Assandun

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How about something completely different. A battle for control of England from almost the end of the Viking Age – no, not Hastings but 50 years earlier when Cnut defeated Edmund Ironside. It’s an interesting story from 2016. Neo

Another battle that we should take notice of, this one before the Battle of Hastings that made the phrase “1066 and all that” so famous. This one was exactly 1000 years ago today. Amazing thing is that for the participants it was likely just as important as Hastings.

This is the battle where Cnut, King of Denmark, about whom an old Norse poem says this:

Skjöldungr, vannt und skildi
skœru verk, inn sterki,
(fekk blóðtrani bráðir
brúnar) Assatúnum.

Strong Skjöldungr, you performed a feat of battle under the shield; the blood-crane [raven/eagle] received dark morsels at Ashingdon.

There are some wonderful takeaways here, Skjöldungr refers to Cnut’s heritage, his ancestors were the legendary Skjöldung dynasty – the Scyldings of Beowulf. And the blood-crane here might refer to the legendary Raven banner of Denmark, which is mentioned in the Encomium Emmae Reginae, which says this.

Now they had a banner of wonderfully strange nature, which though I believe that it may be incredible to the reader, yet since it is true, I will introduce the matter into my true history. For while it was woven of the plainest and whitest silk, and the representation of no figure was inserted into it, in time of war a raven was always seen as if embroidered on it, in the hour of its owners’ victory opening its beak, flapping its wings, and restive on its feet, but very subdued and drooping with its whole body when they were defeated.

Now that’s a banner fit for a warrior race! It must be said though that the Encomium is quite unreliable. And besides, I think the author might protest a bit too much.

On the other side was Edmund Ironside, son of Æthelred the Unready (actually, I think Unraed, which means “without counsel”) but both seem to be true, he had died in April 1016, and Edmund his son succeeded him, finally uniting (most) of the English.

via A Clerk of Oxford: The Battle of Assandun: Three Sources

And so these were the sides that met at Assandun, the Danes (and likely some of the English as well) against the English under the leadership of another legendary captain Edmund Ironside.

And so, as The Clerk of Oxford tells us, from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

[The [Danish] raiding-army turned back up into Essex, and went towards Mercia, and destroyed all that they overtook. Then when the king [Edmund] heard that the army was inland, he gathered all the English nation for the fifth time and travelled behind them, and overtook them in Essex at the hill which is called Assandun, and there they fought a hard battle together. Then Eadric the ealdorman did as he had so often done before, and first began the flight with the Magonsæte, and so betrayed his king and lord and all the English nation. There Cnut had the victory, and won for himself the whole nation of the English. There Bishop Eadnoth was killed, and Abbot Wulfsige, and Ealdorman Ælfric, and Ealdorman Godwine, and Ulfkytel of East Anglia, and Æthelweard, the son of Ealdorman Ælfwine, and all the best of the English nation.]

England had a new king, a Dane, in whose train was a young Dane by the name of Godwine, who would go far, and whose son Harold Godwineson would become the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, killed at Hastings.

But before that would come to pass, Edmund, who had retained Wessex in the settlement after Assundun, died a few months later, and Cnut became King of all England. In a few years, he would dedicate a minster at Assundun in Essex, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us:

[In this year the king and Earl Thorkell went to Assandun, with Archbishop Wulfstan and other bishops, and also abbots and many monks, and consecrated the church at Assandun.]

And the Clerk explains:

The people named in this entry indicate the importance of this church to the new Danish regime. Wulfstan is the great archbishop of York, whom we last encountered in 1014 railing against the disloyalty of English people who collaborated with the Danes; he had by this time had quite a change of heart, and become one of Cnut’s chief advisers and law-makers. (A lot can happen in six years!) Wulfstan presided at the consecration of the church at Assandun, and one of his surviving sermons, ‘On the Dedication of a Church’, may well have been preached on this occasion. The other person named by the Chronicle is Earl Thorkell, who was remembered as the hero of Assandun, and whom Cnut had recently made Earl of East Anglia. Any event which could bring these two men together must have been pretty extraordinary. We can also populate the Chronicle‘s crowd with various people likely to have been there, standing beside Cnut, Thorkell and Wulfstan: Cnut’s new wife Emma, Earl Godwine (and his new Danish wife, Gytha?), Æthelnoth (soon to be made Archbishop of Canterbury), the Norwegian earl Eiríkr, newly appointed earl of Northumbria, and more. The church was entrusted to Stigand, a priest probably of Anglo-Danish origin, who though very much a winner after the Danish Conquest was very much a loser after the Norman Conquest. With hindsight, there are many tantalising connections and ironies to be drawn out from this disparate collection of people – English, Danish, Norwegian and Norman – who were between them to shape England’s fate throughout the eleventh century: the following year Thorkell would be outlawed, three years later Wulfstan would be dead, and fifty years later the young priest Stigand would be Archbishop of Canterbury, crowning the upstart Godwine’s son King of England.

