Jo Bev here, doing a quick blog on a funky set-up — our household computer system was attacked!
Here in the UK, we’re embroiled in a referendum as to whether we should leave the EU – the European Union. I won’t go into it, but it’s got me thinking about borders and boundaries in history.
Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) is an island, which is a natural boundary, though the coasts have often been raided, and the countries invaded. The borders between England and Scotland and Wales have been at times flexible, but the English at least, tend to feel strongly about alteration and permeability, which many Europeans don’t get. (So interesting that the English still talk about the Continent as a separate place and think of Europeans as “them over there.”)
Many European countries have less firm boundaries, and don’t quite get why it matters. Wars and treaties have moved France, Holland, and Germany backward and forward. Only the “Eurovision Song Contest” could consider including Australia because it’s popular there!
Another ancient and firm border is between Portugal and Spain. Despite logic, the Portuguese resist any blending; even the trains stop at the border, where there are connector buses. Portugal is proud of being Britain’s oldest and firmest ally.
England has absorbed many immigrants and invaders over the centuries – Vikings, Danes, Saxons, Normans, Huguenots, Irish and others, and “England” whatever that is, has swallowed and absorbed them all. I’m sure in the 13th and 14th centuries, France was looking over the Channel and thinking, “We conquered them in 1066, changed the laws and customs… What happened?” For by then English had overtaken French, and the English were trying to take over France!
Just some thoughts that might have something to do with historical fiction. For one thing, the people in England before the Conquest were not Saxons – Saxons live in Saxony. They are often referred to as “Anglo-Saxons” ie Saxons from Germany absorbed into England, but more properly as the English. It's interesting that the 3rd and 4th generations of Normans are now known as the Anglo-Normans.