish maps exist from centuries ago carefully indicating the hedges, ditches, steams and prominent landmarks such as monuments, milestones and old trees, that defined the extent of the parish, and even when not committed to a paper, the boundaries were annually reinforced in local memories by beating-the-bounds type ceremonies. I would imagine much the same sort of things existed throughout Europe.

But that is not to say that central governments took a casual attitude to their national frontiers. Taxes, the rights to natural resouces, and the ease by which criminals could slip over the border and out of their jurisdiction, all meant that the landowner - whether feudal lord or regional council but ultimately the state - would have continually asserted their rights over border lands. As a somewhat oblique example, the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), which defined the border between France and Spain, was signed on a small muddy island in a river, or more of a sandbank actually, as it was the only parcel of land which wasn't jealously claimed by either party along the whole frontier. Interestingly the island is still jointly owned by both France and Spain who alternate its management on a 6 month basis, and so it is still available should the two countries ever need to meet on common ground to resolve a frontier dispute.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 17 May 2016, 19:52; edited 8 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 09:24

Here's the remains of the roman arch marking the frontier between Hispania and Gaul:



.... and about 2km away on the other side of the valley next to the modern E9 autoroute is General Franco's understated little monument marking the frontier between France and Spain:



What with those, as well as Vauban's massive fortress on its rocky bluff in the middle of the valley, it's difficult not to realise that you're passing from Spain to France, although of course these days the traffic doesn't even slow down as there's no longer (usually) any border control at all.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 17 May 2016, 16:14; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 09:50

Norway and Sweden share a 1,500km border. To help locals understand which side they were on the Strömstad Treaty of 1751 helpfully allowed the erection of these little cairns along the route of the divide. There are about 400 of them (no one is quite sure actually), which should on average mean about 4km between each of them from north to south. However 90% of them ended up on the border between Trøndelag and the rest of the world, which probably says more about the rest of Norway's attitude towards Trøndelaggers than it does about national identity (a commodity in no short supply - as today here in Norway goes no small way towards confirming).



Happy søttendemai to everyone - even those who haven't a notion what on earth that should mean.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 09:59

So somebody here does know something - quite a lot actually. Thank you, MM. Knowing who  taxes are demanded by must concentrate the mind into knowing where you are.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 10:09

Crossed posts. I'll accept a happy anything that's going. Ta. So what's this about those Trondelags? Is it like trying to keep the Welsh out? (Ditch digging just encouraged pole vaulting, I suggest, barriers led to hurdle jumping, small boat stuffing may yet turn up in the Olympics.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 13:27

I remember this picture, or something similar from a discussion about WW1 trenches on the old BBC History Board. The end of the trench line at the Swiss frontier;

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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 13:36

Dutch Border Guards in the foreground, a German soldier on the other side of the wire and a dead body lying at the electrified fence between the Netherlands and occupied Belgium during WW1;


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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 13:58

That Swiss border photograph is a strangely poignant image, Trike. The contrast between the foreground and background speaks volumes.

One of the world's most famous borders - Hadrian's Wall - was very close to being labelled "Severus's Wall" by the obligatory "hordes of scholars" who apparently decide such things on our behalf. That was until Northumberland historian John Hodgson in 1840 publicised the then recently discovered inscription stone found at Milecastle 38 (present day Hot Bank Farm near Vindolanda) and which can be seen now in Newcastle's Great North Museum.

Historian David Breeze explains:

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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 17:19

Hadrian's Wall notwithstanding it is worth noting also, I suppose, that lands haven't always had definite borders, even when they would have liked to have. This is reflected in the English language where the term "march" has now become almost obsolete in terms of boundary but at one time was the only appropriate word to describe many of the dividing areas between British realms. The word has an ancient Indo-European root so pops up in almost all of Europe in some shape or form, Denmark being probably the most prominent example of its survival. And of course we still have marquesses and marchionesses dotted around Europe in whatever form the local language employs, at one time the equivalent of counts and countesses but indicating rule over a borderland as opposed to a county.

