Henry the Turd

It was his King John’s son who unwittingly went about defining our sense of nationhood even further. His son was called Henry (very original name that John). Henry III was a pious king who devoted his time to prayer and pilgrimage, he must have been boring as fuck.  One day, The Pope invited Henry to buy the Kingdom of Sicily for absolutely no fucking reason other than to enrich himself further. Henry moronically did as he was asked.  It was a mistake. He’d have to raise taxes and this went against the interests of the barons and the population as a whole. Purchasing a costly Mediterranean island for no apparent reason made him about as popular as HS2 in Aylesbury.

After John lost all the Plantagenet lands abroad, the barons had been forced to swear allegiance to either the French or the British crowns, the English Channel (as we like to call it) was no longer a bridge, it was a barrier that separated two new nations. John losing land in France was in some regards the start of an English sense of Englishness. We’d cut ties with the continental mainland and a growing sense of national pride began to emerge. This was a medieval from of Brexit but for some it wasn’t hard enough.

Henry had still managed to fill his court with foreign born Frenchies, they all spoke French and did French-like things with garlic hanging round their necks. The Brexit barons resented them as they no longer owned lands in France, they were English and they didn’t trust outsiders. They were suspicious of these foreigners who came over here and occupied perfectly good English castles without even contributing anything to the economy (whilst also receiving benefits). NHS waiting times were through the roof. There was a growing sense of national feeling that conflicted with these French fuckers being over here. A chronicle of the time, written by a monk called Mathew Parris (Parris….seriously?) praised a Brexit baron who had been fighting a French invasion force. He used an interesting piece of language that perhaps far-right political groups may wish to adopt, ‘anglir – anglia’ its translation simply means, ‘England for the English’. This is proof that even monks are racist. 

Eventually, the 13th Century Brexiteers had had enough of the king’s French relatives living in THEIR English castles. In April 1258, seven of them, wearing full suits of armour, marched into Henry’s court and demanded that all his French relatives fuck off back to France and return the castles. This is the kind of shit that Jacob Rees-Mogg masturbates to. I imagine they also adopted the ‘power stance’ that Tories use in photoshoots, George Osborne did it best.

Henry was completely bankrupt and was at the mercy of his barons. He was forced to relent. His submission sparked a flurry of reforms that are still with us today. A king had been humiliated and the way that England was governed completely changed. The ‘Provisions of Oxford’ meant that for the first time in English history, the king (reluctantly) shared his power with a council. Medieval kings had always ruled alone but silly Henry III had totally fucked up the best power trip in the world.  This was a huge turning point in our history. Seven angry barons, wearing suits of armour (full-kit wankers, they even had shin pads on as well) had managed to grab a little power for themselves and their mates. Royal authority was now to a large extent limited and a new institution was established; it’s name derived from the French word for ‘speak’ (parle) and ‘Parliament’ was born.

Parliament soon turned against Henry. His own brother-in-law, Simon De Monfort condemned Henry as a king who had lost touch with the people, not that any medieval king was ever really in touch with ‘the people’. Monsieur De Monfort believed he would be a better ruler so he did what any reasonable psychopath would do and raised an army against the king. He won. Henry escaped but was now king in name only. For the following fifteen months Simon De Monfort ruled England and he did so through Parliament. In 1265, he even built an extension. The esteemed property owners of England were told to elect their own knights and hobbits from the shires and boroughs and send them to Parliament. Obviously, they weren’t allowed to sit with the bishops and barons, they were to have their own little house - for common folk. These new institutions would later be known as, The House of Lords and The House of Commons. If you’re bang into drugs and prostitutes then try and get yourself in with The Lord’s side, although someone will have to put you there – as you may already be aware we still haven’t got around to electing officials into that house yet. The long arm of egalitarianism doesn’t stretch that far even in the 21st Century.

De Monfort had put together the beginnings of our democracy. The Crown had to answer to Parliament. Don’t go thinking De Monfort was a nice guy. He was a huge anti-Semite. He ordered all Jewish people to be thrown out of England and then went about massacring any that he found. Jeremy Corbyn probably has a shrine dedicated to him in his bedroom. He got his comeuppance at the Battle of Evesham where royal forces led by Edward (Henry III’s son) defeated Simon and his army. They didn’t just kill him, they cut of his testicles and hung them round his nose, always larking about those medieval jesters, proper banter that. De Monfort was dead but his Parliament lived on. Henry III was back, thanks to his son. Then he died. He was buried at the gaff he’d spent most of his fortune on (Sicily aside), Westminster Abbey. He requested that his heart be cut out and buried in France. Twat.

Henry III had made two massive mistakes during his reign. He kept running out of money and he kept pissing the barons off with his shit French mates. As a result, royal power had been diminished and English kings had to now cooperate with elected officials in Parliament. In a strange way, our suspiciousness of the French has led to the birth of our democracy. Perhaps if we flood the tunnel, ban baguettes and stop eating croissants, we may be able to reform The House of Lords.

 

Henry and The Lionfart

King Henry II definitely made his mark and he became a very powerful man, albeit his power corrupted all those around him (FIFA have replicated this as a business model). However, there was one particular establishment that didn’t take too kindly to his legal revolution - the almighty Church. A power struggle ensued between Church and Crown. This bitter feud reached its climax when Henry had one of his most loyal friends savagely murdered on holy ground (not even the main baddie from Highlander dared do that).

The Church wasn’t willing to simply hand over its judicial powers without a fight and this will have pissed Henry off because most kings were probably psychopaths. When the Arch Bishop of Canterbury died, Henry saw an opportunity and replaced him with his most trusted friend. His name has gone down in history - Thomas Beckett. However, Henry soon saw Beckett’s true colours. Instead of siding with The Crown, Thomas went about actually increasing the power of The Church and ultimately himself (no doubt an inspirational figure to Jacob Rees-Mogg). This betrayal was simply unacceptable to a psychopath (Plantagenet King). Eventually, four ‘royal’ knights turned up in Canterbury and attempted to drag Thomas out of the cathedral, he clung onto a pillar and apparently called them “pimps and madmen” (now if that’s not a brilliant name for a US based 90’s hip-hop band then I don’t know what is). These  knights took exception to being teased so they put a sword right through the middle of his fucking head. That was the end of ‘T-Beck’ (I’ve abbreviated his name to make this more appealing to American readers). Ridiculous rumours began to spread that his blood had miraculous powers and people actually started to buy drops of it because that is genuinely how human beings sometimes behave. The Church never missed out on an opportunity to cash in and they made a tidy profit selling all sorts of ‘T-Beck’ bullshit to the pilgrims. Then of course, The Pope, in all his wisdom, decided to make Beckett a saint. Well fuck me sideways.

Henry couldn’t believe that his dickhead mate was actually a saint now, what a load of utter bollocks. Meanwhile, his problems continued: this time it was his own family that turned against him. His four sons and his wife to be precise. Plantagenet sons were eager to exercise power and Henry II seemed to be out-living his welcome. The English barons hadn’t forgotten their castles being ripped down so Henry faced a rebellion from Henry (his son) and some angry barons. Then all his other sons then joined Henry (the son) and so did his ‘loving’ wife, Eleonor. Unbeknown to Henry (not the son), Eleonor had snuck out of France disguised as a man like some kind of reverse Bruce Jenner and joined the revolt. It fucked up and Henry II had Eleonor imprisoned for the next sixteen years, a lovely end to a marriage. He then faced further rebellions from his sons, the French monarchy and from barons all over the shop. Henry had defied God (the historical equivalent of Australian tax dodger Rupert Murdoch) and killed a saint - his reputation was in tatters. As a result, he was forced to repent for his sins by allowing himself to be beaten and whipped by priests (the kinky fuckers) at the shrine of his ex-besty, T-Beck. If you substitute priests for prostitutes and shrines for cocaine then you’ve basically got yourself a pre-cursor to The House of Lords.   

