I may or may not edit this post over the weekend. I have a feeling I should write something about The Telegraph’s poll on British identity (and some other articles and stuff).
But when you start by reading the line “[British] People also know how much they owe to the fact that Britain has not been invaded since 1066”, you can’t help thinking you’re in fairly dodgy territory. Admittedly, the French effort to invade via south-west Wales in 1797 was a bit of a farce, so alright, we could put that to one side. (Don’t know that contemporaries were quite so dismissive though. And they did land on the British mainland.) And 1688 – well, there was a sort of ‘invitation’ to William, with his Dutch troops, so perhaps that’s different too.
But what about 1485? Or even 1470-71 (twice)?* Or perhaps none of these count, since the armies were not led by ‘foreigners’ (even if they contained a lot of them, and were largely backed by foreign money). And it doesn’t count either, I suppose, that English armies invaded and occupied Wales in the thirteenth century, and ‘visited’ Scotland on an almost regular basis well into the sixteenth century (and, yes, Scottish armies on occasion returned a few favours too). A bit of Rough Wooing, anybody?
The Telegraph can get very worked up about British people’s ignorance of ‘their own’ history sometimes. But clearly not when that ignorance suits the purposes of a set of articles like these. It looks to me like they’re going to be the usual lazy anglocentric (and southern-anglocentric at that) thou-shalt-never-criticise-or-question-Britain’s-greatness kind of shite to me. I just look at them and start to feel very, very tired. I know I should engage. I should do something. But don’t be surprised if I can’t get up the energy.
But if anybody does read them and gets some pleasant surprises, let me know.
*1485: Henry Tudor and a French-backed army, landed in south-west Wales and marched east to England and you know the rest, right? 1470: the French-backed army of Henry VI (Lancastrian, deposed in 1461) and his son, throwing out Edward IV, who escaped to Burgundy. 1471: Edward IV (Yorkist) and his Burgundian-backed army chucked the Lancastrians out again. (I used to know all the details of those ones too. I had this Wars of the Roses thing going at one time.)
NB: If I don’t update on this over the weekend, there might be a different reason. The necessary piece of kit has arrived in the shop and I’m planning on going wireless. So there’s always the possibility that I might break my internet connection completely in the process and not be able to fix it until Monday.