God’s Englishmen: Midland and East Anglian Gentry in the English Revolution, 1619-89: Part One.   Leave a comment

God’s Englishmen: Midland and East Anglian Gentry in the English Revolution, 1619-89: Part One..

Posted September 19, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

God’s Englishmen: Midland and East Anglian Gentry in the English Revolution, 1619-89: Part One.   Leave a comment

God’s Englishmen: Midland and East Anglian Gentry in the English Revolution, 1619-89

In the middle years of the seventeenth century, England’s heritage and history became potent political forces as the spokesmen on both sides before and during the Civil Wars drew on the various interpretations of the past furnished by antiquarians and legal historians.

004Poets and writers began to make inner journeys, or pilgrimages, to find a more primitive form of their faith. My mind to me a kingdom is, wrote Sir Edward Dyer: the means of escape from political and religious strife through the cultivation of the inner life, which often found its expression through the art of poetry. It is due to their poetry that the places where these poets lived have gained their special associations: George Herbert at Bemerton outside Salisbury; Thomas Traherne reliving his childhood visions in great verse and prose at Hereford and Teddington. The place which contains in its seclusion much of the spirit of this inward-seeking urge is Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire, where still stands the church associated with the Protestant nunnery, the community centred on his family set up by Nicholas Ferrar in 1625 and which survived for twenty years after Ferrar’s death in 1637 in spite of its despoilment by Parliamentarian soldiers in revenge for the family giving shelter to the fugitive Charles I. Nicholas Ferrar’s tomb still stands outside the church, and the furnishings within it are much the same as they were in the days of the community. T S Eliot gave its name a wider currency in his Four Quartets, as a place where the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Little Gidding is a shrine of the Anglican tradition, but there are also many places connected with the tradition and era of protestant dissent. The most atmospheric of these are the old Baptist and Congregationalist chapels and the Quaker meeting-houses, such as the one at Jordans in Buckinghamshire. It stands amongst orchards close to a barn said to be built from the timbers of the Mayflower in which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed. It was built towards the end of the era, in 1688, by William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, who lies in the graveyard outside. It is a simple building with transomed leaded windows, the interior singing with silence and peace, following more than half a century of religious warfare.

However, these conflicts were not simply about religion and culture, but also about politics and economics. The County of Suffolk had faced a number of economic disasters throughout Elizabethan and Jacobean times, some of them caused by natural events over which its people had no control. Its ports were silted up and closed by the effects of coastal erosion, or blockaded and attacked by Flemish pirates. Despite frequent pleas, the government refused to help build adequate sea defences, or to deal with the privateers in the North Sea. The last major disaster to strike the Suffolk coast was the rapid decline of the shipbuilding industry. Until about 1638, fine ships were built at Ipswich and other Suffolk yards, like Woodbridge. However, by that time not only was timber becoming scarce and expensive, but the London dockyards were growing, so that Henry Johnson, an Aldeburgh shipbuilder, left his own declining port to found the Blackwall Yard on the Thames. The venture made him a fortune and encouraged those with a similar spirit of adventure and enterprise, but it also served to herald the end of the Suffolk shipbuilding industry.

What had angered and alienated the men of the East Anglian coast was that, while the government had done virtually nothing to help them through their difficulties, it had frequently demanded, since the time of the Spanish Armada, contributions of men, money and ships towards royal naval expeditions and towards the defence of the realm when disastrous Stuart policies plunged it into senseless war. The justices had reported to the Privy Council on many occasions that the levies could not be met, and ports petitioned unsuccessfully for payment for ships donated to the national cause.

002After 1619 this local ill feeling centred on one man, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, royal favourite, Lord High Admiral and virtual ruler of England. He epitomised for many provincial Englishmen exactly what was wrong with their country, the growing gulf between the Court and the Country, which was threatening to engulf it. Many men had cause to hate this smooth, handsome, incompetent courtier on whom both James and his son doted, but none more so than John Felton of Pentlow, near Sudbury. A soldier who had lost his left hand in serving his country, his repeated pleas for promotion were ignored. At last he obtained an interview with the great lord and explained that without a commission he could not make a living. To this, Buckingham responded, if you cannot live you will have to hang. Felton decided that, if he had to hang, he may as well take out his revenge on Buckingham in order to do so. In August 1628 he went to Buckingham’s rooms in Portsmouth armed with a cheap knife and struck the Duke down, in front of his admirers and petitioners. Felton rapidly became a national hero and went to the gallows as a martyr for his over-burdened fellow-countrymen.

Buckingham’s assassination, along with the issue of ship money and the arrest of the five members of the House of Commons is often listed by historians as one of the key events setting England on course for its Great Rebellion, as it was described by the Earl of Clarendon in his memoirs, published in three volumes from 1702. In his History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars, Clarendon shows how Charles I’s public reaction to the murder affected his relationship with his Court:

The Duke was murdered while supervising the fitting-out of the fleet at Portsmouth. The Court was too near Portsmouth, and too many courtiers upon the place, to leave this murder (so wonderful in the nature and circumstances, the like whereof had not been known in England in many ages) long concealed from the king. His majesty was at the public prayers in the church, when Sir John Hippesley came into the room, with a troubled countenance, and, without any pause in respect of the exercise they were performing, went directly to the king, and whispered in his ear what had fallen out. His majesty continued unmoved, and without the least change in his countenance, till prayers were ended; when he suddenly departed to his chamber, and threw himself upon his bed, lamenting with much passion, and with abundance of tears, the loss he had of an excellent servant, and the horrid manner in which he had been deprived of him; and he continued in this melancholic and discomposure of mind many days.

Yet the manner of his receiving the news in public, when it was first brought to him in the presence of so many (who knew or saw nothing of the passion he expressed upon his retreat), made many men to believe that the accident was not very ungrateful; at least, that it was very indifferent to him; as being rid of a servant very ungracious to the people, and the prejudice to whose person exceedingly obstructed all overtures made in parliament for his service.