On 6th July, 1189, the once almighty King Henry II lay on his death bed somewhere in France. His son Richard had besieged him and to his ultimate dismay, he then learned that his favourite son (John) had also joined this family betrayal. Gutted. His final words were said to be,

“Shame…shame on a conquered King”

I imagine they were the exact words that David Cameron used when he handed in his resignation and fucked off to France ‘with his trotters up’ to quote the ever-inimitable Danny Dyer. The English Crown now passed on to his treacherous dickhead son, Richard. He went on to become the English legend that is, Richard The Lionheart. In true English style, Richard only ever spent six months of his ten-year reign in England and he didn’t speak a word of English. This very French Frenchmen simply treated England as a cash cow to fund his crusades over to Jerusalem.  A true English legend.

Richard was known to be a blood-thirsty warrior but luckily for him, The Pope (in all his wisdom) had declared that any murderous, blood-thirsty warrior who loved killing people could have all his sins forgiven if he went to Jerusalem and murdered people over there. Richard The Lionfart was totally all over that. Now before you make up your mind about Richard being a comprehensive twat then I’d like you to consider this. Despite the fact he had complete distain for England and only visited when he was crowned, he is rumoured to have said,

“I’d sell London, if only I could find a buyer”

And with one short sentence, Richard The Lionheart became my favourite Plantagenet. What a fantastic idea. I’m pretty sure that MP and hedge-fund manager Jacob Rees-Mogg could afford it although my sister and her family live there so if she ever decided to have an abortion she’d be up shit creek.

Richie took a crossbow to the shoulder on another one of his sieges and died in 1199, stupid cunt should have been stood further away. His idiot brother John then became king and completely fucked everything up. He was crap at fighting battles and ended up losing all the Plantagenet lands in France because a socialist terrorist with a bow and arrow called ‘Kevin Costner’ stole his taxes in Sherwood Forest.

Weirdly enough, King John’s shitness actually helped to define England as an individual nation. The barons no longer owned lands in France, their connection to the motherland was lost and their estates were handed over to other French dickheads who actually lived in France. It was now a case of, ‘oh well, let’s focus on what we’ve got here and write off all foreign assets, what else can we do?’ It was the 13th Century version of Brexit; but with a better deal.

‘English’ law and order

William (the bastard!) had won the English crown and that meant that all his descendants had a rightful claim to it. Medieval politics was always a family affair, alliances were made via marriage and a rival claim to the throne came mostly from someone who shared your DNA.  Unfortunately, the closest thing we have to that is the Miliband brothers.

The ruling barons wielded a lot of power in the 12th Century as national governments had not yet grown strong enough to rule independently so kings relied on their local armies (similar to Nigel Farage when he was UKIP leader). One of those barons was Geoffrey of Anjou. He had married well. His wife, Matilda, was the daughter of King Henry I (fourth son of William The Bastard) and together they forged the Plantagenet (French) dynasty who ruled England for over 300 years.

Geoffrey of Anjou has made a lasting impression on what we might call modern Britain. He had red hair (just like Prince Harry’s real dad) and by all accounts was a good-looking chap, he was known as ‘The Handsome’ or ‘The Fair’. If you google him then you’ll see that he could have definitely been in Kings of Leon when they moved into their ‘sexy phase’ and started to produce music that wasn’t as good as when they had beards. If you pay close attention to his shield then you will notice an animal being replicated – a lion. Symbolism was important to the medieval ruling elite and this lion was also adopted by Geoffrey’s descendants (our kings and queens) on their coats of arms. Symbolism is of course still important in today’s world and that’s why we sing about three lions on a shirt. The English lion (found only in a zoo) is still a powerful national symbol today and I’ve seen many a fully-grown man chant about it with all the English pride he can muster. However, he only does so because one morning, in the 12th Century, a ginger-French teenager decided to have them drawn on his shield. That my friends is the somewhat farcical irony of history. Unlike a vegan sausage roll from Greggs, Lions aren’t actually English and this particular one happens to be French. Furthermore, the flag of Saint George has also been adopted by many far-right political movements who wish to dramatically stem the flow of immigration into England. Saint George was Turkish and never even once set foot in England. From a historical perspective, they should definitely consider using a different flag. A French lion and a red Turkish cross. Well fuck me sideways.  

