A True History of The Isles Vol II. Chap 12. Wales Declining With Artistic Dignity

Introduction

The era we are dealing 1216(ish)-1400(even more ish) marked something of a decline in Welsh fortunes, whereas both the Scots and Irish were getting more difficult for The English Throne; the former with the help of laments and the latter with legends, stories etc The Welsh due an inherent traditional excess of intrigues were unable to turn this round of defeats, errors and squabbles into glorious tragedies and English betrayals. To understand this, it is necessary to briefly look back at the long association The Welsh had with these Isles.

Brief Scamper Through The Past

Going back a couple of thousand years or so everyone who came to these Isles were Celts, after they had supressed, massacred or bred with the original natives they separated into various tribes in various parts. Initially those the Romans first met were The Britons who they conquered after a few massacres and gradually assimilated into the Empire. When the Romans left and various Saxons arrived there was an adjustment and the Britons became either Welsh, Cornish or since they were quite far away Strathclyde, Britons Of. The latter were invaded, slaughtered, massacred etc by someone who were obviously not The Scots as they were far too noble and fiercely independent etc to wipe out another nation. The Cornish suffered from Alfred The Grate who had become so enthusiastic at slaughtering Vikings that he quite forgot himself. In the previous volume we learnt how The Welsh had been the only folk to scare off the Vikings and thus had had the time to set up their own kingdoms and fight amongst themselves and any Anglo-Saxons on the borders. When the 1066 Normans arrived to stay there was something of a change in dynamics.

Welsh Social Structure of The Nobility and the Nation.

 Nobility

On the face of it, it might have seemed quite a sensible and fondly paternal idea that when a king died his land would be divided amongst his sons. However, this system had an inherent flaw in that if a king had, say five sons and each of those sons had four sons that within two generations there would be twenty very small kingdoms and eventually this would have led to a state of there being even more kingdoms than in Ireland. By good fortune for Wales the bonds of fraternal love were very much the same as on other parts of Europe, ie non-existent. So, when a king died surviving sons were quick to go to war with each, marry off sisters who had not been married already and in general try to get their hands on Dad’s throne. This was an accepted way of doing things and previously no great harm had been done done, except by brother upon brother. On the borders with England, for the losing brother there were always the options of (A) He could go and raid English lands (B) He could seek sanctuary in English lands, plot or just show the English the best bits of his brother’s lands to raid. This instability very much concerned the English nobility who were still Normans and thus felt they were obliged to invade all over the Welsh/English border lands, so much so they became known as The Marching Lords.

Geo-Political

One of the little known facts about Wales, unless you are Welsh is that for a very small nation it has an amazing capacity for dividing itself up, this is probably a left-over from the parcelling out of lands to kings’ sons (see above). The most important divide is between NORTH Wales and SOUTH Wales, who over the centuries have not only managed to speak different types of welsh but also enlgish.

At this stage of history there was basically Gwynedd in THE NORTH, there had been Powys in THE MIDDLE, but thanks to Gwynedd was in bits and in THE SOUTH had been, or still might be Deheubarth. The latter had caused much curiosity to the Norman kings William I (ie Conqueror) and William II (ie The Rufus) but they had left it alone. This had not applied to their fellow Normans who said the Welsh were troublesome and invaded in a small way. In doing so they got so confused by Welsh Politics they ended up becoming Cambro-Normans, who eventually wandered off to Ireland.

By the 13th Century Wales had organised itself along a north south divide with a big bit in the middle with very few people. This caused a rift in which the Welsh in The SOUTH pretended to know who the King was in England in order to fight barons he didn’t like, each other and anyone from THE NORTH who came close enough. The Welsh in The NORTH said they were quite independent and reserved the right to fight everybody, including each other.

