Franks, Romans and Europe
Dear Patrice, to start with, your historical interpretation about history of Franks, English etc. i would say is slightly misleading. The Roman British citizens, left unprotected, after the Roman garrisons left Brittany at begging of the fifth century, afraid from the Scottish “Barbarians”, invited the Saxons, a other German tribe, to protect them, who pretty soon took over the kingdom. Then from 8 century as the Saxons get “cultured”, the Viking invasions started, and in the nine century they almost took over the whole country. For a while Alfred the Great, who lived in the tenth century, (he was the first Saxon king who knew not only to read but also to write), drew them out. But the Saxon success did not last for very long time and in the early 11 century the Viking Canute added Britain to his wast kingdom. When at 1066 the Norman William II, (himself a descendant of vikings) invaded Britain and killed Herold II, he started a long line of Norman English kings. Since the Norman kings claimed sovereignty not only upon England but also big parts of France, this ignited the 100 years war, which lasted actually for more than 800 years, and ended with the treaty of Entente Cordiale signed at 1904. In all this description i don’t see any Franks, whose empire actually fall apart after the treaty of Verdun at 843 that created all the problems Europe had to face for the next 1200 years. So not everything what the Franks had done was perfect.
As to the French achievements in science, modernity etc. i don’t think any educated person would underestimate their achievements and contribution to the modernity. Yet the French screwed for themselves that they did not become the leading nation and culture in Europe, and subsequently in the whole world. When they made Revolution, they created the first political modern terror state. Then to end with the turmoil, the French came up with Napoleon, who created the very first fascistic state. Then instead of investing his talent and the opportunity the history gave him, to unite politically and modernize whole Europe under French enlightened leadership, he continued the French tradition of war against the English, (the pretext for the Russian invasion was Russian commercial ties with England). If instead he would dismantle the Hapsburg Empire and together with the other German mini-states, and probably even with Prussia, he would create a whole European entity, we would probably exchange our opinions in French and not in English, language i don’t speak, yet just by its sound it seems to me superior to English. Maybe even the tragic twenty century, wouldn’t had to be so tragic, etc. So if you look for the cause of whole European decadence, that started 100 years ago with outbreak of 80 years war, (WWI, WWII and all the revolutions) its roots go back to France and the French revolution, that couldn’t copy the American revolution, because Jean-Paul Marat was not Thomas Paine, Maximilien Robespierre was not Thomas Jefferson, Fouche was not Hamilton and Napoleon was not Washington. I know you don’t like Jefferson, as he was one of the causes of American slavery, and i agree that not forbidding slavery in the territories he bought from Napoleon he committed a historical crime and evil, but i like to judge Jefferson during his years before his presidency.
- Patrice Ayme Says:
July 16, 2014 at 6:35 am | Reply Dear Eugen: I fail to see how my “slightly misleading” history differs from yours. You present facts that are completely compatible with mine. In general, I deliberately present facts that seem deeper, and from a different angle, in all of history.
For example, Caesar crossed the Rubicon. All books have that one. Why? Natural to attribute it, to raw ambition. But in truth, the Senate was out to get Caesar, he had little choice (my angle).
Guillaume (William) of Normandy was French (descending more or less from Viking, partly so). A very big guy. His mother was a French tenturiere. She was not noble, and owned a firm that cleaned and prepared animal skins, among other things. That’s why he was called “The Bastard”. He was touchy about it, even executing famously 35 prisoners who had taunted him with skins in a siege.
You described lightly the mess Britain became after the legions left. In the Seventh Century, the Franks even intervened: that’s how Bathilde, a high society British girl became a slave of the Franks (and, a few years later, after at least one evasion, their queen and leader!!!!!!)
Fact is until the Normands/Franks/French established a sturdy government making a direct alliance of Crown and People, with a strong parliament, Britain was a mess. Brittany is named after the British army had to flee there in the Sixth Century, creating a Duchy that served as a model to Normandy. (Before that it was Armorica.)
- EugenR Says:
July 16, 2014 at 7:39 am | Reply Dear Patrice, what we are doing here in your blog, is trying to understand the Human animal as a creature, being aware and acting in the flow of human history. As we see many times the human history is a result of a particular act of an unique person. Let us take the act of crossing the Rubicon by Julius Cesar. He could as well turn back and create a new kingdom in Gaul, probably then France wouldn’t be France now, and everything would be different. I could imagine that he would try to conquer Spain, and maybe even Germany, and would marginalize Rome to Italy and Greece. But all this is just speculation, and it could be otherwise too. The historical fact is that he crossed the Rubicon.
History on one hand is influenced by particular acts of individuals, like J.Cesar, but also many times it creates predictable deterministic situations, when the trends and developments are given and decided by the circumstances.
- If we stay with the Roman history as an example, it seems to me, that after Rome adopted the highly sophisticated Greek culture, philosophy, ideas and scientific thinking, that nothing similar was in the surroundings, and combined it with Roman stubbornness, ruthlessness (as seen with the Carthaginians) adaptability and political organization skills (Republic and Roman law), it was inevitable that they created an empire, that ruled at the time almost all the civilized world between the Atlantic and Middle East, (except Persia). Yet a civil war between Augustus and Antony could end all this, but haven’t. Why? Probably exactly because of limited sophistication of other potential empires, like the Persian empire, whose leaders were hardly aware of the historical trends, and for this reason couldn’t grasp the opportunity, opened to them during the civil war between Augustus and Antony, which happened few years after they destroyed the Roman army of Marcus Crassus.
What killed Rom is the civilization itself, that had no more the ruthlessness needed to fight back the barbarians, who at the end dismantled the whole empire, even without to be aware of it.
You are in France now, i wonder if you can feel there the bit of the history.
- EugenR Says:
- Patrice Ayme Says:
July 16, 2014 at 7:13 am | Reply The “Normans” kings did NOT claim sovereignty over France. It’s not what happened. What happened is that the French monarchy got total direct control of England, for a number of reasons and in various ways, and that led to a Franco-French fight, misrepresented as a Franco-English war. I wrote many times on that, including in:http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/joan-of-arc-roasted-too-late/
Henry V of England, descendant from Philippe IV Le Bel of France, was the legitimate king of France. Joan of Arc was bin Laden, just worst.
- EugenR Says:
July 16, 2014 at 7:53 am | Reply Agree, but all this claims of legitimacy of kings and kinsman look to us from the modern perspective, very folly. Politics then and now is about how to pacify all this alpha males, who subdue others, many times with extraordinary cruelty and usually devastate what other people built. (Built i mean not only physically but also socially and culturally). Why are this “Alpha Males” needed, because the ignorant masses are sometimes even more devastating than them, as it can be seen in front of us in Egypt, Syria and some other Arab countries.
- EugenR Says: