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The Norman Invasion

As once every Australian schoolchild knew, in 1066 the Normans (relatively civilised Christian Norsemen from France) successfully invaded England, defeating the Saxons (the previous German invaders) at the Battle of Hastings. After a century subduing the Saxons and consolidating their power in England, the Norman Earls looked towards Ireland, as prior to the industrial revolution productive land was equivalent to wealth and power. 

Ireland was much better agricultural country than Scotland.  Better than that, there were already a number of established farming communities, supporting Viking towns and Monasteries, that were ripe for conquest. So the Pope lent his authority to a Norman invasion of Ireland.  With the Papal imprimatur in their back pockets the Normans invaded, initially taking most of the country by storm.  But it turned out that the warlike Celts, as in Scotland, were no pushover.  Soon many of the initial gains were lost in a succession of defeats as the, previously warring, clans of Ireland united against the common enemy.  In the north, as we would learn on our travels, the Norman fortified town of Sligo was overrun by the O'Donnell's. The O'Conor clan then settled in and controlled this important trading port throughout the Middle Ages.



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Fortified cities began to abound - all with God's blessing of course

In this the Irish chieftains were assisted by the disunity among the English Earls who had begun fighting amongst themselves in the 'Wars of the Roses'. 

Nevertheless the Normans retained control of the other principal towns; rebuilding in the Norman style; refortifying them with solid stone walls and moats; and deploying cannon and other modern defensive weapons. Their control usually extended into adjacent farm lands, in particular into the rich countryside around Dublin known the Pale.  Hence the expression 'Beyond the Pale', where Norman civilisation ceased.




# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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I first visited China in November 1986.  I was representing the New South Wales Government on a multinational mission to our Sister State Guangdong.  My photo taken for the trip is still in the State archive [click here].  The theme was regional and small business development.  The group heard presentations from Chinese bureaucrats and visited a number of factories in rural and industrial areas in Southern China.  It was clear then that China was developing at a very fast rate economically. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Craft






The Craft is an e-novel about Witchcraft in a future setting.  It's a prequel to my dystopian novella: The Cloud: set in the last half of the 21st century - after The Great Famine.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Renewable Electricity



As the energy is essentially free, renewable electricity costs, like those of nuclear electricity, are almost entirely dependent on the up-front construction costs and the method of financing these.  Minimising the initial investment, relative to the expected energy yield, is critical to commercial viability.  But revenue is also dependent on when, and where, the energy can be delivered to meet the demand patterns of energy consumers.

For example, if it requires four times the capital investment in equipment to extract one megawatt hour (1 MWh) of useable electricity from sunlight, as compared to extracting it from wind, engineers need to find ways of quartering the cost of solar capture and conversion equipment; or increasing the energy converted to electricity fourfold; to make solar directly competitive.

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