One day you might wake up to find you are the next target.
My eldest daughter been a mid-wife for 10 years & has just got promotion to being placed in charge of a birth-centre!!
Achieved with much hard work and a whole bundle of family life challenges to deal with
So proud of her! WHOOOO-OOOOOOOOO!!
In this seminar, we will consider the oft-overlooked and consequently under-researched reign of William (The Conqueror) I’ s son, William II and how this affected the Isles in general.
When considering the relationship of the Norman kings with their sons it is important to remember that not only was there the English throne but Normandy and bits of what is now France that were close to Normandy. As we will have read earlier the latter lands were places where ambitious nobles, intrusive bishops and unwelcomes kings (usually of France) were forever stirring things up, and as the Kings (of England)’s sons had lands in Normandy (and other bits) when they argued with the old man they could just sail off across the channel and be revolting. His eldest son Robert was very good at this sort of thing.
In those days the eldest son did not always get the throne and fed up with Robert’s rebellions William (the I) Conqueror of England said Rufus should be king since he had once emptied a chamber pot on Robert’s head. When William (The recent Conqueror) and still The I died in 1087, Rufus acceded to the throne.
His Uncle (sort of) Ordo, a bishop of Bayeux who preferred to solve theological problems with a large mace had been arguing with William (The historically remembered) for some time and out of sheer spite thought Robert was just the sort of king England should have, as did some barons who appreciated someone who was always revolting. Thus was the Rebellion of 1088. Although this lasted several weeks the enterprise was hampered by the fact that Robert didn’t turn up for his own try at the crown. Somewhat embarrassed Ordo was allowed to flee England and in 1097 died of Crusades a common ailment in those times.
Rufus had been looking forward to being well-known as Rufus The I and thus not confused with other kings, however much to his chagrin he found due to the laws of the time he was obliged to be a William and thus just an II. This put him in a bad mood and thus his face was always red, even when he was enjoying himself by hunting, fighting and the common pastime of kings of those eras, Interfering in The Church. The latter he was particularly good at having nominated the theologian Anslem with whom he could argue with as much as both men liked in the usual unchristian fashion of the times.
In his civic business, William, the II (latterly Rufus) was very much like any king of the time by imprisoning or blinding and castrating various rebellious nobles. As he seemed to be good at annoying folk he didn’t get around to marrying. Some in the Church suggested he had ‘unnatural appetites’, his nobles paid scant attention to this. Nobles of those times didn’t see any appetite as being unnatural and anyway he was good at one of the most important duties of a king of England. See below.
As it will be recalled the king at the time was the third Malcolm to hold the Throne and was so good at it, he was known as a Big Chief (something lacking in scots’ poetical allusions at the time). His problem was he couldn’t get rid of the Vikings in the north of Scotland. So to enhance his bigness he did what previous Scottish kings had been doing for many a century and invaded England. This did not go well as Malcolm was killed at the battle of Alnwick along with his son Edward. William The Rufus (and II) was not there, but Robert de Mowbray was. His lands had been ravaged by Malcolm and his army so Robert was rather intent on making his feelings known. Thus William II (Red and Rufus) was victorious over the scots and his nobles were content. Meanwhile Malcolm’s surviving sons being typically Celtic went to war with each other leaving William the II (and his appetites) to attend to other matters. See Below.
Historians are in disagreement as to whether William the II (ex-Rufus) invaded or simply made incursions into Wales. The Welsh at the time decided on the former and he was thus obliged to build more castles and claim he ruled Wales. Under King Gruffud ap Cynan and with assistance from the Norwegian king Magnus the III, a very austere and thrifty man who eschewed footwear defeated the Normans at Anglesey (which was pretty durned far for an incursion). Having come that far the Normans became very disappointed at went back to England, and the welsh back to fighting each other.
In the year 1100 on the 2nd August William (the next one) was hunting in The New Forest when he was ‘apparently accidentally’ shot by a crossbow bolt from one Walter Tirel who mistook him for a stag. At least that was the official story. William’s younger brother Henry just happened to be in the same hunting party and although not finding the body seemed possessed of the urge to ride to London and proclaim himself king; just in case. So with the Church saying it was obviously an act of God who was not available for comment, the throne passed to the youngest son of William the I (and more famous) who not only became king but was the first called Henry and thus supplanting his brother in the I stakes. As there no black horse, or cart seen speeding away from the scene , and there was no United States of America have an intelligence agency with conspiracy theories have not gained much credence
Apart from not being popular at subsequent hunting parties Tirel suffered no consequences.
