Category Archives: History

This covers the history of many countries over centuries. My main interests are the British Isles, Russia and America.

assessment of Ian Smith ====================


He died ten years ago.

who was he?

what did he do?

UDI. racial discrimination

bush war. nayzonga raid

power sharing

Lancaster house.

elections. 80 per cent for former guerrillas.

helped govt

critic of Mugabe. #

debit and credit.

unrepentant. unafraid.

wanted white rule. brighter, whiter. euros rule. only backed by SA

some v racist supporters.

did not see times had changed. slaying civilians. wanted qualification for franchise

better educ and economy.

some racial integration at the end. at least he tried.






Irish nationalism is wrong. =================


unhistorical not evil. #

Ireland in 1170s

nationalism ivented 1790s

halcyom age is gaelic era

gaelic revivial. hark back to middle ages like rest of Europe. king Arthur.

noorwegian blood

separatists attempted to unite us with spain, france and germany

#foreign help for IRA. USA and Libya unholy alliance


euro nationalism


Irish nationalism is not immoral. It is merely unhistorical.

Most of what you have read about Ireland’s past is false. Look into the annals. You will discover that when English soldiers first came to Ireland we were not fully independent, united, Irish speaking or Catholic. Nor is Ireland our original language.

Irish nationalism emerged in an identifiable form in the 1790s. It was then led by upper middle class Protestant intellectuals who wanted to copy the French Revolution. The anarchy, internecine fighting and mass executions of the French Revolution might have given them payse for thought. Nonetheless the wish to found an Irish Republic with religious equality was not a totally bad idea. The legal discrimination against the Catholic majority at the time made the Kingdom of Ireland a place badly in need of reform.

In the late 19th century Irish nationalism became Gaelic nationalism. Arlene Foster correctly identified it as such in 2005. Gaelic nationalism is about trying to have our culture preserved in aspic from the 8th century AD. A few centuries when the Gaels dominated are supposed to be the golden age. Like most tales of a gilded age it is largely false. We were deeply divided and almost incessantly at war against each other.  We had no royal dynasty.  Different dynasties tussled for the high kingship every few years. This at least meant a capable ruler came out on top which did not always happen under primogeniture.

Ancient Britons fled to Ireland in the 4th century AD so we are more British than the people of Great Britain. Britannia was a polity at the time. This cannot be compared to British people being German due to Angles and Saxons coming from modern Germany at that time. There was no concept of Germany back then.

All nations are created at some point as Anderson wrote in Imagined Communities. In Ireland there has been an erasure of our Welsh, Scots and English stock.

Gaelic nationalism’s twin engines were the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic. These atavistic organisations harked back to the 12th century. That was before English and Welsh soldiers arrived in Ireland at the invitation of the King of Leinster.

Gaelic nationalism considered Gaelige to be the language of Ireland. Irish is not the original language of Ireland. There was a prior Celtic language before Irish. That Celtic language has been lost and was never written. So much for lingucide. Gaelic nationalists often accused the English of killing the Irish tongue. In fact the Gaels killed the previous Celtic tongue. Does that make Gaels bad?

Gaelic nationalists pretended that everyone in Ireland was  a Gael. There were several waves of immigration and invasion into Ireland before the 12 the century. Ancient Britons fled to Ireland in the 4th century AD. In that sense the people of Ireland are the true owners of Great Britain. The Britons who came to Ireland at the time were running away from the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who attacked Britannia.

The Gaels dominated Ireland for only six centuries but it gives them eternal mastery. 850 years of more recent connection to Wales and England is held to confer no legitimacy at all. Such is the illogic and vindictiveness of the closed minded nationalist.

Therefore many changes had occurred prior to the arrival of Strongbow and King Henry II of England in 1169.  All these changes before the 12 th century were accepted. Everything since 1169 was an abomination according to Gaelic separatists.

Gaelic nationalists stressed Irish unity. They overlooked the historical truth. In 1169 Ireland was divided into several kingdoms that were often at war against each other. There was a high king at Tara. But he had little authority. There was no regal dynasty. The country lapsed into fratricidal war every so often when a king died. These kingly elections were fractious affairs and often bloody ones.

There were Danes in Ireland in 1169 and that had been in Ireland for 300 years. They controlled Dublin. Brian Boru had bested the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Separatists ignored that this was a very temporary victory. The Danes soon returned.

Irish kings often enlisted Danish aid against each other.

It is the entitlement of any person to believe himself to belong to a distinct nation whether or not this opinion is borne out by historical evidence. Everyone has the right to seek independence for anything they consider to be a nation. That is not to say that every group that calls itself is a nation is one or indeed should be granted independence even if all the members of the same wish for independence.

After 1169 we had many English and Welsh immigrants coming. We also had Scots coming. The Scots were an Irish tribe originally. There was a kingdom that spanned the North Channel.

The Anglo-Normans and the Cambro-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century were soon gaelicised. The later Statues of Kilkenny were to forbid this but were soon ineffectual. Even that piece of legislation recognised that in most of Ireland – the Irishry – we were permitted our tongue culture. This law noted that the English and Welsh in Ireland had been absorbed into the native Irish. Therefore those of us who think we are native Irish are not entirely by any means. We are of Welsh, English and Norman stock.

Many Irishmen had gone to dwell in Great Britain. All sorts of people came to Ireland after 1160 such as Frenchmen, Germans, Dutch and so on.

How Gaelic are the Irish really? If we could isolate the Gaelic genes we would srely find that we are only a small fraction Gaelic. The Gales dominated Ireland for only a few centuries until the 9th century. There have been countless cultural memes that we adopted from all the other migrants who arrived in Eire.

In 1600 Sir John Davies wrote that if the people of Ireland were numbered by poll it would be found that few of us were autochthonous Irish.

Gaelic nationalism seeks to suppress all the non Gaelic heritage of Ireland.

