I’m almost entirely a 21st Century, civic nationalist, with best friends who lived next door to people whose previous neighbours hired a contractor whose owner was from England so don’t call me anti-English!
Hoover, maybe because of my age, I have a wee sliver of primitive hatred for some things English like calling Britain ‘England’, ‘going up to Oxford and taking a degree’, saying ‘yah’ instead of ‘year’ or ‘drawRing’ and ‘withdrawRal’ and telling us they let us vote in their EU referendum. It maybe comes from my dad who though not exactly a ‘blood and soil’ nationalist, had become a bit bitter and twisted after serving in the Kings Own Scottish Borders, commanded by ‘English’ officers. He said they sounded English.
Anyhoo, the point of this atypical and possible weird piece of writing is to correct those who are shamelessly unconcerned about being anti-English because it’s not even accurate. They should be anti-Norman.
Now, I know the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians conquered southern Britain, but they took it from the proto-Welsh and not from us. The Welsh can be anti-English if they like. We weren’t even us then.
So, why should it be anti-Norman rather than Anti-English? Here’s my thesis, what it is which is my thesis what it is (Monty Python, 1973):
‘If it hadn’t been for the Normans there would have been no Great Britain. Discuss using two theories presented in the classes and with at least eight reliable references.’
Here is all I could find in the one hour I was prepared to give up. Some of my sources look a bit dodgy but hey what can you do?
First, from David Churchill (2016) in his book ‘1066: What if…..?’:
‘The Anglo-Saxons showed little desire to colonise. The Vikings were impelled to roam the world, the British Isles included by the poverty of their own soil. But the English inhabited one of the least challenging, most agreeable environments on earth. The Normans, however, were originally Vikings: the clue is in the name ‘Norse-men’. That Scandinavian aggression and longing to roam lived on in William’s veins. It informed his style of leadership, his ravenous hunger for territory and power and the ruthless governing culture he created around him.’
The early English, pre-1066, had a few forays into the rest of the UK but didn’t do that well so would probably have just settled comfortably with what they had. Here’s another source suggesting it was those greedy Normans that ruined everything:
‘In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, became the master in England. His successors, the Anglo-Norman Kings, tried to increase their authority and international prestige (especially in front of France) by controlling the British Isles (first Ireland and then Wales).’
They were showing off all the time, those Normans.
Finally (I looked everywhere and there aren’t eight sources.), from that high priestess of history, Wendy Marie Hoofnagle who:
‘explores the Carolingian aspects of Norman influence in England after the Norman Conquest, arguing that the Normans’ literature of kingship envisioned government as a form of imperial rule modeled in many ways on the glories of Charlemagne and his reign. She argues that the aggregate of historical and literary ideals that developed about Charlemagne after his death influenced certain aspects of the Normans’ approach to ruling, including a program of conversion through “allurement,” political domination through symbolic architecture and propaganda, and the creation of a sense of the royal forest as an extension of the royal court.’
Wendy Marie Hoofnagle (2016) The Continuity of the Conquest: Charlemagne and Anglo-Norman Imperialism, Penn State UP
To conclude, if it hadn’t been for those greedy, vicious, imperialist batards, the Normans, the English would have settled down quietly and we’d all be good neighbours in these islands called the Four Happy Kingdoms. Even better, the Troubles in Northern Ireland wouldn’t have happened. And, the DUP wouldn’t exist and the Tories wouldn’t have won the last election and…(word limit, yeah!)
Footnote: I didn’t understand either of the theories. I don’t think the lecturer explained them properly because none of us understood them.