The next seminar we shall consider the rule of the youngest of William’s sons and what he did with it and what the rest of the isles thought of it.
One heck of a good short story.
[a short story by Sha’Tara]
I’m thinking about those scarecrows alone out there in the fields of yore, abandoned to the extremes of winter storms, half buried under snow drifts, no birds to speak to, to speak of. Must be pretty lonely, huh?
Yes, it is quite lonely. I happen to be one of them. The one thinking of scarecrows also.
The last wagon with the last team, wallowing under a heavy load of straw rolled past some weeks ago now. It didn’t stop to pick me up. I don’t blame it. Or the horses for not stopping. It was late, getting dark and horses cold and hungry. As were the people, the makers, the creators, those strange creatures that try…
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I am writing words while seated at a borderland. My new watch has ceased to record any measurement, as this came from a respectable merchant the conclusion must be I have wandered into a place of possibilities. Though not a particularly inspiring vista. As far as the eye can see bleak grasslands, stroked by persistent moaning winds, the occasional rise in the ground breaking up the flatness, dark grey cover of cloud so pervasive it does not appear to have motion. Turning in all directions this would appear to be the circumstance for at least as far as the eye can see. This is not a place I would care to spend a night upon, the moon supressed by the cloud would not be able to shed illumination and such an environment would be ideal stalking grounds for things which abide in limited visibilities.
The grass is dry, hard stuff, appears to thrive in a place short on moisture; it is sucking sustenance from somewhere for there is no sign of rock, no earth, nor sound of water. I notice I do not feel chill from the continuing wind. This should be a winter, but the temperature is steady. A sullen, heavy warmth. Not freshened by breeze. Encouraged by the leaden sky.
So if this is a possibility what history brought about its domination?
Wherever this is the place is receptive to my thoughts, for the winds begin to birth voices far off at first, all discordant, becoming shrill as they grow closer. Conflicting. Arguments with neither side listening.
And these myriad angry reeds must have beginnings. So from all horizons come marching ghosts, rank upon rank, unfocused eyes narrowed in hate, mouths twisted in litanies of passions learned by rote.
I fear for I am at the centre where they must meet and will be witness and possibly caught up in their battles, battered about in a storm. For here they come, so close I can make out individual features; the ages, the races, the fashions. All sharing the sterility of confrontation. They meet, but do not see each other, they pass through me, they pass through each other. I am at the centre of a storm of voices and features, but no one sees the other. And on they pass marching over the horizons, away from each other, growing more distant. Once more I am alone.
So how often do these ghosts come back? Drawn by their dry, pointless passions, ever marching towards each other and never meeting. How much time was spent in their mortal spans upon this effort, giving up their potential for joy, love and accomplishment? At what stage did they cease to hold onto the value of Life and give way to this futility. I suppose there must have been conflict, and yet I saw no armed ghosts. Maybe those who took this option blew themselves literally out of existence. Are these hillocks and mounds the remains of cities and other artefacts now covered by the grasses?
So was this how it turns out. Now apocalyptic wastelands, no bones of cities and irradiated colourful vistas, no grotesquely shaped descendants with bizarre cultures. Did those who lived on hate and conflict suck hope and joy out of everyone? Did it become impossible to even live, much less thrive. And when we had finally ceased; weighed down by our depressing, bleak confrontations, had we polluted the world with this particular toxicity so much so that only harsh, leeching basic life continued?
Beneath a dull desolate sky.
It would appear, not with a Bang, nor a whimper, just a bitter, derisive curl of the lip.
Who would have ever thought it?
In the previous seminars, we examined just how William came to be William The I of England. In this one we shall look at how he also became known as The Conqueror.