The GAA banned people in it from playing garrison sports i.e. anything except for hurling or Gaelic football. At their social functions they had only Irish dancing and music. This is xenophobia.

There is nothing bad about playing Gaelic games. Learning a new language is laudable. Demonising another language – the language of the majority is contemptible.

Separatists in Ireland often accuse the English of invading us in the 12th century. They never accuse the Welsh who were involved too. That is historically illiterate. Moreover, the upper class in England and Wales are largely French at the time. Strongbow was invited in by an Irish king – Dermot MacMurrough. There was a high king Rory O’Connor whom MacMurrough clashed with. Was it wrong for a sub sovereign entity to enlist foreign military aid? Separatists should not think so.

Separatists wanted Ireland to be annexed by other countries. They have engineered several invasions of Ireland. They brought Spanish troops to Ireland in the 1590s.  King Philip II of Spain styled himself King of Ireland due to his marriage to our late queen Mary Tudor. They brought French soldiers to Ireland in the 1790s. They wanted French troops to invade in the late 19th century but it never happened. Some ex soldiers from the US came to Ireland to cause a conflict in 1860s. Admittedly not at the behest of Washington. They wanted German soldiers to attack us in 1916 and in 1940. The Kaiser spoke of ”taking the little place” and mused that he would make his youngest son the King of Ireland. In the 1920s some American ex soldiers were there again causing conflict. Some would have bee happy for the Soviets to invade. A few American ex soldiers joined the Irish republican cause in the 70s.  Separatists have engineered invasions and attempted to engineer invasions several times as adumbrated hereinbefore.

The Spanish troops were not wanted in Ireland in the 1580s. They were massacred at Smerwick. That is on the west coast – the most Catholic and Hibernophone region. There were Pontifical troops too. The Pope send his army and navy in 1588 and they were killed by us.

Had France conquered us we would have been a satellite of France. It might have been ana advance. Bear in mid  France was in conflict with the Catholic Church. Napoleon in time would have placed a sibling on our throne. Independence was not on the cards.




A century since the October Revolution.


A hundred years have passed since the Red Guards stormed the Winter Palace. Lenin’s men encountered only a few cadets in the Winter Palace. These cadets would now be regarded as children. This bloodless seizure of the Winter Palace was to found one of the cruelest regimes of modern times.

Lenin used the Kaiser’s money to bring down the first democratic government that Russia ever had. Even the Bolshevik Military Revolutionary Committee voted not to attempt a revolution that that time. Stalin was among those who voted against it. Lenin was no respecter of democracy even within his own political sect.

The October Revolution lead to Russia making peace with Germany. Halting a war is generally a good thing. Russia had to give away huge swathes of territory and pay ruinous reparations to get Germany off her back. Much of this territory was peopled by non Russian people. They might not have liked being part of the Russian Empire. It is questionable whether being part of the German Empire represented an improvement.

Lenin shut down democracy because he lost the election. Soon he founded the Chekha. This secret police force was tasked with arresting dissidents. It went far beyond the intelligence role one would expect in a civil war. Torture was used as standard. Execuctions were carried out by the tens of thousands. There were flimsy trials. People were put to death for trifling offences such as leaving the country illegally. It should be one’s right to emigrate. The Reds committed countless massacres. It is true that the Whites did likewise. Lenin started the civil war so he bears most of the responsibility. He also caused his country to be beaten by Germany.

We now know that Germany collapsed in November 1918. Had Russia not capitulated then the two fronts would have kept up the pressure on the Second Reich. Germany would have been knocked out of the war a few months earlier if Russia had continued the right. It was not obvious that the Allies would win when Lenin signed an armistice with Germany in November 1918.

Lenin’s small band of extremists wreaked heavy violence on an already stricken country. Opposing the Bolsheviks were peasants called the Green Army. There were anarchists – the Black Guard. There were the Whites with factions ranging from reactionaries to socialists. There were nationalists of all non Russian nationalities. Lenin promised them independence if they wanted it. He very soon reneged on his vow as he was to do many times again.

Boleshevism may have started out well intentioned. Very soon it degenerated into gangsterism. These apostles of equality were residing I the palaces of the tsar. They granted themselves rest tours to the most exclusive German spas while most people had no health care. They dined well while millions starved. The Communists set up a very oppressive system. . Lenin personally authorised the deliberate killing of civilians.

The October Revolution is very much to be regretted. Not many people celebrate it in Russia. The Communists brought calamity on their country. They invaded and crushed several sovereign countries. Thee bludgeoned people were ones that had recognised states such as the Ukraine and Azerbaijan – they had diplomatic recognition by other nation states. There is no question of their legal status.

Communism failed almost as soon as it started. Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy, This was in fact the old economic policy- capitalism. Millions of people died in the Volga Famine of the early 1920s. This was partly due to drought but Lenin’s requisitioning of grain from the peasants aggravated matters. Some blame the refusal of capitalist countries t trade with Russia. No one is obliged to trade with anyone else. Besides, if the capitalist countries had trade with Russia then Communists would call to exploitation. So why would Communists wish to do commerce with bourgeois countries?

The Communists established a ruthless system of oppression. People had few if any rights. The country became appollinistic.

The Communist Government attained some admirable goals. Illiteracy was done away with. By the 1980s everyone had a decent standard of living. Healthcare was publicly funded and available to all. Education was free of charge up to PhD level. Admittedly much of it was Marxist indoctrination and academic freedom did not exist. Political prisoners were held until 1991.

Russia finally had multi party elections. People can say what they want to greater extent than before. They are allowed to travel freely. There is no mass state terror. The dream of the February Revolution has been more or less achieved.

Trump’s inauguration speech.


President Trump has delivered his inaugural address. There was eclat to the delivery. There were no new themes. The content was the usual drivel. It was a study in inarticulacy, cliches and a failure to use commas.

