Reactions to Viktor Orbán’s speech to the ambassadors   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Hungarian Spectrum:

I simply cannot get over the ineptitude of the Hungarian opposition parties. It is hard to pick the biggest loser among them. Here we are before the Budapest municipal elections where the stakes are high since with good candidates and a good campaign the democratic parties have a chance of replacing István Tarlós and perhaps even receiving  the majority of the district mayoralties. The chief MSZP negotiator was Ágnes Kunhalmi, a young woman with little political experience who, it seems, had difficulties keeping the local party bosses in line. As a result, in several districts the democratic parties will run not only against the Fidesz candidates but also against each other. A sure way of losing.

And what did the brand new party chief, József Tóbiás, do during these tense weeks of constant intra-party negotiations? He went on vacation! In his opinion he has nothing whatsoever to do with local Budapest affairs. The locals will take care of…

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Posted August 27, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

Viktor Orbán’s foreign policy doctrine: only national interest   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Hungarian Spectrum:

Every year Hungarian ambassadors assemble in Budapest to listen to very lengthy lectures by Viktor Orbán on their duties.  I began covering this gathering in 2010, when the prime minister outlined “a much more courageous, much more aggressive foreign policy”  than the one pursued by the socialist-liberal governments. In 2011 he announced his intention to wage a war against the European Union in defense of the country’s sovereignty, and he urged the ambassadors to steadfastly defend all of the government’s unorthodox moves. In July 2012 his speech centered around the protracted economic crisis that was “not made any easier” by the existence of the democratic model. “Europe chose the democratic model after World War II,” so that’s that. This was not a criticism on his part, he added. And a year later, in 2013, he claimed that Europe can remain competitive only if it finds accommodation with Russia. He admitted…

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Posted August 26, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

1086 And All That… Conquest and Continuity: Part Two.   Leave a comment

 001 (4) 001William the Conqueror’s followers, the last invaders of England, thought it necessary to impress the natives with their might. Throughout the land they erected castles, but these were simple affairs at first, built of earth and wood, lumps and tumps on today’s landscape, not the lasting stone monuments to their mastery we now visit. These later strongholds were not built to keep out the Saxon peasantry, but for the lords to fight private battles with each other, or even with their king.

The Bigods of Framlingham and Bungay:

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005The owners of Clare Castle in Suffolk, the FitzGilberts followed by the de Burghs, were more concerned with the comfort of their residence, rather than with maintaining it as a fortress. However, like the Gulafras, although they were given control of extensive lands in both Essex and Suffolk, they did not become central characters in the history of Suffolk. The Bigods of Framlingham and Bungay did, but at the beginning of the Conquest they were hardly on the roll of Norman nobles who ‘came over with the Conqueror’.  In 1066, King William appointed Ralph de Guader, an East Anglian nobleman of Breton origin, as earl of Norfolk and Suffolk. However, Ralph was involved in an abortive rebellion nine years later and it was then that the Bigods entered the history of the County. The King took the opportunity of de Guader’s fall from grace to reward a poor knight, Roger Bigod, for his loyalty, by granting him the bulk of the former’s confiscated estates, 117 manors in Suffolk in addition to lands in the adjoining counties. He also appointed him the Royal Steward of East Anglia.

Roger was succeeded by his eldest son, William, but he was drowned in 1120 on board The White Ship, sailing from Harfleur, together the heir to the throne and three hundred other knights. William Bigod, High Steward of England, was succeeded by his brother, Hugh, who surpassed his fellows in acts of desertion and treachery, and was never more in his element than when in rebellion. He supported Stephen, Henry I’s nephew, against the King’s daughter, Matilda , because he thought he could manipulate Stephen. In 1135, he was created Earl of Norfolk.

Right: The White Ship sinking

Then, in 1140, he switched sides, declaring for Matilda and rallying his forces in East Anglia to fight for her. By then, he had constructed two very formidable castles at Framlingham and Bungay. By 1165 Hugh’s position was unassailable. Whoever wore the crown in London, the Bigods ruled Suffolk. However, Henry II steadily and stealthily hemmed the troublesome earl into the corner of north-east Suffolk, secured control of Norwich, and built a rival fortress, Orford Castle (below), guarding both the sea and the approaches to Bigod territory, and only a short march from Framlingham.

 

 

 

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It was only a matter of time before Bigod tried to break out of the cordon of royal control. The situation was resolved in two brief campaigns of 1173 and 1174. Hugh combined forces with a detachment of French and Flemish mercenaries, setting off from Framlingham towards Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, overthrowing the Royal fortress at Haughley, commandering food and commiting outrages in the villages and on the farms on the way. Barns were looted and animals slaughtered, but a mile north of Bury St Edmunds the rebels were surprised by a detachment of royal troops, who scattered them into low-lying meadows and marshes. As they floundered up to their knees in mud, they found themselves faced not only by the King’s men, but by angry countrymen armed with pitchforks and flails. Hugh Bigod agreed to a truce, but next spring bought more mercenaries and tried to capture Norwich, and then Dunwich. Henry entered Suffolk in person and led his army straight to Framlingham. Bigod surrendered and agreed to the dismantling of his castles. Framlingham was destroyed, but Bungay was spared when Bigod bought the King off. The next earl, Roger Bigod, redeeemed Framlingham from an impoverished Richard I, rebuilding the castle on a more massive scale. Caen stone was brought up the Alde, tons of local flint were commandeered and the river Ore was dammed to form a marsh which augmented the defence system on its western side. The new castle was very formidable, with a three-thousand foot circumference, walled and moated outer bailey, a forty-four foot high wall set with towers, and within that a massive keep. In its twelfth-century prime the fortress must have provided a secure bastion for the lord, his family, retainers, animals and a considerable armed guard, so that the Bigods could have defied a besieging army for a long time. The castle was finished at about the time King John came to the throne (1199).

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Soon, king and barons were locked in conflict once more over where the balance of power should lie within the first estate. Was the power of the king absolute? Were his barons over-mighty subjects? Or did those subjects have rights as well as duties? If so, what were they? John’s exercise of arbitrary rule brought this issue to the fore once more, as it became clear to many of the barons that they must find a permanent solution to the issue as a matter of urgent priority. So, eight hundred years ago this November, in 1214, the barons went to celebrate the feast of St Edmund, a sure sign of how English they had become, at the shrine to his martyrdom at Bury St Edmunds. However, they were really there to plan concerted action against their liege lord. They discussed the rights and freedoms which it seemed to them were theirs by natural law or ancient custom. These were practical discussions, not philosophical debates. Some of the monks present wrote down a list of liberties and laws to present to King John. Then, they all swore on the great altar that if the King refused to grant these… they themselves would withdraw their allegiance to him, and make war upon him till he should, by charter under his own seal, confirm to them everything they required. This, of course, was the first draft of the document known as Magna Carta, sealed by a reluctant King John at Runnymede seven months later. What was established that day in 1214 at Bury St Edmunds, was that the King should be under God and the law. The participants in this battle of wills were unaware that they were making constitutional history. For them, if not for us, they were reacting to a king who was placing himself too high above them on the feudal pyramid. They sought a restoration of rights, and were not concerned to share those rights with those further down the pyramid, nor were they advancing new claims to further rights and privileges. In the phraseology of the typical undergraduate essay question, Magna Carta was a reactionary rather than a revolutionary document. By understanding its origins and context we can understand that. Runnymede was the second stage in a power struggle and, as they came away, they were already planning the next stage.

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 John mustered his forces in the Midlands. The rebel lords, among them Roger Bigod, levied troops, victualled castles and hired mercenaries. Their power base was London, still identified with Essex, and the counties to the east of it. Their leader was Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. The first royal advance into East Anglia was repulsed, but in March 1216 John, having subdued the rest of the country, turned his attention on the eastern earls. He marched on Framlingham where Roger Bigod, following family tradition, yielded without a fight. The king went on to capture Ipswich, then turned south for Essex and Kent, punishing by pillage his poorer subjects, who had little choice but to follow their great lords in the rebellion against him. However, in Kent he suffered a serious set-back and was forced to flee westwards. The barons reclaimed East Anglia but this time John’s vengeance fell upon Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The campaign of 1216 was the last medieval campaign on Suffolk soil. The Bigods remained the leading men of Suffolk for almost another century and remained, to the core, men of independent spirit. The fifth earl of Norfolk and the last of the Bigod line, was one of the leaders of fresh constitutional conflict with the crown during Edward I’s reign, arguing with the king over his right not to serve in Edward’s campaign in Gascony unless Edward himself led it. By God, Earl, you shall either go or hang! the King threatened. By God, King, retorted Bigod, I will neither go nor hang! The outcome? Bigod didn’t go and neither did he hang!

The Bigods were not the only leaders of Suffolk society, but they were in essential respects typical of the great Suffolk landowners. The only way to personal wealth in early medieval times was the royal service. Those who attended to the King’s needs and wants in military, spiritual, diplomatic or personal matters expected to be rewarded by grants of land. They were then able to rule as kings in their own domains for, although the freemen were protected by law and custom from arbitrary actions, such protection counted for little when it came to disputes over manorial rights. However, the Bigods finally fell foul of the centralising policies of the Plantagenet monarchs in the later middle ages, Their decline was as rapid as their rise.  The vast estates of the Norman Bigods were forfeited to Edward I, and Framlingham came to Thomas of Brotherton, eldest son of Edward and Margaret of France. It then became a major seat of the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk.

