What’s the matter with Bolsover?

At UnHerd, on how it’s historically hard for the rulers to rule if the ruled have a different religion.

Centuries earlier Egypt fell to the Arabs partly because there was such bitter divisions between its Byzantine Greek rulers, who were orthodox Catholic and followed the Council of Chalcedon, and the Egyptian Copts, who were Miaphysites. In contrast, for example, the Normans in England were pretty brutal but within a short space of time had intermarried with the natives because they had the same faith. Britain’s rule over Ireland was unhappy for a number of reasons but that the two groups did not share the same church was fatal.

As someone pointed out, George R.R. Martin echoed this aspect of history in his epic work of fantasy. As I wrote in my book on that subject.

But worship of the new God was not spread by conquest, and indeed many conquerors of Christian people took the religion of their subjects, rather than vice versa. The Targaryens, upon subjugating Westeros, accepted the faith of the Seven rather than bringing their own religion, which has often been the case with conquering peoples. At the collapse of the western Roman Empire, many barbarian tribes became Christian as they overwhelmed Roman lands, if they were not already converted. Later conquerors of the Middle East adopted Islam as their faith; on purely practical grounds it’s far easier to rule people if you share their religion. 

Martin knows a thing or two about history, which is why his great series of books feel so authentic.

What do you think?

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