This all changed with Edward I of England invaded everyone he could think of and after Llewellyn ap Gruffurdd, easily the most important welsh king of the time was slain the welsh nobility were obliged to just be princes. This caused a lot of dismay and disillusionment as noted by one Tomas ap Rhodri who was the descent of Llewellyn. He who could have claimed to be a prince, but lived in England and didn’t. His son Owain Lawgoch however was quite legendary and romantic by being a tall warrior, fighting alongside the French against the now officially English. He returned to Wales to claim to be THE Prince of Wales but was assassinated in July 1378 by a sneaky English spy. Whereas this might have made realpolitik sense from an English perspective, it was not the noble or chivalrous way of doing things, which would have correctly entailed a battle and chopping Owain into little bits. This act is therefore considered as ‘Bad Form’, never mind the fact that welsh kings had been doing that sort of thing in the previous centuries.

During this era, some fool had taught the Welsh how to use bows and arrows and they became such adept archers they hired themselves out as mercenaries, all over the place and were thus able to shoot English nobles without being called rebels. This reached an apogee under Richard II who didn’t trust anyone and so Welsh Archers had a splendid time.

Church in Wales

This had been mostly Celtic and produced a large number of saints (David, Patrick etc) until the Normans arrived. Afterwards Welsh Clergy squabbled with English Clergy over being independent but wisely didn’t try and bother various welsh nobles. Eventually however they had to submit to Canterbury. As everything was in Latin but everyone spoke Welsh no one paid that much attention to the change, and a lot of monasteries were built which was a correct cultural response (see below)

Culture

Going back to the Early Middle Ages 500 (or thereabouts) while everyone else on The Isles was slaughtering each other, except for hired bards who were making the whole business out to be heroic, the Welsh being culturally advanced were inventing literature. This started with some very old poets who invented a Guild or Order of Bards. Under this system anyone who thought they could write and then in verse had to spend nine years proving it. After this they were allowed to become hired by courts or contributing to the easily most important book The Mabinogion.

This enabled Welsh to survive the Anglo-Saxons. By the 12th Century this art had become so advanced and lyrical that every court of nobly, prince king etc needed to have a poet. When Edward I ruined the political system welsh poets did go in for a period of Celtic style lamentations but then settled down to writing for any nobles who could pay, and cleverly converting some Normans into Welsh. Dafydd ap Gwilym in fact was so gifted and lyrical at his work it was known throughout Europe, whereas no one in, say Germany sung Scottish Laments, told Irish Sagas, or cared what a bunch of folk on their way to Canterbury did or said.

Because of this organised and spirited approach, Welsh Literature of those times has outshone and outlasted everything but a few selected works, and it required Shakespeare to put English on the scene.

Conclusion

Thus as Wales had been the first really civilised Celtic nation it was only correct that by the end of the 14th Century she should have been the first to go into a sad, but very romantically memorable decline.

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chapter 10. Ireland- One Way of Being Independent In

The Middle Ages.

A True History of The Isles Vol.II Chap 11- The Scottish Way of Managing Things

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Saving A Real Life Emotion For Later

Now here’s a very useful tip! Keep your notebook handy at all times!

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

img_2351 your humble host

It sounds a bit odd, but these days whenever I experience something emotional in real life, I immediately try to keep track of what my body did and what my thinking was…

so I can use it in a story.

Don’t look at me like that.

The other day, I got in my car to go to Riverview to watch a friend give a presentation at a library, and my phone GPS app said it would be a 40 minute drive.

And about 20 minutes into the drive as I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it told me it was still 40 minute drive. And 20 minutes later (as I have only moved about 100 yards), it was still a 40 mill minute drive…


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Writing Contest Idea – Feedback Please!

Ok folks. Off you go to Rachael’s site and read more. What’s there not to like??

Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

I’ve been working on design techniques and making more pre-made book covers. Now, keep in mind, I’m more than happy to make changes to my pre-made designs if such differences will better suit an indie author’s needs. I mostly make them for practice and to give an idea of what I’m capable.