The Gulafras (Gullivers) and the Manors of Suffolk:

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Most landlords did not depend on royal patronage for their continuing tenure, but by keeping the peace on their lands, chiefly by respecting the pre-Conquest rights of their tenants, and managing their manors and estates diplomatically, especially in their relations with neighbouring magnates. There is also evidence of greater stratification among the landowning classes, with many examples of sub-tenanting of manors and more flexible arrangements where the management of freemen was concerned. To understand this, we need to look at those families other than the Bigods who, for one reason or another, did not become tenants-in-chief, or as continuously wealthy and powerful as they did.

In the case of the Goulaffre/ Gulafra family in Suffolk, this may have been due to their desire (at least initially) to continue to maintain and manage lands in Normandy, under Duke Robert. Under the Conqueror’s eldest son, Guillaume Goulafriere fought in the First Crusade which left Normandy in 1096. His estates in England passed to his son, Roger, who was Lord of Oakenhill Hall Manor in the reign of Henry II. The main branches of the family are documented as holding lands in East Anglia, especially Suffolk, and Essex, between Domesday (1086) and 1273. There are also references to the family name, or variants of it, in court records for Sussex, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Oxfordshire Golafre family descended from a younger son of Sir Roger Golafre, dominus de Cercedene (Sarsden), in the reign of King John; who, with some of his posterity, was buried in the chapter house of Bruern Abbey, of which he was probably a benefactor. Fourth in succession from Sir Roger was the Sir John who married the heiress of Fyfield some time in the early 1330s, and settled in what was then Berkshire.

Sir Roger’s eldest son bore his name, and was seated at Norton in Northamptonshire, when William, his heir, acquired Heyford by marriage. Baker’s Northamptonshire tells us that this William Golafre was appointed deputy Chamberlain of the Exchequer to Edward I. by William de Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester. His son ‘Master John de Golafre’ afterwards executed the same office on the nomination of Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, Chamberlain in fee, and retained it till his death, for in 1315 John de Aston, clerk of John de Golafre, deceased, surrendered two great keys and twenty-three lesser keys of the doors of the treasury and coffers of the Exchequer. There was one other Northants John de Golafre, and then the Heyford estate passed to the Mantells.

In Suffolk, where Copinger’s 1905 book helps us to piece together something of the history of each manor, we find that in pre-Conquest times, the village of Aspall had two small manors, one held by Brictmar in the time of Edward the Confessor, a freeman under commendation to Edric. He held thirty acres, which at Domesday was held by Robert Malet as the tenant of his mother. She was the widow of William Malet, a baronial tenant-in-chief, who accompanied the Conqueror from Normandy and was one of the few Norman barons proven to be present at Hastings, taking care of Harold’s body after the battle, on William’s command. Legend has it that his William Malet’s mother was English, and that he was the uncle of King Harold wife Edith (the claim being that he had a sister Aelgifu who married Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia, who was the father of Edith). Despite his obviously divided loyalties, William of Normandy rewarded his faithfulness. He was soon appointed High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and given the great honour of Eye (Priory), with lands in Suffolk and several other shires. It was in fact the largest lordship in East Anglia. He built a motte and bailey at Eye, and started a market there. He died in 1071, probably in trying to crush the rebellion of Hereward the Wake, and on his death was one of the twelve greatest landholders in England. His son Robert became a close advisor to Henry I, and at the time of The Domesday Survey, held 221 manors in Suffolk alone.

The other manor, also thirty acres, was originally held by Siric, another freeman. Robert Malet was the tenant-in-chief in 1086, but Stigand was tenant. Whether or not this was the Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, whose uncanonical appointment was one justification given by the Pope for his support for William, we cannot be sure. Although he died in 1072, Stigand’s significant land tenure is still recorded in Domesday in his name, and we know that he continued to hold manors in Elmham and Ashingdon in Essex, where he had been bishop, even after he was deposed by William in 1070. It seems that, here at least, the Saxon freehold may well have survived the Conquest, since William was not strong enough (at first) to remove Stigand. Our image of the Duke of Normandy as an all-powerful conqueror appears somewhat removed from the reality. William Gulafra also held three acres in Aspall, valued at fifteen shillings.

The villages of Oakley and Brome, enumerated together in Domesday were composed of two carucates (or hides – 100-120 acres), one in each village. Here, William Gulafra was a sub-tenant of Robert Malet, holding thirty acres and two freemen, each with half an acre, sharing a ploughteam, an acre and a half of meadow and a mill, valued at ten shillings. In Thrandeston, Robert Malet had sixteen acres, valued at two shillings, held as tenant by William Gulafra. Okenhill Hall Manor, or Saxhams, as it was known locally, also formed part of the great Malet holding. It was held in the reign of Henry II by Roger Gulafra, son of William, who was succeeded by his son and heir, also William. This William had a daughter, Philippa, who married William Brito. He was followed by William le Breton who died in 1258, leaving a daughter, Nichola. She then married Sir Robert d’Amoundeville (de Mandeville), who endowed the Priory of Eye with two sheaves of his tithes, as the Gulafras had done previously. Another of the manors originally held by William Gulafra came to be known as Mandeville’s Manor. Interestingly, this estate of Leuric seems already to have been under Norman protection in the time of the Confessor, though what that meant in terms of land-holding is unclear. At the time of Domesday, it was one of the manors held by William Malet, who passed it to his son Robert. William Gulafre held it in the time of Henry I and passed it to his son, Roger Gulafre, and so it came via Philippa Gulafre into the eventual control of the Mandevilles.

Ashfield was one two Saxon manors, one held by Godman and the other by Brictmar (who also held land at Aspall), both of whom were freemen. The first was thirty acres, and the second twenty-four. There were also twenty-seven acres held by four other freemen. At the time of Domesday, Robert Malet held four of these manors, apparently as tenant-in-chief, but the fourth of these was held by William Gulafra (of ‘Earl Hugh’), ten acres valued at twenty pence (presumably, per acre).

The large village of Debenham consisted of three Saxon manors, the first held by Edric, freeman under commendation to William Malet, with sixteen bordars, twelve ploughteams in demesne and three beloging to the freemen, four acres of meadow, wood enough to support sixty hogs, a rouncy (a cart-horse), four beasts, forty hogs, thirty sheep and forty goats. At the time of Domesday, the manor was held by William Gulafre, of Robert Malet. There were only one and a half ploughteams belonging to the freemen, woodland for only forty hogs, six beasts, twenty hogs, forty-five sheep and twenty-eight goats. The value of the whole estate had declined from sixty shillings to fifty shillings at the time of Domesday, which shows that the Conquest could well have had a negative effect on the wealthier Saxon manors, possibly due to the amount of woodland which was cut down for building castles.William Gulafra also held over the freemen on Malet’s other holding of thirty-six acres, the value of which had declined from ten shillings to six. This suggested that he managed the Saxon freemen for Malet, perhaps as an intermediary who understood them better and who respected him as a farmer. He also held Malet’s sixth estate of ten acres, which had half a ploughteam and was valued at two shillings.

Winston appears, again, to have had a very independent status as a manor, because it was held in the time of the Confessor by the Abbot of Ely, in demesne. Like Stigand, he was a Saxon, Thurstan, appointed by Harold but, unlike Stigand, he was also honest and hard-working, so William did not replace him, even when he (famously) gave Hereward the Wake sanctuary from William’s soldiers in 1071, helping him escape through the Fens. Although the Abbey was fined heavily, and its lands were confiscated, it was only after Thurstan’s death that William appointed a Norman monk in his place. Perhaps William was also mindful of the powerful symbolism of Ely to the Saxons. Then, following the return of its manors in 1081, Simeon was made Abbot, an old but very wise and able churchman, who was related both to William and to Stigand’s successor as Bishop of Winchester. The Abbey’s land in Winston consisted of forty acres, six villeins, four bordars, two ploughteams in demesne and three belonging to freemen, six acres of meadow and woodland for a hundred hogs. There was a church with eight acres, two rouncies, four beasts, twenty hogs and fifty sheep. It was valued at four pounds. At Domesday, it was still held by the abbot, but with only one ploughteam in demesne and woodland for sixty hogs. Its value had increased to four pounds and ten shillings, however, the only manor showing evidence of becoming wealthier. This prosperity, we are told, had come from additional freemen working the thirty acres of the abbot’s land. William Golafra also held nineteen acres of land, with a ploughteam, an acre of meadow and two bordars, valued at four shillings. Again, it is worth speculating that Golafra held the manor during the confiscation and that, on its reinstatement to Ely, helped the elderly abbot, who was taken up with restoring the Abbey and its treasures, by recruiting and managing the additional freemen from other manors where he had an interest, such as in Debenham. It may also be that the unbroken and consolidated tenure of these forty acres in the hands of the Abbots of Ely, together with Golafra, was a major factor in their continued productivity and value, despite a reduction in woodland similar to that in other villages.