Donald J Trump demonstrated yet again his trademark illogicality. He wants to return power to the people and at the same time use his presidential powers to create jobs. If the president is doing that is he not arrogating to the White House prerogatives that are not his?

Mr Trump was decent enough to laud the Obamas for their dignity and patriotism in welcoming him to the White House after the election. They have sought to make the handover of the presidency as hitch-free as possible. When it came to his address Trump proceeded to slate Obama’s record. So much for his partisanship.

Trump said that the United States defended other countries borders. What was he alluding to? Perhaps this refers to NATO – a cornerstone of American defence since 1949. Trump has talked about leaving it. He then walked back this ambition. Was he referring to troops in Iraq? He said he wants to annihilate ISIS. If so he needs troops in ISIS. Trump then said that the United States was not defending its own border which is false. There are illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico. There has been illegal immigration since 1607. This is by no means the most severe problem that the USA is facing. Trump proposes to erect a wall along the border with Mexico. There already are walls there at points that are populated and where many people might cross illegally.

Trump seems to have broken with Republican orthodoxy which was that since 9/11 foreign wars have been necessary. This is why the GOP was very chary about him. Now Trump has changed his tune. There really is no telling with him. He is totally erratic.

In this oration Trump said ”For too long a small group in our nation’s capital enriched itself and the costs were borne by the people. The establishment protected itself”. This takes some nerve to say. Trump is one of the most egregious members of the establishment. He is in that clique. He said himself that he donated generously to politicians to have laws made that favoured the likes of himself. It was part of the disingenuous rhetoric that he pedalled all through the campaign. He constantly spat bile about the supposedly wicked establishment. He was born in New York to millionaire WASP parents. He is as much of an insider as it gets. Trump bilked his workers. He defrauded students at Trump University. He has made himself stinking rich by ripping off ordinary people. He is utterly shameless and has not the slightest regard for veracity.

”Their victories have not been your victories. Their trials have not been your trials. There has been little to celebrate for struggling families all across this land”. This was perhaps the only part of his oration where he told the truth.

Trump went for a soft target. Like many an inadequate politician he chose to castigate teachers. ”An education system flush with cash leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” Students are not deprived of all knowledge. It was typical of his extremely irresponsible hyperbole. St It is true that there is much wrong with education in the United States. Many schools are not overfunded. In higher education costs are exorbitant. That is due to ostentation. It is about building sports facilities and the like for the sake of vanity. Many people leave third level education with ruinous debts. Excessive profiteering has led to dumbing down as colleges give out higher and higher grades just to keep customers happy. Who has been rooking students? That would be Donald J Trump with his bogus university. Fordham certainly left Trump with no knowledge.

”We are one nation. We share one heart and one home” – that was a sea change from his acridly divisive rhetoric in the campaign. He made

Trump proved he cannot pronounce ”industry.”

”We subsidised the armies of other countries while allowing the very sad depletion of our army.” Would that include Israel? I hope he cuts off all subsidies to the Israeli Defence Force. His Republican Party has pursued these policies of giving military aid to other lands. It suited the weapons industry in the United States. The US military has experienced tiny cuts. The US still spends more on defence than the next 20 countries combined most of whom are allies. The notion that the US defence capability is too feeble is a toxic myth. WHat he said will be music to the ears of the arms industry. They will be pleading for him to ask Congress to expand the military. This will mean more taxation or more likely a larger deficit.

Trump chanted ”America first”. This vacuous slogan signal nativism, exceptionalism and ultra nationalism. ”Buy American and hire American” as he said later. He accused foreigners of ”stealing our companies.” Stealing means buying. He owns companies abroad. Is that stealing?

”I will never, ever let you down.” When he does these words will come back to haunt him.

”It is the right of all nations to put their own interests first”. That applies to Palestinians too.

Trump said he would eradicate Islamic terrorism. He must be reminded that some of his allies arm, fund and provide intelligence to such people.

It was hilarious that he was false enough to cite the Bible.

Trump called for solidarity and unity. He had denounced swathes of Americans as haters. He has spewed hatred even at fellow Republicans.

”Think big and dream even bigger.” He does not think but he is certainly a dreamer.

”All talk and no action” is what he abominates. He may turn out like that as many of his goals are impractical. What he plans to do may well backfire. Even if he could cancel NAFTA it would probably harm the USA.

”We stand at the birth of a new millennium”. Er that began 17 years ago. He wants to heal disease. If that were so he would support more funding for medical research and he would want to give free healthcare to all citizens of the United States.

”You will never be ignored again”. He certainly wishes to ignore the poor and his political opponents. Most Americans disapprove of him. He is starting off already reviled.

Trump took a swipe at the wealthy for exporting jobs. It shows chutzpah for a billionaire to denounce the affluent. He is a Washington insider. He did not stand for elected office before but he was well connected to many politicians. He was a Democrat and a Clinton donor in 2009! Moreover, he is as Wall Street as anyone. He suffers selective amnesia. He can tell the most bare faced lies. Does his company not hire workers from abroad? He also has things manufactured abroad because it is cheaper and he has offshore bank accounts. He is grossly hypocritical. It is always do as I say not as I do. Furthermore, his wife worked illegally as a nude model. Yet more flagrant hypocrisy from him.

The new president mentioned the middle class. Of course he did not mention the working class. They do not exist. Or do they not count?

The 45th president stated that he would make the United States more respected in the world. The US recovered its image very considerably under Obama. What does Trump intend to do in order to improve America’s image? He seems to be against the George W Bush way of doing things. Trump said that he opposed the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan – although that is a lie. Will he be more isolationist? Or will he be more interventionist? He accused Obama of not doing enough to wipe out ISIS. That would be getting the USA back into the Iraqi quagmire. It appears that Trump neither knows or care. He can perform policy U turns every day. It is no longer a business he is running. He is not on reality TV anymore. He is running the mightiest country in the world. This is beyond a joke.

