Sincerely Not Yours

I recently downloaded A Short History of Scotland by Andrew Lang (free audio book version, get it here).

monty-python-holy-grail-clip-clop-300wThere are a few things I could say about the book, as much of it is surely contentious.

Firstly, there are definitely many things in there that the modern historian would take issue with in terms of how it is framed. Secondly, it is an outdated style in the subject, in that large sections, particularly in the early parts, tend just to be names of rulers, dates, treaties and so on and how titles changed hands over the years. This makes it somewhat dry. Thirdly, when the traditional story or legend played a part in the story this is just given as fact without analysis e.g. (though I’m paraphrasing a touch) “…and then this miracle happened with St Thingummy and consequently this next thing happened.”

However, given the recent discussion about the differing legal points of view on the actual existence of Scotland, there was a little passage I found rather interesting that I’ve decided to show you…

In 924 the first claim by an English king, Edward, to the over-lordship of Scotland appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The entry contains a manifest error, and the topic causes war between modern historians, English and Scottish. In fact, there are several such entries of Scottish acceptance of English suzerainty under Constantine II, and later, but they all end in the statement, “this held not long.” The “submission” of Malcolm I to Edmund (945) is not a submission but an alliance; the old English word for “fellow-worker,” or “ally,” designates Malcolm as fellow-worker with Edward of England.

This word (midwyrhta) was translated fidelis (one who gives fealty) in the Latin of English chroniclers two centuries later, but Malcolm I held Cumberland as an ally, not as a subject prince of England. In 1092 an English chronicle represents Malcolm III as holding Cumberland “by conquest.”

I am pointing all this out not to claim that Lang or other historians are right or wrong on the matter, but rather to show that legal jiggery-pokery and the importance of defining terms is not a new thing in the history of the struggles between Scotland and England.

Maybe Salmond was right when he said the Edinburgh Agreement is a very important document because it sets out certain rules that must be adhered to both before and after the referendum.

Then again, if they lose, the UK state might just ignore or reinterpret it however the hell they want, as is the norm for aggressor states in these circumstances.


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