The Domesday Evidence:

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As we have seen, the basic system of land holding and administration continued in use. We know a great deal about this from documentary sources pre-dating the Conquest: law codes, charters, wills, letters and so on. We also have the Domesday Books. Drawn up twenty years after the Conquest by the Norman king, it might be thought that it was an entirely Norman-manufactured account. This would be a great mistake, however. It records the state of affairs in the time of King Edward and now, so that it provides a factual description of each manor both before and after the Conquest. It seems to build both on a variety of earlier documents and a variety of oral testimonies. It is not an attempt to introduce new systems of land holding, feudal dues and taxes, but to explain who held what, by what right, and at what value. William wanted to know exactly what his kingdom was like and what taxes he could expect from each manor, but he was not trying to increase taxes or introduce a new system. If he had been trying to do either, it is unlikely that there would have been so many references to the decreasing worth of the land due to the Conquest. He must have known that the effects of the Conquest carried a heavy cost, in particular the cost of the felling of timber to construct castles and the diverting of labour away from the fields for these purposes. He knew he could not tax the land for more than it was worth.

Some features of Anglo-Saxon law were altered: the position of women was drastically downgraded by the Conquest, even that of those among the great landlords, because they lost the right to hold property independently of fathers or husbands, even when widowed, without special leases and covenants granted on petition by the courts. However, a great deal else was retained. Domesday is both a monument to Norman England and Saxon England because it shows how the basic structure of government, land-tenure and feudal society as a whole remained basically the same throughout the first twenty years of Norman rule as it had been in the reign of King Edward. However, it does also record sudden destruction and lasting devastation and shows a distinct change in the names of many of the chief landlords and their sub-tenants, from British, Danish or Saxon to Breton, Norman or French. The peasants still trudged out to till the fields, whoever was collecting the taxes and whatever names their lords went by. They bore a yoke, sure enough, but it wasn’t particularly Norman. It was one most of them them had born for centuries.

The Monastic Settlements and Churches of East Anglia and Southern England:

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The great men of the county were not only concerned with wealth and power in this life, but also with their status in the next. That was why they erected churches, chantries and noble tombs to house their earthly remains, and paid priests to say masses for their souls in perpetuity. As we have already noted, the Normans were as muscular and and progressive about their Christianity as they were about their conquest and administration of foreign lands. The rule of the Conqueror coincided with a great revival of monasticism across western Christendom, from Scotland to Hungary. Even so, the number of new houses for monks and nuns built in Suffolk alone is remarkable. By 1200, there were twenty-eight monasteries and abbeys where small religious communities were permanently employed in caring for the sick and singing masses. At Bury St Edmunds, while the townsfolk grumbled in their urban hovels, the monks spent a large part of their income on making their abbey one of the grandest in Christendom. Apparently not satisfied by the additions made to the buildings by Cnut, the now non-Saxon monks began, immediately after the Conquest, as the poet-monk John Lydgate tells us, to build a new church with stone brought from Caen in Normandy.

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 The church was not finished until 1211, an enormous edifice with two great towers surmounted by spires. It was over five hundred feet long, making it larger than most surviving Gothic churches, and the Abbey’s gardens, fishponds, vineyards and fields covered many acres. However, this did little to impress the townspeople, who continued to be treated little better than serfs by the monks. At a time when other towns, such as Ipswich, were receiving royal charters guaranteeing their rights and freedoms, Bury’s citizens had no say at all in their governance.

 Their bitterness ran deep and expressed itself in occasional attacks upon the monks, Abbey property and servants. There were demonstrations aimed at forcing concessions from the abbot, and matters came to a head on 15 January 1327, when three thousand armed men broke down the gates, destroyed the sacristy, rifled the treasury, looted the Abbey’s precious objects, flogged the monks, imprisoned the prior in the Guildhall and forced the abbot to sign a charter of liberties granting the town virtual independence. As soon as he could escape, the abbot rode to London, where he repudiated the charter. This led to fresh outbreaks of violence throughout the spring and summer.

053Then, on 18 October, during divine service in the parish church, the monks made an armed attack on the townspeople. They retaliated by rampaging through the monastery, virtually razing it to the ground. They went on to attack twenty-two of the abbot’s manors, before the Sheriff of Norfolk arrived to suppress the revolt. This was no isolated incident, but a deep-seated desire for independence, coupled with a dissatisfaction with the religious establishment. There were twenty thousand malcontents from every social stratum. The ringleaders had been hanged or exiled, and the court in Norwich imposed an impossible fine on the people, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

 

Suffolk people continued to be as devoted to their parish churches as they were distrustful of the great abbeys. There was scarcely a church in the county that did not experience some enlargement, extension or alteration in almost every medieval generation. The Normans built many churches but only a few, such as St Mary Wissington retain the original Norman pattern. Naves were widened to accomodate an increasing population in the thirteenth century, and chancels were extended. From about 1200, chantry chapels were enlarged or incorporated within existing buildings.

 

 

DSC09601Ecclesiastical fashions in architecture also played a part in these changes, as Norman gave way to Early English which, in turn, was superseded by Decorated. The Church of Saint Michael Framlingham  (left) has been built, rebuilt and added to down the ages. A surviving feature, the capitals of the Chancel arch, date from the twelfth century, but the majority of the church was built in the perpendicular style between 1350 and 1555.  Such later medieval changes in church architecture can sometimes lead us to exaggerate the degree of change in building styles in the century or so after the Conquest.

What happened to the old Saxon minsters, such as at Winchester, or to the great town abbeys, such as at Bury St Edmunds, should not be taken as a model for most of the parish churches of England.

The Expansion of Christendom: England, The British Isles and the Continent:

 

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In the forty years from 1093 to 1133 that was taken to building the great columns of Durham Cathedral and the vaults that they support, Jerusalem was taken for Christianity and north-western Europe had expanded to a point unsurpassed since the Celtic migrations of the fourth century BC.

048Irish Romanesque has left many fine examples in the ruins of churches at Kilmacduagh and at Clonfert Cathedral, originally the foundation of St Brendan the Navigator. Shortly after this was built, Somerset masons must have brought to Ireland not only their skills but the stone they knew from building the first Gothic cathedral in Europe to employ the pointed arch throughout, that of Wells. With this stone they constructed the first cathedral of Dublin, Christ Church, of which only the north side of the nave remains as their original work. Some years before, the first Cistercians, chief among the patrons of the Gothic style, had arrived at Mellifont north of Dublin.

The religious order most favoured by William the Conqueror and the early Norman kings was that of Cluny. The two most notable sites of Cluniac foundations are at Thetford and Castle Acre in Norfolk.   All the new orders introduced in the twelfth century, the Premonstatensians and Victorines, the Tironensians, Carthusians, Augustinians and Cistercians were all of foreign origins except for the Gilbertines, founded by St Gilbert of Sempringham. Between them, they had a profound effecton the political and historical development, the landscape, and the agriculture of the British Isles as a whole, one that was largely independent of temporal authorities, however. They were allowed a mere three hundred years by those authorities in which to enter nearly every region, to raise their churches and cloisters, and to establish around themselves new communities.

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The Premonstratensians, drawing on their origins from Prémontré outside Laon, built one of their earliest abbeys in Suffolk, and then found they had to move it away from the swampy lands to near the small town of Leiston (see photos above). They were also particularly important in Scotland, founding the great Border house of Dryburgh and also reviving the holy site of St Ninian’s white church at Whithorn. In the reign of Henry I, his Queen Consort, Matilda of Scotland, founded the house of Holy Trinity in Aldgate for the Augustinians. Henry I also handed over to them what was to be their richest abbey, at Cirencester, where they also built the splendid parish church for the townspeople. By 1350 they possessed over two hundred priories in England alone.

In Scotland, Bishop Robert of St Andrews (left), with the 044agreement of David I, dispossessed the Celtic monks or Culdees at St Andrews in order to place the most sacred relics in Scotland in the care of the Austin canons. The Culdees were given another site, St Mary of the Rock. Bishop Robert had been prior of the Augustinian house at Scone and he built on the promontory of St Andrews the church dedicated to St Regulus, the Syrian monk who, according to legend, had brought the bones of St Andrew to Scotland in the fourth century AD. The tall tower of St Rule still stands outside the ruins of the cathedral which was begun by Bishop Arnold in 1160. It was planned to be the second largest cathedral of its time in Britain after Norwich, but a storm destroyed its west end in 1275, and it was decided to shorten the nave by two of its bays.

The Augustinians were particularly close to the Scottish royal family: they also held the famous abbey of Holy Rood in Edinburgh and the great Border abbey at Jedburgh. St Andrews under Bishop Lamberton became a stronghold of resistance to Edward I in the Scottish War of Independence in the early fourteenth century, and the consecration of the cathedral in 1318 in the presence of Robert de Bruce must have been a triumphal occasion for more than one reason. Two years later the nobles of Scotland gathered at Arbroath Abbey to sign their Declaration of independence.

047The Cistercians also founded abbeys throughout the British Isles. In Wales, their first and most famous house was at Tintern in the Wye Valley, founded in 1131, but they also went on to found the abbeys at Strata Florida and Valle Crucis, near Llangollen in north Wales. In Scotland they established the greatest of the Scottish border abbeys at Melrose (right), on the request of David I, in the place where St Aidan had first founded a monastery, and where St Cuthbert had been born. In Ireland their first house, at Mellifont, was founded in 1142.

The twelfth century saw the rapid expansion of monasticism throughout the British Isles, especially among the Cistercians and the Gilbertines, and was part of a continental expansion, including in Normandy itself. It was a historical phenomenon which stemmed partly from Rome, partly from Christian rulers, but mainly from the mission of the monks themselves to open their doors to the humble and illiterate who desired the monastic life, to the growing number of poor pilgrims who needed hospitality, and to those in need of treatment for their illnesses.

The devotion of both Saxon and Norman kings and queens, as well as some of their lords may have aided this development of monasticism, but it was not part of a conquest.

