32 Comments
Jun 3Liked by Ed West

Put me in mind of America's infatuation with JFK as Camelot reborn. Fake history is always more clamored after than true history is studied.

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Jun 3Liked by Ed West

I arrived in Cornwall yesterday, so this is a timely read, though I'm disappointed you didn't cover the story of Jesus visiting the place.

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author

enjoy!

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Jun 3Liked by Ed West

In his Tractarian days Newman tried to create a calendar of English saints but ignored the Cornish saints as "too numerous to be attempted."

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It seems St. Petroc made the cut (for tomorrow, no less), so some were included.

https://www.newmanreader.org/works/apologia/saints.html

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Jun 3Liked by Ed West

Of course the true history of Arthur (with some minimal embellishment) is set out in Bernard Cornwell’s superb Warlord trilogy.

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Jun 3Liked by Ed West

Did you know the actress who plays the farmer's daughter in the brief sequel series of Are You Being Served? is Cornish?:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur_Bennett

I think her accent is awfully folksy and cute!

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author

It’s a very cute accent although I think it’s because I grew up in an age when the Caramel Bunny was everyone’s favourite TV pin-up.

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Extraordinary how wholesome pin-ups seem today in a world where remote young people in the depths of the Amazon are getting addicted to Internet porn:

https://x.com/JonHaidt/status/1797300499600806010

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Sorry for the tangent This is not shocking Amazonia has a problem with underage sex - It was always a red flag for my fellow expats if they had spent time in the Amazon for no reason. . There is a fetishisation of Amazonian women in South America. There is no law and order in Amazonia.- Bolsarnario was a response to the chaos there . 1/3 of the girls in Loretto - (The Peruvian province which is mostly Amazon) agedbetween 15 and 19 are pregnant. Loretto is as murderous as Mexico.

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Y Gododdin only mentions Arthur in passing - in praising a warrior's martial ability it says "although he was no Arthur". It does not call him King and makes no mention of whom he fought. (It's also only in one text of the poem, though some experts do think it may be contemporary.) Other than that Arthur is clearly thought of as a great warrior, we have no way of knowing if the author conceived of him as historical or mythological.

The 10th century Welsh Annals do not mention 12 battles, only Badon & Camlann; it's the early 9th century Historia Brittonum ascribed to Nennius that has the 12 battles (not including Camlann). The Badon entry in the Welsh Annals is almost certainly derivative of the HB. The annals are otherwise derived form earlier Irish annals which do not contain the Arthurian entries, so they are late.

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author

thank you, have amended.

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"And shall Trelawny die ?" was written in the 1820's by Rev Robert Stephen Hawkins, loosely based on old folk lyrics.

Which may refer, however, to another Hawkins, a Royalist imprisoned by Parliament in 1628.

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It is extraordinary how many successful memes really began in the Home Counties and later spread everywhere. There was the fact that East Anglia and Kent were the first Germanic strongholds while the rest of the country still spoke Celtic languages. "Angle-ish" would ultimately triumph.

I read a lot about the Eastern counties in Seed of Albion and in later centuries, when trends started there, they would usually spread everywhere. The peasant revolt of 1381, Protestantism, Puritanism, etc.

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The first kings of Wessex, albeit shadowy figures, still had Celtic names.

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that was always seen as evidence that they were more Britonnic than Saxon to start with

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If there was a post-Roman warlord who, patriotically (but foolishly), fought the Anglo-Saxons, he is most likely to have been based in Wroxeter (Viroconium Cornoviorum) in Shropshire. The Roman town underwent some renewal in the mid-sixth century, though using inferior technology and materials compared with Roman times. Strategically, it was an ideal location; protecting the Welsh heartlands, and linking the remaining Celtic kingdoms in the north and south.

The nearby Wrekin is an eminently suitable location for Mount Badon where the Celts are said to have defeated the invaders in battle (though not for long). It is the site of an ancient hill fort, probably built by the Cornovii, who were transported to Wroxeter after their defeat by the Romans.

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Happy Feast of St. Meriasek, everyone.

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Loved this one! I visited Devon and Cornwall in 2016, and in Cornwall especially, I found the people to be exceptionally outgoing and friendly. Interestingly though, while I had been advised that the finest Cornish pasties were to be found in Mousehole, I personally preferred the ones that I found in Devon. I really enjoyed this essay, Ed, thanks so much.

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author

thank you.

We didn't get as far as Mousehole or St Ives, which we'll have to do next time.

I had a few pasties but I have to say rather unpatriotically that I prefer Argentine empanadas my father-in-law makes.

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In their struggle against the hydra-headed monster, the Big Money, which is strangling the entire world and every region in it, the people of Kernow are fighting for us all.

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And when the revolution comes, we can all look forward to the Big Poverty. Can't wait.

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The revolution ?

No,, the chaos and the collapse.

The Poverty is coming anyway. Be patient.

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I liked this piece Ed. I first heard of Tintagel in my first year of University. The archaeology department did some digs there. I decided to try my luck in the Americas like many Cornish Men did and I did not see Tintagel. Later as an testament to the power of stories, I planned a trip with my first love. Who was a Chilean Wiccan She loved the stories

I am surprised that Cornwall, is poorer than the average. I thought it was wealthy second homers - Public school boys surfing at Newquay .

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This is a quote fascinating and detailed article. I thought the map of the saints monuments was particularly intriguing. In Italy, there also seem to be fewer monuments in the old Lombard territories.

One candidate for King Arthur's true identity is a Romano-British king sent to aid Anthemius, one of the last Western Roman Emperors:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riothamus

There is recent evidence that Roman lifestyles may have lasted far longer than long hypothesized in various areas in the West and South of Britain:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lzrtYEQ8mG0

Do you think the Plague of Justinian played a decisive role in Anglo-Saxon victory?:

https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2007/04/10/the-plague-that-made-england/

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author

thank you!

I've read about the plague theory, it's certainly plausible but I don't know enough to be sure.

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One of the earliest references to Arthur mentions his death, in vague connection with "plague in Britain". That the Plague of Justinian reached the British Isles has been corroborated by finding traces of Yersinia pestis DNA in at least one skeleton from the era.

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I also read that I major weakness of the Britons was that chiefs tried to divide their lands equally among their sons (supposedly to prevent civil wars) whereas the Anglo-Saxons just left the whole to the eldest son. That meant that the British domains fragmented all the time while the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms could pool much greater resources.

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Not necessarily an eldest son. If the late king had no adult sons, his brother might well claim the crown. Hence, Alfred the Great, the youngest of four brothers, and the claim of his underage nephew (Aethelwulf, I think was his name) were set aside since Wessex needed an adult at the helm.

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They might be disappointed today, as many adults in our society are permanent adolescents.

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Jun 3·edited Jun 3

I've seen it claimed that much of the violence and instability of the medieval period was due to the fact that the average age of people was much younger; often enough people lost one or both parents before they were adults themselves.

Alfred had a bit of a reputation as a lady's man and bon vivant, but he did rise to the occasion when need came. And he was not just some warrior king; he did his best to make Wessex a cultural mecca.

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A boyhood visit to Rome made a deep impression on him.

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