Meanwhile, in true Plantagenet back-stabbing style, Matilda’s cousin Steven had seized the English crown for himself. What a twat. This resulted in twenty years of civil war; it was a period known as ‘The Anarchy’. King Steve isn’t particularly well-known in British history, nor is this particular civil war but nonetheless it was a defining one. Eventually, Geoffrey and Matilda’s son, the soon to be Henry II, brought an army over to face cousin Steve and lay claim to his birth right. However, as the two armies faced each other, they refused to fight their fellow countrymen and the two leaders were forced to compromise. It was decided that Henry II would be next in line but he’d have to wait (Gordon Brown had similar problems with warlord Tony Blair). However, this worked out very well for the young Plantagenet upstart because about a year later King Steve conveniently died.

On the 19th December 1154 (the year after pop star Madonna was born) King Henry II was crowned. What a fucking result. This truly native Frenchmen then went about destroying the influence of our English barons. He ripped down their castles and centralised power by establishing one ‘common law’ that governed all. For the first time in its history, England had an official law that was to be used consistently throughout the whole country. The Common Law was born. The foundation of our English legal system was a text known as ‘Glanvill’. The opening line read:

“Royal power should not only be adorned with arms to fight rebels and hostile peoples but also with laws to rule its subjects in peace”.

Fuck knows what that means. Its most likely author was the quintessentially English sounding ‘Ranulf de Glanvill’ and of course it was written in Latin. But don’t let that dilute whatever version of pure Englishness you cling onto, just picture in your head those three lions on a shirt; or if you prefer, the battle shield of a ginger-French kid.

Henry II had filtered power away from the localised barons and strengthened the state; his central court was built in a place called Westminster. Newly appointed royal judges were sent out on a tour of the country (not too dissimilar to my upcoming 2019 UK Tour but probably funnier), they would meet regularly and agree to follow one another’s decisions. Suddenly, you have precedent and common practice being delivered throughout the English justice system, something Tommy Robinson still struggles to understand. This was brand new. Previously, local Baron’s courts preferred to use ‘trial by battle’ wherein the two parties would exchange blows in order to resolve the issue. The better you were at hitting people, the more justice you received. Life was simple in the good old days.

Henry II brought a sense of fair play into our laws, something that I believe defines part of who we are today. Disputes could be resolved without the need for violence (sorry Tommy); there was now a trial by jury. Once the twelve knights had been chosen, they were to swear an oath and decide between them who had the best bribe. This lay the foundations of our common law which is still practiced today. Us Brits believe we like to play by the rules, we have a strong sense of fairness and we stand in queues. Like all island nations we are fiercely proud of our independence (Scotland aside), however, the influence of mainland Europe upon our laws, customs, language and culture cannot be understated. It was a Frenchmen who established our legal system and he even had it written in Italian. The twat. No Wonder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was so confused…

 

The Last Anglo-Saxon King

If you ask most people to name a famous date in British history they will probably say 1066, they may even reference the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror. They probably won’t be able to tell you who he fought because history is written by the victors (as in ‘winners’ not Meldrew etc). It was Harold Godwinson. Google image search him now – he apparently looked like a camp He-Man.

After Edward The Confessor died (heirless), there were many ‘rightful’ claims to the English throne. According to ‘He-Man in drag’ Godwinson, King Edward had promised HIM the crown on his death bed so that basically made HIM king. Therefore, he hastily had himself crowned. He must have known that decision was going land him in a load of shit but the lure of complete power, to an already powerful man is sometimes irresistible. Look at Theresa May and the poisoned chalice of Brexit negotiations, she just couldn’t help herself (yes, I know she’s a woman but that still counts cause I’m a massive feminist).

Immediately, another Harold sailed an ocean to steak his claim to the English throne. It was hard as fuck - Harold Hardrada. His army weren’t that hard though as Godwinson totally kicked his Norwegian arse at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (Yorkshire) and Hardrada lost his life. His freedom of movement had cost him, however, despite his death, Hardrada still managed to hold on to his Norwegian fishing rights.