And, upon this observation, persons of all conditions took great license in speaking of the person of the duke, and dissecting all his infirmities, believing they should not thereby incur any displeasure of the king. In which they took very ill measures; for from that time almost to the time of his own death, the king admitted very few into any degree of trust, who had ever discovered themselves to be enemies to the duke, or against whom he had ever manifested a notable prejudice. And sure never any prince manifested a more lively regret for the loss of a servant, than his majesty did for this great man…

In this passage, Clarendon shows how the murder of Buckingham, together with Charles I’s very different public and private reactions to it, were a symptom rather than a cause of the wider discontent both within and between Court and Country. At the heart of the matter in Suffolk was the Stuart attack on the religion espoused by the leading members of the community. Puritanism was powerful in Suffolk because it was an expression of many of the qualities shared by Suffolk men and women; fierce independence, simplicity, dislike of fripperies and pomp, appreciation of the business virtues of common sense and honesty, mistrust of mysticism. In 1604 new canon laws were issued which enforced the use of the existing Prayer Book with all rituals and ceremonies involved in it. Armed with these, militant bishops carried out sporadic attacks on Puritan clergy. Some of these clergy resigned their livings in order to be appointed to lectureships by powerful patrons. Others conformed outwardly but continued to preach Calvinistic doctrines. Persecution only increased their influence and their independence.

Some formidable men occupied Suffolk pulpits in those days. Their figurehead was Samuel Ward, town preacher of Ipswich from 1603 to 1635. Forthright yet wise, Ward was widely respected and his sermons at St Mary le Tower (see photos) attracted large congregations. He was also a familiar figure in Cambridge and London pulpits. Ward was a gifted artist and his political caricatures won him many admirers and not a few enemies. He even spent a few days in prison for lampooning Spanish dignitaries. He published several tracts and sermons, which similarly offended the establishment. In 1623 the King wrote personally to the Ipswich Corporation asking for Ward’s suspension from office, a request that the city fathers politely declined.

Another of Suffolk’s famous puritans was lord of the manor of Groton, John Winthrop, descended from a long line of Lavenham clothiers, and a practising lawyer. His conscience would not allow him to enjoy his patrimonial estates, and in June 1628 he met with other like-minded fellows in Cambridge, and they decided to follow the example of the Pilgrim Fathers. Winthrop was elected their leader and, less than two years later, he led a fleet of emigrés out of Southampton. They founded the colony of Massachusetts of which Winthrop was the fist Governor.

003However, many more puritans were determined to stay put in England, and it was William Laud’s appointment first as Charles I’s controller of ecclesiastic affairs and then as Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1633, that precipitated the religious and constitutional crisis which turned into the civil wars in both kingdoms, Scotland and England. He was determined to enforce conformity by every possible means, even using paid informers, as well as muzzling the press and prosecuting Puritan clergy in the courts. His treatment of the puritan propagandist Alexander Leighton in 1630 appalled the whole nation. Convicted in Star Chamber, Leighton was fined ten thousand pounds, and was sentenced to have both ears cut off, both nostrils slit and his face branded, then to be whipped, pilloried and imprisoned for life.

Given the cruel and vindictive nature of Laud’s persecution of the puritans, it is hardly surprising that so many of them planned to emigrate to America. Led by Dr Dalton of Woolverstone, a further group of would-be pilgrims sought the advice of their patriarch, Samuel Ward, who saw no dishonour in the younger members fleeing persecution to set up a holy commonwealth in the New World but that those too old for such adventures should remain to resist their tormentors. In 1633, six hundred Suffolk men and women sailed from Ipswich and settled in Massachusetts in a place they named after their hometown. Two years later, Samuel Ward had his prophecy fulfilled when he was finally dismissed from office and imprisoned. After his release, he fled to Holland for a time, but returned to die in Ipswich and to be buried in the church he had so faithfully served. His memorial is a fitting, if strangely worded, testimony to so determined a Christian witness:

Watch Ward! Yet a little while,

And He that shall come will come.

These were indeed years of crisis in which Suffolk people needed to be watchful, and they bred an even more radical form of Puritanism; millenarianism, the belief that the second coming of Christ was imminent. There were signs all around as the 1640s began. Ruined by decades of economic distress and royal taxation, Suffolkers were unable to meet the unremitting demands of the Stuart government. The Sheriff, Sir Symonds D’Ewes, was required to collect eight thousand pounds in ship money, but succeeded in collecting only two hundred. In the same year,

1640, six hundred soldiers, levied at Bungay for the Scottish war, mutinied and besieged their deputy-lieutenants in one of the town inns. In Ipswich a set of the new canon laws was nailed to the pillory and sixteen thousand poor people assembled for a march on London to petition Parliament for the redress of grievances. The following year, the County’s royal commissioners, Sir Lionel Tollemarche and Sir Thomas Jermyn, did not even attempt to muster the County militia.

As soon as the breach between King and Parliament opened up, Suffolk was secured for the latter. The Parliamentary forces took charge of the powder magazine at Bury and the Landguard fort at Ipswich. Where necessary, officials were appointed whose loyalty to Parliament was assured. In December 1642 the Eastern Association was formed by a parliamentary ordinance, a union of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, for mutual defence and the provision of men and money for the war effort. Through it, East Anglia became the power-base of the Roundhead cause, effectively closing the east coast to Royalist sympathisers. There were some Cavaliers in the county, but they were mostly isolated and powerless to help King Charles. A few of them made a half-hearted attempt to hold onto Lowestoft in March 1643, but they were soon overpowered.

The ordinance that created the Eastern Association created a number of regional associations of counties, but these were generally ineffective. The Eastern Association, however, more than fulfilled its objectives. The Association was first placed under the command of Lord Grey of Warke. He was relieved of command in mid-July 1643, for failing to prosecute the war with sufficient vigour, and was replaced by Edward Montague, Earl of Manchester. This was a time of major setbacks for the parliamentarian cause, with the defeat of the Earl of Essex’s army and the loss of Bristol. The strengthening and reorganisation of the Eastern Association was desperately needed.

In autumn 1642, John Pickering was already working on military matters in Cambridgeshire. Pickering was born into a puritan family of Northamptonshire gentry in 1615. The second son to John Pickering (III) of Titchmarsh, he fitted the poet John Milton’s description of the typical Independent gentlemen very well:

Men of better conditions of life, of families not disgraced if not ennobled, of fortunes either ample or moderate… prepared, not only to debate, but to fight; not only to argue in the senate, but to engage the enemy in the field.

