Category Archives: Politics

The Laws of the Lion of Justice: 1115

October 1st 2012 is an important date in the legal profession of England & Wales. To begin with, it marks the beginning of the Michaelmas Law Term in England & Wales. Perhaps even more significant: today is the third anniversary of the Act of Parliament establishing the new Supreme Court of the UK (thereby superseding the historic function of the House of Lords). It is therefore fitting that my October Blog will examine the impact of Henry I’s reign on the development of  English Common Law; particularly the important legal initiative: ‘The Laws of Henry I’.

This ground-breaking document, ‘’Leges Henrici Primi”, was written about 900 years ago, in the second decade of Henry’s reign. It clearly drew on legal innovations outlined in Henry’s ‘Coronation Charter’ of 1100; but the Charter had been primarily designed to attract support for Henry’s new regime. In contrast, the Leges was more concerned with the actual advancement of the Law: it was to be a indispensable staging post in the evolution of English Common Law.

Impact of the Leges on English Common Law.

(1) The Leges formalised the Anglo-Saxon ‘Two-Tier’ System of Law Courts: Shire Courts for serious offences and Hundred Courts for lesser offences.

Clause VII(i) stated that: ”the general plea of the shire court shall be held at the recognised terms and times throughout the different provinces of England.”

Clause VII(iv) stated that: ”The shire moot and the borough moot ought to meet twice a year; and the hundred moot and the wapentake moot twelve times a year.” (All direct quotations from the Leges are taken from EHD, Volume II, pages 491 to 495).                                                                                                  The Shire and Borough Moots approximate to our  Crown Courts. The Hundred and Wapentake Moots roughly correspond to our modern-day Magistrates’ Courts. However there is at least one major difference between the 12th century Hundred and Wapentake Moots and today’s Magistrates’ Courts. There are about 350 Magistrates’ Courts in England & Wales in 2012. Nine hundred years ago, there were possibly as many as 600 Hundred and Wapentake Courts in England (reflecting the obvious difficulties in travel in 12th century England).                                                                                                                               The ‘Hundred’ was the basic Anglo-Saxon unit of local government. The ‘Wapentake’ was the basic unit of local government in what had been the Danelaw. As Professor Bartlett has pointed out, the Leges actually defined England, it stated: “The Kingdom of England is divided into three parts, Wessex, Mercia and the Danelaw.” (Quoted by Robert Bartlett, in his ‘England under the Norman and Angevin Kings,’ OUP (2000), page 155). What is impressive is that our modern Law Terms are still standardised throughout England (and also in Wales). What is also impressive is that the Danelaw was still recognised as a separate entity in England as late as the early 12th century.  The Danelaw was established as the Viking half of England in the late 9th century.

In the early 12th century, when referring to the Danelaw (or Denelaga), the Leges effectively meant Northern England (from Lincolnshire northwards). When referring to Wessex (Westsexenlaga),  the Leges effectively referred to Southern England (including London). When referring to Mercia (Merchenlaga), the Leges effectively meant what is now Central England.

(2) A key element in any formal legal system is the ‘Right of Appeal’: it is an obvious safeguard against the arbitrary use of the law. It was the Leges that contained one of the first written references to appeal procedures in England.

Clause XXXI(iv) stated that: “No man may dispute  the judgement of the king’s court, but it shall be permitted to men who have knowledge of the plea to appeal against the judgement of other courts.” What the Leges seems to be implying is that the King’s Court might well be the final Court of Appeal. (Shades of our modern Supreme Court?)

(3) It would of course be stretching incredulity to suggest that the Leges was an exact blueprint for our present day legal structure. For example, the author of the Leges deliberately wrote into the Leges a formal assertion of the legal rights of King Henry’s Tenants-in-Chief.

Clause LV(i): “Every lord is allowed to summon his men, so that he may do justice upon them in his court. If the man be resident in a manor far from the honour from which he holds, he shall none the less go to the plea if the lord summon him.”

The concept of a ‘summons’ is of course familiar to legal systems; but Clause LV explicitly allowed the Tenants-in-Chief to have their own courts, called Honor Courts (a Norman innovation).  Such private courts would of course be unthinkable in any modern democratic legal system. Even so, as Professor Bartlett has demonstrated, the Leges contained checks against ‘overmighty’ Tenants-in-Chief, as Henry I forbade ‘building a castle without permission.’ (Bartlett, page 279). This prohibition was an effective safeguard against ambitious Tenants-in-Chief. In any case,  these ‘Honorial ‘ or ‘Seignorial’ courts did not really take root in 12th century England. The Anglo/Saxon ‘two-tier’ system of shire and hundred courts remained pre-eminent in 12th century England, thereby bequeathing a two-tier court system to us.

