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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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India and Nepal





In October 2012 we travelled to Nepal and South India. We had been to North India a couple of years ago and wanted to see more of this fascinating country; that will be the most populous country in the World within the next two decades. 

In many ways India is like a federation of several countries; so different is one region from another. For my commentary on our trip to Northern India in 2009 Read here...

For that matter Nepal could well be part of India as it differs less from some regions of India than do some actual regions of India. 

These regional differences range from climate and ethnicity to economic wellbeing and religious practice. Although poverty, resulting from inadequate education and over-population is commonplace throughout the sub-continent, it is much worse in some regions than in others.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

My Art and Artists



One recreation that I find very absorbing is drawing and painting. 

Having once been married to an exceptionally talented artist (now Brenda Chat) I do not pretend great skill or insight.

I always drew and painted but living with Brenda was like someone who has just mastered ‘chopsticks’ on the piano being confronted by Mozart. 

Our daughter Emily has inherited or acquired some of her mother’s skill and talent.  

Emily and I once attended life classes together and I am awed by her talent too.  One of her drawings hangs behind me as I write.  It is a wonderful pencil study of a life class nude. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Energy woes in South Australia





South Australia has run aground on the long foreseen wind energy reef - is this a lee shore?

Those of you who have followed my energy commentaries published here over the past six years will know that this situation was the entirely predictable outcome of South Australia pressing on with an unrealistic renewable energy target dependent on wind generated electricity, subsidised by market distorting Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) (previously called RECs in some places on this website - the name was changed after their publication).  

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