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What is England?

by SW VandeCarr
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Studiot
#37
Sep20-10, 02:30 PM
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No one has identified a political institution which belongs solely to England.
Perhaps you do not read my post#31?
SW VandeCarr
#38
Sep20-10, 06:01 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by Studiot View Post
England has no parliamnent of its own?

Well I think the last invocation of the Witan was pre 1000 as I'm not sure Harold ever called one.
There is, theoretically, nothing to prevent a current monarch calling one though.
Well yes. Some kind of political institution could be created for England and England alone, but my point is that this has not happened even as devolution gave Scotland and Wales some political identity beyond just being a region of the UK. This, IMO creates some ambiguity as to what England actually is. Saying it's a country carries no legal weight nor confers any political identity. England is simply a region of the UK with its own history and traditions.

Then of course there is the Stannary and Stannary Court - no longer active in Devon but peculiar to Cornwall.
These are local Cornish institutions which in any case seem to be moribund.

Then there is the Manx Parliament (already mentioned I think).
Yes. Not only does the Manx legislature legislate for the Isle of Man, but it is not (in a constitutional sense) subordinate to Westminster. I'm not sure what this has to do with England other than to underscore the unusual political structure of the UK (which I'm trying to understand).

Scotland was not a nation state, it was part of the kingdom of Norway. A (small) part achieved independence from Norway and gained a 'King'. War between this part and England raged for several hundred years, but it was never 'subjugated'.

The end that phase of Scotland's history came when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England.
I think Scotland was very much an independent kingdom before 1603 at which time the Scottish Stuart dynasty accepted the crown of England uniting the England and Scotland in a personal union. I believe the two nation states maintained their own parliaments until the Act of Union in 1707.


Wales was never ever a nation state. Before the Roman occupation it was divided between tribes, as was the rest of Britain and Ireland. After the Romans left it reverted to tribal divisions again until it was finally annexed by the Normans.
Yes, it was never a nation state. However it does have a political identity as a principality. Moreover, since devolution, it has a legislature which however limited, belongs to Wales and Wales alone.
Studiot
#39
Sep20-10, 06:35 PM
P: 5,462
You still haven't read my post#31.

The Witan was the prototype english parliament when England was a single country, separate from Scotland, Wales and Ireland. At that time, Scotland and England were single countries, Wales and Ireland were not - they were divided up amongst several rival tribes and posessed no overall national identity.

None of the old laws pertaining to the Witan have been repealed, as is more often the case than not in english law, so just because the last one was about 1000 years ago does not mean that another could not be legitimately convened tomorrow.
SW VandeCarr
#40
Sep20-10, 06:59 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by Studiot View Post
You still haven't read my post#31.

The Witan was the prototype english parliament when England was a single country, separate from Scotland, Wales and Ireland. At that time, Scotland and England were single countries, Wales and Ireland were not - they were divided up amongst several rival tribes and posessed no overall national identity.

None of the old laws pertaining to the Witan have been repealed, as is more often the case than not in english law, so just because the last one was about 1000 years ago does not mean that another could not be legitimately convened tomorrow.
That's interesting. I didn't address this because England was clearly a distinct kingdom until the creation of the UK in 1707. But are you saying that the Witan has some legal existence under current law? Just because some ancient laws may still apply doesn't mean the body that passed them has any current legal existence.

If it's true that this ancient institution could be actually made to function for England alone, then I would agree it would give England the political identity it currently seems to lack. An English parliament might be created within the Westminster parliament consisting of only the English MPs. They would sit as the Witan when legislating for England alone. But currently, this is not the case as I understand it.
Ken Natton
#41
Sep21-10, 04:29 AM
P: 272
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
I caught parts of his program. I'll have to revisit it.

I do recognise that I perhaps had something of a predisposition to be fascinated by his account that maybe not everyone would have. But I do think that Schama made an excellent job of making the story compelling. And I liked what he said when he was interviewed about the series in answer to the criticism that it was just Schama’s version of the events. “Of course it is” he said. He’d never intended it to be anything else. It is the historians who claim that theirs is the definitive account that are the dishonest ones.