But what we’re really here to talk about today is an idea that I had while staring at this fantastic cover I designed last night, one that cannot be sold to anyone as is but is still too cool to let it collect virtual dust in a file on my hard drive.

039.jpg

All the pictures are CC0 public domain photos, but with the faces and not knowing if there are model releases, I cannot use them for retail sale of the design. I am sure I could ask the photographers, but at this point it didn’t seem worth…

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Look At Your Hands damn you!!!

Blood-On-Hands

26, count ’em NRA

Congress

Apologists

WhiteHouse

Count ’em- children included.

As of the 2nd October 273 mass shootings in the USA

http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-many-mass-shootings-in-america-las-vegas-shooting-2017-10?r=US&IR=T.

Killings in New York; President calls for immigration controls

Killings in Sutherland Springs and the Presidents sends ‘thoughts & prayers- yadada’….that an’ a few bucks will get a cup of coffee Trump!

The dead in Las Vegas are left to be mourned by their families and picked over by the Conspiracy Theorists. And anything about Gun Control…..HA!!

Anything on Gun Control?

Oh silly, silly question you innocent little Brit! We must be armed against terrorists and government dictators.

Oh for cryin’out loud!!

Look again

NRA, Congress, Whitehouse, Apologists.

Look at your damned hands!!

Blood-On-Hands

Who am I and why do you care what I have to say? A Word Weaver Profile of ME

Now here folks is some very sound and practical advice.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

IMG_2351 your humble host That’s a good question.

Who am I and why do you care what I have to say?

Hmm.

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If someone has done what YOUwant to do, and they are willing to tell you how THEY did it, that might help YOU do it.

There were a lot of steps in the process of how I got here – wherever “here” is. Maybe we should talk about a few of the steps.

First of all, have I done what you wanna do?

I have 22 published titles and I have been translated in 12 different languages. I am read all over the world, in more than 100 countries. I am an international best-selling author. I have been a critique partner for many bestselling authors and a New York Times Bestselling Author. I’ve been a writing coach and story doctor for hundreds of writers.

Yeah, don’t dislocate your…

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Enjoy the Process

Sage advice for all starting off or floundering a bit. Yecheilyah’s blog is always worthwhile to visit

The PBS Blog

KYF (1)I’ve been focusing a lot on adding value to my personal, spiritual, mental and professional life. This process has caused me to reflect on a lot of things, pay attention to my actions, my words, and my interactions with others. I’ve had to dig deep and to make decisions that were not easy to make but that were necessary for my well-being and for my mental health.

I want to encourage you to enjoy the process of writing your books and taking it through the necessary steps to get it published. I know how easy it is to stress out during this time as you anxiously anticipate the birth of your book. We are in the winter months now which can be the darkest time of the year. With the pressure of the Holidays, depression, violence, and suicide rates skyrocket. We don’t need to add to this the worry of…

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Martin Luther, The Reformation and Why Not?

The common and popular media would have you believe that 500 hundred years ago today Martin Luther invented the Reformation. Naturally being the common and popular media this is somewhat inaccurate. As a dedicated and serious historian (See “A True History of These Isles Vol. 1 (Prehistory to 1216 CE-ish)”, available on Amazon Kindle $0.99/£0.99- terms and conditions apply) it therefore falls upon myself to ensure the correct application of facts and a fair interpretation of both Luther and the events.

Luther’s Early Life

Martin Luther was born 10th Nov 1483in Saxony into an industrious family; he had several siblings. His father insisted he become a lawyer. He seems to have had a typical education as he referred to his time in school as being both ‘purgatory and hell’, while his university (at Erfurt) was a ‘beer and whorehouse’. Despite this he received a Master’s Degree in 1505. As his father was still stuck on the idea of his son being a lawyer Martin Luther was sent back to Erfurt to study just the law. He didn’t like it and felt there was more to Life, so took to philosophy, but on encountering Reason and Logic felt he might be slipping back into Law. He concluded the only way to be worthwhile and content was to encounter God

A Dramatic Event

On the 2nd Jul 1505, or so the records state, while walking in a field or riding on a road, he was struck by lightning, but survived. Not wishing to have that such a close encounter with God, as yet, weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk.