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The thirteenth century was the time of the mendicant friars, most notably the Franciscans and the Dominicans, who by their preaching and their going out into the world transformed the ideals and possibilities of the Christian life. Remarkably, little survives in England, Scotland and Wales of their numerous convents and houses. Their greatest remaining visible achievement was the establishment of Oxford and Cambridge as internationally famous centres of learning. The impetus for new orders and new foundations was largely dying out by the fourteenth century, coinciding with a decline in the numbers seeking the monastic life.

For the thirteenth century, it has been calculated that twenty thousand were in religious orders out of a population of three million, one in every hundred and fifty of the population. Rich benefactors preferred to found institutions of learning.

For all their decline in numbers, monks and nuns had worked great changes on the land, and the ruined buildings remain to keep the memory of the lives which had once been lived there. The influence of Medieval monasticism continued into the fourteenth century and beyond in English, and British, society and culture.

The Hidden Legacy of the Saxons: Signs of Survival:

DSC09532In recent years, the careful cataloguing of surviving Anglo-Saxon churches, that it has become clear how many of these there are. In 1978, 267 churches were listed, identified from structural analysis and visible architectural detail as at least partly Saxon. More should probably be added. Little remains of the earliest churches, since these were mostly built of timber and have survived only as post-holes under later excavated churches. The timber church that does still remain at Greensted in Essex seems to incorporate later Scandinavian influence. A few stone churches can be dated to the seventh or eighth centuries, usually from historical sources. Most of these are in Kent, where the first Augustinian mission was based, such as St Martin’s in Canterbury. There is also a group in northern England, including Jarrow, where a foundation stone gives the precise date of 23 April 684 for the dedication of St Paul’s. Unfortunately, most of that church was demolished, not by the Normans, but by the Georgians in 1782, and all that remains in Gilbert Scott’s nineteenth century church of the Saxon original is the chancel.

016Escomb in County Durham gives a better idea of an early Saxon church. This simple two-celled building still sits in its round churchyard (left). It was larger once, with a western annexe and a side chapel to the north of the nave, but its present classic simplicity makes it a model for the reconstruction of early Saxon churches. The proportions of the nave and chancel arch, which are tall and narrow, are a classic feature of Saxon architecture, as are the massive stones which form the corners of the nave and side of the chancel arch, possibly brought from an earlier Romano-British site which became a quarry. The windows are small, intentionally designed to reflect as much light as possible in the small space, whilst at the same time seeking to economise in the use of glass, or, if left unglazed, to minimise the draught.

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Brixworth in Northamptonshire is perhaps the most impressive surviving Saxon church. The arches of the Saxon aisles still exist, made from bricks which have been dated to Romano-British times, but they are blocked up. Many different kinds of stone have been used in the construction of the church, showing how other Saxon churches might have been added to and changed, using different raw and recycled materials, from one phase to another. The majority of churches defined as Saxon belong to a later period than Escomb and Brixworth, to the tenth or eleventh centuries, when many were rebuilt after the Viking destruction. However, parts of these churches were rebuilt from original blocks and features, including stone strips, pilasters, which can be seen on two well-preserved towers at Earls Barton and Barton-on-Humber. Some of the more decorative features can be compared to those on contemporary continental buildings. At Barton-on-Humber (see photo), a very small church was built originally, with the tower forming the nave crammed between a small chancel and a baptistery. Over the centuries the original building was gradually added to. Archaeologists were able to trace this growth because the later church had become redundant and they could therefore excavate the whole of the interior. They were therefore able to expose a round apse, as well as to excavate part of the cemetery, where they found Anglo-Saxon burials. In other churches which have been proved to have much surviving Saxon fabric, it has been more difficult to excavate because the early walls were covered with plaster inside and later concrete rendering outside, leaving only windows and doors as a means of dating them.

A church of Saxon proportions may well contain pre-Conquest fabric, but even if none is found, continuity can be argued because the original church has been added to piecemeal over the centuries, so that its original shape has become fossilised in the later versions. Medieval builders sometimes built around an old church, reproducing it exactly, only in larger dimensions, and pulling down the old church only when finishing the new, so that the congregation could always worship with a roof over their heads. One such church is at King’s Sutton in Northamptonshire, where no visible features are earlier than the twelfth century, but the nave has classic early proportions. The walls of the nave are quite probably Saxon, with twelfth-century aisles and much later clerestory windows cut through them.

Historically, this was a minster, a large and important church served by a group of priests, and serving several parishes. Later in the Anglo-Saxon period this type of church government gradually gave way to the parochial and diocesan system we know today, but it is still possible to work out where many of the original minsters were.

Many more churches than those defined as having Saxon architectural origins still incorporate the remains of Saxon buildings. In fact, if we could count the numbers destroyed in the great Victorian rebuilding, we would probably discover that a very substantial proportion of the smaller churches of England had not fallen victim to Norman builders, and that, after the Conquest, many people would have worshipped in the same church as their Saxon and British ancestors before 1066. Much of the visible fabric of the ordinary villages and market towns of Anglo-Saxon England was still to be seen in Norman and early medieval times, if not into late medieval and early modern times.

Pride and Prosperity:

DSC09858The continuing passion for building and rebuilding reveals considerable local pride and devotion, and illustrates a talent for united and well-organised effort. It also provides evidence of enormous wealth, much of it stemming from the trade in wool. At the time of the Domesday Suvey there were about eighty thousand sheep in East Anglia, spread fairly evenly over the whole region. Every farming community made its own cloth and sold its surplus wool in the local markets. To these markets at Bury, Ipswich, Sudbury came merchants from London and Europe. Throughout the early Medieval period wool was Suffolk’s most important export and the basis of its extraordinary prosperity.

However, compared with the prime sheep-rearing regions such as the Welsh borders and the Yorkshire moors, Suffolk wool was of an inferior quality. Shropshire fleeces were fetching fourteen marks a sack when the Suffolk farmer could only get four marks for his. Nevertheless, Suffolk was richer than Shropshire due to the volume of trade, since it was closer to continental customers. Most of the buyers came from across the North Sea from Germany, the Baltic States and the Low Countries, regions with which East Anglians had long and close commercial contacts. The sight of these buyers riding eastwards to Ipswich or Dunwich followed by long lines of laden packhorses was a very familiar one to medieval Suffolkers. But this trade was not destined to last into the second half of the fourteenth centuy, but to be replaced by a far more lucrative one, the trade, and industry, in woollen cloth.

DSC09733However, by this time, the development of international trade, the building of castles and churches and cathedrals, due to the growth of important centres of pilgrimage, had all contributed to the concentration of population and the growth of towns. The case of Bury St Edmunds showed that it was impossible for feudal law and custom to apply to emerging centres of trade and commerce. Towns sought and usually obtained charters which enabled them to control their own affairs. Ipswich’s charter had been granted by King John in May 1200, allowing the burgesses to elect their own representatives, appoint officials, levy market tolls and avoid interference by powerful local magnates and churchmen. Soon after, they gathered together to elect their own governing body, which did business for the first time in July. These first city fathers were industrious and proud. They appointed officers to supervise every aspect of the town’s affairs. They decreed that a special book called le Domesday be started which would record all their decisions and laws. One of the first of these decisions was the casting of a town seal – a symbol that their corporate unity was equal to any baron in the land.

007DSC09763The Norman Conquest was a military invasion that left physical remains in the archaeological and architectural record. However, much of the fabric of everyday life did survive the Conquest. There were no real changes in religion, in burial rites, house types, jewellery, pottery or coinage. The basic ethnicity of the population remained the same, so that genetic analysis of skeletons in recent years has shown little change in composition. The Normans simply added a ruling élite, but that was not simply Norman, and certainly not very Norse. Neither did Norman French supplant the dialects of the Anglo-Saxons as a dominant lingua franca, and these dialects gradually became a common tongue based on the Mercian dialect, with a few French synonyms added. Only in the way castles were sited and in the drastic rebuilding of significant religious monuments do we have unequivocal evidence of an invasion. Even then and there, these kinds of changes need to be evaluated in longer historical and broader geographical contexts.

Printed Sources:

(as listed in part one)

Internet Sources:

as referenced in the text, especially Copinger (1905).

Posted August 25, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

1086 And All That: Conquest and Continuity: Part One   Leave a comment

Freeborn Englishmen and Norman Yokes

 

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The comic-strip image of the Norman Conquest, based partly on its tenth-century equivalent, the Bayeux Tapestry, is of yet another a smash and grab raid by another group of land-hungry and bloodthirsty Vikings who, this time, had ominously settled just across the English Channel and were looking for an opportunity to enslave the freedom-loving Anglo-Saxons in an iron system of feudal dues. The legendary story continues with their tireless, heroic and ultimately dramatic cavalry charges on the Saxon shield wall at Senlac Hill, their ruthless mopping up the resistance (Hereward the Wake) in the soggy Fens of East Anglia, and their terrorising (harrying) of the north with fire and sword. They then forced the defeated peasants to build castles and manor houses, from which they could then supervise the whole business of collecting taxes, stealing what little surplus food the Saxons were able to produce for their banquets held in their great halls. This went on for the next two hundred years or so, so we are told, until Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart helped the Saxons to throw off the Norman Yoke, after which the new lords learnt English and began to show some respect for their peasantry. This was not simply the view lampooned in the popular book, 1066 and All That, published for the nine hundredth anniversary of Hastings, but was the one taken quite seriously by many of Cromwell’s soldiers in their quarrel with Charles I, who, among other blunders, made the mistake of reviving ancient royal rights from the days of bad King John who, after all, had been forced to agree to a list of the people’s demands.

