England’s forgotten founding father

From the Catholic Herald Athelstan: The Making of England Tom Holland £9.99/£3.09 on Kindle Of all the kings and queens covered in Penguin’s new Monarchs of England series, perhaps the least known is also one of the most important. The grandson of Alfred the Great, Athelstan was raised by his aunt Ethelfleda after his father Edward the Elder discarded his mother Ecgwynn to a convent to make a dynastic marriage… Read on

To France!

But surely France has already been discovered, by the French for a start… I’m off for two weeks poncing around the south of France in chinos so don’t don’t take it personally if I don’t respond. I’ll mainly be reading about horrific medieval torture not just out of pleasure or to escape from the current year, but also because I’m working on a history series aimed at young adults/students/people new to the area. An editor working for an American publisher Read on

How Christianity helped cause mass migration in Europe

At Lapido Media IN 1954 German Lutheran theologian Horst Kasner brought his wife and three young children across the Iron Curtain to take up a role in a new parish. Nothing unusual in that – 200,000 Germans headed from East to West Germany that year – except that Mr Kasner was heading in the other direction. They settled north of Berlin, where the churchman and his wife raised their children in a former seminary. It was in this… Read on

If Trump wins, Europeans will have to grow up

At the Spectator I admit to having a rather sentimental view of America’s role in Europe, being part of that generation who grew up playing out the Second World War in our bedrooms; I remember, aged 8, visiting Berlin and being aware that it was the US soldiers there who stood between us and this hideous political system. That the Americans may wish to withdraw that support, just as Russia has become aggressive again, is frightening in a… Read on

Anti-Christian violence spreads to Europe

At the Spectator, on today’s beheading of a priest in Normandy. (Not a phrase anyone expected to read once.) The irony is that many angry young Islamists are especially hostile to Christianity, yet this new wave of violence is a product of the very openness that Christianity brought to Europe. As Tom Holland explained in this magnificent essay: ‘Even today, with pews across Europe increasingly empty, the attempt to fashion an inclusive and multi-faith future for the continent… Read on

The Nice attacks highlight frailty of modern France

From the Evening Standard As in Michel Houellebecq’s timely novel Submission, there is a general air of weariness about the escalating violence in France, and the fear of if and when it will spread to Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. Only this week the country’s intelligence chief warned that France was heading towards civil war, and its population is by far and away the most pessimistic about the future (although existential despair is part of the Gallic charm)…. Read on

The Conservative party has a remarkable instinct for survival

At the Spectator, on how the Tory party always survives: In a survey a few years ago roughly three times as many people identified themselves as Labour supporters than Conservatives, despite the latter having as many votes over the past few decades. Being a Labour supporter is much more of a tribal identity, which is partly why you always see more red posters in people’s windows (it’s also considered more morally acceptable, of course). That’s also why, I suspect,… Read on

Blair isn’t a liar, he’s a genuine believer – which made him so dangerous

At the Spectator: Blair got a lot of criticism for his religion while in office, ironicconsidering he has helped to destroy one of the oldest Christian communities on earth. But except in fundamentalists, faith is compartmentalised in most peoples’ minds; more influential is Christianity’s secular heresy, progressivism, whose believers have inherited the Christian traditions of equality, universalism, individualism, ensoulment (which probably informs the trans debate), free will and eschatology (‘the right side of history’), but without any of… Read on

Why I regret Brexit

In this week’s Catholic Herald (out Friday) Well, that worked, and just as Britain was taken into the Common Market on a lie, so it will be taken out of the European Union on a lie; leave won with huge support in traditional Labour areas of the north, the midlands and Wales. Some of these towns, such as Boston, had had a big influx of eastern Europeans, but many had little immigration. More puzzling, too, many of these… Read on

Why we need a second referendum

At the Spectator Whether it was meant to be or not, this referendum was in effect a vote on globalisation, and so pitted people generally in favour of multiculturalism and social liberalism against those opposed to it. Despite being on the wrong side of history the latter edged it, just as I imagine if Elizabethan England had held a referendum on the national religion in, say, 1580, Catholicism would still have won, with the few remaining papist… Read on