The last time England withdrew in a big way from the continent of Europe – there was a Civil War!
What am I talking about? Well England’s defeat in the Hundred Year’s War lead pretty much directly to the Wars of Roses. With the UK now split almost evenly on the issue is there a danger of strong divisions appearing again in our society? There are strong emotions on both sides–anger at the result of the referendum and fear of uncertainty over what will happen next? These are dangerous times I feel – we’ve had for the first time popular leaders in the UK stirring up tensions. What’s next? It feels like we’ve taken a massive step back in terms of tolerance and a rational approach to politics and society.
Looking at a map of the referendum results – you can see how further resentment and division will bubble along in the future – the richest city in the UK, London, voted overwhelmingly to leave – but will now suffer because of the economic downturn. Whereas Scotland and even Northern Ireland may leave the union together over this. This is a new civil war – fought through the media, ballot box and via words, rather than with swords and arrows – but it feels like a war nevertheless.
Random post of the week – who are my top 5 people from the Middle Ages – real historical medieval people, not characters from any of my stories that is!
Frederick II Hohenstaufen – not quite the Renaissance prince that earlier historians such as Kantowicz would like to think, but even so still quite amazing in what he tried to do – a cultured, yet autocratic prince, rather than a fanatic oaf of a king.
Geoffrey Chaucer – he had the wit and charm to poke fun at all around him, but in quite a nice way – a bit like the Stephen Fry of the Fourteenth Century perhaps?
Richard I the Lionheart – complete opposite of Frederick I at number the one above, but for bare faced oafish medieval kingly behaviour I think he has to be in my arbitrary list of Top 5 Medieval People. Hated England, hardly set foot in the place, but thanks to Hollywood’s portrayal of Robin Hood and Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe I grew up with him as the quintessential English Medieval King. Robin Hood wouldn’t be on my list, but he’s fictional anyway so can’t be!
Dante Alighieri – the great Italian poet who gave us the Divine Comedy and the quintessential image of hell, while sniping at all and sundry, a bit nastier than Chaucer, and in my view not as great a poet, but still fascinating and able to conjure up great images.
Owain Glyndŵr – rebel with a cause, but ultimately a doomed one. Not a man I knew a lot about until I read the Welsh Wars of Independence, but what a guy, what crazy guy, deciding to go up against the might of Lancastrian England and nearly pulling it off too! The Welsh are getting a lot of good press recently for their passion and determination, and this chap certainly had that.
What do you think? Agree/disagree? Who would be in your top 5?