The president heaped praise on the armed forces. This is one of the usual pieties. It is nauseating to see to what degree some people are adulated for doing what they are paid to do. Many of the military are stupid and bigoted. This self-congratulation and flag waving sticks in the craw. There will be yet more childish chauvinism in this presidential term. Trump seldom appears without an American Flag badge on his lapel.

It was sick making to hear Trump say that the country was under the protection of God. God plainly does not love the USA that much. Otherwise he would do a better job of protecting it. D J Trump did not claim to be religious until very lately. He reasoned that it would stand him a better chance of being elected. Some Christian wingnuts were naive to fall for this transparent charade.

Trump said that the slaughter of Americans stops no. Carnage was the word he used. The next time there is a high school shooting or a bomb goes off he will have been proven wrong. He has thrown out promises like confetti. These are pledges he cannot possibly keep. The deglutition of these insincere promises by the gullible is very disconcerting. President Trump is going to prevent this carnage. At the same time the Donald is opposed to any gun control. If he wished to save his people from being killed he should look at the 33 000 gun deaths per year.

Prepare for endless hubris from Trump. He is very thin skinned. It is worrying to have someone so touchy with his finger on the nuclear trigger. He is very easy to provoke. A country can easily launch a false flag operation: insult Trump and make it appear that this comes from another source.

Trump will tell endless barefaced lies. He will perform a policy volte face everyy week. His supporters will be bitterly disappointed if NAFTA is not cancelled. If tariffs are not imposed on the whole world. Even if that happened it would not bring back many jobs and might make the situation much worse. The Republican Congress is not as deranged and inconsistent as Trump is.

Trump changes his mind every few days. No one is totally consistent. Consistency can be over rated. However, Trump is completely inconsistent. Because he expresses so many contradictory opinions he occasionally makes sense.


Mr Trump ended with his vapid slogan ”Make America Great Again.” When was the USA greater? Was it when unemployment was higher? Was it when 20 000 000 people did not have health insurance but now do? Was it when the United States had tens of thousands of troops in Iraq? Was it when America’s popularity was at an all time low? Was it when crime was higher? Was it when people could be sent to prison in several states for possessing a speck of a plant?

Forecasting Trump’s policies is very foolish. It is so hard to predict. He was going to prevent all Muslims coming to the United States. Then that was scrapped. He would deport all illegals. Then it was only criminals. He wanted to abolish Affordable Healthcare. Now he wishes to retain parts of it. He is totally short termist.

His term of office could well be mired in law suits. His victims of sexual assault will take action against him. He could be blackmailed with sex tapes. If he upsets another government they can play a tape of him boasting that he commits sex crimes. This pervert is a disgrace.  Hopefully he will be impeached. Mike Pence or even Paul Ryan are little better. They at least believe what they say and are consistent.

Watch out – if the United States cuts off military aid to the Ukraine then the Ukrainian military could quickly collapse. Russia may yet annex half of the Ukraine. Where then? European NATO countries would be chary about facing down Russia without American backing. Admittedly this is partially the fault of European NATO countries almost all of whom spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence.




Lady Margaret Bryan


LADY Margaret Bryan – Governess to Queen Elizabeth I.

Lady Margaret Bryan was born in England. Her year of birth was approximately 1468. She came from an aristocratic family. Her brother was Lord Bourchier. She married Sir Thomas Bryan.
When Lord Bourchier died without sons his sister inherited his estates and moveables. This made her a woman of very considerable means.
Lady Bryan’s husband died when she was in her 40s. As a widow she was able to devoted more of her time to the king’s service.
Lady Margaret was the half-sister of Anne Boleyn’s mother.

Henry VIII had a son with his mistress Bessie Blount. This boy was name Henry FitzRoy. Fitz indicated his unwed birth. Roy is derived from ‘roi’ the French for king. Although no one contemplated Henry FitzRoy inheriting the Crown he was still a notable person. Lady Margaret was his governess when he was little.
From 1525 Lady Bryan was governess to Mary Tudor: the eldest daughter of Henry VIII. Lady Margaret was made a baroness as a reward. She did a superb job and the king was deeply satisfied with her. She was highly capable and managed to curry favour with the right people.
In 1533 Henry VIII declared that Mary Tudor was born outside of wedlock. His marriage to Catherine of Aragon was annulled. Mary Tudor was enraged. Her father told her to ”lay aside the name and dignity of princess.”
She refused to accept this and insisted that she was the king’s lawful daughter and heir. Lady Margaret had to manage the teenagers moods and fury. Mary Tudor felt rejected and humiliated. She bore herself with a dignity and defiance than inspired admiration even in her enemies.

At the age of 65 she became lady mistress to the baby Elizabeth. In those times the word ‘mistress’ denoted a woman with authority and not a paramour.
When Elizabeth was three months old she was taken away from her mother. Anne Boleyn had breastfed her baby for the first few weeks and was keen to continue. Henry VIII would not hear of this breach of protocol. The child was put into the care of a wet nurse. The woman really in charge was Lady Bryan. She was not the matronly battleaxe that some might fear. Elizabeth was taken to another royal residence in December 1533. Elizabeth spent most of her time at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
Anne Boleyn wrote to Lady Bryan very frequently with precise instructions for the child’s upbringing. Lady Bryan carried out her duties sedulously. Anne Boleyn sent her daughter the finest of clothes. The baby was dressed as a tiny adult. This was the way at the time. They made no allowances for children’s need to move more. About 40 pounds a month was spent on garments for Elizabeth. This approximates to 13 000 pounds today! Anne Boleyn seemed to be impelled to confirm her daughter’s legitimacy by making sure always appeared as regal as possible.

