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Nothing New Under the Sun: Elite-Driven Social Engineering and the Norman Conquest

The cultural struggle in which we find ourselves has its parallels in the Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England. We look to that historical period for clarification of our plight, and inspiration for the way out of it.

Carolyn Emerick has a bachelor’s degree in literature, college study in historiography, and graduate training in archival studies. She edits and publishes Europa Sun and Mythic Dawn magazines, and has been a student of European cultural history for as long as she could read. See her work at CarolynEmerick.com.

In an era when the mainstream is disparaging ‘old white men’ at every turn with virulent hostility, I would urge society to remember our aged relatives not only with pride but with reverence. The older generations built our very nations, and they held wisdom, both that honed from experience as well as that passed down through Western culture from the generations before them. My own grandparents frequently said that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. With a long-view of history, we find that there are numerous parallels and analogies to situations and issues that we face today. If we have a worldview that respects our ancestors and historical predecessors, we find that we can look to the past to glean insight and direction applicable to contemporary struggles.

Many of us would agree that we currently find ourselves in a great cultural struggle. What seems clear is that Western leadership at the highest levels has betrayed their sacred duty to protect their own nations. This betrayal moreover appears to be collusion between factions at the highest level of the socio-economic tier with well-connected families who consolidate power which is passed down generationally. If we look to history, we see that this is nothing new. In fact, many of these elites can trace their prestigious lines through centuries. So, in effect, one can make the argument that in some cases the very same people have been in power for centuries. Therefore, examples from history of the common folk acting in resistance against elite-driven oppression and/or forced social change is very relevant to our current situation.

Indigenous Teutonic Worldview

Among the many proud ethno-cultural groups indigenous to Europe are the Teutonic peoples. Looking to early Teutonic culture, we find that this was an ethnic group quite grounded in their own tribal ethnos. Freedom and autonomy of thought and action were essential values, but rooted firmly within a cultural milieu built around the bonds of kinship. Therefore, chieftains and kings were bound to the rule of law, but also duty-bound to act as protectors of ancestral foundations of culture. A king who betrayed his tribal ethnos could, and would, be overthrown by the noble warrior class.

Tourists today marvel at the splendour and prestige of Norman architecture without comprehending that both castles and cathedrals are symbols of the Norman oppression of the English in mind, body, spirit and economy.

This worldview does not fit the modern dichotomy of ‘capitalism (individualism) versus socialism (communism)’, but might be referred to as a ‘third position’ which respected the rights of the individual with the common good of the wider tribe in mind. One example is the concept of hunting grounds held in common by the community so that any man of freeman status had the right to feed his family off the bounty of the land. However, this did not counteract the right to private land ownership. These values are important to note as they pertain to the social engineering and massive elite-driven cultural changes that the Teutonic folk would later become subjected to.

The Enslavement of the Anglo-Saxons

When the Normans conquered England, it was not simply a change of leadership regime, but a complete paradigm shift. Christianity had, of course, found its way to England well before the Norman invasion. However, the Anglo-Saxons maintained an overtly Germanic cultural worldview which retained many of the aforementioned values. Indeed, their Christian practice consisted of a large number of pagan beliefs and practices simply modified with Christian imagery. Scholar Karen Louis Jolly says, ‘This is Christianity succeeding by way of acculturation and Germanic culture triumphing in transformation’ (Jolly, 11). This example is congruent with James C. Russell’s research presented in his book, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity, which discusses just how ‘Germanized’ Christianity had to be in order to be accepted initially by the Teutonic people.

The Normans were more strictly in line with the Roman Church and brought drastic changes to institutionally accepted theological perspective with them. Whereas the clergy had been comparatively more in line with the worldview of the common folk in the Anglo-Saxon era, Jolly says that ‘As the intellectual development of Christian doctrine increased in complexity with the advent of scholasticism in the twelfth century, the gap between the formal and the popular widened, causing some previously acceptable popular practices to appear ridiculous in the eyes of the new rationalists’ (Jolly, 26). She is speaking specifically of religious practice, but I argue that this is a direct result of, and in correlation with, the new Norman hierarchical structure which applied to both the religious and secular spheres. What she describes is a vast chasm between the elites and the common folk, which is precisely the scenario we encounter in the Robin Hood legend. She also describes a religious parallel to the secular example of the Norman nobility scoffing at cultural customs of the Anglo-Saxons – and, of course, we know that in the High Middle Ages the line between the religious and secular spheres was virtually non-existent.