How Things Were Done

At this time a large portion of Central Europe was supposed to be ruled by The Holy Roman Emperor. As was the custom of the time he divided his time between fighting the French while arguing with any pope as to who had the final say in things. In the meantime various princes, dukes, counts etc fought or sued each other, while suppressing peasants who rebelled or worse took the nobles to the courts. It was a good time for mercenaries and lawyers (Be fair, you can see Luther Snr’s point of view).

Luther in Conflict with The Church  

At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while in 1517 (31st Oct) also by nailing to the door of a church a work of nine-five reasons why he was right. The Church authorities acted swiftly.

In 1521 he was summoned to a church court. Here, he defended his case with great eloquence for three or five days and then confused everyone by saying he had nothing to say and was going to stand there. Despite this clever and dramatic move The Church authorities said Luther was incorrect and thus an hysteric. They then condemned him to the terrible punishment of a Diet of Worms.

The Peasant’s Official Revolt

Because Luther had been saying the Church was too wealthy and not Religious enough he had gathered a following. On hearing the news of the cruel sentence passed on him The Poor People were so outraged by this vile treatment that they rose in official rebellion (instead of their normal rowdy behavior). This started in 1524, a peasants’ council was formed and in was agreed to upgrade the rebellion into a war. This ended in 1525, because the authorities could massacre better than peasants could massacre large armies.

The peasants however were good at wrecking churches, monasteries, and being not educated also libraries. Luther was disgusted with this and told them they should concentrate on praying, being rude to bishops and but listen to their rulers.

This was well-received by many of the nobility.

Luther’s Private Life

During this turbulent time people were daring to think the unthinkable. This can be typified by the case of twelve nuns at a convent in Brehna, Saxony who were fed up of being nuns. On hearing of this Luther in a spirit of gallant manliness smuggled them out in herring barrels on the 4th April 1523. The Church authorities may have thought something fishy was going on but possibly shrewdly deduced he’d end up in a pickle. He and one nun Katharina von Bora did however fall in love and marry, thus allowing all clergy to marry. When Katharina found out he’d been living on hard bread and sleeping in a mildewed bed (or maybe the other way around) she soon sorted him out, Luther learning the great value of the phrase ‘Yes Dear’

Luther and The Reformation    

Several bishops and affiliated lesser nobility had tried to have Luther massacred but more sympathetic nobles kept hiding him. When the authorities realised he wasn’t arguing with them, but only the bishops and rowdy peasants it became safe for him to come out of hiding. The first thing he had to do was to tell people to stop listening to people who were not reading The Bible but just having visions as you never knew where they’d got those visons from. He wisely then set up his own church to ensure more Bible reading and singing of hymns.

In Later Years

Luther had a family, his own church and a reformation, however in later years he also suffered with many types of ill-health which made him short-tempered, and sadly not amusingly irascible but down right unpleasantly rude. Being a typical man when admonished by his wife on this score he blamed someone else. This included in particular The Jews, which was very unfair because he was supposed to have read the Bible and it didn’t need much of an excuse for the population to pick on Jews. This outlook of his may have led to a case of Terminal Stupidity as he died in 1546. Normal and balanced people do not subscribe to these later views and wish he’d just to stuck more wholesome pastimes in his retirement such as tending to a garden or annoying bishops.

Luther’s Legacy

It can be argued that because of Luther there are a lot more ways of being Christian than there used to be. As long as people don’t hurl insults or objects at each other over the matter then this is no bad thing.

Foot-Note

The author wishes it to be known this article is originally based on a post of some two years ago (Whimsicalities Anyone?) which is so full of inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions that is has been fully overhauled.