When Elizabeth was sent to live at Hatfield House this was also the residence of her half-sibling with Mary Tudor. The 17 year old Mary Tudor naturally resented her baby half-sister. Elizabeth had briefly replaced Mary Tudor in their father’s affections. Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn had brought huge anguish to Mary Tudor and her mother Catherine of Aragon. Although Elizabeth spent most of the time at Hatfield House they sometimes moved to Greenwich Palace. Greenwich is now considered part of London. In those days it was a small port several miles from London.
Around this time Lady Bryan married for a second time. She wed David Soche. She was well past childbearing age so there was no chance that she was going to have a baby of her own to distract her from her job.
Anne Boleyn’s voluminous instructions also laid stess on the need to degrade Mary Tudor. Anne Boleyn emphasised that Mary Tudor was a bastard and had no right to inherit the Crown nor any right to style herself princess. Anne Boleyn’s volatile temperament was notorious. It would be foolish to provoke her. Lady Bryan had to walk a tightrope. She had to keep her mistress Anne Boleyn content because she was the queen. On the other hand it felt deeply wrong to insult Mary Tudor. It was plain that public sympathy was very much on Mary Tudor’s side. Too much aggravation in the family would make for a poisonous atmosphere.
Anne Boleyn’s spitefulness and pettiness did her no credit. She had enough enemies to begin with. She boasted how she would have Mary Tudor serving her as a maid. Her vindictiveness merely earned her more enmity. Anne Boleyn’s outbursts of furious shrieking made her deeply unpopular. Perhaps Lady Bryan was canny enough to see that Anne Boleyn’s haughtiness and mean spiritedness was setting her up for a dramatic fall. That was why it would have been unwise for Lady Bryan to carry out her order to humiliate Mary Tudor with too much zeal.
Lady Bryan’s son was Sir Francis Bryan. He spent much time at court. He knew a youngish woman from an aristocratic Wiltshire family named Jane Seymour. It was possibly due to Sir Francis that Jane Seymour came to the attention of Henry VIII. Henry VIII was infatuated with Jane Seymour. There is little doubt that Sir Francis Bryan kept his mother Lady Margaret Bryan informed of developments. The more the king fell for Jane Seymour’s feminine wiles the weaker Anne Boleyn’s situation became. That was why it would not do to be too closely associated with Anne Boleyn and her cruel treatment of Mary Tudor. Jane Seymour was canny enough to coquette with Henry VIII but she would not yield to her maidenhood. She parried his amorous advances with protestations of maidenly virtue.
Lady Bryan was also a regular correspondent of Lord Chancellor Thomas Cromwell. The lord chancellor was the king’s most important minister. Thomas Cromwell was no friend of the Boleyn family. Lady Bryan may well have been in the know about Anne Boleyn’s coming fall from grace.
Lady Bryan believed in expediency. She encouraged Mary Tudor to be kind to her half-sister. It was not the child’s fault. She tried to persuade Mary Tudor to accept her new diminished status. Mary Tudor was stubborn and held out for a long time. She eventually gave in and appeared to agree that she was downgraded. Her submissiveness caused her father to look more generously on her.
Lady Bryan had to supervise Elizabeth been weaned and put ont dry food. She of course received many very detailed orders from Anne Boleyn about how to do this. Lady Bryan had brought up her own children, grandchildren and royal children. She had vastly more experienced that Anne Boleyn.
When Elizabeth was two years and eight months old disaster struck. Her mother was accused of adultery and witchcraft. For a queen consort to commit adultery was high treason. It was also high treason for a man to have carnal knowledge of a woman of the royal family outside of marriage. The charges were very likely false. Nevertheless, three men were tortured into confessing to committing adultery with Anne Boleyn. The whole affair was probably cooked up by the scheming lord chancellor: Thomas Cromwell. He was a foe of the Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn and her supposed paramours were all put to death. At a stroke he removed Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn and Henry Norris who was Cromwell’s main political rival. There was also a musician called Mark Smeaton with whom Anne Boleyn had probably no more than flirted.
Elizabeth was suddenly downgraded to an illegitimate child. Her mother was declared to be an adultress and a sorceress. Her marriage to Henry VIII was annulled. Some of the Boleyn’s foes people suggested that Elizabeth bore a striking resemblance to her mother’s putative lover Mark Smeaton. In fact that is nonsense. Every unbiased observer noted that the similiarity between Elizabeth and Henry VIII was unmistakable.
This could all be a traumatising experience for a child. Fortunately, Elizabeth was so tiny that she can scarcely have been conscious of the gravity of the situation. She had seldom seen her mother anyway. It was very common for children to be orphaned then because life expectancy was so low. Many women died in childbirth. Therefore Elizabeth may not have been as severely psychologically damaged as we might imagine.
Anne Boleyn had gone to her death with fortitude and protesting her innocence with her very last breath. On the scaffold far from fulminate against her hypocritical, adulterous, vain and murderous husband she had praised him as the kindest king ever! No doubt Anne realised that she had better say something flattering about the man who had ordered her death. Otherwise her daughter Elizabeth would suffer.
As soon as her mother was killed Elizabeth was moved to smaller and less comfortable rooms. She was no longer a princess but a lady. Her clothing allowance was immediately stopped. Within a few weeks Lady Bryan was writing to Lord Chancellor Cromwell insisting that more clothes be sent for Lady Elizabeth. ”I beg you to be good to her and hers that she may have raiment.” The letter went on, ” for she has neither gown, nor kirtle nor petticoat. ”

In fact Lady Elizabeth had received a huge consignment of clothes just before her mother was accused of adultery. It is probable that Lady Bryan was overstating her ward’s lack of raiment to ensure that her complaint was taken seriously.

