Brexit Precedents No.4 – The End of the Hundred Years War between England and France

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On July 17 1453, the same year that Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell, England and English influence was effectively kicked out of France for good following the decisive Battle of Castillon.

It was another example of the see-saw, in-out relationship the island of Great Britain (in this case the major part of it called England) has had with the continent for a long time.

Ever since 1066, when William of Normandy conquered England and became its king, there had been strong ties to France. However, when Normandy was lost in 1204 during the reign of King John, successive English kings had hankered for its return; they were after all directly descended from the conqueror.

English invasion and victory

By the late 1330s King Edward III, who was himself largely of French ancestry, was in a position to invade France following a dispute about the long held English territory of Gascony in SW France.

In June 1340 Edward III won a decisive naval victory against the French at the Battle of Sluys, which marked the beginning of the so called Hundred Years War. By the end of the decade, following even more crushing victories at the Battles of Crecy and Poitiers, Edward was in control of large parts of France and even had the French king John II as a prisoner.

Then the so called ‘Black Death’ intervened in 1348/9. The treaty of Bretigny was eventually signed in 1360, leaving England in full charge of an expanded area in SW France. This marked the end of the first phase of the war, an often punctuated stalemate lasting fifty years, which saw France regain the upper hand diplomatically and make incursions into English territory.

The English conquest of France

Then in 1415, just two years after ascending the English throne, King Henry V re-ignited the conflict with his invasion of France. Following an unlikely victory at Agincourt that October, Henry went on, over the next couple of years, to re-conquer Normandy and push on from there to take large areas of northern France to add to those in the SW. Henry had become the undisputed master of France and heir to the French throne, once Charles VI had died. Unfortunately for Henry he was to die six weeks before Charles, leaving the throne of both England and France to his year old son, Henry VI in 1422.

Although the English held on to many of their French possessions for another generation, the loss of Burgundian support and the weakness of character of Henry VI, ensured their eventual defeat and removal from France and the continent of Europe, leaving only little Calais an English possession until 1558.

Out of Europe once again

So England and Great Britain had exited militarily and politically once again, though the monarchs of England would retain their claim on the French throne for several centuries after the defeat. England became more insular after this point, and following the disastrous Wars of the Roses which occurred immediately after the loss of France, the country became more obviously a nation with a nationalistic outlook.

The underrated King Edward IV, one of the Yorkist kings of England, attained enough stability in his kingdom to successfully invade France once more in 1475. However, he was in turn bought off by the French king Louis XI with a huge ‘bribe’ in the Treaty of Picquigny and returned home with his army.

Only the spiritual and ecclesiastical links remained across Europe and Great Britain, the power of the Roman Catholic Church. But even this, as it turned out, was not sacrosanct – but that’s another story in the list of this island’s fractious in-out relationship with Europe.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

 

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Brexit Precedents No.3: ‘Bad’ King John and the Loss of Normandy

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When King John of England lost Normandy, Anjou and Brittany in northern France in 1204 AD to King Philip II Augustus of France, it was to have great repercussions back home in England.

The territories of Normandy and Anjou had been at the very heart of the great Angevin Empire, which at its zenith during the reign of John’s father, Henry II (1154 – 1189 AD), stretched from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees.

Although John retained Gascony and Aquitaine in the south west of France after 1204, lands that had come into the possession of his family through his father’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the loss of Normandy and Anjou seemed symbolic of a catastrophic failure.

Normandy of course was the dukedom brought into the fold of the English crown with William the Conqueror’s victory at Hastings in 1066. John’s father, Henry II, was from Anjou, meaning that this dukedom also became a crown possession when he acceded to the throne, even though Kings of England still had to swear fealty to the Kings of France for their possession of the dukedoms of Normandy and Anjou.

A sudden sense of separation?

So there was definitely a great sense of sudden separation felt, not merely with John, but also among the vast majority of the ruling aristocracy of England, who were overwhelmingly of Anglo Norman or Anglo Angevin descent, and who had lands and familial ties to these French dukedoms.

Now these barons and other aristocrats had to make a choice: Were they English or French? Whilst the ties between England and northern France remained to some degree, there began to grow a sense of English nationhood from this point in history.

Anglo Normans began to feel increasingly English, often marrying English spouses. Those left in Normandy and Anjou became truly French once more. From 1066 to 1204, the English Channel was a connection between two areas essentially of the same realm: Now it was a great divide between two kingdoms growing apart, who would within a hundred and fifty years embark upon the Hundred Years’ War.