And perhaps some might say that I should have realised that Schama was Jewish from his name. But his own situation had not crossed my mind until, at the end of the episode that focussed on the long history of conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism, you see Schama in a synagogue, wearing a skull cap. The point of that scene is about the substantial Jewish population in Britain that existed as these events unfolded. But it did carry a nuance for me on the dispassion of Schama’s account of those events. It is a dispassion about these events that is still very difficult to find.
Astronuc
#42
Oct2-10, 06:21 PM
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Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
I think Scotland was very much an independent kingdom before 1603 at which time the Scottish Stuart dynasty accepted the crown of England uniting the England and Scotland in a personal union. I believe the two nation states maintained their own parliaments until the Act of Union in 1707.
The relationship between Scotland and England is rather interesting -
From a base of territory in eastern Scotland north of the River Forth and south of the River Oykel, the kingdom acquired control of the lands lying to the north and south. By the 12th century, the kings of Alba had added to their territories the English-speaking land in the south-east and attained overlordship of Gaelic-speaking Galloway and Norse-speaking Caithness; by the end of the 13th century, the kingdom had assumed approximately its modern borders.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland#Modern_history

Although it had long been the de facto border, it was legally established in 1237, by the Treaty of York between England and Scotland,[1] with the exception of a small area around Berwick, which was taken by England in 1482. It is thus one of the oldest extant borders in the world, although Berwick was not initially fully annexed by England. (It was not included in Northumberland for parliamentary purposes until 1885.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Scottish_border

The history of England, Scotland and Ireland is of personal interest because I have lines of families extending to all three regions.

My patrilineal line comes from the border area of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Some in the family did quite well, including one who had quite an estate, which was lost when Cromwell and the Parliamentarians penalized Royalist sympathizers and supporters. Various wives came from Scotland and Ireland.

On my maternal side, I can trace families to London and surrounding counties, the Isle of Skye, Ireland, and the highlands of Scotland, and apparently Belgium.
SW VandeCarr
#43
Oct9-10, 07:04 AM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
The relationship between Scotland and England is rather interesting

The history of England, Scotland and Ireland is of personal interest because I have lines of families extending to all three regions.

On my maternal side, I can trace families to London and surrounding counties, the Isle of Skye, Ireland, and the highlands of Scotland, and apparently Belgium.
So do you consider yourself of English or British descent? My ancestry is Flemish Belgian and Belgium is now undergoing a historic identity crisis. England's identity issues may have begun when it became a French speaking nation in 1066. Yes, English survived as the language of the lowly, but to rise in Norman England, you had to speak French. I know all about having to speak French.

When England finally became English again, under the Tudors, it didn't last long. In 1603, the crown passed to the Stuarts and a real English man or women hasn't sat on the throne since. Edward VII had the family name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha! When he died in 1910, the Germans sent a whole delegation of princes to the funeral (other countries only sent one head of state). No doubt they considered Edward one of their own. In 1917 the Royal Family took the name Windsor as WWI raged on. The Royal Family may speak perfect English and be all that goes with being English (or is it British), but let's face it, they are Germans. There is no historic basis for the family name Windsor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxe-Coburg_and_Gotha
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funeral_of_Edward_VII

Now with devolution, I think it would be wonderful if the English could get an institution that really is English. It might be just formality, but who knows more about formalities than the English? Bring back the Witan!
Astronuc
#44
Oct9-10, 12:08 PM
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Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
So do you consider yourself of English or British decent?
Well considering the ancestors came from various parts of England, with most coming from the North (Lancashire/Yorkshire border), and others from Scotland and Ireland, I'm more or less of British ancestry by geography.

The royal family is rather irrelevant to me.

In modern terms, I'm Australian, but I live in the US for now. My family wandered a lot, and I guess I have that gene. It's possible I could end up in NZ, Bulgaria or Afghanistan (Badakshan province), or even N. Pakistan (Karakoram) before I die. Governments and national borders are an inconvenience for me.