Shortly after Anne Boleyn’s execution. Lady Bryan approached the king with Elizabeth in her arms and asked if he wished to see his daughter. They king scoffed angrily and doubted that the child was his.
Lady Bryan took Elizabeth to Hatfield. She did her level best to shield the child from the horror that had unfolded. Some of those who had previously harboured a quiet loyalty for Mary Tudor were now only too glad to show their scorn for Elizabeth. As Anne Boleyn had been executed Mary Tudor was back in the king’s good graces. Mary Tudor’s mother had died of natural causes a few months earlier which only gained her even more sympathy.
Lady Bryan described Elizabeth as a ”succourless and redeless creature”. (Succour is help). Lady Bryan had been used to receiving very detailed instructions from Anne Boleyn. With Anne Boleyn dead Lady Bryan had a great deal more autonomy. She did not find this entirely to her liking.
Lady Bryan did not know Elizabeth’s exact status. She wrote indignantly to Thomas Cromwell asking for clarification, ” Now Lady Elizabeth is put from that degree she was in to what degree she is in now I know not but by hearsay ”
Sir John Shelton was in charge of Hatfield House. He insisted that Lady Elizabeth dine at the high table as though her status had not been lowered. Lady Bryan had received instructions that Elizabeth had to dine on a less exalted table. She complained that Shelton was disobeying these orders. ”Mr Shelton would have my Lady Elizabeth dine every evening at board of estate. It is not meet [appropriate] for a child of this age.” The real objection was not her age but her illegitimate status. Lady Bryan paid close attention to rank. The order of precedence was everything at court. It was only by being pedantic about such things that she gained favour at court.
Mr was such a high title that it was acceptable to call a knight ‘mister’. Ordinary men did not have the dignity of being called ‘mister.’ Lady Bryan found it very difficult to get along with Shelton. This appears to have been his fault and not hers.

Lady Bryan saw fit to bother the most important man in government with news of Elizabeth’s teeth. ”My lady has great pain in her teeth which come very slowly.” She showed her motherly concern with this sentence.
Lady Margaret Bryan commented on Elizabeth’s development saying she was ”as toward a child of gentle conditions as ever I knew in my life.” ‘Toward’ in those days meant advanced. She expressed a hope that Elizabeth be allowed to be seen on public occasions. The king was at that stage minded to hide Elizabeth as a reminder of the shameful Anne Boleyn.
Thomas Cromwell had much bigger fish to fry. However, Lady Bryan was so formidable that he felt compelled to answer her and take her complaints seriously.
One historian, Agnes Strickland, summarised it as:
”Much of the future greatness of Elizabeth may reasonably be attributed to the judicious training of her sensible and conscientious her governess.”
Eleven days after Anne Boleyn’s decapitation Henry VIII was feeling in the romantic mood! He wed Jane Seymour.
In 1537 Jane Seymour was delivered of a bonny baby boy: Edward VI. Almighty God chose to call the queen to his mercy. She died 12 days after giving birth.
Lady Bryan was made governess of the infant Edward VI. This was a step up because boys were considered much more valuable than girls. Furthermore, Edward VI was undoubtly legitimate whereas in 1536 Elizabeth was declared to have been born to an unwed mother.The infant Edward VI came to live with his sisters. Lady Bryan was in charge of all three of the king’s offspring. Although she clearly had a soft spot for the girls it was made very clear to her that her main responsibility was Edward. He was far more important to the king than both his daughters put together.

Lady Bryan took satisfaction in Edward VI’s luxurious lifestyle, ”His grace was full of pretty toys as ever I saw a child in my life”, wrote Lady Bryan to Thomas Cromwell. By ‘full’ she means he had plenty of them.
When Edward VI was two years old Lady Margaret wrote to Cromwell reporting on the prince’s every little achievement. There is no mistaking the grandmotherly delight in this missive,”The minstrels played and his grace danced and played so wantonly as he could not sit still.”
Lady Margaret still gave Elizabeth presents many of them made by her own hand.

In 1537 the Sheltons were removed from Hatfield. It was relief for Lady Margaret Bryan who has always found Sir John Shelton hard to get on with. It was also a vindication of her. She was superb at her job and he was not. It was a rare victory for a woman over a man.
Lady Bryan taught Mary Tudor and Elizabeth to be good to their brother. They could so easily have resented him for replacing them in their fathers affections. However, they doted on the child.
After a few years Edward VI was moved away to a grander household. Lady Bryan moved with him. He was her sole charge. Elizabeth and Mary Tudor then lived apart. Mary Tudor was well into her 20s and did not need a governess any longer.
Lady Bryan began education with these children. They learnt the rudiments from her. Later on their education was provided by erudite men. It was their general development that was her field.

It appears that she retired in 1452. Her pension was 20 pounds per annum which was handsome indeed.
Lady Bryan served Edward VI so long as her health allowed. She died in about 1552.
Lady Bryan brought up three monarchs. By all accounts she was brilliant at her job. She was a disciplinarian who was also warm and reasonable. Her responsibilities were very serious indeed. She also had to navigate Tudor politics. Her wards were highly educated, worldly and courtly.
The three monarchs all turned out to be fairly successful in their way. Mary Tudor succeeded in restoring Catholicism though at the cost of her popularity. For Mary Tudor is was Catholicism that mattered so this was a price worth paying.

Suite Francaise


This is a superb film. It takes a worn theme – France under German occupation – and a tale that has been retold in myriad ways (love across the divide) and reworks them in an innovative and engaging fashion.

I had not heard of a single member of dramatis personae yet they were all excellent. The acting was convincing and the characters were mutlilayered. There were no lazy stock characters. The dialogue is spare. It is not overly effusive nor is it jejune. It is credible and gets the tone just right in terms of expressing high emotion without being stilted.

In 1940 the Germans reach the small town of Bussy. Kristin Scott Thomas is the dowager of a substantial country house. Her son is a Prisoner of War. Liliane is Kristin’s daughter-in-law. Liliane had been married for a few years yet no baby has been born. This is one of several sources of animus between Kristin and Liliane. The love has gone out of Liliane’s marriage some time ago.