Magna Carta and civil war

Nevertheless, despite the loss of Normandy, for over ten years King John, perhaps foolishly, persisted in trying to regain his lost French territories, causing crippling taxation and making powerful enemies at home and abroad.

This would eventually lead to Magna Carta in 1215, where the barons tried to curtail the power of the king against them.

However, when John began to refuse to follow the new ‘rules’, civil war broke out, ultimately leading to the baron’s inviting Prince Louis, the son of King Philip Augustus, to England with an army of several hundred ships.

A new French conquest

By 1216, much of England was in the control of Prince Louis and the barons and it seemed very likely for a while that the ties between the two kingdoms were about to be even more strongly cemented by this new conquest, exactly one hundred and fifty years since the first one.

Then, in October 1216, King John suddenly died. The English barons who had not supported Louis began to resist and gain more support and the French barons were finally defeated as support for Prince Louis began to slip away.

The barons probably realised that they now had John’s young son, Henry III, to control and get what they wanted without trying to justify the arrival of a young French king and all his staff and the unpopularity that this would undeniably bring.

England’s ‘in out’ relationship with the continent

So within twelve short years, England had effectively been cut off from the continent with the loss of Normandy and Anjou, notwithstanding the retention of distant lands in south west France, then came with a hair’s breadth of being fully subsumed within the sphere of influence of kingdom of France, and then finally reneged on the latter idea altogether, ultimately choosing ‘independence’.

Once more England found itself essentially alone, cut off, though independent and with a growing sense of nationhood, perhaps a little bit like Brexit Britain might be?

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Brexit Precedents No.2 – 410 AD, Roman Emperor Honorius tells Britons to Look After Themselves

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The period of Roman rule of Britain is quite clearly defined. Although Julius Caesar had attempted invasion twice a century before, it was the Emperor Claudius who successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD, marking the beginning of the province of Britannia, which, interestingly, did not permanently include what we now call Scotland.

The provincial borders came to be defined by Hadrian’s Wall in the north, created in the early 2nd century AD, and then quite fleetingly by the Antonine Wall in the Scottish midlands.

Boudicca had attempted to destroy the Roman power in the land with her rebellion of 60 – 61AD, but it ultimately failed, although it was a clear sign that Britons were not so easily assimilated into the empire, nor keen on the notion of being ruled by a distant dictator.

A crumbling empire in the west

By the late 4th century, however, several legions had already been withdrawn, leaving the province more open to attack from the Picts to the north and by Germanic raiders, the Anglo Saxons, along the eastern and southern seaboard.

By 410 AD the situation had got so serious that British leaders requested help from the then Roman emperor Honorius. However, due to his ongoing struggles nearer home in Italy and the western empire in general, trying to repulse invasions by other Germanic tribes, he sent his ‘Rescript of Honorius’ back to the Britons, basically telling them that they had to look after themselves, because he was in no position to do so.

Although subsequent Roman leaders probably wanted to re-establish proper links to this far flung province, they never did because the empire in the west was slowly falling apart, finally ending in 476 AD.

So Britain, or at least most of it, had been under Roman rule for over 350 years, a significant time. Now it was cast adrift and largely at the mercy of invasions from the east and north.

The beginnings of England

The Romano British warlords, ‘King’ Arthur quite likely being one of them, did their best to defend the country. However, gradually, as more Angles, Saxons and Jutes (and others) who had been living to the north of the empire, settled over the next two centuries, the foundations of the country we now call England began to take hold, in the form of petty kingdoms ruled by Germanic warlord aristocrats.

Of course, we can’t compare this history too much to what is happening now. For one thing, the Romans left Britain, whereas today’s Brexit is the other way round, Britain leaving the EU, allegedly. And then there’s the duration factor too. For example, the United Kingdom has only been in the Common Market/European Economic Union/European Union since January 1 1973 – not 350 years.

Britain may leave the EU but Romans abandoned Britain

And of course, the Roman takeover was largely hostile, whereas Britain’s deferring of powers to the EU has been granted peaceably, albeit foolishly according to a growing number of British patriots.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting comparison and another example of the island of Great Britain being a part of Europe but always likely to be either less well thought of by central Europeans, abandoned, forgotten, or even seeking to go its own way, looking beyond with an independent spirit.

One can imagine the uneasy feeling of the people of Britain 1600 years ago, knowing that the protection they had known for so long had been withdrawn.