(4) Any progressive legal system has to differentiate between categories of crime. This is where perhaps the Leges made its most important contribution to the maturation of  English Common Law. Professor Judith Green has argued that the Leges certainly did effectively identify different categories of crime.

Serious crime included rape & abduction, arson, robbery, treachery and murder. Lesser crimes included breach of the King’s Peace and contempt for the King’s Writs. (Judith Green, ‘The Government of England under Henry I’ (1989), page 102). The categorisation of rape & abduction as serious crime must have represented a real progression in the position of women in 12th century English society. One wonders if Henry’s Consort, Queen Edith Matilda, was involved ‘behind the scene’ in the implementation of the latter measure..

Conclusion

The pronouncement of The Laws of Henry I, around 1115, was a turning point in the evolution of English Common Law. As Professor Judith Green has pointed out, attempts to formally inscribe English Law had largely been dormant since the reign of Cnut (1016 to 1035): “it was re-born in the early twelfth century under a king whose reign became a byword for the rule of law.” (Judith Green, ‘The Government of England under Henry I’ (page 99)). Professor Green says it all: every one of us owes a great debt to King Henry I. Today, in 2012,, we must ensure that  we do not, by default, erode the legal heritage bequeathed to us by ‘The Lion of Justice.’

Question

Just over 800 years ago, the 1st October was a dynastically significant date. Why?

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King Henry I and the turbulent Church: The Council of Gloucester 2nd-4th February 1123

The Feast of Candlemas (2nd February) is an important church festival, signifying the end of the Christmas period, as it falls exactly 40 days (inclusive) after Christmas Day. Perhaps that is why King Henry I summoned a great council to meet at Gloucester exactly 889 years ago, on 2nd February 1123. An alternative name for Candlemas is the Festival of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, which was especially appropriate for the summoning of the Great Council at Gloucester, as there was a need to present a new Archbishop of Canterbury to the English nation.

In October 1122, Ralph d’Escures, Archbishop of Canterbury, had died. The position of Archbishop of Canterbury was obviously a very important one, and so Henry I acted with his customary vigour, and immediately ordered writs to be sent out to all the important lay and spiritual magnates, summoning them to attend a council at Gloucester in early February 1123.

The Assembly that met on 2nd February 1123 was an impressive one, consisting of all the important magnates in England, both lay and spiritual. It even included Thurstan, Archbishop of York, who was as determined as ever to resist the claims of Canterbury to ecclesiastical primacy in England; but here lay the problem for King Henry I: rivalry and dispute within the Church.

When the Council met, the spiritual delegates immediately divided into two warring factions. The first faction was the ‘Monastic Party’, headed by the Canterbury monks, who wanted a monk for archbishop. The rival church faction was the ‘Episcopal Party’, consisting of the leading bishops, who refused to accept a monk as archbishop. The ‘Monastic Party’ attracted some support from the lay magnates, and so this intra-church dispute presented Henry I with a serious problem. Two days of tortuous negotiations followed, between 2nd and 4th February; but in the end, Henry sensibly supported the ‘Episcopal Party’. The fact that Bishop Roger of Salisbury was a leading member of the ‘Episcopals’ undoubtedly influenced Henry I’s choice, as Bishop Roger was effectively Henry’s Justicar; but even so, one feels that Henry I made the correct choice.

To spare the ‘Monastic Party’ from humiliation, Henry I came up with an ingenious face-saving solution, whereby the monks could select the archbishop – but from a list of four royal sponsored candidates. The monks selected William of Corbeil as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. King Henry I displayed all his administrative skills at the Gloucester Council. He had got his way, and his decision won him the approval of Archbishop Thurstan of York, Bishop Roger of Salisbury, and the other bishops. At the same time, the ‘Monastic Party’ could hardly complain, as William of Corbeil was a regular canon, and thus a monk in all but name.

However, Henry I still had to contend with the chronic rivalry within the church that was to constantly bedevil church/state relations in the 12th century, and was to perhaps reach its apogee with Archbishop Becket’s quarrel with his fellow-bishops and the monarchy nearly fifty years later. After William’s consecration as Archbishop of Canterbury, the simmering rivalry between the ecclesiastical provinces of Canterbury and York for episcopal primacy in England once more flared up. The Canterbury/York dispute dragged on for the remainder of Henry I’s reign, involving such vital issues as whether Thurstan of York could have his cross-bearer in the royal chapel. The two archbishoprics co-existed uneasily over the next fifty years: it was effectively a 12th century ‘Cold War’ – except of an ecclesiastical kind.