Godwinson rejoiced as surely his right to rule had now been ordained by *God. Nope. After weeks of waiting on the beaches of Normandy for favourable winds, William The Conqueror finally landed on our southern coast just a few days later. It was more than perfect timing. Godwinson’s battle-weary army were immediately forced to march 200 miles to go and fight a bunch of Norman lunatics in a field near Hastings. Godwinson wanted to ‘surprise’ his enemy. If you can imagine going on a crazy murderous stabbing spree for about 3 hours and jogging more than a marathon a day for a week whilst sleeping on a roadside every night then that is what it must have been like. This bold attempt at ‘surprise’ backfired. These exhausted men were mainly farmers, they weren’t trained soldiers. Unsurprisingly, they lost the second battle (Hastings) and Godwinson, our last Anglo-Saxon king, was slain in the slaughter. What a fucking week that must have been. Imagine being a member of Godwinson’s militia and surviving that. Then you have to go back home and plough your field.

How were the battles love?”,

“Oh, the first one was great, I killed about forty people with this pitch-fork but then we had to run 200 miles straight after. It’s more tiring that you’d think. In the second battle, most of my friends died and I’ve been running through fields and forests for 3 days solid because they are still trying to kill me. That’s why I’m home early. What’s for tea?”

Life was hard. William himself had survived various assassination attempts as a young boy. Imagine having to escape on horse-back in the black of night when you’re about 8 years old because people had come to murder you. It can’t be good for the disposition. That boy grew up to be a blood-thirsty ruler, the likes of which we didn’t see again until George Osbourne. William The Bastard’s legacy cannot be understated - he was the reason that our establishment spoke French for the best part of half-a-millennia. Moreover, his invasion actually helped define the English language as we know it today. Modern English is basically an amalgamation of old English and French (along with loads of other languages). To put it even more simply, it’s basically French but without the ridiculous need for feminine or masculine verb endings. Languages develop all the time, they’re in a constant state of flux. As it happens, the French are currently terrified that their language is becoming obsolete, it is almost being assimilated into the English language. We have over a million words, they only have roughly 100,000. The French language simply can’t keep up, its fading. Good. Admittedly, I do like cliché, rendezvous, touché and guillotine but the rest can perish for all I care. I believe the English language to be far superior; it has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.

If you are looking for French words within the English language then you won’t be disappointed, its riddled with them. Take for example the word ‘Parliament’, deriving of course from the French word ‘parle’ which means ‘to speak’. There are probably more examples.

The ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ have had a huge impact on our culture and ‘The Bastard’s’ victories on the battlefield are a big part of why. To be fair, I should mention that William wasn’t actually French, he was of course Norman; a descendent of the great Viking warrior ‘Rollo’ who was hard as fuck. Eventually, the French got so tired of being killed by the Vikings that they surrendered some of their land (a common theme embedded within French military tactics) and a new country was born, Normandy. You will have heard of it before because that area of the continent still retains that name. Operation Overlord (June 6th, 1944) landed on the beaches of Normandy just under a millennia later as allied forces once again rescued the French from their appalling military tactics of ‘here, you can have this land if you want it’. However, the 11th Century Normans were hard as nails. In order to secure his rule, William brutally crushed all further English rebellion, including the ‘Harrying of the North’ which involved his forces setting fire to most of Northern England, the devastation was so complete that even HS2 may still be cancelled.

I think it’s fair to suggest that William was not only a fantastic conqueror but also genuinely a bit of a bastard. What does this small but very defining segment of British history tell us about the present? It tells us that those who seek power should be careful what they wish for and it is also highly likely that they’re a twat.

 

 

 

 

 

* the medieval equivalent of Rupert Murdoch

Post-truth

We live in a world of apparent fake news; questioning a sources validity is a required skill in the barrage of b***s**t we call ‘today’. What is to be believed? Even Gary Lineker is confused because he just tweeted this,

“Whatever happened to the truth? I miss it.”

Very poignant Gary. I imagine he did ‘that face’ as he typed it (I’m referring to those puffed-out cheeks as he looked towards Bobby Robson during the 1990 World Cup because Paul Gascoigne was crying in a televised game of football). However, I think our esteemed Golden Boot winner does speak on behalf of a lot of bewildered people throughout Britain and beyond. Although, I must add that he is also falling for that age-old misconception; the past is morally superior to the present. Disclaimer: it isn’t (see Margaret Thatcher).