He had matriculated as a Commoner of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge in 1631, a puritan institution whose fellows included John Arrowsmith, William Strong, Thomas Goodwin, who later became chaplain to the Council of State and a favourite of Oliver Cromwell, and John Knowles, who emigrated to New England but returned to England in 1651, when it was reckoned that no less than forty-seven of his former pupils were either Members of Parliament or of the Assembly of Divines. John’s intense puritan views can be clearly seen from his obituary which says that instead of drinking, swearing, roaring, carding dicing and drabbing, he spent that little time he had to spare in the study of the scriptures… He followed his brother Gilbert to Gray’s Inn in London in October 1634, to train as a lawyer. This Inn of Court was the most popular with families from the Midlands and East Anglia. Of those that went on, like Gilbert Pickering, to become MPs, twice as many supported Parliament as did the King. However, as second son, John was left very little land by his father, just a few closes in Titchmarsh, Molesworth and Bythorn. He therefore had no alternative but to seek a profession.

By December 1641, during the Scottish war, he had taken up work for Parliament, engaged in diplomatic work, carrying messages to its committee in Scotland. As Sprigge recorded following Pickering’s death, he had done the kingdome great service, by riding between England and Scotland before these troubles. In 1642, as civil war in England loomed over events, he was working for the Lords. He was dispatched to apprehend the keeper of the Royal Seal, who had secretly escaped from London to take the seal to the King. In October, he was sent by the Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire on a two-week reconnaissance of the enemy’s advance. Between November 1642 and February 1643 John continued to work for Parliament in Scotland, passing on details of events in the Scottish Privy Council. This was during the early stages of the negotiations that led to the Scots’ forces intervention into the war on the side of the English Parliament.

John was undoubtedly well-known to the Earl of Manchester through his brother Gilbert’s marriage into the Montague family. Like John, Manchester had been educated at Cambridge, and may have been instrumental in John’s employment in the service of Parliament. If this were the case, it is therefore hardly surprising that John was appointed, in August 1643, as Comissary General of the Musters for the Eastern Association. The Muster Master received orders, made a general muster list of the whole army before it marched, making reviews when required, and keeping a record of alterations between each muster, including those killed, sick, run away or discharged. In this post Pickering was involved in the setting up of the twenty Eastern Association regiments required under the parliamentary ordinance of 1643. This work carried on throughout the following autumn and winter and until the end of April, 1644.

On the 13th August 1643, the important East Anglian port of King’s Lynn declared against Parliament, in anticipation of the advance of the Earl of Newcastle’s royalist army into Norfolk. The newly raised Association forces were rushed north to lay siege to the town. After some weeks Manchester offered the port the opportunity to surrender, before they launched their final assault. John Pickering was one of eight commanders who met with their royalist counterparts, at Gaywood, several miles to the east, to negotiate the treaty of surrender. The debate went on for twenty-four hours, but was successfully concluded, and the surrender took place on 15th September. The following autumn, Manchester’s forces went on to defeat the royalist forces, still advancing from the north, at Winceby in Lincolnshire. At some time following the siege of King’s Lynn, late in 1643 or early 1644, Pickering received a commission as Colonel of a regiment of dragoons, possibly the one that his brother, Sir Gilbert Pickering, had raised. Dragoons rode to battle, but fought on foot with matchlock muskets and pistols. By January 1644 he was recorded as Colonel Pickering, when he carried a message for the Earl of Manchester to the House of Lords.

Pickering’s dragoons were an Eastern Association regiment, perhaps from Essex where most of The Eastern Association’s dragoons were raised. His transfer to the command of a regiment may have been through the influence of Oliver Cromwell, whose strategy for the development of the Association army was to recruit and promote dedicated men with strong puritan beliefs who were dedicated to the defeat of the King. Cromwell was already challenging the Earl of Manchester over both military and religious matters. It was through the commissioning of men like Pickering that he hoped to strengthen his position both in parliament and the army.

Pickering saw his first action as commander in March 1644, at the storming of Hillesden House, the fortified manor of Sir Alexander Denton, a royalist garrison. The royalists had advanced with the fortifying of Newport Pagnall in October 1643, posing a dual threat to London and the Eastern Association. The London Trained Bands, under Major General Skippon, were sent to retrieve the situation. Supported by local forces, they recovered Newport, and followed this up by successfully storming the royalist garrison at Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire. The royalists then abandoned their nearby garrison at Towcester, and the East Midlands was secured under the control of local forces supported by the Eastern Association. At the storming of Hillesden House, where the retreating royalist troops dug in, Pickering emerged as second-in-command to Cromwell. During the siege, a musket ball injured him under his chin, though not seriously.

Three weeks later, on 25th March, he was sufficiently recovered to take up his command of a new regiment of foot. In April 1644, his regiment of dragoons, which had taken part in the action at Hillesden, were disbanded. This may have been due to their indiscipline in firing their muskets at the church, instead of at the House itself. They were described as a rude multitude, most of them pressed into service. The Association dragoons were then reduced into a single regiment under John Lilburne. Pickering’s new infantry regiment comprised ten companies, whose commanders took up their commissions between the 13th March and the 4th April. In the succeeding weeks, the companies were built up, though most never reached their full complement. It mustered in Cambridge in early April, together with most of the rest of the Association’s army, though there were further musters at Gainsborough, Doncaster and St Albans over the next six months. Pickering’s Regiment totalled 738 men.