There are (at least) two choices for this church, this is one of them:

hadstock-church

Again quoting from The Clerk of Oxford

All that said, let me show you what I saw at Ashdon. If Ashdon is Assandun, Cnut’s minster would be this church, St Botolph’s, which is actually in the nearby village of Hadstock. Why not Ashdon itself? I’ll quote the guidebook: “While it is just possible that evidence for an Anglo-Saxon building is encapsulated in Ashdon church, there is nothing to suggest a structure of minster-proportions; hence historians have turned to Hadstock where a large and imposing Anglo-Saxon church cannot fail to command attention. There is no doubt that it was a minster, and of the period in question; it stands on the same ‘Hill of the Ash Trees’ as Ashdon.”

The core of the present church is late Anglo-Saxon, and thus plausibly of the date of Cnut’s minster. It’s worth noting that St Botolph, the dedicatee of the church, was one of the saints in whom Cnut took an interest; Cnut was responsible for the translation of Botolph’s relics to Bury St Edmunds, where he founded a church on the anniversary of the Battle of Assandun in the 1030s. There’s some suggestion there was a shrine to Botolph here, not just a dedication – the archaeologists talk about traces of an empty Saxon grave in the fabric of the south side of the church.

All in all, quite an important anniversary, which would likely be more important still if St. Edward the Confessor hadn’t died childless only 50 years later. Such are the ways of history.

[More, and more pictures, today from The Clerk of Oxford. Yay!

America: What Others See

Sometimes we should back off on our concerns and see what others think of us. Two “others” have written about America this week. I think we should take note.

The first is Nikola Kedhi writing on The Federalist. Most of the people we quote here are pretty well-known and we don’t elaborate, but here we should. According to his bio at The Federalist, he is:

Nikola hails from Albania and studied International Economics, Management, and Finance at Bocconi University in Milan. He obtained his Master’s in Finance from Carlos III University in Madrid. Currently, he works as an Associate at Deloitte in Albania, one of the Big 4 consultancy firms.

So no close ties to America other than perhaps, his job. Let’s see what he says.

America is much more than a country. It is much more than a land or a group of people that came together to form a nation. Ultimately, the United States is a symbol. It is the world’s fullest and greatest embodiment of capitalism, democracy, and freedom. It is the land of the free, the home of the brave, a source of hope, and a defender of justice.

Many may not understand the significance of America as an ideal. Some in the United States and Europe have lived comfortably for decades, never been invaded, never lost their land or property, nor their freedom to think or speak. As a result, they can’t value what they already have. It’s an unfortunate reality that you often have to lose something to fully understand its worth.

My country, Albania, is small today, but in the past, the ancestral lands of my people once spread throughout the Balkans. We had the first queen in Europe, gave the Vatican four popes, provided emperors who shaped history and survived through the strong men and women who died for their country, their traditions, and their families.

Nevertheless, neighboring countries with the help of larger empires and states in Europe slowly took our territories and forced into flight large parts of our population. More than 100 years ago, only one country stood up for us, fought for our territorial integrity, and helped us retain the borders we have today: the United States of America.