So although King of England William had many responsibilities. William, as we know originated in Normandy, which was not the same as France. In much the same way that neither were Maine, Anjou and Brittany to name but three. Whoever was count of Normandy, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc in addition to fighting other counts, they also had to deal with troublesome relatives and revolting subject lords, of which there were many. Thus they were so busy they simply didn’t have time to recognise The King of France, unless he made it his business for them to do so by his leading a large army over their lands. And of course there were still some Vikings who had not realised their day was over, and it was time to stay Nordic and brood.
Realising he would have a regular commute across the channel William decided he would adopt most Anglo-Saxon laws as they seem quite well organised. Including a cleverly designed centralised taxation system .True he would have to adjust a few to prove that Norman nobles were always right in the eyes of the law (and possibly exempt from taxes), but he calculated that if he was tolerably affable to the Anglo-Saxon nobility and only execute those who lands he wanted he could arrange things to everyone’s satisfaction leaving him to deal with the more important business with Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc.
However because 1066 had been momentous other people thought they should do stirring things as well and William was obliged to deal with the following.
A count of Boulogne who was useless but dissatisfied with his gain from 1066 and decided he wanted Dover; he tried to convince some folk who were rather Kentish to assist. It didn’t work.
There was an Anglo-Saxon Eadric who being wild thought he should rebel until William defeated him, thus with his wildness out of his system he settled down.
Another problematic person was a sleepless person known as Hereward, he avoided capture by convincing everyone Ely was an Isle but more importantly by being legendary. William being very cunning dealt with him by arranging the legend so that Hereward found he had been recorded as escaped to the continent at this point he lost his way.
The most troublesome of events for William with the exception of Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc. was some surly Anglo-Saxon adolescent. This aetheling known as Edgar truculently invited some of those unsettled Vikings over and started rebelling in The North. William not sure if this was really Harold, or even Harald marched north with a large army intent on slaughtering anyone called Harold or any variation. This was called the harrying of the north, although technically should have been known as the edgaring. As his orders were vague on this matter most of his army didn’t bother to stop and check the names resulting in the North not recovering for many years. Annoyingly, although captured Edgar was let off and allowed to flee to the continent. As he was not legendary he kept rebelling until he discovered Italy and the Crusades.
In an attempt to stop all this rebelling William and those Normans who were loyal to him and not conniving with Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc. went about England building castles at a prodigious rate, so much so that even Stonehenge was quite overlooked for a few centuries.
Thinking all was settled William went back to dealing with Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc. However he found out some of his Anglo-Saxon earls were revolting, which his newly acquired common folk could have told him anyway. To punish them and remove some of their power he savagely abolished slavery, which undercut their property at a stroke. He then imposed a feudal system under which everyone belonged to the King, so nobles couldn’t sell anyone anymore as everyone was the king’s property. Many have railed against this system; they never having been at the very bottom end of the social ladder. To make sure no one would be inclined to question any of this William had everything written up in the Domesday Book. Although this sounds apocalyptical, it was actually one of the greatest Civil Service achievements of all time as it proved everyone was somewhere, and this could not be disputed as William had signed the book.
Because Williams was often away attending to Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc. The scots under Malcom who was III invaded. This was in a way, fortunate for William as it gave his eldest son Robert something to do other than to plot against his father with Norman rebels, Maine, Anjou, Brittany etc. Robert successfully stopped the scots, invaded them right back and being a good Norman built a castle or two.
Having been told that the land to the west, was called Wales and some of its princes had earlier employed a few of his countrymen to invade and thus bother Anglo-Saxons William thought he should pay them a social visit. This he did with an army. What was rather puzzling to the welsh princes was the fact that he did not use his army to employ sword, flame or the new invention of harrying. The whole thing was rather peaceful and having made himself known he went away again, although the welsh did find few largish castles which hadn’t been there before inhabited by Norman garrisons.
It will be concluded therefore that William was a very active and mobile king, so it should come as no surprise that one day he died in the saddle in 1087 and thus not able to end the century in a proper and neat fashion.
In the next seminar, we shall consider the ramifications of this.
