Tuesday, 8 April 2014

History and mindless cock-waving; never the twain shall meet...

Schools continue to teach what seem like completely random and sudden occurrences that have no basis; this provides some people with a slightly askew perspective. Attacks on the U.K are a shining example of this; if you are in school then the Vikings, the Spanish Armada and the Normans all attacked simply on the basis that they are a bunch of pricks. As if the Vikings just went waaarrrg at some point, sailed over here and started twatting people on a whim, the Spanish were just here because good and evil are real and the Spanish are not to be trusted, not in anyway due to the cult of Protestantism intrinsically clashing with the cult of Catholicism.
Vikings: They'll bum you because that's what they do.

The Independent article by Patrick Cockburn is definitely a victim of this mode of thought; http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-vikings-were-feared-for-a-reason-9241032.html the article is under the impression that raids were what Vikings did as part of their basic existence. The concept of the Vikings being directly comparable to the SS is one point made in this article that I don’t think has not been made before; I would suggest that there is a reason for this, in fact there might be more than one.

This is an example of isolationist history; taking historical events and placing them without past, cause or future, this has been used in recent months on The Great War which was portrayed as a clear battle of good and evil that lacked any real origin other than the misdeeds of the cruel.

Let us stride fourth and cast off these trousers of naivety and be gently caressed by the warm summer wind of knowledge; people act and react to environment and circumstance, so what were the circumstances of the Vikings?

Who was in the U.K at the time? The Anglo Saxons, an icon of Englishness that crawled from the ocean onto Brighton pier as a long distant ancestor of the millipede they were not; like everybody else here they came from somewhere else, in fact the same as everybody everywhere they came from somewhere else. People were from somewhere else before the imaginary lines that indicated where they were actually from had been imagined.
English people: Always been here mate, always. 

 This of course does provide us with a comparison between the SS and the Vikings; they were both the owners of legs.  

The occurrences around a certain people depend upon the people around them and their actions; the Christian Francs were on the move, and had attacked areas of Germany and Scandinavia; this is why Vikings had a great number of boats, because everyone else had lots of boats. Take into account the method used was a form of raid and the raiders pillaged. There was a Christian raid on Friesland, north-west Denmark in 734 ad; where as the Viking raid on Lindisfarne was in 793 ad, this provides a context for behaviour and a history for the occurrences.

In 768 Charlemagne took his position as the Francish king; he proved to be very pious and less than patient when others were not quite so fervent, this meant that the expansion of the empire brought compulsory Christianity. This was demonstrated in the massacre of Verden, near contemporary Bremen; 4500 people were forcibly baptized and, once the holy water had rolled off their purified heads, the heads were removed. Saxon refuges fled to nearby Denmark and the Vikings were aware of the massacres and rapes that were taking place during what had become a guerilla war.

Charlemagne: Proper shifty. 
 King Widukind of Saxony visited the Danes for moral and, he hoped, practicable assistance; this was news in Norway as once an area was absorbed into the Franco Empire all power was taken from the resident leaders and Charlemagne applied new laws, leaders and faith. The threat of abolishment spread across Europe and Denmark allied with Norway; it was not feasible that one of the two countries could separately succeed in defeating the Franco army.

Another alliance formed in 793; that between the Christian Francs and the English, in 793, which rings a bell as it was the same year as the raid on Lindisfarne. What was Lindisfarne after all? Not simply a Christian structure, but a Franco Christian structure.

The eleven monks that were killed was an atrocity, but compared to the four thousand five hundred at Verden and the associated power grab in Saxony it was minuscule; and the previous massacres had given the Vikings a good idea what Christian conquerors had the capacity to be like.

I now refer directly to the essay by Patrick Cockburn: Before I refer to what it contains I shall refer to what it does not, any history of history or to use another term, context. The fact that the Vikings attacked due to being violent and, for want of a better word, rapey, is puerile and mindless. The fact that they killed monks because they were barbarians and this is simply what barbarians are prone to doing is as foolish as labeling the outbreak of The Great War was the result of Germans doing what Germans do.

 I shall now refer to what is in Patrick Cockburn’s essay in regard to Viking atrocities: The pro-Viking lobby claim this is exaggerated stuff and there is no proof of such Viking atrocities. But the absence of evidence is scarcely surprising. The invaders, themselves illiterate, were so destructive that almost no writings survive from the conquered Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

What exactly is the pro Viking lobby? I doubt very much they have meetings or a news letter; This echoes more of the corralling of contradictory opinions into one subconscious happy place where disagreeing parties have a set agenda and one conspicuous eyebrow.

More worryingly, the idea the lack of evidence indicating in no way indicates the lack of occurrence. The Saxon refuges spread the word of atrocity quickly enough through Denmark and Norway, despite, as Mr. Cockburn maliciously points out, the populace being illiterate. The lack of evidence does not mean the necessary lack of occurrence, but it most certainly does not mean the opposite. It sounds like some sort of anti Viking lobbying, which would exist for no reason whatsoever.

Magical sky picture: If England and Germany are the holy Roman Empire
then you can see why others would be nervous. 
Unless of course one of the institutions of the time were still in existence and felt that Christians should not be seen to be behaving in a barbaric fashion.

Historical isolationism is a wobbly misleading strut of unnecessary contemporary patriotism; the idea that we were fighting a just war is absurd in the era of conquest within which the Viking raids took place.

 The direct comparison between the Vikings and the SS is a peculiar one that is not in anyway substantiated; especially if you one looks closely at the comparisons of religious genocide; if one were to make a comparison between the SS and one of the involved parties of the Viking raids whom would it be between?

There are some comparisons between the time periods; Charlemagne was reimaged under the Third Reich as a German hero.

In closing; the idea that the Scandinavians should apologies for the behaviour of the Vikings, which was over 1300 years ago, is bizarre. It certainly wasn't any contemporary residents of Norway that killed any monks.

I am very certain that there are far more recent events that need to be apologized for, preferably ones of which the perpetrators, victims, or both are still alive and there is in fact some evidence of wrongdoing.

History should be taught as what it is; a series of connected and motivated actions by people as capable of conceptual thought as any modern day resident; history is very prone to the biased elements of its own sources, but without context it is open to contemporary bias and can easily be used as mindless cock-waving patriotism that it very rarely genuinely supports.