The Sunday Times – Final word

We (unhappy) band of brothers

It’s taken them 593 years, but the French have finally devised an excuse for losing the battle of Agincourt: the rosbifs cheated. French academics gathered at the battle site yesterday on St Crispin’s Day, the anniversary of the battle, and held English manhood cheap, as Henry V might have put it. They accused his troops of acting dishonourably, even committing what we would now understand as war crimes, burning soldiers and hacking bits off French noblemen.

We have only one thing to say; once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. If the French wish to apply contemporary standards to the great battles of history, so be it. Let them explain how blind King John of Bohemia’s death at Crécy was not history’s most outrageous breach of health and safety legislation. Let them explain how shooting Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar, a man with one arm and one eye, advanced the employment rights of the disabled.

Or perhaps it’s just better to dismiss yesterday’s gathering as an entirely appropriate tribute to St Crispin – the patron saint of cobblers.

boom tiss

Update: It continues.

The Sunday Telegraph – Just misunderstood

Marauding bands of historical revisionists have recently been raiding some of the most settled territories of our past. First came the French academics, appealing to the referee six centuries after the event and claiming that the sturdy English yeoman had committed a number of fouls, particularly late tackles, on the haughty Gallic cavalier at Agincourt. Now here come the Cambridge dons to claim that the average Viking, far from being a horn-helmeted, axe-wielding berserker, was really quite a cultured chap.

Cambridge is, of course, deep within the Danelaw, the portion of England that the Norsemen overran a thousand years ago, and not far from the ill-fated field where St Edmund King & Martyr, the patron saint of England, was slain by Ivar the Boneless, in a civilised sort of way. So we could suspect some ancient genetic loyalty at work.

Perhaps our modern chroniclers can see those ancient overseas visitors without the prejudices that clouded the vision of, for example, the anonymous Irish monk who wrote, “Save us, O Lord, from the wrath of the northmen.” Maybe he’d just been quaffing the mead a bit too enthusiastically the night before and rolled off his stone slab on the wrong side that morning.