Saturday, 21 May 2016

1066 And All That

Strange how we are voting on whether to stay 'Europeans' or not as we observe the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings which saw the last Anglo-Saxon King and the coronation of the first proper King of England who was French.
The Battle of Hastings wasn't actually fought at Hastings, it all kicked off at a place called 'Battle' but the Battle of Battle just sounded silly so they went with the place were the Normans landed which was Hastings although they only ended up there because there ships were blown off course so we could have ended up with the Battle of Scratchy Bottom if the wind had been blowing in a different direction.
The English had days earlier fought off the Norwegians and while they were sent home to celebrate, the French pulled up with their invasion fleet and one arrow in the King's eye later, the rest is history.  
Historians say the conquest was a critical turning point in history and it certainly changed England who went from a Viking influenced living to a French one, the reason why so many of our words are French was because William made it the official language although only the nobility actually learned it, the general population stayed with whatever language they knew, non of that 'parlez vous Francaise' for them.   
William was known originally as William the Bastard so he must have been happy to change it to William the Conqueror which has a much better ring to it while poor old King Harold Godwinson is just known for jokes about getting an arrow in his eye (Watch out for those sharp arrows, they could have someones eye out).
What William did start was not actually having English people on the British throne, William's children followed on when he died (exploding on death he was so fat so the story goes) and it was French all the way until the Germans muscled in and then changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor (after the castle) during the first World War to sound less German.
The point is that before William it was Scandinavians, then came the French and then the Germans which all means that the British monarchy is a hotch-potch of everywhere else except Britain which may be worth considering if you are thinking about voting to leave the EU because you don't want to be ruled by foreigners, we have been ruled over by foreigners since before Billy the Bastard showed up 950 years ago.

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