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Julius Caesar Comes to Kent

Recent archaeological excavations in Kent by the University of Leicester have pinpointed  the probable landing point for Caesar’s invasion of Britain. No full study on this important historical event has taken place  in the last 100 years and it was widely thought amongst academics that both of Caesar’s incursions into Britain had been regarded as ‘failures’ in the Roman world ‘ With new evidence, it appears this may not have been the case, and they were perhaps seen as great advances for Rome in that the armies passed beyond the ‘known world’. (Britons and the Irish were the ‘people behind the North Wind.)

What is also becoming clear is that the Romans and Britons may not all have been outright enemies. There is evidence that treaties were made with local British petty kings and chieftains in Caesar’s time, and these led to the quick capitulation of southern England in the later  Claudian invasion. Recent archaeology has shown that a number of tribes were already trading with the Mediterranean world and were quite welcoming of the Roman armies.

The Romans’ own propaganda has perhaps delayed some of the study into the interaction between the Romans and native Britons. In their records they speak of people wearing nothing but animal hides and ‘knowing not the use of raiment’ and yet we know from archaeology that people have woven clothes in Britain since the later Neolithic. No  mention is made of the trade we also know happened (lots of fine imported wine and pottery!), and the Druids had a hatchet job done on them (quite literally at Anglesey.)

It seems important to remember that records, even if kept with some accuracy, will reflect the bias of the writers, and may have been used as propoaganda tools–here to convince that the Druids needed to be eradicated and that the Britons needed to be ‘civilised’ (ie Romanised and under Roman control.)

https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2017/november/first-evidence-for-julius-caesars-invasion-of-britain-discovered

 

 

invasion

 

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Thomas Langton: Richard III’s Character Witness

RICARDIAN LOONS

Amongst the glories of Winchester Cathedral, there is a chantry chapel of outstanding beauty and magnificence. The man who is buried there, and for whom the roof bosses provide a rebus clue, is Thomas Langton, who died of plague in 1501 only days after being elected by Henry VII as Archbishop of Canterbury. Earlier, he had served as the Bishop of Winchester (1493-1501), Salisbury (1484-93) and St. David’s (1483-84), and acted as a servant to three — or four, depending on how you count — English kings. As the information plaque at Winchester Cathedral succinctly announces, Langton had been a chaplain to Edward IV and Richard III, and Ambassador to France and Rome.

Although his death came as a surprise in his 70th year, he did have the opportunity to make an extensive will, showing he died a very wealthy man. It runs to over 100 items, and contains…

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Malmsey Wine – A Poem

Pic of a glass of Malmsey Wine

 

Don’t cry my son, it’s just a graze
I know what can bring you cheer
You’ll love the taste, so sweet, so fine
Better than beer – Malmsey wine
Chorus:
Malmsey wine, fine and sweet
Malmsey wine, you I seek
Malmsey wine, heal the pain
Malmsey wine: oblivion
I know you’re sad, your wife is dead
What can I do to help?
A glimpse of heaven, taste divine
To give you comfort, Malmsey wine
Chorus:
Malmsey wine, fine and sweet
Malmsey wine, you I seek
Malmsey wine, heal the pain
Malmsey wine: oblivion
Your anger is just, life so unfair
You go too far, you must beware
A new use now they will find
A path to death, Malmsey wine
Chorus:
Malmsey wine, fine and sweet
Malmsey wine, you I seek
Malmsey wine, heal the pain
Malmsey wine: oblivion

 

 

 

 

Image: By inspector_81 (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_1381) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Richard III to be honoured in France

Unexpected news has reached us from Saumur in the Loire valley. The local wine growers have decided to commission a top artist to honour Richard with a “reclining statue” (possibly an effigy) in nearby Fontevraud Abbey. The Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud is the burial place of some of Richard’s most famous ancestors: Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard I, “the Lionheart”.

A crowdfunding campaign for the statue, offering the chance to obtain bottles of a future Cuvée Richard III de Fontevraud wine and holiday stays at a four star hotel in the abbey complex, will be launched at the Grandes-Tablées de Saumur-Champigny open air festival. As a spokesman for the Grandes Tablées explained: “Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart did a lot for wine in Anjou [the old province centred on the modern department of Maine-et-Loire] and Bordeaux, so the wine growers had the idea of paying their respects to the family by offering a statue to Richard III in a few years’ time.”

The festival, which is going into its 15th year, takes place on 5 and 6 August and this year has a suitably British theme. British food made from local produce will be served, accompanied by local wine from 20 tasting points, and five bands will play British pop hits. Tickets, which include an engraved wine tasting glass, are available from the local tourist office. For full details see here.

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The effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine at Fontevraud Abbey

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