One doesn’t need to travel further back in time than a few generations to find Albania at the mercy of the red terror known as communism. […]

Despite 45 years of propaganda demonizing the United States, the Albanian people never forgot what President Reagan often referred to as the “shining city on a hill.” Indeed, no matter the torture and the brainwashing the regime tried, it could never remove the desire for freedom. The desire for freedom, meritocracy, and justice are deeply ingrained in the human soul. […]

Still, hope remains. I see it every day and not just in America. President Trump stands in front of the advance of the radical leftists in the United States and he inspires others to follow his example in Europe. He has vowed that America will never be a socialist country. The history of America is filled with inspiring stories of those who stood up, never gave up hope, and resolutely worked for a better future. A strong and prosperous United States means a safer and better world.

Read it all. Then there is this from The Spectator, by Robert Taylor who is based in London.

At a time of crisis, we need hope more than ever. We need positivity and optimism. We need the American Dream. What is the American Dream exactly? Being a Brit, I didn’t really know, though I had a foggy notion of a can-do, anyone-can-make-it, over-the-rainbow sort of spirit. So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it turns out I wasn’t too far wrong. To summarize, the American Dream is a national ethos that fosters prosperity and success on the basis of social mobility and rewards for hard work and enterprise.

That sounds good and noble to me. But I’d suggest it should apply, especially now, not just to America, but far beyond its shores, to all those willing to embrace it. {…}

To repair the massive damage, to dust ourselves down, recover from the shock, and get back up on our feet, we need cooperation between leading states in terms of economic intervention and health resilience.

And who can lead this cooperation? Well, let’s think. The UN? No way — too many competing interests. China? Nope. There’s no trust, especially since this whole thing appears to have started in or near some filthy live- animal market in Wuhan, followed by weeks of obfuscation and denial.

The EU? Are you kidding? Once the coronavirus hit, the sham that is the European Union was rapidly laid bare to anyone who cared to look. […]

No. Just as in 1945, with the establishment of Bretton Woods as a basis for the global economy and international security, only the USA can lead us out of this crisis. The American Dream must become an international reality. […]

Dare I say that there are few nations that trust each other more, and have a stronger recent history of standing side by side, than the U.S. and UK? […]

For years, a range of academics, economists, and politicians across the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, recognizing their common language, history, cultural understanding, head of state, and deep- rooted, intertwined identities, have advocated closer cooperation between their respective nations in the CANZUK movement (it’s an acronym — get it?). While Britain has been pulling away from the EU, it has quietly been moving towards its English-speaking brethren.

The U.S. is the logical fifth, and most important, partner in this movement. Can these five countries work together now, not just for mutual benefit but to lead the world towards a new global order? Of course they can. […]

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I see a massive opportunity from this crisis for old friends, pulled apart by a decades-long narrative that encouraged crude, regional trading blocs while derisively snorting at the nation state and historic trading links, to come together once again.

Read this one too. I agree completely with both of them. When we say that if the US goes down, there is no place to run to, this is what we mean. It is true for us and it is true for all those who love freedom and liberty, not to mention a chance to get ahead in this life. We are the last ditch in defense of that city on the hill with its beacon burning bright. Others will follow, and help but we must lead. Because we are “The Keepers of the Flame”.

Whatever must be done, and I think many of us have some knowledge of that, must be done.

Some things are worth living for, and they are the things worth dying for

Those sunlit uplands that Churchill dreamed of still beckon, and the journey may be tough but it will be worth it.

Jesus wept.

I saw a version of what you will see in the link on Facebook this morning. Crying and outrage don’t make good mornings. But that’s ok because people seem to have fifteen-minute memories and this is vitally important.

Our resident historians will have much to add, I suspect, and I look forward to their reactions to the article and pictures in the link. I watched the FB version four times. The first reaction was shock and horror. The second reaction was crying. The third reaction was outrage. The fourth reaction is this article I’m writing.

[There’s quite a bit more of this anti-Semitic death porn at the link above and below. Neo]

I tried really hard to keep an open mind about the tourist pictures, tried to find excuses – they’re young; they’re on vacation; this is the selfie generation to which I have no connection and no understanding; young people are thoughtless at this age. None of it worked. I can find no excuse that makes their selfies youthful exuberance or plain thoughtlessness. There is a distinct and pointed deliberateness about them that is unforgivable.

Again I have to refer to the documentary by Ken Burns, The War. The staff interviews with some of the men who were actually there, who actually helped to liberate the death camps, are indelibly printed on my brain and my heart. The documentary was filmed in 2006 if I remember correctly, and the men well deep in age, and even then, all those years after, their eyes and their faces register the horror of what they saw – the inconceivable brutality of true evil.

I am so grateful to the young Israeli, Shahak Shapira, (who lives in Germany) for creating the translation of what those ‘tourists’ were actually doing. If a picture speaks a thousand words, imagine what his images speak. Ignorance, disrespect, callousness, self before anything or anyone. I think he did a brilliant piece of work and should be commended.

Indeed. Jesus wept.

[Audre saw the TV series (as did I) but I also knew men who liberated Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. The first camp liberated by the US Army. They were armored infantrymen in the 4th Armored Division who came into France at Utah Beach on 11 July 1944 and became the spearhead of Patton’s 3d US Army. Amongst other things, they were the men who relieved Bastogne. They ended the war at Strakonice,  Czechoslovakia. They saw all the horror that the European Theater had to offer. When I knew them twenty years later, they tried to explain KZ Ordruf to me, knowing my interest in the military. All three of them failed, just sitting there at lunch with tears streaming down their faces, and the most haunted look I have ever seen. That’s what the very foolish kids are making light of here. I can think of nothing more despicable. Jesus indeed wept, and I thank God my friends and co-workers died without seeing this new horror. Neo]

Waiting for the Barbarians

Edmund Burke wrote, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France:

But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of an habitation – and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of summer.

Paul Krause writes in American Thinker about that very concept.

The West is a dying civilization. That much is evident.

But it mustn’t be. Who will defend the flame that once illuminated the skies and sang songs of ascents up on high? In the rush to destroy all things Western, few so-called conservatives—anywhere—risk themselves to defend our patrimony and our future. [..]

The riots are not about George Floyd, police reform and accountability, or justice. The riots are the systematic attempt to exterminate Western civilization and culture from the very lands in which its roots are planted. […]

Multiculturalism is not about multiculturalism. That is the greatest misnomer of all time. Multiculturalism is the veiled vehicle for dismantling and destroying Western civilization. This is not about political power as asinine conservatives often say. This is about civilizational desecration and destruction.

When multiculturalists complain about European and American statues, they are only voicing their genuine attitude of resentful hatred. What hath the multiculturalist in common with Julius Caesar, George Washington, or Horatio Nelson? Nothing. And they never will. Even if they reside in Western nations. Multiculturalists hate all Western heroes precisely because they’re Western. Even white abolitionists are targets of their rage because they are “murderers” and “colonists.” Anything and everything Western, as Susan Sontag said, is “the cancer of humanity.”

That is the truth that no liberal or the pseudo-conservative of Conservative, Inc. want you to realize. They are all wreckers, and what they mean to wreck is western civilization, and they are succeeding. Paul thinks, as do I, that only America can preserve our heritage. Here’s why.

We are the Keepers of the Flame in the City on the Hill

What makes the American unique is that he is the product of all of Europe and European history converged onto this New World and New Continent. Without the Greek victory at Salamis there would be no America. Without Alexander the Great there would be no America. Without Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar there would be no America. Without Charles Martel there would be no America. Without Christopher Columbus there would be no America. (And this is why the multiculturalist tears down statues of Columbus—they only defile Western heroes.) Without Sir Francis Drake there would be no America. Without James Wolfe there would be no America. Every great Western hero of the past is now on the chopping block of the multiculturalist terror campaign.

Americans have the richest history and heritage precisely because we are the children of pilgrims, adventurers, and lovers stretching across the millennia whose actions made safe the possibility for the European settlement of the New World. This would serve conservatives well if they understood this fact and embraced it. The Greek heroes at Thermopylae and Salamis died for us. The Franks who died stopping an Islamic invasion of Europe died for us. The Catholics who fought the Turks at Lepanto died for us. The brave and heroic sailors, settlers, and pioneers who died in the New World died for us. If we love them let us honor them and immortalize them. We once did. Now we must show our love for them again in defending them against the new barbarians from within.

We are, in a sense no other country shares, the west incarnate. From English roots we embraced all of European civilization, incorporating the best from each and discarding the worst. We are the culmination of western civilization, and the most powerful nation to ever spring from Pallas Athena’s brow. For those very reasons, it is our task, our duty, and our honor to defend all the rest. If not us, who?