This comic-strip, super-hero and super-villain version of events is an important part of English mythology, but it does not match much of the written record, let alone the architectural and archaeological evidence spanning the early middle ages, from the reign of William I to that of Edward I. All these sources of evidence need to be evaluated in the context of local, national and international narratives and contexts, if we are to understand how a united English nation and state came about by the early part of the thirteenth century, the leading but not all-powerful kingdom within the British Isles, if not on the immediate continent as well.

 

More than conquerors, less than strangers…

 

018To begin by focusing on the local, which was, after all, the way that most people organised and made sense of their lives in the eleventh century, by the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) the population of Suffolk was 20,491, which made it the most densely populated populated county in England with the possible exception of Middlesex. However, the Survey tended to underestimate the total population, because the numbers of unfree villeins, cottars and bordars among the peasants were not always counted, and the numbers and proportion of freemen were greater in Suffolk than elsewhere. Rich soil, the influx of Saxon settlers from elsewhere, and the long period of peace at the turn for much of the tenth century help explain why the county recovered its population more quickly than most from the nightmare ninth century.

001These conditions helped to establish the tradition of fierce independence of the people of Suffolk, since it became known as a shire of freeholder and smallholder farmers. According to Domesday there were nearly 7,500 freemen in Suffolk, compared with under a thousand serfs. The proportion of independent landholders to unfree peasants was quite different in Suffolk and Norfolk from that in other shires. Although the average freeman could boast only a few acres, far fewer than in a curucate, he could call himself his own man, something which has always been important to East Anglians. He could also join together with other freemen to farm the land together, particularly at more labour-intensive times of the year, like ploughing and harvest. This was because the land holdings were not scattered around the village, but concentrated in compact blocks edges by markers, if not hedges. On them the farmers were able to make teams of oxen to drive their ploughs, and to pasture their sheep, pigs and cattle together. They would also enjoy grazing rights on nearby heath and woodland. Every autumn they slaughtered most of their beasts and preserved the meat with salt from the saltpans of the Wash or Stour estuary. Fowls, river fish and sea fish supplemented their diet, and their own flocks and herds provided them with a good supply of clothes. Most of these people were self-sufficient and produced a surplus for market.

019The ducal family claimed descent from Rollo, a Viking leader who was ceded lands in northern France by Charles the Simple in 911. Rollo and his followers were Scandinavians, like those who had been settling in eastern England, so Normandy takes its name from them, Northmannia. However, unlike the Danes, whose invasion of England fifty years previously had placed their King Cnut on the throne, the conquerors this time were seen as Frenchmen, rather than Norsemen. On the Bayeux Tapestry the battle is seen as being between Angli et Franci. Examining the place-names, we can tell that, just as with the Danes who settled in eastern England, or the Norwegians who settled in Cumbria, the Scandinavian element in the population, though significant in pockets, was not overwhelming. Eleventh-century Normandy preserved many of the institutions of Carolingian France and was in many ways simply another part of the patchwork of principalities which developed after the waning of Charlemagne’s empire.

Normandy was better organised and stronger militarily than many of the other fragments, especially under Duke William. He may have owed his toughness to Viking ancestors, but successive dukes had married into other French and Breton ruling families, while William himself was the illegitimate son of a Falaise girl about whom we know very little. Within two generations even the dukes themselves had ceased to speak Norse as their native language, while the natives of Rouen spoke Roman rather than Norse at the time of the Conquest.

Archaeological evidence for the Norsemen is even harder to come by in Normandy than it is in Britain. A few Viking burials have been discovered or discerned from finds of jewellery or weapons. Some of the latter seem to have been forged in Britain, suggesting they had been acquired on previous campaigns there. There are also some camps, earthworks which have been excavated, with the conclusion being drawn that they were earlier fortifications which were possibly reoccupied and reused by Vikings.

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In any case, the army which invaded England in 1066 were by no means exclusively Norman, nor were the new aristocrats after 1066. It included men from many parts of France, who traced their ancestry to Flanders or Aquitaine, Anjou or Brittany, rather than to Normandy. Some of this can be seen in relation to my own family history. The Gullivers, who later gave their name to one of the best-known books in English, were originally known by the French name, Goullafre, since they really did come over with the conqueror from St Evreux in Normandy where they were Lords of Mesnil Bernard. There is still a small town, or large village there called La Goulafriere. The word apparently means caterpillar in French, which is why it later became a synonym for glutton, though it originally had a fairly non-pejorative meaning. Guillaume Goullafre’s name can be found in the archives of Bayeux Cathedral (Chronology of the Ancient Nobility of the Duchy of Normandy, 1087 – 1096) where it appears on a list of lords who accompanied Robert Duke of Normandy on the first crusade to Palestine in 1096. He is also listed as one of the Knights Templar. Gulefrias is recorded as surname in France in 1106, and a further French record, Persée’s Armorial de France has a Goullafre as one who fought against the Turks in Hungary in 1509. In England the name goes through several mutations and variations between 1086 and 1654 (Goulafre, Gulafra, Golafre, Golefer, Gullifer, Gulliford, Galover) until it eventually emerges as Gulliver in common usage. I have told the story of those bearing the name for whom I can find evidence, from the Plantagenet nobility to the twentieth century working-class family. So, my intention here is merely to add what I have discovered about the Norman Gulafre family to the general record of the Conquest, to see what modest effect it might have on the historical scales of change and continuity.

 

Leland also refers to a Guillaume Goulaffre (Dives Roll) and a Roger Gulafre, who claimed property from St. Evroult in Normandy, where a great Abbey still stands. It is Roger who is referred to as Lord of Mesnil Bernard. William Gulafre, as he seems to have become known in England, had great estates in Suffolk in 1086 (Domesday) and gave tithes to Eye Abbey. William’s son, Roger Gulafre, was also of Suffolk in 1130 (Rot. Pip.), and Philip Gulafre held four fees in barony in the same county later in the twelfth century, as well as manors in Essex.

These names and details are confirmed, briefly, in other manuscript sources from the period, and the printed versions of the manorial records furnish us with more details, which I shall return to later. Although themselves French-Norman in origin, they seem to have married into both French and Breton noble families who also came to Suffolk during the Conquest.

Where there were markets, market-towns grew around them, but a growing central government now began to regulate this in order to ensure that there was a network of defensible towns, or burghs, with, wherever possible, gates, towers and solid stone walls, capable of withstanding any further incursions. In order to standardise administrative procedures throughout the newly-united country, kings and councillors needed local strongholds from which taxes could be collected securely and markets and trade properly overseen. Ipswich, Dunwich, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Thetford were the first centres which could be described as towns. Sudbury, whose importance was essentially military, was the smallest, with a population of only five hundred, while the ports of Dunwich and Ipswich could boast 3,000 and 1,300 respectively. Bury, with its revived monastic life, also had about three thousand souls, while Thetford, already an important monastic centre, had 5,000, about the same size as its population today. All of these were of sufficient importance to have royal mints established in them.

The Conquest and Construction: Castles and Churches

When looking for changes after 1066 we should therefore be very cautious about describing anything as Norman without qualification. This is even true when examining the most dramatic changes to the landscape that we identify with them in the form of castles, churches and cathedrals. Of course, castles were not invented by the Norman dukes. The dividing line between a communal fort, like a hill-fort, designed to protect the whole community, and a private house or castle, is not always easy to define. However, there does seem to be a difference between walled towns, like those of Roman Britain or Anglo-Saxon England, and private castles. The appearance of the latter, where powerful barons are able to surround themselves with walls and barricades, as much to terrify and subjugate the local population as to protect the inmates, is the clearest archaeological sign of the Norman Conquest.

022Nevertheless, there are certainly castles outside Normandy which were built as early as the tenth century. One of the best preserved is at Langeais in Anjou, built by the wicked Count Fulk the Black. A massive stone wall stands on a large mound, and the Norman ducal residences at Fécamp and Caen had stone walls around them and could also be seen as castles of a sort, though they are usually described as fortified palaces.The construction of large stone buildings, most notably abbeys, castles and churches was clearly a positive consequence of the Conquest. However, many of the castles were built long after the Conquest itself, albeit based on earlier simple motte-and-bailey constructions, by the twelfth-century Angevin kings of England, and by the Plantagenets in North Wales, not until well into the thirteenth century. Norman castle construction also began before the Conquest, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, who had a Norman mother and had lived in exile in Normandy for nearly twenty years during the reign of Cnut. At Goltho in Lincolnshire successive phases of the manor house, from Saxon to Norman, show an evolution in the defences which begin before 1066, not only in the re-modelling of stone buildings, but also in the re-building of ringworks, citcular banked and ditched enclosures. In addition, some of the towers built as part of fortified burghs, especially in ports, were developed into castles in the Norman period. However, where no stone-built walls existed, the priority for the conquerors was to gain control of their lands and to do so quickly, they needed to build their towers simply, in their hundreds, with earth mounds around them. Therefore, their keeps were timber constructions, inside the motte, the defended courtyard, or bailey, in which the soldiers and some of the forced labourers from the English or Welsh peasantry might live and gain a measure of protection from their new lord.