When England finally became English again, under the Tudors, it didn't last long. In 1603, the crown passed to the Stuarts and a real English man or women hasn't sat on the throne since. Edward VII had the family name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha! When he died in 1910, the Germans sent a whole delegation of princes to the funeral (other countries only sent one head of state). No doubt they considered Edward one of their own. In 1917 the Royal Family took the name Windsor as WWI raged on. The Royal Family may speak perfect English and be all that goes with being English (or is it British), but let's face it, they are Germans. There is no historic basis for the family name Windsor.
Some of my ancestors supported the Stuarts, and most likely those living in the south (London and surrounding counties) were more partial to Cromwell and the Parliamentarians.

In some ways perhaps, I'm more British the Elizabeth II. On the other hand, the English (Angels and Saxons) are of Germanic ancestry.
JaredJames
#45
Oct9-10, 01:41 PM
P: 3,387
Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
So do you consider yourself of English or British decent?
That depends on where your ancestors come from (and how far back you go) and would be different for each person. I am Welsh. All of my family has come from Wales for many, many generations (I know of none who were from outside Wales). But then strictly speaking, trace it back far enough and you end up in some European country which invaded us at one time.

It's like asking someone from the states "do you consider yourself American?". Whilst it may well be that they are American citizens, aside from those descendants of Native Americans, they are all strictly speaking, immigrants descended from various other nationalities (Irish, English, Spanish French etc). So after 10 generations, do you then consider yourself descended from Americans or whichever original nationality your ancestors were?

So it comes down to what each person considers 'descent' means. Are we talking within the last few generations or are we going to roll back right to the beginning? I know this is a bit off topic, but I don't like the question of descent because of its vagueness.

I think the question of "which nationality are you?" is better as that answers what nationality a person actually is and isn't vague.
Studiot
#46
Oct9-10, 02:27 PM
P: 5,462
but to rise in Norman England, you had to speak French.
As I recall, the most important language to be proficient in those days was still Latin.

Physics was even still conducted in Latin by some in Newton's day.

Incidentally it used to be offered as a major contributor to British success as the most successful post Roman european nation that the brits are the biggest mongrels (sorry polite = mixture) of the lot.
SW VandeCarr
#47
Oct9-10, 02:59 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
I think the question of "which nationality are you?" is better as that answers what nationality a person actually is and isn't vague.
My question; "Are you of British or English descent?" was really another way to highlight the main point of discussion. If I were Scottish or Welsh, I might just leave it at that and not really emphasis the British part although I legally would be British and carry a British passport.

This seems to be a real phenomenon which has been driving devolution. As long as this is a fact of life in the UK, the English IMO, perhaps should look to their own identity beyond just waving the Cross of St George at international soccer matches.

Studiot, whom I take to be English, suggested reviving the ancient Anglo-Saxon assembly known as the Witan. Actually, it would be more than symbolic. If the English MPs simply sat as the Witan when legislating for England only, it would balance things out in terms of the distribution of power under devolution. There would be no need to create a parallel English parliament or full cabinet. At most a minister or two for England might be needed but perhaps not even that.

In Europe, much more than in North America, ancestry counts. Unless I could trace my ancestry back to the time of Hugh Capet, I could be never be "truly" French (slight exaggeration). Yes I could become a French citizen, but even that's not easy. People with non-French ancestry have an advantage if they come from former French colonies, but not if they come form another part of Europe or North America.

Obviously if you go back far enough, we are all Africans; "far enough" being perhaps 100,000 years or so; not that long really in the history of the planet.
JaredJames
#48
Oct9-10, 03:26 PM
P: 3,387
Why would calling yourself Scottish or Welsh be any different to calling yourself English? All of us are British, but we each can choose to use either British as a title, or Welsh / Scottish / English depending on how we see ourselves. Some places don't even give you a choice, they either blanket it with British or give specifics.

I don't know why you're so hell bent on having an English parliament. Do you really believe it would make any difference to the way the country is run? Do you really think it would make the English people feel / act more English?