Do read the article, the excerpts I’ve quoted only provide a taste.

Otherwise, we become the city in Cavafy’s poem.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
      The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
      Because the barbarians are coming today.
      What’s the point of senators making laws now?
      Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
      He’s even got a scroll to give him,
      loaded with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?
      Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.
Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

Ordered Liberty

On Saturday, Pontiac, questioned my use of the phrase ‘ordered liberty‘, saying this, ” Lastly, I’m intrigued, Dave, by the words “ordered liberty” used in your preface to Jessica’s article and that it could be a dream. Could you explain more on that because I find those 2 words together an oxymoron.” and that is good, when phrases like that are used, it is to convey a specific meaning, and if one is not to miss the point, one should question. Sadly, I gave him a fairly glib and off the top of my head answer. So let’s do better.

As it happens, on Sunday, our blog buddy Portly Politico touched on this very thing, saying:

Disorder” – Americans love to focus on our rights and our freedoms, but we often do so at the cost of understanding our obligations that flow from those rights.  We also tend to neglect that Burkean wisdom that liberty, to be truly liberty, must be ordered.  One of the most shocking elements of these riots is the continued violation of legitimate authority—of order.  The disorder and chaos these looters have unleashed threatens not just real people and property, but the very foundations of a stable, free society.

If we follow PP’s link above, we find ourselves looking at the work of Edmund Burke, the Father of English conservatism, and at least the uncle of American conservatism. As PP quotes he had much to say in his  Reflections on the Revolution in France written as the French Revolution got underway in 1789, he wrote with reference to the Queen of France:

“I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroick enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.”

And here is as good an exposition of ordered liberty as one will find from its originator. Burke was an implacable foe of Revolutionary France, as was Pitt the Younger, but twenty years earlier he had been one of the staunchest allies of the Continental Congress to be found in Parliament, along with both Pitt and Charles James Fox, the only time the three agreed on anything.

The difference between the revolutions is vast, the Americans upholding the ancient rights of Englishmen, and vying for a return to the good old law, and the French overturning all convention with a drive for libertinism. Truthfully, exactly as BLM and Antifa are today.

In its basics, this dichotomy goes directly back to the Enlightenment where the French version sought to overturn all norms, creating radical personal freedom for elites by enslaving most of the population, while destroying all traditional things, the church, the family, personal responsibility, private property. The English/Scottish Enlightenment did none of this, it found a way to join ever-increasing personal freedom into the sinews of British society as well as Christianity, creating a free yet ordered society, as cognizant of its duties as it is of its liberties.

And yes, the modern world is built on the British model, because the two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, who have led modernization since the eighteenth century, are the two countries who adopted Edmund Burke’s concept of ordered liberty. It is that fundamental. It is also the reason that the Regressives in all their multivariate hues, attempt to destroy the Anglo-Saxon powers above all else.

 

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Queen Margrethe of Denmark’s 80th Birthday. She sounds like an original, and very interesting, lady. From Frontpage Magazine.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark turns 80 today, and to commemorate the occasion she gave an interview that appeared in the newspaper Politiken on Saturday. The conversation was wide-ranging, but the part that made headlines throughout Scandinavia was her admission that while she considers climate change an important issue, she’s not personally panicked about it, and that while she’s aware that climate does change – “it has changed and is changing all the time” – she’s not certain whether humans directly influence those changes. Let it be emphasized here that this is one queen who actually knows something about these matters: she studied prehistoric archeology at Cambridge and hence has an extremely long-term perspective.

(This isn’t the first time, by the way, that Margrethe has failed to strike the approved tone on climate change: in more than one New Year’s address, for example, she’s celebrated the melting of Greenland ice because it opens up the possibility of exploiting the island’s rich natural resources.)

Sounds quite lovely to me. As much as I like Queen Elizabeth II and understand why she is as reticent as she is, I sometimes long for a spirited defense, and it looks like Queen Margrethe is quite willing to mount such.

So the Danes are lucky in their Queen, although their politicians aren’t much different than anywhere in Europe, or indeed ours. But they do have a queen who knows how to think and is not afraid to say what she means. And that’s a very good thing.

Happy Birthday, Ma’am.

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