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At Hen Dome (Old Mound in Welsh), (pictured right) near Montgomery, on the Welsh border, there is a classic motte-and-bailey castle built by Roger of Montgomery, one of William’s henchmen. The castle controlled an important crossing over the River Severn, on the major trading route between England and Wales, and the Romans had built a fort here before. It wasn’t until the thirteenth century that a new castle was built some miles away, on the top of a rocky hill above Montgomery, providing a view across into Wales beyond Offa’s Dyke. Even then, however, the marcher lords would probably have continued to be as much at risk from the English across the river, or from other barons, as from the Welsh across the Dyke, so the old mound was kept on as an outpost for some time. The archaeologists excavating the site have found the remains of dozens of buildings, creating what must have been a claustrophobic huddle within the defences. With a wooden palisades running along the bank, only the lord, his family and the soldiers would have been able to see out, so that the serfs below and within the bailey would have felt as if they were prisoners, which some probably were. Castles had to be capable of resisting a siege for many days, even weeks and months, so they had to be self-sufficient, with living quarters for the lord, family and household, the garrison, craftsmen and serfs, as well as animals. They also had to contain food stores, workshops, a smithy, a bakery and a brewhouse. It must have been a crowded and unpleasant environment even when not besieged. Romantic pictures of life in a castle, with minstrels and troubadours, do not fit the finds from this small, tough, border outpost. Life at Hen Domen was probably not much different in the twelfth century from life lived in Celtic hill forts from before the Roman Conquest, and far less pleasant than the life of slaves within Roman forts, not to mention the legionaries and their families.

010Naturally, as soon as they could afford it, the wealthier Norman lords replaced timber towers with stone which often had to be brought some distance. Castle Hedingham in Essex (left) was one of the first stone keeps, built by Aubrey de Vere around 1140, using stone brought from Northamptonshire. The massive keep still stands on its mound, despite having taken twice by siege during the reign of King John. The second-floor main hall is spanned by what is said to be the largest Norman arch in Europe. The garrison would have lived below the hall, while the family and ladies would have occupied the top floor which, except in the event of fire, was the safest refuge. Two Norfolk castles were also built in the early Norman period, Castle Rising and Castle Acre. The former looks more like a defended hall, however, with ringed earthworks around it, and the latter, began as a two-storey stone hall before 1085, but was then converted into a keep. King William built in stone from the start, beginning with the White Tower in London, followed closely by Colchester Castle, built on the foundations of a Roman temple. They were both designed as fortified palaces, like the ducal residences in Normandy.

Castle building changed and adapted throughout the Medieval period in response to political and military changes. Every technological development in siege warfare was countered by changes in castle design until eventually artillery rendered them obsolete. Castles would have been built anyway in Britain, even without the Norman Conquest of England, probably, as in much of Europe, as a result of the Crusades, the first of which left Normandy in 1096. The concentric Crusader castles were to provide a blueprint for many of the later Medieval castles of Britain. However, the speed with which they were first built after 1066, and the sheer number of them, would not have happened without the imperative of military conquest. The Domesday Book records many town houses laid waste or destroyed because of the castle.

 

050In Winchester, part of the castle mound raised in 1067 lay on top of an earlier street. This street had been many times rebuilt, with stratified levels more than five feet thick showing its importance in the town’s road network. Winchester also provides us with the most dramatic example of the brutality with which ancient cathedrals and churches were pulled down and replaced. As with his castle, the Conqueror may have wanted to make a propaganda point by building an enormous, magnificent new cathedral in the ancient Royal capital of the West Saxons. The Old Minster was originally a modest building which had been extended westwards over the centuries, to a magnificent west end, built on continental models, with a throne in a raised gallery to enable the king to attend in comfort and style. The Normans had no time for this ancient, awkward building, as they saw it, so they replaced it with a cathedral of such scale that not only is it the longest in England, but that it is outclassed in Europe only by St Peter’s in Rome.

040Not only cathedrals, but also most major churches were rebuilt after 1066, and it is only largely by chance that rare examples of simple Saxon chapels remain, to be discovered centuries later, like at Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. All over England a most ambitious building programme began within a few years of the Conquest. Between 1070 and 1100 about thirty major churches were started, some to be finished early in the next century. This is an extraordinary achievement, when the extent of castle-building and the demands of military campaigns in England and Normandy, as well as to the Holy Land, are taken into account. The building programme must also involved considerable manpower, both skilled and unskilled. As well as the great cathedrals, many abbeys still survive, at least in part, despite the ferocity of the Henrican Dissolution. Durham, built 1092-1133, sits on a rocky peninsula in a bend of the River Wear, next to the castle, the fortress of the Prince-Bishops. When it was built it must have been a massively solid reminder of Norman domination over the once proudly-independent Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, the centre of Christian learning and mission in Britain. It has been described as the crowning achievement of Romanesque architecture in England. However, Peterborough and Ely seem closer to the churches of Normandy, built out of Barnack limestone, more similar to Caen stone, which was also shipped to England for some buildings. As well as at Caen itself, the churches at Bayeux, Rouen and Mont St Michel can be easily compared with the series of great churches on the other side of La Manche. Although massive, they also have a simple, straightforward style, with tall, round pillars, round arches and aisles. Some striking resemblance between Normandy and England would be strikingly suggested by this architecture even if there were no historical records.

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However, Romanesque architecture was not a Norman invention, but a style which was widespread throughout Europe. As its name suggests, it is descended from Roman architecture. Carolingian and Anglo-Saxon buildings could be described as belonging to the early stages of Romanesque architecture, but the name is usually associated with the great buildings of the Church, like the abbeys William and his wife Matilda built at Caen, or Durham Cathedral (right). The scale on which they built, and the size and magnificence of the churches, is new. The impact the Normans had on England derives from their organisation, efficiency and from the wealth they had at their disposal once they had conquered England.

Like the Danes, the Normans were attracted by the wealth of England, which was not a poor backward country, as we have seen in the case of Suffolk. It was far wealthier and more civilised than Normandy. England was famous for its embroideries and gold work, of which only a few tiny fragments remain today. From written accounts it is possible to piece together an impression of the lavishness of the metalwork, textiles, sculpture and manuscripts to be found in churches and monasteries, and probably in aristocratic homes as well.

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Anglo-Saxons seem to have preferred to work on a small-scale basis, producing delicate ivories and fragile gold embroidery. Their churches tended to be rather small, with complicated additions in the form of towers and twisting staircases, crypts and elaborate west fronts. They adapted older buildings, rather than knocking them down. These churches would have been elaborately decorated, with painted wall plaster, stained glass, gilded statues and elaborate wall hangings. Today, these can only be pieced together from remnants. The pieces of metal or ivory which we prize today as masterpieces of Anglo-Saxon art would probably have seemed insignificant to a contemporary. It was at the time of the Norman Conquest that many of these products of Anglo-Saxon culture went forever. Some treasures were taken away by the cartload to adorn family homes in Normandy. Of course, there had always been inter-cultural traffic across the Channel, but it had been two-way. Charlemagne had recruited scholars from English monasteries and refugees, including most famously, St Dunstan, the Wessex royal family in the time of Cnut, and Edward the Confessor. At those levels of society, the Norman aristocratic takeover may well have benefited Britain’s contacts with the mainstream of European culture, more by accident than design, but it is more likely that, at lower levels of English society, Anglo-Saxon culture was set back for generations, if not for longer.

034Some of the smaller churches were also partly or entirely rebuilt, in addition to many new ones being founded. Melbourne in Derbyshire, Christchurch Priory in Dorset, and Iffley in Oxfordshire are all good examples. Saxon doorways and window arches sometimes survive in these when all else has gone, although not always in their original position, and often alongside more elaborate Norman doorways whose sculpture is reminiscent of Norse styles. It seems obvious that this tremendous outburst of building was kick-started by the military conquest, but not all the physical evidence suggests that the architectural similarities between the two sides of the Channel were brought about by a complete and violent conquest of one side by the other. The very fact that the last ruling member of the Royal House of Wessex, Edward the Confessor, was half-Norman, and that it was he who built the most treasured of England’s ecclesiastical jewels, Westminster Abbey, completed just in time for his funeral, is a reminder that a revolution in building in stone was already underway before the Conquest. Although much of the original Abbey was pulled down and replaced in the thirteenth century, we can still get an idea of its appearance from the Bayeux tapestry. It seems very much like some of the Abbeys of Normandy which Edward would have seen during his twenty-year exile there. The building of the Abbey may very well have been supervised by Norman architects, part of the rebuilding of church architecture which had begun in the late tenth century, after the Viking raids, and had continued unbroken under Cnut.

Norman building was marked not only by the scale of the resources involved, but also by a total disregard for burial places of Celtic and Saxon saints, and royal tombs. Therefore, this phase of church building did represent a break with tradition. Without the Conquest, there would undoubtedly have been many more attempts to retain older features within the new, even in the cathedrals. Celtic and Saxon styles, combining modesty in scale with attention to detail in paintings, statues and ornaments, would not have given way so quickly to the massive austerity and brutal simplicity of Norman-Romanesque. The continuous and intertwining curved lines would not have so easily replaced by carefully crafted archways, rectangles and triangles.