For more interesting views on matters historical readers may (or may not) wish to consider investing in a copy of  51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

 

 

Available on Kindle (normal terms and conditions apply)

 

 

Don’t Just Imagine Your Dream Novel — Write It

I need add no more. This is gold for those starting or floundering!

Novelty Revisions

I’m currently in the process of designing my “dream” office. I have an entire empty room to do with what I please, and you’d better believe I’m going to make space for all my books.

It’s fun to imagine what it’s going to look like when it’s finished.

But I still know it’s never going to get done if I never actually work on it.

It’s kind of like writing a book. You can’t write a book without actually writing. And you can’t write well if you’re not interested in what you’re writing about. If I were designing a workshop instead of a place to write, I’d never get that thing done.

Don’t write what you know. Write what you WANT to know. What you’re INTERESTED in knowing.

I’ve heard many authors say that the key to writing a good book is to write the book you’ve always wanted to…

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A True History of The Isles Vol.II Chap 11- The Scottish Way of Managing Things

Forewarned

As previous chapters have covered much of the activities of the Scots and how they upset or distracted the kings and northern nobility of England, there will be some brevity hereabouts

Initial Overview

In the previous volume it was annotated, recorded and generally written about, over the long history of these Isles the folk who lived in the part we call Scotland were wont to march south to raid, enslave, loot or conquer folk in places we now call Northern England. If we go even farther back to about half way through Volume I they did the same to those who were what we would call Welsh, only they were Britons and lived in a place called Strathclyde. Being a fair-minded folk The Scots of the lowlands of Scotland did the same to those who lived in the Highlands or the Islands (as opposed to Ireland, which is another matter). Thus, the Scots in general were a busy and industrious folk who when they had no particularly serious issue with outsides (or Highlanders or Islanders) fought amongst themselves for land, heritage and if they were ambitious enough the Scots throne.

The Perceived Wisdom of the Scots of the Middle Ages

It was an acknowledged fact of Scottish politics that no matter what had been done by whom and when, if the fighting involved the English (or to be precise the Norman Kings and nobles), at least one side was fighting for Scottish Independence, even if they had started it by invading England. As we will see this was used to good effect.

The problem facing those who survived long enough to be a king of Scotland was the number of other folk who wanted to be king and kept on asking some of those Norman lords (aka English) to the south if they could lend them a retinue to bolster the campaign. This became very irritating and Alexander III last of the Dunkeld had some very strong words with Edward I but did not invade, preferring to visit nuns, widows, virgins and in fact any women and as recorded previously died 1286 in a hurry to meet his new bride.

The Rise of The Bruces

Not happy with the other twelve or fifty candidates for the throne or people asking what an English king thought about it, The Bruce family acted. The Bruces from 1306 started by killing John III of Comyn who was Scots but might have wanted to be English

As John had been killed in a church Robert Bruce was quick to say this was only done to protect Scotland from being taken over by the English. In the confusion he then said that all his wars were against the Kings of England and various rouges bought by English Gold and so everything was a war of Independence which gave him the rite to invade not just England but Ireland as well. This worked quite well in Scotland but as noted previously did not do so well for Robert’s brother Edward who died of unconvinced Irish. Robert however defeated the English and their Norman kings, nobles etc at Bannockburn in 1324 on the 23rd June. A peace treaty was signed in which it was clearly stated that only scots nobles could massacre other scots nobles but that Robert could not be held responsible for cattle raiders. He then ruled Scotland but made a hobby of acquiring various ailments and so died in 1329, but the pope at the time said Robert could be buried, so all ended well.

A Time of Turbulence and Then Stability and then Not So Much

Because there was no Son The Bruce, matters were somewhat tempestuous between 1329 & 1356 when David (The II and a Bruce) and Edward (Not a Norman one but a Balliol) disputed who should be king. A lot of time was wasted with small battles, one king escaping from or imprisoning the other until Edward noticed no one was supporting him anymore and he retired.