It is highly likely that Pickering’s Regiment were equipped with red, or russet coats from the outset. This was becoming the standard issue for the Eastern Association regiments by 1644. The reasons for this are contained in a strongly worded dispatch from Cromwell to one of his commanders whose regiment had just been issued with the new coats:

… your troops refuse the new coats. Say this: Wear them, or go home. I stand no more nonsense from any one. It is a needful thing that we be as one in colour; much ill having been from diversity of clothes, to slaying of friends by friends…


By the time Pickering’s troops were incorporated into the New Model Army a year later, red coats lined with blue were becoming the norm. Though Pickering himself came from Northamptonshire, that county was not the recruiting ground for his regiment. Northamptonshire was part of the Midland Association, under the command of Lord Saye and Sale, who lived at Broughton Castle, near Banbury. The Knightley family had previously married into the Staffordshire branch of the Golafre (Gulliver) family, moving to Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire, and then marrying into the Fiennes of Broughton Castle near Banbury. The Fiennes Family gained more prestige and titles, and their decision to side with Parliament, gave Banbury an importance both as a strategic centre in civil wars, given its position between Oxford and Warwick. The Battle of Edgcote of 1469 had been one of the key turning points in the Wars of the Roses, involving Warwick the kingmaker and possibly Edward IV himself. The Battle of Edgehill, just south of nearby Kineton, was the first major battle of the English Civil War. There is a well-known local rhyme, which refers to one of these battles, has been passed down in the Gulliver family:

If Fenny Compton you can see, the King of England you shall be.


009It was supposed to have been said by a local wise woman to one of the rival claimants to the throne or to Charles I, as they halted near the Rollright Stones, The alternating hills and marshes of Banburyshire created local weather conditions, involving sudden mists, creating eerie conditions for superstitious soldiers and varying visibility for fighting battles. The gradual drainage of the land during the agricultural revolution also lowered the levels, so that local stories of battlefield ghosts refer to soldiers appearing to fight each other in the air!

005The usual verdict on the Battle of Edgehill, fought on 23rd October 1642, is that it was a draw. Prince Rupert’s Cavaliers, not for the last time, made a brilliant cavalry charge, shattering the Roundhead left flank. Many of them veteran professional soldiers from the Thirty Years’ War, where they had fought to restore his mother Elizabeth, King Charles’ sister, to the throne of Bohemia. By contrast, the Roundhead cavalry was untried and untested, and the infantry largely untrained.

However, Rupert’s troopers literally got carried away with their success and, thinking that the battle and perhaps even the war was won, they swept past Kineton and on towards Warwick. However, after two miles they were met some Roundhead reserves, commanded by a Captain Cromwell, who blocked Rupert’s advance. When the Prince eventually rejoined the King’s army on the field, dusk was falling and the infantry had pushed each other to a standstill.

Rupert has often been severely criticised for allowing his cavalry to ride right off the field in an impetuous charge, but restraining a powerful charge requires superhuman powers, and cavalry on both sides was not used effectively on either side until much later in the conflict, under Cromwell and Ireton. Charles finished the day closer to London than the Parliamentarians, which enabled him to make Oxford his headquarters, so the Royalists came away with an overall advantage, holding the ridge of land marking the Banburyshire border, while Essex was forced to withdraw to Warwick leaving many of this guns on the field. Cromwell was disgusted with the quality of some of the Roundhead infantry, describing them as old decayed tapsters and serving-men, but they stood and fought in the centre, and it was here that the war was later to be won for Parliament.

Whatever advantage Charles had gained in the Midlands, since without London and its money and materials, he stood little chance of winning the war. He spent the night on the battlefield at King’s Ley Barn, thinking that with its reinforcements from Warwick, Parliament might return to renew the struggle the next day. When they did not, he failed to take advantage of the open road to London that lay before him. They took Banbury with little difficulty on 27th October before moving on to Oxford, lingering there, while Essex went round to the east. On 4th November Charles reached Reading, but did not press on, so that while the Parliamentary Army approached the capital from Woburn, arriving in the city on the 8th, Charles’ troops did not reach the outlying western boroughs until the 13th. By then, they found their way blocked by a new army, twenty-four thousand strong, including six thousand well-armed members of the City Trained Bands at Turnham Green. There were another three thousand Roundheads guarding the Thames Bridge at Kingston. Charles retired to Reading, losing his best chance of wresting control of the capital, or at least the middle reaches of the Thames, from Parliament. Although he had secured Oxford, as both sides quartered their troops for the winter, he knew he would have to marshal his resources for a long war.

The lucrative citizenship business: Hungarian passports for Russians and Ukrainians   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Hungarian Spectrum:

Today Index came out with the first of a two-part article on the mass fraud surrounding the acquisition of simplified Hungarian citizenship. The article claims that a group of Ukrainians with the active assistance of corrupt Hungarian officials has been procuring Hungarian citizenship for foreigners who are ineligible: they have no Hungarian ancestors and don’t know the language on even a rudimentary level. The article claims that their numbers might be in the tens of thousands.

The Index article made a real splash and MSZP, as is its wont, again demanded the resignation of Zsolt Semjén, deputy prime minister, whose job is the recruitment of as many Fidesz voters from the neighboring countries as possible.

People have a short memory because the news is not all that new. More than two years ago Hungarian papers reported that “Hungarian citizenship is for sale in Ukraine.” It was discovered at that time that…

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Posted September 18, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

Feedback on academic writing – Part Two   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Oxford University Press:

Teacher helping adult studentThis is the second article of a three-part series on giving EAP students effective feedback. Julie Moore, an ELT writer and researcher, shares her thoughts on how teachers can encourage students to act on feedback.

In my last article, I wrote about how overwhelming it can be for new student writers to get back a piece of writing covered in feedback. They can often feel like getting their writing up to scratch is going to be such an uphill battle that they just give up and ignore the feedback altogether. I suggested that by giving less feedback and breaking it down into more manageable chunks, students can focus on a specific area at a time and make realistic progress. With my own EAP students last summer, I started off by focusing on the content of their writing, ignoring language errors and giving feedback on whether they’d answered the question, whether…

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Posted September 18, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

Some Final Facts on the Union: Why Hungarian citizens in Scotland should vote ‘No’ to Separation – for the sake of European integration and the next generation.   Leave a comment