The mayor of the town instantly makes an accommodation with the Wehrmacht. AFter all France has surrendered and the French Government has ordered its functionaries to facilitate German rule. The mayor is a an old aristocrat and he is a decent sort and believes he is being a good Frenchman by minimising aggro between the townsfolk and the occupiers. At first the German Army behave honorably. They demand that all French folk hand in their firearms. All weapons or handed it – or so it seems. The German soldiers ask French citizens to write to them with reports of bad conduct on the part of their neighbours. The German Army is flooded with letters by Frenchmen denouncing their compatriots. The Germans successfully divide and rule. They know the local gossip – who is suspected of being a thief and who has been having an affair.

German officers are billetted on families. A handsome young officer moves in with Kristin and Liliane. Kristin thinks of him as an enemy. She does what she has to but it never friendly. Liliane perceives his inner goodness and she is courteous towards him. I shall call him Hans. They grow closer and Kirstin chides Lilian for being civil to Hans.

Rupprecht is a German officer who moves in with Gaston and his wife Mariane. Gaston is disabled and his gammy leg forfended military service. Rupprecht is condescending towards the couple. He openly mocks Gaston about his leg and his inability to fight. Rupprecht soon flirts with Mariane. She rejects his overtures and Gaston bridles at this effrontery by his unwanted guest.

The German soldiers swim nude in a lake. Gaston has hidden an unlicensed firearm in his barn. He takes his gun and hides in the wood. He trains his sights on Rupprecht. I am thinking – no, don’t do it. You will be caught and killed. Gaston relents. At this moment Hans tries to persuade Rupprecht not to harass Mariane. Rupprecht testily dismisses this counsel. ”Don’t lecture me on morals. You were not like that when we were ordered to shoot prisoners.”/ ”I did not shoot anyone.” says Hans gravely./”But I did and with delight.”/ ”We were at war then” observed Hans/ ”we still are” is Rupprecht’s riposte.

Rupprecht sees women as spoils of war. French civilians are still the enemy and merit no respect. Rupprecht stands for a large section of the German Army. One of the most laudable parts of the film is there is not a single allusion to Nazism or Hitler. Most people are not very political. The war is about nationality more than ideology. Rupprecht is the sort who would eagerly go along with Nazism without believing in it or disbelieving in it. He is an opportunist who will follow the majority.

Gaston poaches from the mayor’s land. Caught stealing chickens he tells the mayor’s wife,”the day the Germans leave….” He does not need to complete the sentence. Some upper class French people found German rule congenial. They began to realise that if they Germans were defeated they would suffer and not just due to collaboration..

Hans is more reflective. He has some fairly candid discussions with Liliane. He was a composer and joined the army due to a sense of family solidarity. He is asked if he agrees with the war. ”Lets just say I admire the communal spirit.” He is canny enough not to disparage his government but his attitude is plain. He has striven to find something positive to say about the war – the sense of camaraderie among the soldiers.

Soon Liliane discovers that many French girls have begun relationships with German soldiers. Most young Frenchmen are Prisoners of War or are labourers in Germany. She does not look down on them for acting as their nature inclines them. She comes across one of her neighbours having athletic sex with a soldier in the forest. The 1940s stocking add a frissons of kinkiness to the passionate woodland encounter. The girl feels shamed and runs after Liliane trying to justify her actions. ”Some of them are better people than our men.” She makes a very valid point. Someone happening to be German in the war does not make him evil any more than Frenchmen were necessarily good. Liliane has become increasinly attracted to sensitive and cultured Hans.

The Germans decided to arrest Gaston. As a German truck draws near he runs and hides. His wife tries to delay them. In the barn he is confronted by Rupprecht who has found his gun. Possession means execution. Gaston grapples with Rupprecht and overpowers him – shooting the officer with his own revolver. The others hear the gunshot. Gaston gets on a motorbike and speed s out of there.

That night the Germans scour the woods. Liliane goes out in the middle of the night to find him. She brings him back. She lets Kirstin in on the plot. This patriotic brings the two women together whereas previously they have sparred. Gaston is secreted in a priest hole. The Germans search the house.

Hans’ sixth sense tells him that something is going on. He chooses not to pursue it. He knows that if Liliane is found to have abetted a fugitive she will be killed.

Gaston’s wife is arrested and beaten up. Later she is released. She goes to Liliane’s house. Liliane has not told her where Gaston is because Mariane might be tortured into giving him away. Mariane sees Liliane in her finest dress with her hair in a chignon and wearing makeup. Two wine glasses are on the table with candles. Mariane realises that Liliane is having a romantic dinner with Hans. Mariane inveighs against Liliane as a traitor to her people and her husband.

The  mayor of the town is arrested in the stead of Gaston. He is in charge of collaboration and a German has been killed on his watch. Unless Gaston is given up within 48 hours then the mayor shall be shot in place of Gaston. The Germans calculate that a well respected and local figure will be saved – someone will betray Gaston. In fact some people loathe the mayor because he is an aristocrat and a rapacious landlord. Hans is told by his superior that he will be in charge of the execution.

Gaston is not apprehended. The mayor is lead out to be put to death in the town square. Hans goes through with his duty depsite clearly being disgusted by it. The anguish is etched onto his face. He hesitates but gives the orders loudly and decisively. To make it even more agonising the doctor takes the mayor’s pulse after a volley of shots and indicates that the mayor is not dead. It falls on Hans to give the coup de grace. He comes close and shuts his eyes before putting a final bullet into the mayor’s chest.

Hans stands for a large number of decent Germans who fought in the Second World War because they were compelled to. They did their duty due to coercion. They despised Nazism but were not heroic enough to oppose it. Hans is easily the most complex and fascinating character in the film.

One of the things that is unrealistic about the film is how many German soldiers there are in a small town. In reality it would have been the Vichy Milice keeping order.

Liliane decides to help Gaston escape to Paris. She will drive him and he will be hidden in the boot of the car. One of Hans’ men said the tobacco he smelt in the house was not Hans’. On the travel pass he wrote an order that the car must be searched.