As it happened both Archbishop William of Canterbury and Archbishop Thurstan of York survived Henry I. Archbishop William died on 11th November 1136 (aged about 66), nearly a year after Henry’s death. In terms of personal longevity, Archbishop Thurstan had the final victory. Archbishop Thurstan died aged of 70. He died, ironically, on 6th February 1140, almost exactly seventeen years after the famous Council of Gloucester.

Final Thoughts

  • Before his death in 1140, Archbishop Thurstan of York rendered his last great assistance to the English monarchy when he personally led the English resistance to the Scottish invasion of Northern England in 1138. Under the prompting of Archbishop Thurstan, an English army was mustered at Northallerton in North Yorkshire. This English Army decisively defeated the invading Scots at the Battle of the Standard, on 22nd August 1138. The Battle of the Standard gets its name from a special banner that Thurstan had created before the battle. Thurstan’s Standard had as its motif a ship’s mast in a cart. The banners of St. Peter of York, St. John of Beverley, and St. Wilfrid of Ripon hung on the ship’s mast.
  • Ironically, it was the present day Bishop of Ripon & Leeds who just over a week ago put forward an ill-considered amendment in the House of Lords, to exempt child benefit payments from the government-proposed £26,000 annual cap on household benefits. In 1138, when the English government faced a severe military crisis, the clerics of Ripon Cathedral came to its aid. In contrast, when the present government grapples with a severe financial crisis, the authorities of Ripon Cathedral perhaps seem a little insensitive to the Government’s problem!

And one final comment . . .

This morning, Thursday 2nd February, 2012, I attended the Consecration of the Venerable Peter Burrows to be Bishop of Doncaster, in York Minster. The Consecration was conducted by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, the Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan. It is pleasing to note the continuity in the consecration of Bishops between 1123 and 2012.

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Anglo-Scottish Relations in the Angevin Empire: a model for the 21st Century

Yesterday was the 837th anniversary of the English defeat of the Scots in the Battle of Alnwick (Northumberland), 13th July 1174. In the summer of 1174, King  William I of Scotland threw in his lot with the other protagonists hostile to King Henry II in the ‘Great Rebellion’ of 1173-1174. William’s allies included Henry II’s three elder sons, Louis VII of France and dissident English earls such as the Earls of Chester and Norfolk. In other words, William I’s invasion of northern England in 1174, was not simply an Anglo/Scottish conflict. The combined impact of this unholy alliance was to give Henry II a major challenge to his authority.

In May 1174, William’s Scottish Army invaded Cumbria, while William’s younger brother, David secured control of the Earldom of Huntingdon. To meet the challenge of William’s invasion, Robert of Estouteville, Sheriff of Northumberland and Yorkshire raised an army to combat the Scots. Interestingly, Robert was assisted by the former sheriffs of Northumberland (William de Vesci) and Yorkshire (Rannulf de Glanville). We know quite a lot about the Scots invasion because of the account of a contemporary chronicler, William of Newburgh. William of Newburgh wrote his chronicle in the 1190s, and is generally thought to be a reliable writer.

William of Newburgh relates how Robert of Estouteville, de Vesci and de Glanville acted promptly to raise a force to counteract the Scots invasion. Indeed, as the chronicler relates; ”the occasion was so urgent that they had no time to collect their infantry.” [English Historical Documents, Volume II, page 377]. Arriving at Alnwick under cover of mist, the English force espied the “King of Scots with a squadron of sixty horsemen” [ ibid, page 378]. Taken completely by surprise, the English force captured King William, on 13th July, 1174. With William’s capture, the remainder of the now leaderless Scots Army “were at first thunderstruck . . . and soon after, as if goaded by the Furies, they turned against each other with the sword.” [ibid, page 379]. The Scots invasion was over, and, a fortnight after the Battle of Alnwick, on 26th July 1174, King William I was delivered to King Henry at Northampton, King William’s legs being pinioned beneath his horse, to signify Henry’s triumph. The defeat of William’s invasion heralded the wider defeat of the Great Rebellion.                                                                                                                          Perhaps today this medieval Anglo-Scottish battle at Alnwick conjures up the apparently increasingly extreme  feelings of English/Scottish nationalism which seem increasingly common in 2011.  Increased intense sporting rivalry between England and Scotland, combined with  separatist political developments have seemingly  begun to engender a fervent patriotism (especially in Scotland), which threatens to undermine the shared heritage of both countries within the UK. Such zealous appeals to nationalism inevitably make spurious entreaties to History, in order to justify the misguided policies of political separation which are increasingly in evidence within the UK in 2011.