The delay in posting this was due to the necessity of carrying out some very detailed research into the dynamics of the Scots, Irish and Welsh political circumstances in those turbulent years. (That and painting walls, watching the DVDs Captain America: Civil War & the one where Superman and Batman hit each other a lot, having to try and wrestle the book back from the characters out of Patchwork, and accumulating more music on Spotify that I can possibly listen to one month)
Of course everyone knows that Cnut was arguing with the sea, Edward confessing and Harold marching up and down England. But meanwhile other interesting things were taking place.
Malcolm II started off the century quite well, he snatched bits of land off the Northumbrians which he claimed belonged to Scotland, fought some Vikings, and only let Cnut (the Canute) march into Scotland before they agreed Canute (The Cnut) could march back out again. In 1016 there was battle at Carham, in which the Scots and the Strathclyde fought Northumbria. Owen of Strathclyde conveniently died either of battle of or baldness and so that kingdom passed to Malcolm who died in 1034 due to a lack of sons.
Duncan I pretended he was old in an attempt to try and gain sympathy. He was actually quite young which allowed MacBeth to kill him in a battle in 1040 at Moray which at the time was not too keen on being part of Scotland.
MacBeth became king of Scotland but preferred to spend his time disagreeing with the king of Moray, or going on a pilgrimage to Roman. Therefore, since he had no time to bother other scots he was quite popular with them. As he was rude to the Anglo-Saxons who were practising being English, they didn’t forget. They also met someone called Malcolm who said he could do a much better job. Thus a Scotsman with English support invaded Scotland. Macbeth may have been slaughtered in battle in the ordinary way or confused by some trees he thought were moving. But history shows he was MacBeth and not ‘Shakespeare’s MacBeth’. Some locals thought MacBeth’s stepson should be king but since the only interesting thing about him was his name; Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin it was decided for best if he was assassinated.
Malcolm announced in 1058 that he was ‘The III’. And set to rule Scotland but the Vikings said he could only have the southern bit, so he built up his reputation by invading bits of England that no one apart from the locals cared about. He did not get very much involved with 1066.
As previously recorded there was usually a lot of fuss who should be High King, that was until:
Brian Boru who had considerately changed his name from Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. He was good at fighting and defeating lesser Irish kings as well at Vikings; the latter tried to cheat by saying they’d never really ruled bits of Ireland anyway. This was rightly dismissed as just plain whining and Brian Boru became king of Ireland; this claim was fortified by his dying heroically and nobly at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 when a viking treacherously slewed him when Boru was at prayer.
Because no one was really quite good enough to equal these achievements there was a period of quarrelsome kings (of all sorts of elevations), treacheries, betrayals, and all the other sorts of things which enable historians and writers of historical fiction to keep up their good work.
Because of the number of kings (still in the hundred or so) who wished to keep in with The Church, The Bards and The Metal Workers, culture flourished in Ireland, so much so that the Irish were able to think of the Scots are ‘rather provincial’ and so stopped the practice of sending Irish to Scotland.
So they really didn’t care at all what the Angles or Saxon got up to before 1066 and didn’t pay much attention when The Normans arrived.
The welsh kings had been constructively busy to the extent that by the 1000s; there were really only four welsh kingdoms Powys, Gwynedd, Dyfed/Deheubarth and Morgannwg. Many wished to make sure they didn’t once more end up in the embarrassing position of having to be legally obliged to listen to an English king. The best at this was Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. He had all the right credentials. He could rule two of the four kingdoms (Gwynedd and Powys), he had been betrayed and was at war with a brother, but above all in 1052 he defeated a combined force of Anglo-Saxons and some Normans who had arrived too early at Leominister (pronounced Leminister just be contrary). Having made alliances with some other Anglo-Saxons, a couple of groups of apathetic Vikings and maybe a few other folk, he was rightly crowned. At once he invaded England. His only opposition was Ralph The Timid of Hereford, and so the outcome was rather predictable. He was doing so well that Edward confessed he would have to recognize Gruffudd as a proper king. Later Edward confessed he might have made a mistake and let the Godwins sort it out. Tostig who was still behaving himself invaded but only won because Gruffudd died in 1062 of betrayals. He had two sons; one died of battles and the other exposed himself. Thus Wales was not really in a good position around about 1066.
Having established the position of the three other nations in the next seminar we shall exam how William The I (And Conqueror) felt they should be established.