Hans is frightened. He suspects that Gaston will be in the car. Gaston will be found – Gaston and Liliane will be killed. Suspicion will fall on Hans. Did he collude with them? He was living in the house and he approved the travel pass.

Hans rides his motorbike up to the check point – presumably to insist that the car not be searched. But he is too late. The boot was opened. Gaston shot dead the soldier searching it and also shot another soldier before being wounded himself. Gaston has the humanity not to kill Hans who helps them on their way.

It is based on a true story. I wonder what happened next. Did the dead German sentries kept traced to Liliane?

The film has a fast moving and straightforward tale. Yet it kept me guessing. What would happen next? Would they make it?

The characterisation was superb. The facial expressions with voluble. The wardrobe was brilliant. It was true to life. People were never overdressed and the clothes were faded and tattered as they would have been. It was accurate about the moral compromises and human dilemmas behind the war. It was a gripping film and a delight from first to last. Oddly there were no quips in it.

The United Nations.


For centuries there had been talk of founding an international organisation to arbitrate international disputes. In 1919 the League of Nations was founded. This proved to be ineffectual for several reasons.

In the Second World War the Allies sometimes called themselves the United Nations. The Allies included the Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, India, France, Australia, the United Kingdom and many more.

In January 1945 the Big Three held a meeting at Yalta in the Soviet Union. The Big Three were Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. They agreed that the United Nations would continue after the war. It would not be a military alliance but would be an international body for dealing with disputes.

In July 1945 the United Nations Organisation (UNO) was founded in San Francisco in the United States. The first sessions of the United Nations was held in London at the end of 1945. It was soon decided that the headquarters would be in New York. New York was the biggest city in the world at the time and the most developed.

The United Nations has a charter. The UN Charter says that the UN exists to prevent war. It says that slavery must be outlawed. It also says that countries must only fight in self-defence. The UN can authorise military action. The UN passes resolutions. Some of them are passed by the Security Council and they are binding. Those resolutions passed by the General Assembly are non-binding.

The UN had a security council. There are five permanent members of the UN Security Council. These were the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China. There are 20 non-permanent members of the Security Council. The non-permanent members are voted in and out all the time.

The five permanent members of the security council have a veto on security council resolutions. For example if 24 countries on the security council voted for something but one of the PERMANENT members of the security council voted against it then that resolution would be blocked.

The general assembly of the UN is where all the member states of the UN are represented. There are about 190 member countries.

The general assembly session of the UN begins at the end of each September. Many world leaders some to New York to speak to the general assembly.

In 1991 the Soviet Union broke up. Russia inherited the Soviet seat as a permanent member of the security council.

Many resolutions have been passed against Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. The USA always blocked the security council from passing such resolutions.

There are six official languages of the UN. These are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

There is a secretary-general of the United Nations. He or she must be fluent in at least two UN languages. No woman has so far been elected to this post. Secretaries general serve for a five year term and may be re-elected once. None of them have come from superpowers but there is no rule against them doing so. It is felt that permanent members of the security council already have too much power so weaker nations should get other jobs. Secretaries-general have been Norwegian, Swedish, Burmese, Peruvian, Austrian, Egyptian, Ghanian and now a South Korea.

The UN has various agencies. These include the International Atomic Energy Authority based in Vienna. There is the World Food Programme based in Rome. There is United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (Unicef). There is the United Nationsl High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). There is the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). There is the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and so on. These are each based in different cities in different countries. A different person is in charge of each UN agency..

The UN has offices in Geneva and in Vienna.

The United Nations Organisation is usually called the United Nations. The initials UN are more commonly used than the UNO.

The UN sometimes authorises military action. It relies on member states to carry out this action. The UN does not have a military of its own. There has been talk of creating one.

The colour of the UN is pale blue. Soldiers on UN missions wear blue helmets. They go as peacekeepers sometimes. The often position themselves between warring sides. Countries such as Ireland and Bangladesh often send soldiers on UN missions. There has been talk of creating a UN Army but it has never come to fruition.

There have been UN missions such as to liberate Kuwait in 1991.

Countries that are members of the UN donate money to allow the UN to function. Countries have to pay a proportion of their Gross Domestic Product to the UN. The poorest countries are excused.

There are some stateless persons. They are given UN passports. People who work for the UN are also given UN passports. If a Panamanian, for example, works for the UN then her loyalty must be to the UN not Panama. She must do as she is instructed even of the Panamanian Government tells her not to. She must act in the interests of the UN even if this is bad for Panama. The UN employs people from many different countries.

Countries must apply to join the UN. In 1945 Ireland applied to become a UN member state. The Soviet Union kept voting to prevent Ireland from joining. They Soviets feared that Ireland would always support the United States. In 1955 Ireland was allowed to join by the Soviets. Palestine has applied for membership but Israel and the United States stop her from joining. Palestine is a permanent observer of the UN. She can send a representative to watch UN proceedings. Palestinian leaders have sometimes been invited to speak to the UN General Assembly and they have done so. However, the Palestinian leader does not have the automatic right to address the UN General Assembly.

Some people say the permanent members of the Security Council are outdated. Russia is not even half as powerful as the USSR was. France and the United Kingdom are not mighty anymore. Both are members of the European Union. The French and British seats should be turned into a European Union seat. India has lobbied hard for a permanent place on the UN Security Council. Unanimity also makes resolutions very hard to pass. They have to be watered down so much to pass.

The General Assembly gives an equal vote to all countries. The largest population in the world has the same amount of representation as the smallest. The most evil tyranny has the same authority as the kindest government. Some people say this is daft.


  1. When was the UN founded?

2. Where was the UN founded?

3. Which city is the HQ of the United Nations?

4. What is the colour of the UN?

5. What are the six official languages of the UN?

6. How many permanent members of the Security Council are there?

7. What is the highest job in the UN?

8. What is the General-Assembly?

9. What are some criticisms of the UN? (5 marks)

10. What good does the UN do?  (7 marks)