It might therefore be the case that modern-day nationalists could use the Anglo/Scottish conflict of 837 years ago in the north of England to glorify their ill-advised policies of political separation, on the ‘Braveheart’ model. In fact, Scotland did rather well within the Angevin Empire; and Anglo/Scottish co-operation was as much a feature of Anglo-Scottish relations in the Angevin Empire as conflict – if not more so. The key element governing relations between England and Scotland in the Angevin period between 1154 and 1216 was delimiting the Anglo-Scots border, within the Empire. The policies pursued by the Angevin kings towards Scotland differed. Henry II pursued policies which effectively amounted to favouring Scottish devolution within the Angevin Empire. In contrast, his successor, Richard, seemed to favour Scots independence. It is my contention that Henry’s policies of devolution were in reality more realistic for Scotland:-

  • In 1157, King Henry II and King Malcolm IV of Scotland agreed that all the English territory the Scots had obtained under King Stephen would be restored to England. It is true that this co-operation reflects some bullying by Henry, who was anxious for a foreign policy success to cement his recent accession to the English throne; but Malcolm was not humiliated, as he was granted his father’s old earldom of Huntingdon in England, as well as the territory of Tynedale in Northumberland.
  • In December 1174, after his abortive invasion of northern England, King William I of Scotland was released from custody, after agreeing to the Treaty of Falaise. By this treaty, Henry II took possession of the Scottish castles of Berwick, Edinburgh, Jedburgh, Roxburgh and Stirling. This may again at first sight seem like Henry bullying the Scots, rather than genuinely negotiating with them, but this would be a mistaken view. Henry was punishing William for his rebellion – he was making a political point, rather than trying to dominate Scotland. Henry believed that the Scots should rule themselves, within the Angevin Empire. Henry never garrisoned Stirling, and returned Edinburgh to William in 1186, after William had demonstrated his trustworthiness.

In contrast, Richard was prepared to countenance Scots independence. Soon after his accession, In December 1189, Richard and William signed the ‘Quit Claim of Canterbury’. This agreement ostensibly favoured Scots independence because, by abrogating the Treaty of Falaise, it effectively conceded Scots independence from the Angevin Empire. However, on second sight, it does not appear that Scotland benefitted unduly from the Quit claim. To begin with, William had to ‘buy’ Scots independence; for the not inconsiderable sum (for a poor country) of £6,666. In addition, Richard had certainly not abandoned designs on Scotland. Richard schemed to make Otto of Brunswick (his nephew) King of Scotland after William’s death. This would be achieved by getting Otto to marry Margaret, William’s daughter and heir. In fact, this scheme came to nothing; but only because in 1198, William had a son, the future Alexander II of Scotland.

King Alexander II imitated his father in October 1215 by invading northern England, at a time when the last Angevin monarch, John, was facing opposition from all sides. The invasion did Alexander no good, as John’s forces expelled the Scots from northern England in January 1216.

Conclusions

(1)  The final chapter in Anglo/Scottish relations was concluded by King Alexander II of Scotland, and King John’s son, King Henry III. In September 1237, the two monarchs signed The Treaty of York, by which King Alexander quitclaimed all his hereditary rights to the northern English counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland. That settled the Anglo-Scottish border dispute once and for all; but by then, the Angevin Empire had itself disintegrated. Scotland was by then gradually developing the ‘Auld Alliance’ with France, which was in reality a euphemistic phrase masking Scotland’s increasing subservience to France. France effectively duped Scotland in the later Middle Ages, by using it as a pawn in its struggles with England. For all its support for France in the later medieval period, Scotland received hardly any tangible rewards.

(2)   It is my contention that Scotland really prospered within the Angevin Empire under King Henry II, under the latter monarch’s enlightened policy of effectively supporting Scottish devolution. Here, surely, is the parallel for Scotland to follow in the 21st century: a devolved Scotland, prospering within the UK, rather than following spurious independence outside of it, on the model of the medieval  ‘Auld Alliance’.

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Does Magna Carta Mean Nothing to You?