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

Tomorrow, thousands of Hungarians will be given a right I have never had in Hungary in the ten years I have lived here as a UK citizens, married into a Hungarian family. They will also have a right denied by Scotland’s First Minister to hundreds of thousands of Scots living in the rest of the UK or as ex-expatriates elsewhere. Many will perhaps feel embarrassed to vote as non-Scots, particularly when Scots themselves do not have a say in the future of their homeland. Of course, this is part of the Nationalists ‘Team Scotland’ ploy to suggest that anyone who is not a Scot resident in their home country, should be excluded as far as possible on the grounds of non-residency, even if they qualify to represent Scotland in a whole range of sporting and cultural competitions. For example, I went to school with the Scottish Stewart family who won Commonwealth medals for Scotland in the 1970 Games. I well remember how popular Ian, Peter and Mary were both north and south of the border. However, because they lived in Birmingham, they were not allowed to vote in the 1978 Referendum, and the same would be the case today (I don’t know where they live now), even though Alex Salmond acknowledged on Sky News last night that he could easily have changed the rules. However, Hungarians living in Scotland MUST turn out and vote.  If they abstain, the polls suggest that they will be narrowing the gap between the two camps, so effectively voting ‘Yes’ anyway.  Of course, some Magyars may have already decided to vote ‘Yes’ anyway, because they support the ruling Nationalist, Citizens’ Party (Fidesz) in Hungary which has a similar sort of populist, right-wing social democratic stance (not to be confused with the left-of-centre German Social Democratic Party)  which Alex Salmond claims to hold. Notice how neither Viktor Orbán nor the Scottish First Minister describe themselves as pro-liberal democracy. In fact, the Hungarian PM has recently gone on record as wishing to build an illiberal state in Hungary. However, as long as Hungary remains within the EU he has to operate according to the democratic principles of the Union, even within Hungary itself. Hungary cannot simply derigate (opt out) from these principles. It would have to vote to leave the EU in its own referendum. Worryingly, Alex Salmond has begun to talk already of a new form of ‘Team Scotland’ politics in which the existing UK political parties would cease to be relevant, leaving the Nationalists as the main populist political force, exactly what is already happening in Hungary. What he really means is that there would be no Socialist, Social Democrat, Liberal or Conservative parties to choose from. Only Nationalists, like him and a few ageing Stalinists like Jim Sillars, who has called for a day of reckoning against all those business people who have dared to warn of the very real economic consequences of leaving the UK.

But an Independent Scotland’s case would be very different from that of Hungary. Yesterday, the Spanish PM (who has good reason to be concerned about the effect an independence vote would have on the Kingdom of Spain), said that he thought it would take a minimum of five years for Scotland to gain accession as an independent country. Even if the European President, Parliament and Council wishes Scotland to join earlier, Spain would have a veto under the current constitution, and, given the current Catalonian demands for a referendum on independence, would be foolish not to use it. Of course, if Scotland decides to leave both the UK and the EU tomorrow, and a ‘Yes’ vote is for withdrawal from both, neither the basic laws of the UK Parliament, passed over the centuries, at least since 1707, nor any EU legislation will apply to Scotland. The Scottish Nationalist Party, which will not be dissolved (again, according to Salmond) will continue to carry forward its right-wing policies without any checks and balances on those which current exist within the British Constitution, dating back to the 1689 Bill of Rights, or scrutiny over human rights matters by the EU. This is not scaremongering. It will the factual status of Scotland for the lifetime of at least one Scottish Parliament, until 2020 at the earliest. Even then, without a Sterling Currency Union, which has been ruled out by the Premiers of the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland would be forced to join the Eurozone on joining the EU as an accession country, adopting the Euro as its currency. Hungarians living in Scotland would first of all have the pound’s exchange rate against the forint set by the Bank of England, with no say from Scotland, and then see their savings and pensions plummet in value as Scotland joined the Euro at a far worse rate of exchange than even the uncontrollable pound. However, these factual circumstances are not the main reasons why Hungarians living in Scotland, should, positively, vote no. These are given here:

Firstly, because voting ‘No’ means staying in the EU.  In the meantime, all EU citizens living in Scotland will be classed as immigrants having no special work or residency rights, unless they are married to a Scottish citizen, and can prove that their husband or wife has sufficient income to support them, or that they have a sufficient joint income. This was my wife’s situation during our fifteen year residence in the UK and mine during the 1990s in Hungary. Had I not, like many othe ex-pats, had an official UK-sponsor during this time, as well as being married to a Hungarian citizen, it would have been impossible for me, and many other Brits, to remain in Hungary, except on an extended tourist visa. Staying in the UK means staying in the EU, and the freedom to move across the Union, unrestricted and without visas and work permits. Leaving the EU means going through all this bureaucracy again. No wonder Salmond talks about this being a once in a generation decision. Many of the current EU migrants have no idea what these restrictions meant for the previous generation in terms of their negative impact on our lives. Imagine having your baby tested for HIV in order to get a work permit, or smuggling your wife across multiple borders because her transit visa has expired and the consulate is closed!

This brings me to my second reason. The next generation. Many central Europeans from within the EU are settled, with children in state schools in the UK, including Scotland. They are thriving members, growing up bilingually, a real potential asset to their future countries. They have no say in this decision, except through their parents, yet it may either make or wreck their lives, because, as both campaigns have said, they will not be able to change it until they themselves have their own children. Why should they have hard-won civil rights taken away from them by this generation? Further integration within the EU can only bring more rights, fewer opportunities for individual governments to derigate, as the French did over immigration from central Europe a decade ago. Plus, a Nationalist victory in Scotland would pave the way for withdrawal by the rest of the UK from the EU in 2015, against the wishes of the Welsh and Northern Irish, as well as the majority of those in the North and Midlands of England, whose jobs depend on manufacturing sales within the EU. This is likely to have a major impact upon a central European automotive industry, highly integrated with other manufacturing regions of Europe. JUst look at Mercedes, Opel, Suzuki and others! Why would we want to limit the ability of the next generations to migrate across the single market?

My third reason is no less heartfelt. Politicians come and go with relative rapidity in most countries. Few leave us with any enduring legacy. I have only two British political heroes, Churchill and Attlee. Perhaps one Hungarian, although perhaps tainted with anti-Semitism, like nearly all of his generation, but the only one to resist the Nazi’s by surrendering his own life, Pál Teleki. However, although once a moderate republican, I became a monarchist when I realised how much the monarchy means, both to Britain and in countries like Hungary, once a proud Christian Kingdom. The fact is that we need to feel, even more in the shifting societies of the modern age, that our roots go deep into our own soil. We need to feel that someone in the Establishment has the long-term interest of our families close to their hearts. Presumably, that’s why the majority of our European states have chosen to retain monarchies and royal families, where they have had any measure of choice in the matter. In Britain, we also have a connection with the Commonwealth, which provides an international dimension to our English-speaking heritage within a family of nations. These real relationships matter to us as families and individuals, as they matter to our monarchy. They go to the core of our values.