 

British and Continental Contexts

 

037003The castles and cathedrals of twelfth-century England would alone suggest a picture of violent fracture and sudden discontinuity. That might just have happened for internal reasons, due to the return of a new, more vigorous Wessex dynasty, refounded by Edward the Exile, son of Edmund Ironside, had he not died suddenly (probably murdered) on his return to England. After all, he and his family had watched at close quarters the attempts, sometimes very violent, of King Stephen and King Andrew of Hungary to establish the Catholic Church in Hungary with the help of German knights from the Holy Roman Empire. Stephen pledged to build a church in every other settlement in his country, and many Romanesque religious buildings and some Gothic constructions began to scatter the landscape during his reign. It was also during his reign, and that of Cnut, that the Wessex Royal Family found refuge in Hungary by way of Kiev, first of all at Court, where Edward the Exile married Agatha, the daughter of Stephen and his German wife Gizella, then settling in Mecseknádasd in southern Transdanubia, where Margaret (later Queen of Scotland) was born, along with Cristina and Edgar the Aetheling (proclaimed, but uncrowned, King of England).

Not for nothing was Stephen’s successor known as Andrew the Catholic, a title which denotes both a crusading zeal and the opposition to the new faith. By the end of the eleventh century, Hungary had already become strategically important, not just as marking the boundary of Papal authority, but also in providing a safe route for the crusading knights to Constantinople and beyond.

StMargareth edinburgh castle2.jpgEven in the eleventh century, with the threats from paganism and the rise of Islam to the east of Byzantium, Christendom needed rejuvenation, and it is no surprise, therefore, that William received the papal blessing for his invasion of Britain, long viewed by Rome as a somewhat wayward, untrustworthy and vulnerable child on the western fringe of Europe. Schisms in the Roman rite itself began to emerge and Edward the Confessor asserted his Englishness over his Norman connections by appointing a rebel East Anglian bishop, Stigand, as Archbishop of Canterbury, sending his Norman predecessor into exile across the Channel. This was one of the causes for the Papacy turning a dynastic quarrel into a crusade and a Conquest. A new form of muscular Christianity was required to secure the future of western Christendom from the Danube to the Severn and around the Mediterranean. Although unsuccessful in his bid to restore his family to the throne of England, the ill-fated return from exile Edward of Wessex inadvertently led to the civilisation of Scotland through the marriage of his daughter Margaret to Malcolm III (Canmore). Margaret worked tirelessly to bring the practices of the Scottish church into line with the Catholic Church she had grown up in, in Hungary. The marriage led on to the founding of a dynasty of righteous, Pope-fearing Scottish kings, who, following their mother’s example of pious devotion, built many churches and monasteries.

Left: Image of Saint Margaret in a window at St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh

Right: Malcolm greeting Margaret on her arrival in Scotland. Detail from a mural by the Victorian artist William Hole

025Margaret and Malcolm’s daughter, Edith (christened Matilda), also became Henry I of England’s Queen Consort in 1100, and their daughter, also Matilda, became Holy Roman Empress. Her brother, William Adelin, heir to the English throne, was killed in The White Ship disaster of 1120 leading to the anarchy and a civil war of succession between her cousin Stephen and herself. Remarried to Geoffrey of Anjou following the death of the Emperor Henry V, Henry I’s decision to name her as his successor was unpopular with the Norman barons at court as well as with the London crowds who would not allow her coronation after Henry’s death in 1135. However, her eldest son was eventually crowned Henry II in 1154. Matilda lived out the rest of her life until her death in 1167 at Rouen in Normandy, working with the church to found Cistercian monasteries, including the one at Mortemer in Normandy. She advised her son and sought to mediate in the Becket controversy. Scotland remained unconquered by the Norman kings, Wales until 1284, but both countries still saw much religious building, so we can calculate that the spate of building of this type in England, given its far greater urban populations, would have proceeded at a rapid rate in any case, and was not the result of military conquest. The destruction of great Saxon minsters was.

The Fabric of Everyday Life

 

Castles and cathedrals are, however, only half the story, and we still need to see what the landscape and archaeological evidence tells us about the fate of ordinary Anglo-Saxons, and what effect the invasion had on the fabric of everyday life. In the north of England, many villages do seem to have been entirely replanned, or created for the first time, during the twelfth century. It might be that earlier settlements had been destroyed either by Danes or Normans, or that new lords might have wanted a tidy nucleated village, with the stone church and manor house at the centre, in place of earlier displaced farms and hamlets. Certainly, some quite drastic reorganisation took place in an attempt to impose, or re-impose, feudal discipline.   However, in East Anglia, there is a discernible continuity in the archaeological record. Pottery was still being made in some quantity, with kilns in several eastern towns, such as Thetford, Norwich and Ipswich, making the hard grey sandy pottery known as Thetford ware. There were also other types of pottery, some more elegant, from different parts of England, some still hand-made. Taken together, this pottery is known as Saxo-Norman ware and dates from the mid-tenth to the mid-twelfth centuries. It spans the Conquest neatly with no discernible break in style, production or distribution. According to this important indicator, the Norman Conquest does not result in a dislocation of trade and industry.

015 015 (2) 014Another important source of archaeological information is coinage. Edward the Confessor’s coins were thin silver pennies, struck at more than sixty mints, with the bust of the king on one side, together with his name and title, and the name of the mint and the moneyer on the other. The design was changed at regular intervals and people had to bring in their old coins to be exchanged for new. Although a complicated system, it seemed to work well. When Harold became king, he ordered a new coinage in his own name, and William did the same. Ironically, perhaps, his bust looked rather similar to Harold’s, and the names of the moneyers stayed the same. The coins and the system of minting stayed the same under all three kings, through all the upheavals of 1066. Coins, like pottery, are Saxo-Norman, without either a stylistic or organisational break, in the mid-eleventh century. Even as late as the reign of Henry I, the majority of moneyers still have Anglo-Saxon names.

Styles of dress and ornament didn’t change much either, apart from the short haircuts favoured by Normans, who thought the Saxons effete, with their longer hair. As throughout the later Saxon and early medieval periods in general, no great quantity of small metal artefacts has been found. The strap-ends and brooches of the eleventh to twelfth centuries are not sufficiently numerous for any real argument to be based upon them.

027Similarly, while the tenants-in-chief and larger landowners may have lived in castles and fortified manor houses, as far as we can tell the freemen, ordinary peasants and townsfolk went on living in the same houses they had lived in before, if they had been left any house at all by their new lords. Changes in village houses came much later, from the thirteenth century onwards, when more solid buildings with stone walls and foundations began to replace the more fragile timber-framed, wattle-and-daub cottages. In towns, stone-built houses do appear in the twelfth century and a few of these survive, like Moyses Hall in Bury St Edmunds. Their association with Jewish traders and financiers reveals that only wealthier people could afford to build in stone, or had the need to protect that wealth with stone walls. There may, in any case, have been stone buildings in mercantile towns like Norwich and Northampton before the Conquest. Neither did town boundaries change much, and some have endured, as at York or Durham, over more than ten centuries to the present day, as have the layouts of streets, houses and plots within them. Within the towns the building and re-building of castles, monasteries and churches certainly caused much destruction and dislocation, but otherwise the pattern of streets and properties remained much as they had been before the Conquest. In York, the Norman cathedral was built, according to correct liturgical orientation, out of alignment with the underlying Roman streets, necessitating a great bend in the road around the minster, but the rest of the streets were left unaltered.

021Outside the towns and cities, in order to discover the impact of the Conquest on the land itself, we need to turn to the local historical record, which confirms our sense of continuity as opposed to change. In Suffolk, the newcomers seem to have had little trouble with the people; the freemen and peasants of the county resigned themselves without a struggle to the exchange of a Danish conqueror for a Norman one. King William parcelled out his new domain to tenants-in-chief who, in turn, sub-let to others in return for payments in service or kind. Every substantial landowner built his own defensive stronghold. The men of Suffolk knew how futile it was to rise against the Normans; They knew how strong the new castles were – they had, after all, built them themselves under the watchful eyes of Norman overseers. Some of these motte and bailey castles disappeared, but many others metamorphosed to meet new demands and changed circumstances. In Clare, for example, Richard FitzGibert was given control of 170 manors in Essex and Suffolk, and FitzGibert built his castle in the angle formed by the confluence of the Stour and the Chilton. He used the massive hundred-foot high motte of a Saxon earthwork, surmounting it by two baileys, each fenced and moated. Another moat and curtain wall encircled the base of the motte. It was a strong, defensive position, but did not satisfy the twelfth-century owners who replaced the wooden tower with a stone keep and reinforced the curtain wall with four towers. The wall was pierced by elaborate gateways. By the late thirteenth century the need was more for a prestigious residence than a fortress. The keep spawned a variety of domestic offices and other buildings; stables, a malthouse, servants’ quarters, storehouses, kitchens and a chapel. Gardens, pools and a vineyard were laid out and in the fourteenth century accommodation for huntsmen and their dogs was built in the outer bailey.

Specialist Sources:

Derek Wilson (1977), A Short History of Suffolk. London: Batsford

Catherine Hills (1986), Blood of the British. London: Guild Publishing.

William Anderson (1983), Holy Places of the British Isles. London: Ebury Press.

 

Truck Convoy Returns Swiftly to Russia from Ukraine   Leave a comment

Originally posted on TIME:

A large Russian truck convoy that raised alarms in the West for driving into war-torn eastern Ukraine despite opposition in Kiev returned to Russia Saturday.

