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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII -

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Robin Fleming, 'Britain After Rome; The Fall and Rise, 400 to 1070' part 2

Part two review of a great book. 366 pages, 58 pages of source notes.

by StFerdIII


This is an extraordinary book on the lives of average Saxon-English commoners from the time of Rome's slow demise to William the Bastard of Normandy and the Norman takeover. Each page is full of new facts and details, premised on primary research, archaeology, the study of bones, and burial sites. [First review is here]. In the middle part of the book Ms. Fleming describes the complex history of 6th to 9th century England and its development post Rome, from a land of rural enclaves and subsistence existence, to a more citified-urbanized culture, integrated with the world's trading patterns. A 'dark' era this certainly was not.

There was not, then, continuity of urban life in late sixth-century Britain, nor were there towns instantly reconstituted with the coming of Christianity. Yet, even with the absence of towns, an extraordinary range of luxury goods moved into and around Britain. In Kent, for example, on the eve of the Roman mission, high-status graves were filled with exotica. Many of the foreign imports came from the Rhine-land and Francia, but some things hailed from more distant shores. The raw glass, for example, employed by northern craftsmen to fashion beautiful beads English women strung through their brooches, came all the way from Egypt.” [p. 187]

What is dark is our ability to discern through the fragmentary remains of artifacts and era-specific objects and writings, just what went on during these turbulent centuries. Progress however can be detected at all levels of society. Our 6th to 9th century ancestors appear as clever, energetic, somewhat violent, but also law abiding individuals, eating more varied diets than before, and becoming larger, better built, and living if the plague allowed, longer and more productive lives.

As people remade the countryside, agricultural regimes were revolutionized. Farmers living in these transformed landscapes were now producing more grain and livestock than their ancestors had, and they were cultivating a greater variety of the tenth century we can see the monks of Glastonbury embarking on a carefully planned campaign during which they created planned, nucleated villages and laid out new field systems on some of their Somerset estates.” [pp 282-3]

Agricultural developments were legion and trade routes developed around new roads, new products and new commodities. Coins from the Moslem world have been uncovered in 7th century English grave sites along with hoards of Continental gold and silver, not to mention trinkets and wares from as far afield as Africa and India. The people at this time were hardly the hunch backed brutes of Hollywood lore spitting through rotted teeth and giggling in drunken disrepair. They invented a range of devices including linen from flax [try making a dish towel yourself]; trousers [inaccurately assigned to 13th century Mongols], buttoned shirts, durable leather shoes [as opposed to wooden shoes used in farming]; socks [the Romans wore sandals even in winter], and field-rotation farming which improved yields, food supply and diets. They were also not idle in the arts or 'classics' either. Alcuin of York the famous 'teacher' at Charles the Great's court in Carolingian Aachen, possessed a 2000 volume library and like many of his contemporaries was well-versed in Roman and Greek thought and writings. It is an absurdity to state, as so many do, that the medieval European was uneducated or unaware of the 'classics'. I wonder today how many of the public school fed population know anything about these 'classics'. Very few one would imagine. Yet we self-congratulate our own brilliance and supreme education.

Bede's Ecclesiastical History [8th century] and a series of saints' lives, alongside a handful of manuscripts, metalwork and stone sculptors produced at early ministers, allow us to reconstruct the extraordinary intellectual and artistic achievements of some of these communities, and enable us to view the religious dedication of many of their inmates.” [p. 173]

I wonder how many of us can sculpt or create an illustrated manuscript on parchment after we have harvested crops, created a better horse collar, and mended our trousers.

Monks, the wealthy, the merchant class and an increasing middle class all contributed inventions which we still use today in some part. This is not to say that all was bliss and harmony. Houses were rude, chimneys were not invented until the 12th century, heating was poor, people would have been miserably cold in the winter; clear window glass was uncommon until the 13th century, and clean potable water was always an issue. Child mortality was in 1 in 4 and many girls died after child birth. The average age was somewhere around 40. But slowly the world was working towards the alleviation of these 'basic' needs as we would now call them. It is not a stretch to state that the premise of the 'industrial revolution' which is usually appraised in history books as some sort of cleavage with a barbaric past; is a myth. The 17tth - 19th centuries are directly linked back in time and deed, to the 7th to 9th. Industry evolves it does not revolt.

Thousands of lords, for example, oversaw the building of mills in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and these must have acted as powerful magnets for resettlement, because they freed the labour or farmwomen and slave girls for other tasks, such as the potentially cash-generating activities of spinning and weaving.” [p. 285]

When Christianity began to take shape in England in the 6th century it was merged with Romano-Briton culture and with the rise of Saxon and Danish paganism then either in existence, or soon to emerge over the coming centuries. One of Christianity's strengths is its fungibility. Many pagan festivals, days, ideas and beliefs became embedded in the doctrine of Christ and are still in use today. A simple example is the Saxon evergreen tree – a pagan symbol of virility now used to mark our mass of Christ. Christianity spread in England for the usual political-social reasons and probably on the part of a few, a real spiritual desire to improve the world and themselves.

The hardball politics of the later sixth and seventh centuries, a period when ambitious families fought to establish royal dynasties and to conquer the territories of neighbouring competitors, meant that many pagan princelings spent part of their youths in exile....the exiles and returns helped expose to Christianity many who were living in the most pagan households.....The writings of Bede and other early hagiographers also make clear that kings themselves were crucially important in the dissemination of the new religion.” [p. 167]

It is a myth that the medievals were self-flagellating Christ followers, unshaven, unshoed, quoting from the Bible every minute [many were illiterate]; or blinded by superstition and dumbness. Most never saw a priest. Many as well likely many never attended church that often. It was only with the creation of a strong state during the 13th and 14th centuries that people were forced to attend the Sunday mass. This coercion did not usually last long due to popular disapproval and was last enforced during the Cromwellian regime.

There must have been thousands of common people in the later seventh and the eighth centuries who did not see a priest from one year to the next. And of course some the priests ministering to such people were not up to the job.” [p. 172]

During the 7th to 9th centuries not only did Christianity take more of a hold on society's culture, but so too did a urbanizing landscape. Dozens of little urban centers of some 10.000 or so citizens began to develop during this period. Careful road and bridge building have been uncovered along with sewers, river embankments, toll roads for trade, large stone houses and churches, and the creation of what we would know as a welfare state, replete with poor houses, hospitals of some variety and even public schools up to a certain age [usually 10 or 12]. These innovations took careful planning, some sort of central power and bureaucracy and of course taxes. As town's developed so did civilization.

In a very real sense towns domesticated England's warrior kings, because they provided those who understood their potential with far greater riches than warfare ever could. Indeed, towns were one of the evolving institutions of this period that must have come to convince kings that governing was more profitable than plundering; that taxation and toll-taking were surer and more lucrative than war.” [p. 212]

King's realized that owning toll roads and the power to tax, was more profitable and less deadly than spring campaigning, plunder, pillage and slave trading. It is a truism still in existence today. King's or what we call Prime Minister's and President's, are governing in much the same way as a 9th century English king would have governed. Today the institutions are more developed and bothersome to the king. There is more scrutiny and debate. But the lust for tolling and taxing has only increased over the centuries. In the 9th century English kings understood the limits of government for many good and obvious reasons. This is not true today. Our kings know no limits to tax, power and privilege. Divine right rule is still with us. Seen in this light perhaps our world is a dark age and maybe the medieval world an era of progress and understanding?


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