Most of us would probably pause before answering such a leading question; but I suspect that few of us would emulate the classic response  to this question by the late comedian, the great Tony Hancock: ’Did she die in vain?’ The equally brilliant scriptwriters, Ray Galton & Alan Simpson, penned this immortal quip in their script for the ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ episode of ‘Twelve Angry Men’, broadcast on BBC Television on 16th October 1959.

Galton & Simpson’s  famous witticism is ageless; but can the same be said of Magna Carta, issued  seven hundred and ninety-six years ago today, 15th June, 1215?

Background to  the Promulgation of Magna Carta

  • Baronial resentment played the critical role in the negotiations with King John in 1215 which led to Magna Carta; and part of their resentment stemmed from the financial demands placed on England by Richard I’s crusading zeal. Even so, it was John’s policies and failures that ultimately precipitated the final struggle between nobility and monarchy in 1215.  John’s Justicar, Peter des Roches, was an abrasive foreigner who greatly increased taxes. Another foreigner who antagonised English opinion, this time at local level, was Sheriff Philip Mark, from Touraine. Yes, he was Sheriff of Nottingham, so perhaps there is something in the ‘Robin Hood’ story. John would probably have survived such unpopularity, had it not been for the disastrous defeat of John’s Angevin allies by the French at the Battle of Bouvines, on 27th July 1214. This major defeat spelt the final loss of Normandy, and, with it, any hope of Angevin recovery. In England, the devastating military reverse of Bouvines shattered John’s authority, thereby igniting the baronial resentment which in turn paved the way to Magna Carta.
  • Revolt actually began in October 1214, when King John had returned to England from Europe. This revolt of ‘the Northerners’ later spread to include some tenants-in-chief from southern and eastern England. From then on, the  opposition against John gathered apace, extending to include some knights.
  • As in any political conflict, possession of London was the key to ultimate success. Both sides now tried to get London support. John granted London the right to have a mayor elected within the City, in a charter of May 1215. It did no good. The Londoners let in the opposition on 17th May 1215. At this point, John had to open up negotiations with the opposition at Runnymede, which ended with the issue of Magna Carta about a month later, on 15th June, 1215.

Was Magna Carta a ‘Freedom Charter’ for society?

  • It could well be argued that Magna Carta was essentially a ‘rich man’s charter’, as it really benefitted the barons. Chapters 2 to 16 dwelt with baronial concerns, such as scutage (taxation in lieu of military service) and reliefs (a sort-of inheritance tax). The final chapter, the so-called ‘security clause’, empowered twenty-five barons with the task of compelling the monarch to keep Magna Carta’s provisions.
  • However, Magna Carta was no mere ‘baron’s charter’. Chapters 39 & 40 were applicable to all sectors of society, and still have a resounding ring to them:-

‘No free man shall be seized, imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, exiled or ruined in any way, nor shall we attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and the law of the land.’

‘To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.’

Even today, in 2011, these chapters have a resounding ring to them.

  • Magna Carta was also a freedom charter for the rest of Britain, not just England, as chapters 56 to 59 extended various rights to Scotland and Wales. Alan of Galloway, Constabule of Scotland, was one of the notables listed in the preamble to MagnaCarta.

Final Thoughts on Magna Carta

Looking back eight hundred years or so since the Runnymede agreement of 15th June 1215, Magna Carta now seems to be primarily the political swansong of the Angevin Empire; rather than the precursor of British liberties. Yet this is probably too narrow a judgement. The third re-issue of Magna Carta, in 1225, remains the earliest statute on the English Statute Book. Seen in this way, Magna Carta does mean a lot to all of us. Magna Carta is as ageless as Galton & Simpson’s classic one-liner; and is therefore a fitting accolade to a glorious empire.

Question

As usual, I will round off this month’s blog with a little problem-solving exercise:-

Henry Fitz-Ailwin became the first Mayor of London, nominated by King Richard I in 1194. As we have seen, King John allowed London citizens to elect their own mayor in May 1215 just before issuing Magna Carta. The office of Lord Mayor of the City of London therefore has a very long history and the current Lord Mayor is Michael Bear. There also is a Mayor of London, elected by the voters. When was the office of ‘Mayor of London’ established, and who is currently the Mayor?

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The Medieval Dimension of Scottish Nationalism: King David of Scotland and Henry, 22nd May, 1149.

Before I begin this month’s extended Angevin Writ, I would like to welcome to our Angevin ranks Sir Gerald de Fengge, knight of the shire of York. Sir Gerald is a well-known scholar and writer of sagas.