If you pay too much attention to social media then you will probably be depressed and also of the opinion that we are becoming increasingly polarised in our political views. Idiots (people) now have a platform in which they can openly express their hatred or contempt for others (we used to just think it). Additionally, the more dramatic and extreme your opinion, the more attention it will receive and so we enter a childish cycle of name calling. ‘Brexiteers’ are all racist and ‘Remoaners’ are all snowflakes; this simply isn’t true (although paradoxically it is). However, being rational doesn’t sell newspapers and that is why some people in the media sound like Nazis. There is a well-known Hitler quote that says,

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed”.

At this stage, I think it is important to stress that I have a massive penis.

In the age of big data, the lies being told to us are becoming ever more sophisticated as our online activity is constantly monitored. Algorithms track who you follow, what you like and dislike, they learn about your habits and prejudices. The news is getting clever, it can be tailor made to stir the emotions of a particular individual because people are more attracted to sensationalised stories rather than statistics or figures. My penis is massive. The news is getting better at making us angry because it needs to compete for our attention, the news needs to be sensationalised otherwise it won’t even be newsworthy.

Information is everywhere and more accessible than ever before. Although it is now abundantly clear that my penis is huge, with such a variety of media outlets, finding a reliable source has become increasingly complex. Here is a small list of 21st Century excuses for news:

The Kardashians

A cat playing piano

Vegan sausage rolls

Can humans really be trusted with the internet? Many people prefer to talk about crap because it’s easier and not boring. To what extent does ‘Joe Public’ concern themselves with a genuine search for ‘truth’ per se? There are many distractions (football being the best). The struggle is real, the sacrifices that many of our ancestors made for us have become ‘weird stuff to know’ as people seem far more interested in the trivial aspects of life. However, in the age of big data, we can actually measure to some extent what people are interested in - we can investigate the most popular internet searches. As we are focusing on history here, I just typed ‘when did’ and here are the three most popular searches according to the algorithm:

When did Michael Jackson die

When did Fortnite come out

When did slavery end

Hurrah! History finished third! Well, in answer to that final question, which country do you mean? Are you claiming that slavery has ended in the 21st Century because I’m sure victims of human trafficking would argue it hasn’t? Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging, Michael died on 25/06/2009 and Fortnite came out on 25/07/2017. According to the increasingly influential algorithm that is Google, we are more concerned about Michael Jackson and computer games than we are about social equality. If you require further evidence of our historical apathy then I typed in ‘when was’ to my Google friend and ‘9/11’ came in third. When was a date? Hmmm. Americans rarely say dates in full because they’re too busy being fat or shopping and they also fail to write them the CORRECT way. Furthermore, if you’re going to miss out the year and only use 66.666% of a date then many of the ‘Bible Belt’ States will likely get confused and oh my God, I’ve just realised that percentage also represents the devil (who firmly supports gun control).

Many people rightly argue that most US citizens are incredibly stupid, however, I’m much more diplomatic. I argue that there are many different types of intelligence; we are good at doing different types of tasks. Although admittedly, some people are annoyingly good at most things and some people are totally wank at everything. I’m guessing you know people at both ends of the spectrum. The most impressive person ever for me was Da Vinci. The least? Probably Roy Keane.

I digress, the truth is that in my large-penised opinion, we aren’t as concerned about the historical process as we could be. Therefore, I have heroically took it upon myself to write a history-based blog that attempts to address this issue and hopefully inspires people to do some of their own research and then perhaps even buy tickets for my 2019 UK Tour. However, history is very similar to ‘jungle’ in the sense that it’s massive, so what shall we discuss? I have decided to look at the last 1000 years of British history because I clearly smoke way too much weed. Moreover, I despise the creeping Americanisation of our culture, which seems to be going completely unnoticed by most other racists, so this is also an attempt to celebrate Britishness. In order to understand our present, we must understand our past and if this blog inspires one person to buy tickets for my upcoming tour (or makes them believe that I have a massive penis) then it’s totally been worth it. And that my friends IS the truth.