After the convoy delivered supplies of what Ukrainian border officials said was buckwheat, rice, sugar, water and medical supplies to the city of Luhansk, the column turned back across the border into Russia, the New York Times reports. However, the contents of some of the trucks went unchecked, and some in the Ukrainian government and the West believe they could have been used to deliver military gear to pro-Russia Ukrainian separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Officials in the West and in Ukraine’s government sharply protested the Kremlin’s decision to send the truck convoy into Ukraine without an escort by the International Committee of the Red Cross and over the objections of the Ukrainian government in Kiev. NATO’s Secretary General, meanwhile, said the…

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Posted August 24, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

A balancing act: a decoration for Imre Kertész and another for his right-wing foe   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Hungarian Spectrum:

The debate about Imre Kertész’s acceptance of the Order of St. Stephen is slowly subsiding. There were important voices on the left, Ágnes Heller and Tamás Ungvári among them, who decided that since Imre Kertész is a great writer and the only Hungarian Nobel Prize winner in literature he richly deserves the highest decoration that can be awarded by any Hungarian government. In this view, it really doesn’t matter that between 1940 and 1944 several war criminals received the Order of St. Stephen.

Others who are  less forgiving  hope that Imre Kertész, given his illness and possible mental impairment, simply didn’t realize that this award was the Orbán government’s cynical answer to the unsavory reputation it acquired as the leading force in the falsification of the history of the Hungarian Holocaust. Honoring Kertész was conceived as a way to blunt the sharp clash between the Hungarian government and the domestic and international Jewish communities.

erdemrendBut trying…

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Posted August 23, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

It couldn’t have happened on a nicer day… 23 August, last century.   1 comment

The Battle of Mons and the Massacre at Dinant, Sunday 23 August 1914

In their first major battle, the BEF faced the Germans at Mons. The advancing Germans were unaware of either the strength or position of the British and were unable to press home their numerical advantage. The experienced and well-trained British fought a strong defence but had to withdraw; a French withdrawal on their right flank had left them exposed.

At first the Germans thought they were facing machine guns, so rapid was the rifle fire they faced. The British soldiers’ ability to sustain rapid fire resulted in many casualties. A British NCO said later that the worst marksman could not miss, as he had only to fire into the masses of the unfortunate enemy. It was all so easy.

The first Victoria Cross (VC) medal of the war to be awarded to a private soldier went to Sidney Godley of the Royal Fusiliers, City of London Regiment. He was severely injured while operating a machine gun to help slow the German advance. At the last moment he threw the weapon into the water to prevent it falling into German hands. Godley’s officer, Lieutenant Maurice Dease, who commanded the machine-gun position, was fatally injured and succumbed to his wounds at the scene. He was also, posthumously, awarded the VC. Godley was taken prisoner and survived the war.

British troops walked 175 miles in the two-week-long fighting retreat from Mons, in the blazing hot summer. The soldiers experienced shortages of water and food and were near to exhaustion; three hours’ sleep in a 24-hour period was common. At times they were so exhausted they preferred to turn and fight.

On that same Sunday morning, in the Belgian town of Dinant, German soldiers forced worshippers out of their church. They were lined up and over six hundred men, women and children were shot dead. The Germans claimed they were rooting out resistance fighters. At Louvain, the university library was set on fire. German atrocities, both real and fictitious, were used heavily in Allied propaganda, but 6,427 Belgian and French civilians were killed by invading German troops.

On 23 August, 1944, Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, met with his advisors at the Royal Palace in Buda to consider the news of Romania’s defection from the Axis powers.

Domokos Szent-Iványi, a diplomat working inside the Regency Bureau, recalled that throughout that summer,

… ‘the Jewish Question’ had again become one of the most burning issues between Hungary and Germany, and Horthy again concentrated on the problem of replacing Sztójay, who proved insufficiently resistant to German demands. The final decision came when the news of Romania’s defection from the Axis became known in Budapest on 23 August… Believing as he did – and now more firmly than ever- that Germany’s defeat was inevitable and  near at hand, Horthy rejected the idea of fighting on through thick and thin.  But neither could he make up his mind to proclaim Hungary’s immediate surrender.  Considerations of these categories held him back. Firstly, a moral scruple. He could not regard it as consistent with Hungary’s honour … to desert an ally – even a hated one – without warning.; ‘a  fortiori’  suddenly to turn against him. Secondly, the practical difficulties… to proclaim immediate surrender would be ‘a leap in the dark’ … more likely a jump down a visible precipice. He did not doubt that Miklós would obey his orders, and the First Army those of Miklós. But the First Army was still outside the frontiers and the German troops inside the country still numerically stronger than the Hungarian. Moreover, the civilian Government was still of Sztójay; and he could hardly hope to carry through a surrender policy until he had a Minister President who would obey his orders.

But the overriding consideration was, no doubt, his still unconquered repugnance to the idea of throwing Hungary’s frontiers open to the Russian Army alone. His belief was unshaken that Hungary’s true salvation lay in Kallay‘s policy of holding out defensively in the east and opening the frontiers to the west; and he had not yet abandoned hope that this might be achieved.


Dőme Sztójay (1883 – 1946) was Hungary’s Envoy in Berlin from 1936 to 1944 and was appointed Prime Minister by Horthy after Hitler’s decision to occupy Hungary, from 19 March to 29 August 1944, when he resigned under pressure from Horthy. He was the PM in charge of the mass deportation of the Hungarian Jews during these months, working directly with the German occupying envoys and officers, including Adolf Eichmann, and disobeying Horthy’s orders to cease the transports in July. The Szálasi cabinet, which came to power in October 1944,  promoted him to the rank of retired Colonel General. He was found guilty of war crimes by the Hungarian People’s Tribunal in 1946, condemned to death and executed.

Col. Gen. Miklós took over the post of Commander of the First Army on 6 August 1944, supported by the Regent. The First Army had reached the Carpathians in July and was well-established along the Hunyadi Line, outside Hungary’s borders, by the time he took command. 

Miklós Kállay (1887 – 1967) was Prime Minister of Hungary between 1942 and 1944. Although publicly supporting the Axis alliance, his ultimate goal was to break with Germany and seek an armistice with the western allies, whilst continuing to fight the Russians in the east. Hitler considered him as his main enemy by March 1944 and the occupation of 19 March led to his capture and deportation to Mauthausen. After his liberation he settled in the US and wrote his memoirs in English, publishing them in New York in 1954.

Twenty-five Years Ago: 23 August 1989: People Power breaks through…

The way 1989 began did not bode well for the proponents of reform socialism or nationalist change. At a demonstration in Prague, eight hundred protesters were arrested – including Václav Havel – for inciting protest against the government. In Georgia and throughout the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia there were demonstrations and rumblings of protest against Soviet rule.

However, seeds of radical change were being planted in other parts of the Soviet ‘Empire’. In Hungary, in early January, the parliament voted to allow freedom of association and assembly. It permitted the establishment of political parties, opening the way for multiparty elections, scheduled for the following year. In May, in a symbolic gesture, Hungarian soldiers began to pull down the countries barbed-wire border fences with Austria, opening the first chink in the iron curtain. When an anxious East German foreign minister telephoned his ‘opposite number’ in Hungary to enquire as to what on earth was going on, he was assured by Gyula Horn that the sections of the fence needed repairing and would soon be replaced to do an even more effective job in preventing East Germans holidaying in Hungary that summer from escaping to the west! Then came Beijing, and the crushing of the protests in the bloody massacre at Tiananmen Square at the beginning of June. Following Solidarity‘s victory in the Polish elections later that month, President George Bush paid visits to Poland and Hungary, praising their first steps towards democracy in front of large crowds. In Budapest, he was genuinely moved when he presented with strands of barbed wire torn down from the fence with Austria.

During August, Poland reached crisis point: the Communists were negotiating with Solidarity about their membership in the new coalition government. At the peak of the crisis, on the evening of 22 August, the secretary-general of the Polish Communist Party , Mieczyslaw Rakowski, telephoned Gorbachev to ask his advice. They talked for forty minutes, Rakowski explaining how deeply divided the Polish communists were. Gorbachev told him bluntly, the time has come to yield power and that they should join a coalition government as part of a process of national reconciliation. Two days later the Solidarity leader, Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected prime minister of a new Solidarity-led coaltion. The unthinkable had happened, the Communists had given up power with Soviet encouragement. It was later acknowledged that it was during Rakowski’s call to Gorbahev that the Rubicon was crossed.

Only hours after that phone-call between Warsaw and Moscow, on 23 August, Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Horn spent a sleepless night worrying about the changes going on around him. The dismantling of the border fence in May was of only symbolic importance in Hungary itself, since Hungarians already had the right to go West, if they could afford it and had a sponsor there.  But thousands of East Germans, far more than the usual holiday-makers at Lake Balaton, had been making their way into Hungary to escape from their own unpopular regime. The Hungarians had signed a treaty in 1968 not to allow East Germans to leave for the West through their territory. Now Horn sounded out Moscow for its likely reaction if Hungary abandoned this undertaking. The Soviets did not, and would not object, he was told. So Horn resolved to open the border for the East Germans. He later said that it was quite obvious to me that this would be the first step in a landslide-like series of events. On 10 September, despite strenuous objections and even thinly-veiled threats of invasion from the East German government, the border to Austria was opened for the East Germans, and within three days of that, thirteen thousand of them, mostly couples with young children, had indeed gone West.

Like the cutting of the barbed wire in May, the Pan-European Picnic, held at the border on the 22nd, played only a small, symbolic part both in the Downfall of the Wall and in the transition to democracy in Hungary.

Posted August 23, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

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