Therefore, the Queen’s message to her Scottish subjects to think very carefully about their future extends, by definition, to all the residents of Scotland. With all due respect to the countries of the Commonwealth, keeping the Queen, along with the pound, and EU membership, in the same way as she is Queen of Canada or Australia is as unconstitutional and unworkable as the other two. Australia, for example, has evolved its dominion status to that of full independence within the Commonwealth, from its foundation as a colony. Scotland has never been a colony, despite some narrow nationalist mythology. Her Majesty’s role as dual monarch of Scotland and England was carefully crafted by James VI and I in making Great Britain into a political as well as a geographical reality when he succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603. A great deal of integration had already taken place across the two kingdoms by the time of the Civil Wars, and the Act of Union of 1707, although resulting in part from a Scottish colonial and banking crisis, was the product of a century of interaction, not all of it connected with the wars of the three kingdoms (including Ireland, which did not complete the Union until 1801). Her Majesty is directly descended from James I through his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, who became Princess of the Rhineland Palatinate and Queen of Bohemia rather than Queen of England and Scotland, because at that time, boys came first, no matter how weak by comparison! Fortunately, recent legislation has now corrected this, so that an eldest female princess can now succeed to the throne before her brothers. The Queen of Hearts, who spent most of her adult life in exile in the Hague, but returned after the Restoration to live, and die, in England, had a grandson, George I, who may have spoken little English, but was just as British by lineage as the Stuart pretenders, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, who also lived out most of their lives on the continent. At the Battle of Culloden, most of those fighting against the Highlanders and for George II were lowland Scots, despite all the romantic tales.

Much mythology has built up around the personality of Robert the Bruce in the year of the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn of 1314, painting him as the hero of Scottish Independence and Edward I, King of England, the so-called Hammer of the Scots as the villain of the piece. Our current Queen’s claim to the Scottish throne is said to be through her link to the Bruce family. However, she has a much stronger claim to both thrones which can be traced back to the marriage of Matilda of Scotland to Henry I of England, William I’s grandson in 1100. Matilda’s mother was Margaret of Scotland and Wessex, born in Mecseknádásd in Hungary, to Edward the Confessor’s heir to the English throne, Edward the Exile (he was exiled by the Danish usurper, Cnut) and Agatha, the daughter of István (King Stephen I of Hungary) and his wife Gisella. When Edward returned from Exile with his children, he was murdered and Agatha and her children were returning to Hungary via Hamburg when they were forced into port of the coast of Scotland. Malcolm III (Canmore), KIng of Scotland, came to greet them. He married Margaret and supported Eadgar, her brother’s unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne. They had eight children, including the eldest daughter, Edith (born 1080), who became Matilda, Henry I’s Queen, and David I (1083), from whom the Bruce claimed descent. As the daughter of a Princess of Wessex, granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, the last truly Saxon King of England, Matilda gave ancient Saxon legitimacy to both the English and Scottish royal families, as did David I, who was the fifth of her brothers to rule Scotland, from 1124 to 1153. It was through David’s offspring that Bruce claimed their royal heritage. So, Hungarians have a stake in Royal British heritage, through Margaret of Scotland, and HM Queen Elizabeth II is just as much part of Scottish royal heritage as she is part of an English royal family. The two thrones are dependent on each other’s lineage, and are therefore inextricable. Therefore, Hungarians who vote ‘No’ tomorrow will also be voting to uphold the legacy of Istvan’s granddaughter, who was also made a saint for her service to the Scottish people, over the mythological figure of Robert the Bruce, and in so doing to keep the dual monarchy established by the Stuart Kings, rather than substituting an equal monarchy with some kind of Australian-style Governor- General.

No thanks! God Bless Her Majesty and Save the Union! Then we can get on with the business of creating a more equal confederation of self-governing countries within a renewed United Kingdom. A ‘No’ vote is a positive vote for Home Rule and UK-EU integration; a  ‘Yes’ vote is a vote for withdrawal, separation and ultimate isolation on the fringes of Europe.

Appendix: Some Notes on the role of Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Scottish Independence: 

King Alexander III of Scotland died in a hunting accident in 1286, leaving his 3-year-old granddaughter Margaret (called “the Maid of Norway”) as his heir. In 1290, the Guardians of Scotland signed the Treaty of Birgham agreeing to the marriage of the Maid of Norway and Edward of Caernarvon, the son of Edward I, who was Margaret’s great-uncle. This marriage would not create a union between Scotland and England because the Scots insisted that the Treaty declare that Scotland was separate and divided from England and that its rights, laws, liberties and customs were wholly and inviolably preserved for Edward agreed to meet the guardians at Norham in 1291. Before the process got underway Edward insisted that he be recognised as Lord Paramount of Scotland. During the meeting, Edward had his army standing by, thus forcing the Scots to accept his terms. He gave the claimants three weeks to agree to his terms. With no King, with no army ready, and King Edward’s army at hand, the Scots had no choice. The claimants to the crown acknowledged Edward as their Lord Paramount and accepted his arbitration. Their decision was influenced in part by the fact that most of the claimants had large estates in England and, therefore, would have lost them if they had defied the English king. However, many involved were churchmen such as Bishop Wishart for whom such mitigation cannot be claimed.[1]However, Margaret, travelling to her new kingdom, died shortly after landing on the Orkney Islands around 26 September 1290. With her death, there were 13 rivals for succession. The two leading competitors for the Scottish crown were Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale (grandfather of the future King Robert the Bruce) and John Balliol, Lord of Galloway. Fearing civil war between the Bruce and Balliol families and supporters, the Guardians of Scotland wrote to Edward I of England, asking him to come north and arbitrate between the claimants in order to avoid civil war.