It is exactly seven weeks since my last blog entry, on 1st April, and I hope you Angevin loyalists out there have not become too frustrated at this interlude. There are two possible Angevin anniversaries in May for me to discuss. The first is the 859th anniversary of Henry II’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, which took place on the 18th May, 1152. The second is the knighting of Henry (then 16 years old) by King David of Scotland, which took place at Carlisle, on 22nd May, 1149, exactly 862 years ago today. It did not take me much time to opt for the latter date for my May Blog entry. Not only have I already analysed Eleanor’s role in the Angevin Empire in my previous blog entry; but I obviously do not wish to detract from another famous royal wedding, celebrated only a few weeks ago……..

Another important event in May (this time in 2011), was the elections to the Scottish Parliament, held on 5th May. As is well known, this election resulted in a sweeping victory for the SNP, which gained 69 out of a grand  total of 129 parliamentary seats, thereby giving the SNP an outright majority. However, at second sight, this apparently stunning electoral performance by the SNP in Scotland masked two geographical anomalies. The SNP conspicuously failed to get any electoral support in the north and south ‘border areas’ of Scotland: Orkney & Shetland in the North, and the Scottish Border Counties in the South (Ettrick, Roxburgh, Berwickshire, Galloway and Dumfries). Both these border regions of Scotland returned MSP’s favourable to the continued Scottish union with the rest of the UK. It is my contention that this political peculiarity can only be explained by analysing the medieval dimension.

When Henry was knighted by his great-uncle, King David of Scotland, at Carlisle on 22nd May 1149, he was very much aware that his great-uncle had seized the opportunity, created by the political weakness of King Stephen of England, to annexe to Scotland the northern English counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland. Henry was pleased to be knighted by a king, as it strengthened his own claims to the English Crown; but for the same reason, Henry could never accept the permanent loss of the northern English counties. The death of King David, almost exactly four years after Henry’s investiture, on 24th May 1153, gave Henry his chance. David was succeeded by his grandson, King Malcolm IV, and King Henry II (as he then was) was able to force the young Scots King in 1157 to surrender the three northern counties to his growing Angevin Empire. It was a shrewd move. In 1174, King William I of Scotland (‘The Lion’), brother of Malcolm IV (who had died unmarried in 1165), invaded Northern England. The Scots invasion was part of the ‘Great Rebellion’ against Henry. William I’s invasion was a complete failure. Northumberland remained loyal to Henry, and the Northern English Army, led by Roger of Estouteville, significantly Sheriff of Northumberland, routed the Scots Army at Alnwick on 13th July 1174, capturing King William in the process. Henry II made peace with William, but seemingly on harsh terms. King William had to surrender to Henry his castles at Edinburgh and Stirling (in central Scotland), and Roxburgh, Berwick and Jedburgh (in the Scottish borders). In practice, the Treaty was not so harsh. Henry never garrisoned Stirling, in the heart of Scotland, and actually returned Edinburgh to William in 1186. In contrast, Henry significantly retained possession of the border castles until his death in 1189. Henry went further, in 1185, he returned the Earldom of Huntingdon to the Scots. It was granted to King William’s younger brother, David.

So how are these Angevin events over 800 hundred years ago of relevance to the current political situation today, in 2011?  Firstly, they indicate how inter-twined were the kingdoms of Scotland and England, which suggests that the SNP would have a difficult task today in trying to disentangle such a relationship. Maybe even more importantly, they  indicate that the Anglo/Scots border region of Roxburgh, Berwick and Jedburgh (directly part of Henry’s Angevin Empire) will probably always want to remain loyal to the UK ‘Angevin Empire’.

Perhaps on an even lighter note, should a SNP dominated Scotland ever decide to leave the UK, then perhaps it should do so minus both its southern Border Regions and Orkney & Shetland. Who knows, perhaps a UK nation excluding such a truncated Scottish State might then even re-unite with Normandy and Brittany to resurrect Henry’s Angevin Empire? This is not so fanciful as it sounds. My loyal Angevins will have been heartened  by the creation of the ‘Arc Manche’ Assembly in 2005. The Assembly’s purpose is to integrate Southern England and Northern France into a Cross-Channel State, funded by the EU’s Community Initiative. Just think of it, the Angevin Empire re-born!

Question

As often happens, I would like to leave my Angevin followers with a brainteaser. Orkney & Shetland do not identify with the SNP. Perhaps this is because these islands only became part of Scotland in the later medieval period, in 1468.To which nation did they previously belong?

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