My title today refers to the very greatest history book ever written, er, or made up! Mind you, the 'inventors', Sellar & Yateman, were the funniest duo since Morecombe and Wise. It must be well over 60 years since I first read it but I still remember weeping with laughter. It all comes back to me courtesy of an article at The Coffee House by Ed West who suggests that "the Normans were the original liberal metropolitan elite 'Remainers'".
He reminds us that today is the 950th anniversary of the 1066 battle of Hastings in which those damned 'Frogs' cheated by shooting our very decent, sporting English King Harold in the eye with an arrow and thus winning the fight. Mind you, as Mr. West informs us, the Normans, under William the Conqueror, then went on to take unfair advantage by slaughtering tens of thousands and indulging in years of rape and thievery:
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles recorded that after 1066: ‘When the castles were built, they filled them with devils and wicked men… they levied taxes on the villages… they robbed and burned’. Women were subject to the sort of horrors one expects, as the Chronicles recorded: ‘noble maidens were exposed to the insults of low-born soldiers, and lamented their dishonouring by the scum of the earth’. By ‘insults’, of course, they were not talking about micro-aggressions.
Still, it wasn't all bad because they soon went 'ooooop north' and sorted out all those 'Yorkies' and 'Lancies':
The worst atrocity was the harrowing of the north, in which a local uprising was met with such vicious reprisals that anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people died. So out of control was William’s violence that one Norman knight went home to the continent in disgust, and it took something for a Norman to do that.
And that had an unintended good effect, too, because the North English decamped into Scotland and thus put a stop to the Gaelic language by introducing English. Not, mind you, that you can easily understand an English-speaking Jock these days as the news reports from the current SNP conference prove!
Mr. West will please 'SoD' and his ilk with this summary:
The economy also grew hugely in the late 11th and 12th century, and there was a big increase in trade with continental Europe, especially the export of wool, although this may also have happened anyway. There was also a rise in the number of monasteries, which were the main centres of learning before universities began to spring up; and teaching at Oxford first began in 1096, although it would be another century or so before continental-based orders such as the Dominicans and Franciscans turned it into the intellectual powerhouse it would become. Without all this England would have been freer, but also perhaps poorer, both economically and culturally.
So yes, what I’m saying basically is that the Normans were the cosmopolitan liberal elite of their day, the Remainers.
A superb essay and I urge you all to read it.