Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2007-09 > 1189457880

From: David <>
Subject: Re: Brits vs. Normans [was Re: Why This Continuing Loony InfatuationBy The British With Diana?]
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 13:58:00 -0700
References: <jrXDi.305$><46e04d4a$0$662$><><46e05bff$0$656$><><><><><nqGEi.53924$><><s_VEi.34523$><><owXEi.61450$><OU6Fi.34708$><><HyeFi.29252$>
In-Reply-To: <HyeFi.29252$>

On Sep 10, 11:47 am, "a.spencer3" <> wrote:
> "David" <> wrote in message
> news:...
> > On Sep 10, 3:05 am, "a.spencer3" <> wrote:
> > > "John Briggs" <> wrote in message
> > >news:owXEi.61450$...
> > > >> That still leaves us with the main problem: what happened to all the
> > > Lowland
> > > > Celtic speakers? Because there are practically no loan words from
> > > Brythonic
> > > > into Old English - nor from a Lowland Romance language, either.
> > > > --
> > > Does that not remain the big unknown?
> > > Either total emigration or total (such rapid) subjugation or
> assimilation
> > > both appear unlikely.
> > > But what other reasons could there be?
> > > Many Brythonic place names remain in the southern counties, of course.
> > > Surreyman
> > Gildas speaks of villages destroyed, populations murdered, walls and
> > towers overturned, towns burnt and desolate from coast to coast of
> > Britain. Gildas of course may be exaggerating for propagandistic
> > effect, but it seems well within the power of determined bands of
> > marauders to achieve; the urban infrastructure of Roman Britain must
> > have been a tenuous web, dependent not merely upon a legionary
> > soldiery (withdrawn before the invasions) but also upon trade and
> > imports with the rest of the Roman world, which would have collapsed
> > after 407. Even without the Anglo-Saxon invasions, Britain must have
> > been suffering a depression, burdened rather than blessed by a civic
> > infrastructure they had no means of maintaining. Highly mobile bands
> > of armed invaders could easily have captured and destroyed several
> > cities, creating a cascading refugee crisis as those fleeing from one
> > captured town doubled the already strained resource burden on their
> > neighbors. Eventually the intolerable conditions would provoke
> > resistance, and the invaders' advance would be halted (they being
> > overextended as well, until reinforcements arrived); but by that time
> > they'd have half the Green and Pleasant Land under their control.
> > Anglo-Saxon occupied England would be an attractive destination for
> > colonists from the Old Country, and if the area was more swiftly
> > repopulated by the Angles than by the British, the facts on the ground
> > would soon become irresistible; even repeated tactical victories on
> > the British side would not be able to root out a people who didn't
> > need or care for an elaborate civic infrastructure; and the Angles
> > would no more care about who had been tilling the soil 50 years
> > earlier than the Americans cared about the American Indians, after
> > they had possessed their land.
> But it's all supposition, isn't it?
> No records, even legend or hearsay, of the entire Romano-Celtic 'England'
> area being so massively destroyed, replaced or subjugated, nor of colossal
> emigration.
> None of these seem sensible due to 'bands', and certainly there are no
> reports of wholesale armies.
> No amazing defence reported, either, along the now-Welsh border.
> And even the Normans didn't likewise destroy the A-S culture or language.
> To me, anyway, it's always been the supreme puzzle.
> Surreyman

I just mentioned some "legend or hearsay" -- from one or two
generations after the beginning of the conquest, while Angle-British
conflicts were still ongoing. Gildas' claims may be overblown, they
may be in the main untrue, they may be standard rhetorical tropes --
but they are still claims, and they do explain *some* of the
phenomena. And the fact that Gildas uses rhetorical tropes in no way
obliges us to assume that the rhetoric has no real referent.

There's a resistance to accepting genocidal invasions as a part of
history -- for the simple reason that they are uncomfortable to think
about, as well as being unaesthetically 'catastrophic', and
catastrophism always has a poor reputation in the chronological
sciences, in history as well as geology. People are much more
comfortable thinking in terms of inexorable trends; that's one of the
reasons (besides politics) that the original concept of a violent
invasion of the Indian subcontinent by early Indic-speaking peoples
has been muddled aside in favor of a more benign "infiltration",
gradual replacement, or even cultural conversion.

But catastrophes *do* occur, and genocides *do* happen, very
unhappily. One doesn't want to resort to them as the first
explanation of historical phenomena, and they are certainly not
extremely common; but they should never be ruled out. It would be
nice to say that the English crossed the North Sea just to shake hands
with the British, and the British welcomed them with open arms, and
then they all intermarried and just coincidentally happened to always
teach their children English, so that the British magically turned
into the English over one or two generations. It's a happy little
story without any tears, and the children can be tucked in safely
without nightmares. Its drawback, if we can call it that, is that
it's certainly not true.

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