With all this practice David (The II and no one arguing about it) set to massacring or just punishing disagreeable nobles and inventing a Treasury by which means he was able to prove that Scotland was very wealthy. Thus ahead of the game he cannily died in 1371.

Regrettably there was no David to be the III, so a nephew named Robert but who was really A Stewart was crowned The II. England and France at the time were having peace talks and Robert (The II) wanted to join in. This did not go well with his sons or other nobles and he spent the rest of his life losing his throne to various claimants until 1390 when he expired of coups.

In this unhappy situation Robert (the II)’s son, John said it was in order that he should now be king, because he had had experience at trying to depose David II and/or Edward and also rebel against his father. Although he convinced the Scots parliament to allow him to be called Robert and thus be The III, the nobles were not convinced. Considering some of these had splendid names such as Black Douglas, Red Douglas (possibly an early socialist) or Archibald The Grim it is easy to see why. He was also blamed for failing the pacify the west and north of Scotland where folk were wont Gaelic and opposed to Scots. It is likely he would have been deposed or slewed but for the king of England being Richard The II, The Hopeless and The Deposed. This allowed the nobles in the south of Scotland to raid, pillage, slaughter etc the north of England and not really care who might call themselves King of Scotland. He was to eventually die in 1406 0f ill-health possibly bought on by a series of Douglases.

The Church in Scotland    

Whereas the Scots had been properly Christian, they had to put up with the Archbishop of York telling them what to do. What with Scottish nobles raiding across the border this was not always an effective means of religious leadership. The Papacy in 1192 attempted to sort this out by telling Scottish bishops they didn’t have to speak to the Archbishop of York anymore. Regrettably due to a clerical oversight no Scots’ Archbishop was appointed even though the Scots’ church was titled Ecclesia Scoticana which sounded very important. For some obscure reason they were known as The Special Daughter of Rome even though they were more than one and naturally men. Thus, somewhat confused and not a little depressed the church in Scotland generally restricted itself to religious matters.

The Scottish Parliamentary Experience  

As was fashionable in parts of Europe various knights, local important un-nobles and folk with money felt the nobles were having far too much say in the running of things and so grumbled together. Kings liking the idea of having folk who were not nobles around the place allowed them to form parliaments. The idea unravelled a bit when these folk stopped just talking and gained powers.

In Scotland to avoid the attentions of nobles disagreeable or otherwise, these used never to meet in the same place but in various towns, then tell the king what they thought of things. By deft manoeuvring they even managed to gain some powers of taxation and telling the king what his name should be (See Robert III).

Unlike later commoners (see Oliver Cromwell) they were never able to gain an army and so their role was often marginal.

Clans

In the not uncommon circumstance of the various Middle Ages there was no shortage of folk to fight, the Scots very cannily invented the Clan. This was based around the family of a chief. However not only his family, but followers etc could join and all use the same name. This made raids, squabbles and wars a much neater affair as everyone knew which side they were on. Something not always shared in England and Ireland (Wales being in a bit of a sulk). Because the ordinary person gave loyalty to the Clan they did not have to listen to The King. Whereas this seemed a smidge democratic it meant that kings of Scotland developed aggressive tendencies, or went into a sulk neither of which boded well for stable or healthy long-term government. However, as the Clans survive to this day, theirs, it must be argued, was the better arrangement.

France

Because English Kings felt obliged, for many reasons, to fight both Scotland and France it was understandable the latter two should form an alliance. In Scotland, this was called The Auld Alliance, and to ensure everyone Scottish knew who was who The English were titled The Auld Enemy. This arrangement allowed the French and Scots to be very sentimental about each other and when it suited kings of either nation they could join with the other in wars with England without footling about with new treaties.

Conclusion of The 14th Century.

Although far from united, The Scots were able to maintain the argument that whatever they did was to ensure they remained independent from England. This enabled Scottish History to be Romantic so more socially attractive than England’s which was deemed only to be Eventful and Turbulent.

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

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