On 11 June, acting as the Lord Paramount of Scotland, Edward I ordered that every Scottish royal castle be placed temporarily under his control and every Scottish official resign his office and be re-appointed by him. Two days later, in Upsettlington, the Guardians of the Realm and the leading Scottish nobles gathered to swear allegiance to King Edward I as Lord Paramount. All Scots were also required to pay homage to Edward I, either in person or at one of the designated centres by 27 July 1291.

There were thirteen meetings from May to August 1291 at Berwick, where the claimants to the crown pleaded their cases before Edward, in what came to be known as the “Great Cause“. The claims of most of the competitors were rejected, leaving Balliol, Bruce, Floris V, Count of Holland and John de Hastings of Abergavenny, 2nd Baron Hastings, as the only men who could prove direct descent from David I.

On 3 August, Edward asked Balliol and Bruce to choose 40 arbiters each, while he chose 24, to decide the case. On 12 August, he signed a writ that required the collection of all documents that might concern the competitors’ rights or his own title to the superiority of Scotland, which was accordingly executed. Balliol was named king by a majority on 17 November 1292 and on 30 November. He was crowned King of Scots at Scone Abbey. On 26 December, at Newcastle upon Tyne, King John swore homage to Edward I for the Kingdom of Scotland. Edward soon made it clear that he regarded the country as a vassal state. Balliol, undermined by members of the Bruce faction, struggled to resist, and the Scots resented Edward’s demands. In 1294, Edward summoned John Balliol to appear before him, and then ordered that he had until 1 September 1294 to provide Scottish troops and funds for his invasion of France.

On his return to Scotland, John held a meeting with his council and after a few days of heated debate, plans were made to defy the orders of Edward I. A few weeks later a Scottish parliament was hastily convened and 12 members of a war council (four Earls, Barons, and Bishops, respectively) were selected to advise King John.

Emissaries were immediately dispatched to inform King Philip IV of France of the intentions of the English. They also negotiated a treaty by which the Scots would invade England if the English invaded France, and in return the French would support the Scots. This became known as the Auld Alliance, remaining in place until the time of Mary Queen of Scots in 1560. It was not until 1295 that Edward I became aware of the secret Franco-Scottish negotiations. In early October, he began to strengthen his northern defences against a possible invasion. It was at this point that Robert Bruce, 6th Lord of Annandale (father of the future King Robert the Bruce) was appointed by Edward as the governor of Carlisle Castle. The movement of English forces along the Anglo-Scottish border did not go unnoticed. In response, King John Balliol summoned all able-bodied Scotsmen to bear arms and gather at Caddonlee by 11 March. 



Above: The dethroned King John, whom a Scottish chronicler dubbed ‘toom tabard’ (‘empty coat’)

The First War of Scottish Independence can be loosely divided into four phases: the initial English invasion and success in 1296; the campaigns led by William Wallace, Andrew de Moray and various Scottish Guardians from 1297 until John Comyn negotiated for the general Scottish submission in February 1304; the renewed campaigns led by Robert the Bruce following his killing of The Red Comyn in Dumfries in 1306 to his and the Scottish victory at Bannockburn in 1314; and a final phase of Scottish diplomatic initiatives and military campaigns in Scotland, Ireland and Northern England from 1314 until the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328.


 Above: Notable figures from the first War of Independence as depicted by the Victorian artist William Hole



King Robert the Bruce: 1306–1328

 Above: Bannockburn Monument plaque

On 10 February 1306, during a meeting between Bruce and Comyn, the two surviving claimants for the Scottish throne, Bruce quarrelled with and killed John Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. At this moment the rebellion was sparked again.[

Comyn, it seems, had broken an agreement between the two, and informed King Edward of Bruce’s plans to be king. The agreement was that one of the two claimants would renounce his claim on the throne of Scotland, but receive lands from the other and support his claim. Comyn appears to have thought to get both the lands and the throne by betraying Bruce to the English. A messenger carrying documents from Comyn to Edward was captured by Bruce and his party, plainly implicating Comyn. Bruce then rallied the Scottish prelates and nobles behind him and had himself crowned King of Scots at Scone less than five weeks after the killing in Dumfries. He then began a new campaign to free his kingdom. After being defeated in battle he was driven from the Scottish mainland as an outlaw. Bruce later came out of hiding in 1307. The Scots thronged to him, and he defeated the English in a number of battles. His forces continued to grow in strength, encouraged in part by the death of Edward I in July 1307. The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was an especially important Scottish victory.



Posted September 17, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

These Weeks in History, 15-28 September   Leave a comment

These Weeks in History: 15th-28th September

A Hundred Years Ago: The First Battle of Aisne:They are waiting for you up there, thousands of them.

Royal Flying Corps pilot to troops before the battle.

Following their defeat at the Marne, the Germans had withdrawn fifty miles north to the River Aisne. The Allies were slow in their pursuit; troops were exhausted after prolonged fighting. At one point it was thought the invaders could be pushed back into Germany but they had sufficient time to establish strong defensive positions on elevated ground to the north of the river on the Chemin des Dames ridge.

Once the British and the French had made perilous crossings of the river their attacks had to be made uphill in full view of the overlooking Germans. Initial successes were overturned. Trenches were dug, a foretaste of things to come across the whole Western Front.

Only thirty-four men from the First Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment were left after the battle. They had begun the war with 1,026.The Race to the Sea:
With stalemate in place at the Aisne, the war on the Western Front took another direction in what became known as the ‘Race to the sea’. Both sides tried to outflank each other in a series of engagements that ran northwards. After the German taking of Antwerp in October the remaining Belgian troops retreated westwards. Under severe pressure, they opened the sluice gates to flood land and prevent the Germans’ advance.

Seventy Years ago, September 1944:


The following poem was found in the notebook of Miklós Radnóti, buried in a shallow grave on the road to the Austrian border. He had been at a labour camp in the Bor area of Yugoslavia. Evacuating the area due to the Soviet advance, the Germans decided to march his unit back to Hungary. The poem bears witness to the beginning of this death march. The notebook was found in the pocket of his raincoat when his body was exhumed twenty months after his roadside execution.