France has a province called "Marche" (sometimes Marche Limousine) which at one time designated the borderland between Aquitaine and Central France. Norway has Finnmark, Hedmark and Telemark. Austria began as "Ostmark" (the "eastern march" in Holy Roman Empire days and a buffer zone between them and the pagan Avar Khaganate even further east). Andorra, already referred to by MM above, is still quite literally a "march", being now the sole survivor of what were once the many Hispanic Marches, in Carolingian times a series of borderlands separating the Franks from the Moorish territories to their south. Britain's kingdom of Mercia also began quite literally as "the march" itself, its nascent form being a buffer between established realms before it grew to not only become a realm itself but to eventually swallow up those it had previously been buffering. Even further back in history the Romans, renowned lovers of definitive borderlines as they were, still had several run-ins with the Germanic tribe they called the "Marcomanni" - which of course simply meant the "men of the borderlands". It seemed even the Romans acknowledged that some boundaries, and even their inhabitants' actual identities, just had to be vague.

Charlemagne and his son Louis were the first European rulers to actually try to regulate these areas. Under the former ruler the term stopped meaning nondescript, vague areas just outside a realm's control, and became fully integrated land divisions in their own right, though with rule applied  "per procurationem" and "de facto" long before it could ever become "de jure". Once it could however, the territories gradually became counties or similar, depending on their fealty and position.

In Britain a similar tightening up of control, especially after the Norman conquest, saw many of the old marches transformed into shires and counties too. However one prominent legacy of probably the longest surviving British marches of all is still reflected in southern Scotland and the area referred to as "the borders region". That little "s" in there is the proof that historically a border was sometimes anything but a single line on a map.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 21:39

Priscilla,

a lot depends in what century you put your question.
For instance in the 16th, 17th century for instance In Flanders, Brabant, Hainnaut, France there was already quite a knowledge of the bounderies of the several regios.
For instance a map of Flanders in the 16th century:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_of_Flanders#/media/File:Quad_Flandria.jpg


 Or this Italian one from the 16th century:
https://sanderusmaps.com/detail.cfm?c=11367


Or this from Mercator 1595:
http://expositions.nlr.ru/eng/map_merkator/1.php
From this Mercator map I learned today that Tournai (nowadays capital of Hainnaut) was inside Flanders on the border with Hainnaut.
And yes the county of Flanders was divided on her turn into smaller entities and this borders are also marked...
As Meles meles said there were a lot of duties related to these borders as taxes on river connections, entries in cities and all that...
And I did in the time for Historum in the thread "early nationalim" a study on the "Brugse vrije" the surroundings of Bruges...and there were already notaries and a land register. Also was each member of society, although ther wer no indentity cards, know through the parochial birth registers...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 22:11

And this one too from Mercator:




Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 22:13

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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Tue 17 May 2016, 23:42

Maps and plans are always so interesting, Paul. Perhaps ancient travellers came across border markers on the trails. Tribes probably jealously guarded their preserve - perhaps marked as with the cairns that nordmann mentions or some such tribal token. It must be a very long time ago that there was anything like no-man's land in Europe. Land dispute has probably been almost as big a reason for aggression as religion (which had better be a no go area for the moment.)
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Wed 18 May 2016, 14:15

John Maynard Keynes view of the three great continental empires prior to 1914;

"The delicate organization by which these peoples lived depended partly on factors internal to the system.

The interference of frontiers and of tariffs was reduced to a minimum, and not far short of three hundred millions of people lived within the three Empires of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. The various currencies, which were all maintained on a stable basis in relation to gold and to one another, facilitated the easy flow of capital and of trade to an extent the full value of which we only realize now, when we are deprived of its advantages. Over this great area there was an almost absolute security of property and of person.

These factors of order, security, and uniformity, which Europe had never before enjoyed over so wide and populous a territory or for so long a period, prepared the way for the organization of that vast mechanism of transport, coal distribution, and foreign trade which made possible an industrial order of life in the dense urban centers of new population."
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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Wed 18 May 2016, 14:45

Boundary stones along the Mason - Dixon Line.

They are engraved on one side, "M" for Maryland;



and on the other, "P" for Pennsylvania;

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PostSubject: Re: Border Control   Fri 29 Jul 2016, 12:14

@nordmann wrote:
Norway and Sweden share a 1,500km border. To help locals understand which side they were on the Strömstad Treaty of 1751 helpfully allowed the erection of these little cairns along the route of the divide. There are about 400 of them (no one is quite sure actually), which should on average mean about 4km between each of them from north to south. However 90% of them ended up on the border between Trøndelag and the rest of the world, which probably says more about the rest of Norway's attitude towards Trøndelaggers than it does about national identity (a commodity in no short supply - as today here in Norway goes no small way towards confirming).



Norway is considering gifting Finland a mountain top as part of the Finnish independence centennial;

Halti Mountain
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