All I see it doing is costing the tax payer more in order to support a larger parliamentary structure (I don't like the devolution in Wales and Scotland).
SW VandeCarr
#49
Oct9-10, 03:52 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
Why would calling yourself Scottish or Welsh be any different to calling yourself English? All of us are British, but we each can choose to use either British as a title, or Welsh / Scottish / English depending on how we see ourselves. Some places don't even give you a choice, they either blanket it with British or give specifics.

I don't know why you're so hell bent on having an English parliament. Do you really believe it would make any difference to the way the country is run? Do you really think it would make the English people feel / act more English?

All I see it doing is costing the tax payer more in order to support a larger parliamentary structure (I don't like the devolution in Wales and Scotland).
I've just always been very interested in England and it's history. I've devoted myself to the English language and studies in general since I was in primary school, but I still make mistakes like "decent" when I mean "descent".

As for a separate English parliament, that's too complicated and unnecessary. However, why should Scottish MPs get to vote on projects for England when English MPs can't vote on projects for Scotland that come under the Scottish Parliament's purview? The idea for the revived Witan is that it functions within the existing structure.

Beyond that, it makes it easier to see England as a country rather than just a historical region like the old provinces of France. Besides, you're Welsh. This conversation is between me and the English.
OmCheeto
#50
Oct9-10, 04:01 PM
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And why is my encyclopaedia published in Chicago?



hmmm... I wonder what they have to say about this?
Quote Quote by Encyclopædia Britannica, Book of the Year, 2010
Index (page 845)
England (constituent unit, U.K.)
archaeology 203
cricket 309
rugby 317
There you are then. England is a constituent unit of the U.K.

And from the topics listed, it appears to be unique only as a geographical region, and as is the case here in the colonies, a place with associated sports teams.

Kind of like New Jersey I guess.
SW VandeCarr
#51
Oct9-10, 04:08 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by OmCheeto View Post


There you are then. England is a constituent unit of the U.K.

And from the topics listed, it appears to be unique only as a geographical region, and as is the case here in the colonies, a place with associated sports teams.

Kind of like New Jersey I guess.
There you go English people! Set up your Witan now or you'll be compared to New Jersey!
JaredJames
#52
Oct9-10, 04:20 PM
P: 3,387
Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
Besides, you're Welsh. This conversation is between me and the English.
As one of the main contributors to this thread I think that's very rude, especially when the majority of people responding here aren't English and are only trying to help you.

You aren't British and clearly have many misconceptions about how the people here see their country. You have constantly implied that the system you are recommending would be beneficial for England and yet have supplied no direct evidence as to why, and I haven't seen any English persons within this thread agree with you.

I honestly don't know why you believe I should remove myself from this thread, especially seeing as I've lived in England for the last 4 years and as such I feel I can provide an alternate view point regarding the English and the UK, especially when it comes to your proposals and how they would impact on my own situation.

But hey, if you don't want it, fine. Perhaps all the non-English people here should stop responding and then see how long this thread stays alive.
Studiot
#53
Oct9-10, 05:02 PM
P: 5,462
If I may be permitted a small grammatical correction:

"Between me and the English" should be rephrased "between the English and myself"

Incidentally if you think that that the current situation is complicated how about that chunk of land between England and Wales that both used to reject?

There used to be a time when the BBC would list

'England' and then 'Wales and Monmouth'

Now that's more like New Jersey.
SW VandeCarr
#54
Oct9-10, 05:25 PM
P: 2,499
Quote Quote by Studiot View Post
If I may be permitted a small grammatical correction:

"Between me and the English" should be rephrased "between the English and myself"
Hmmm. What's the rule for that? Since 'between" is a preposition, it assigns the object case which is "me". I suppose it could be "myself" too, but why is it required?

Incidentally if you think that that the current situation is complicated how about that chunk of land between England and Wales that both used to reject?

There used to be a time when the BBC would list

'England' and then 'Wales and Monmouth'

Now that's more like New Jersey.
I've traveled the world. There is no place like New Jersey. (Now I'll probably get an angry response from New Jersey but they will have read more into the statement than what I said.)

So what's wrong with Monmouth? Don't they pay their taxes?


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