Forced March, by Miklós Radnóti:

Crazy. He stumbles, fops, gets up,    and trudges on again.

He moves his ankles and his knees    like one wandering pain,

and when the ditch invites him in,    he dares not give consent,

and if you were to ask why not?    perhaps his answer is

a woman waits, a death more wise,    more beautiful than this.

Poor fool, the true believer:    for weeks, above the rooves,

but for the scorching whirlwind,     nothing lives or moves:

the housewall’s lying on its back,    the prunetree’s smashed and bare;

even at home, when dark comes on,    the night is furred with fear.

Ah, if I could believe it!    that not only do I bear

what’s worth the keeping in my heart,    but home is really there;

if it might be! – as once it was,    on a veranda old and cool,

where the sweet bee of peace would buzz,    prune marmalade would chill,

late summer’s stillness sunbathe    in gardens half-asleep,

fruits sway among the branches,    stark naked in the deep,

Fanni waiting at the fence    blonde by its rusty red,

and shadows would write slowly out    all the slow morning said -

but still it might yet happen!    The moon’s so round today!

Friend, don’t walk on. Give me a shout    and I’ll be on my way.

September 15, 1944, Bor.



Meanwhile, in the second half of September, the plans for a third attempt at a Breakaway from Germany were taking shape in Budapest. As soon as the question of direct negotiations with the Russians became pertinent, the Regent had to proceed to select suitable individuals for a mission to Moscow…  On 24 September, it was considered a done deal that General Faragho was to go to Moscow  In Hungary at this time the Gestapo had become quite powerful: All important telephones were tapped, individuals were shadowed, and there were arrests and kidnappings. Faragho began to lose his ‘characteristic courage’. On the morning of the 26th, when the Regent told him that he was the definite choice, the General categorically declared that he would not go to Moscow without accompanying diplomatic officers, Domokos Szent-Iványi and Géza Teleki, son of the late Premier, Pál Teleki. They were given a letter addressed to Marshal Stalin from Admiral Horthy. On the afternoon of the 27th, the peace delegation received its final instructions from the Regent, who gave the rank of Colonel-General to Faragho. The Armistice Delegation left Budapest on the 28th, crossing the Hungarian-Slovak frontier that night, and on the 29th they were met by a military delegation sent by Marshal Koniev from Kiev, in a Douglas airplane in which the delegation would return to Kiev, before continuing in another plane to Moscow.

Twenty-five years ago… Here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling (Shakespeare).

At the end of September, James Baker, US Secretary of State, and Eduard Shevardnadze, Soviet Foreign Minister, went trout fishing together. Whether they were tickling the trout we don’t know, but the fishing was mainly for the cameras (see picture). The talks, at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, were successful, however. The wily, smiley, Georgian established a real rapport with his American opposite number. He had visited President Bush and called upon him to adopt a more energetic and engaged policy towards the Soviet Union. Bush had already announced, following the opening of the Hungarian border to the East Germans on 10th-11th September, that Hungary would be given most-favoured-nation status once it liberalised its emigration, which it quickly did. 

Baker invited Shevardnadze to his ranch in Wyoming. On the four-and-a-half-hour flight the two men talked continuously, and the foreign minister astounded his US counterpart with his frankness, having just left Moscow after a two-day plenum in the Central Committee on the problems of separatism and ethnic conflict within the Soviet Union. The Georgian had described how the injustices of the Stalinist era had generated hostility towards Moscow within the Soviet republics; this was now coming home to roost in the unrest sweeping Central Asia and the Baltic, and he felt that the republics must be given some form of autonomy within the Union. However, he also told Baker, we must not turn protest into riots and riots into bloodshed. He was also candid about Moscow’s economic woes. Journalists sitting at the back of the plane could hear nothing of what was said but could see from the intensity of the dialogue that something crucial was going on. Dennis Ross, who translated for Baker, said the two men crossed a threshold as they flew across the continent.

At Jackson Hole, the two men went trout fishing together, both wearing Stetsons. They walked trails through pine and aspen woods and spent the evening dining on ribs and buffalo steaks, listening to a country and western band. The formal talks between the two men then reverted to a more conventional form. Shevardnadze made major concessions in the hope of kick-starting the arms-reduction talks. Moscow no longer insisted on limits to the US Star Wars programme before an agreement to sign a START treaty. This was a major climb-down over the single issue that had prevented Gorbachev and Reagan from signing a far-reaching agreement on nuclear disarmament. Second, the Foreign Minister agreed to dismantle the giant early warning radar installation in Siberia, which the United States had claimed was a violation of the ABM Treaty. The Soviets would do this without any dismantling of the US installations in Greenland and England (Fylingdales Moor).

The Wyoming talks ended with several bilateral agreements, including a reduction in the stockpiles of chemical weapons. There was also an announcement of a summit to be held between Bush and Gorbachev the following year, though further details of the Malta meeting were to be kept secret for another month. However, the US failure to respond in kind to the substantial Soviet concessions was a big disappointment to Shevardnadze, and to Gorbachev, who came under increasing pressure from the Soviet military to change tactics. However, Baker had been convinced that the new line from Moscow was for real and that the US must move to support Gorbachev, advancing from understanding to interaction, and wherever possible to partnership. He concluded that, the situation has got the makings of a whole new world.

Posted September 16, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized

House cleaning at Magyar Nemzet   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Hungarian Spectrum:

Although for months all kinds of hypotheses have been floated about the Simicska-Orbán feud, I have judiciously avoided joining the rumor mill. Conjectures about the apparent rift between Lajos Simicska and his old friend, Viktor Orbán, were vague and occasionally far-fetched. I believe that it is better to be cautious, especially in a case like this one where details are extremely hard to come by. Simicska, the foremost oligarch in Hungary, is a very secretive man. The media has not been able to get close to him, and those pictures of him that were, until recently, available on the Internet all dated from the late 1990s when he headed the Hungarian equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service. It was just a few weeks ago that someone managed to get a new photo of him. He has put on some weight and naturally he is about fifteen years older. Here and there a journalist manages to get some information…

View original 778 more words

Posted September 16, 2014 by Andrew James Chandler in Uncategorized


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