Do those who want to remain in the EU today feel the same? And do Brexiteers, like some of the populace back at the end of Roman Britain, feel more of a sense of opportunity, the chance to create something freer?

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Brexit Precedents: No 1

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Whatever did Britons (and others) do for news stories before Brexit?

When this long running political and parliamentary shenanigans is finally sorted (if) – will we actually, in some strange way – miss it?

Now that ‘the can has been kicked down the road’ once more, as they say, there is still no end in sight, not even with a ‘flextension’, where the United Kingdom could leave at any time before January 31 2020. But don’t hold your breath, expect the unexpected might be a good statement to keep in mind.

The whole issue of Brexit reminded me of the people of Great Britain’s long running in/out relationship with the continent of Europe, not merely historically, politically and economically, but geographically.

When the ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age, roughly 10 to 11000 years ago, what is now the island of Great Britain was, for a time, connected to the continent by an ever diminishing land bridge, which eventually disappeared.

It would appear this separation was wholly and permanently defining for the people of Great Britain, wherever they came from, and remains so right up until the present day. Britain is part of Europe, yet it is clearly a very distinct part of it, symbolised by its island status and the fractured relationship it has had, and still has, with Europe’s varying political institutions.

In the next piece I will look at other examples of ‘Brexit’ from the past.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Pictures of Peterborough Cathedral No.1

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Peterborough is a modern city, with a population well over 200,000. After WW2 Peterborough was no bigger than a large market town – with one of the best cathedrals in England.

Until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the late 1530s, Peterborough Abbey was one of the largest monasteries in the whole of eastern England. Luckily, at the time of the Dissolution. Henry VIII granted Peterborough city status by allowing the abbey church to become a cathedral. We should at least be grateful for that and that it is still a magnificent structure today, with modern elements incorporated inside.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Astrology Musings: Helmut Ruhemann, definitive art restorer

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Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin By Rogier van der Weyden – a prime example of the restorative work of Helmut Ruhemann.

Helmut Ruhemann was one of the best and best known art conservators and restorers of the early to mid 20th century, who exuded a highly exacting and painstaking attitude towards his profession.

He kept full documentation of his work, as well as photographic records which continue to highlight the methods underlying art conservation to this day.

It is perhaps not surprising to find Helmut was a sun Taurean, but he was also born at the exact time of the New Moon (his chart ruler) with Mercury in close attendance in his 11th house. Here we have the epitome of patience and endurance, but also an appreciation of art as Taurus is ruled by Venus.

His Venus (Sun ruler) is actually in impatient, fiery Aries in the 10th house of career, in good aspect to Mars in Gemini.

An ardent love of art brought down to earth

This would have given him that initial, strong, ardent love and appreciation of art, the need to communicate and disseminate his knowledge of it, and also seek to make this his career (10th house and Mars house ruler).

However, the strong Taurean elements would have grounded this energy in totally practical ways, and this earthy activity being in the 11th house, means that he invariably sought share this with others in the same field as himself, as a way to make a body of knowledge within his profession.

I think we can also see here his willingness to use modern means, x rays for instance, in the process of restoration but only as a way to give a truer, more conservative result, totally in keeping with the original creation where elements like brushstrokes were left unaffected.

One of his most famous restorations is that of early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden’s Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin, a task which totally suited his exacting approach.

Nervous energy and home/career challenges

His Mars is at the apex of a fairly tight T-square involving an angular Jupiter Saturn opposition in mutable signs and houses. There is a lot of nervous energy here.

Jupiter is conjunct the MC here too, and whilst this may be an indication of career success, it clearly was no easy ride to the top, this energy being harnessed and funnelled down to quite precise, deliberate artistic channels.

The fact that he decided to leave his homeland of Germany in 1933 was probably all bound up with this, that natal Saturn exactly conjunct his IC (home, family, origin) maybe always left him feeling a sense of overriding duty, even privation at home (wherever that might be), especially so with Jupiter opposing, offering wider opportunities in the outside world, which he eventually found in Great Britain.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

source: Astro-Databank

***If you would like your own astrology report creating, or one for a loved one or friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com

Poem: Paradigm

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The pattern repeats, 
it goes on and on stretching back
as far as the eye can see, 
as far back as memory can recall.
But what is this? A stitch

in the cloth has come undone
and someone is pulling it.
It’s both threatening
and comforting,
the pattern which has clothed the emperor
is now unravelling 
and truth is emerging – naked
right there before you

should you wish to accept it

copyright Francis Barker 2019