The Normans brought with them virulent economic changes. South African writer, Stephen Goodson, explained the Anglo-Saxon position on usury in his article for The Barnes Review, ‘The Hidden Origins of the Bank of England.’ There he says:

From A.D. 757 to his death in 791, the great King Offa ruled the kingdom of Mercia, one of the seven autonomous kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. Offa was a wise and able administrator and a kindhearted leader, though he could be hard on his enemies. He established the first monetary system in England (as distinguished from Romano-Keltic Britain). On account of the scarcity of gold, he used silver for coinage and as a store of wealth. … In 787 Offa introduced a statute prohibiting usury: charging of interest on money lent. The laws against usury were further entrenched by King Alfred (r. 865–99), who directed that the property of usurers be forfeited, while in 1050 Edward the Confessor (1042–66) decreed not only forfeiture, but that a usurer be declared an outlaw and be banished for life. (Goodson, 5)

Another author, David C. Douglas, discusses the close relationship between the moneylenders and the Norman monarchy in his William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England. According to Douglas:

It is doubtful whether before the Conquest there had been any permanent Jewish settlements in England, but the existence of a Jewish community in Rouen during the central decades of the eleventh century is certain. Nor is there much doubt that a colony of these Rouen Jews came to England in the wake of the Conqueror, and was there established at his instigation. … He facilitated the advent of Jews into England, and Jewry in England was throughout the twelfth century to retain not only a predominantly French character, but also special connexions with the Anglo-Norman monarchy. (Douglas, 314)

We can gain a glimpse at how this changed the lives of the peasantry in Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald N. Yates’ The Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales: A Genetic and Genealogical History, wherein the authors explain that William’s reason for importing these moneylenders was to establish a new system of taxation whereby peasants would be forced to pay ‘in coin rather than in kind’ (Hirshmann and Yates, 61). Under the Anglo-Saxon system, a portion of a freeman’s homestead’s yield could be rendered to the crown as goods. This is why in films depicting early medieval England, peasants are depicted carrying bushels of wool, carts of livestock etc. to their overlord. The Anglo-Saxons did, of course, use coinage, but the Normans enforced a coin-only taxation system. The relationship between the money-lending community and the Norman economic shift is further elaborated on in an article entitled ‘Brentry: How Norman Rule Changed England’, wherein a staff writer for The Economist describes the changes brought in under William the Conqueror:

Jews arrived at William’s invitation, if not command, and introduced a network of credit links between his new English lands and his French ones. Unhindered by Christian usury laws, Jews were the predominant lenders in England by the 13th century. The discovery of precious metals from central European mines also helped get credit going. Jews settled in towns where there was a significant mint.

The author goes on to explain that these sweeping socio-economic changes went in tandem with the implementation of Norman domination across the landscape. Norman castles still dot the English landscape today, standing as testament to the iron fist of Norman rule. What many today do not understand, however, is that the castle building went hand in hand with the razing of Anglo-Saxon churches. Tourists today marvel at the splendour and prestige of Norman architecture without comprehending that both castles and cathedrals are symbols of the Norman oppression of the English in mind, body, spirit and economy. As mentioned above, Anglo-Saxons maintained a heavily Teutonic-centred cultural worldview in spite of their conversion to Christianity. In fact, these Christianized Teutons remained deeply animistic, as is evidenced in their continued belief in wights and spirits of the land, plants, and magical practices associated with medicine. Many pagan agricultural rituals continued to be practised with indigenous European imagery and deities swapped out for Christian ones. In many cases, the Church itself was involved with these rituals, such as the Æcerbot (Field Remedy) which scholar Kathleen Herbert describes in detail in her Looking for the Lost Gods of England (Herbert, 13–14). The Normans completely decimated the Anglo-Saxon religious presence, destroyed their churches and deposed the native English clergy, which was then replaced by a Norman priesthood. This new Norman form of religion was much more heavily tied to Roman Catholic ‘Christendom’. The staff author at The Economist explains, ‘To fund the infrastructure heavier taxes had to be levied on peasants, which “forced them to work harder”’.

Robin Hood’s ‘band of merry men’ remind us that while many of us today feel alone, we are not. We, too, can step outside of the matrix of tyranny and social engineering and create our own communities based on shared values.

Of course, the Anglo-Saxons did not surrender willingly or easily. The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was only the first of many devastating blows. Today in the right wing, there is a lot of discussion of more recent Bolshevik-orchestrated atrocities such as the Holomodor, the man-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians under the Soviet regime, and the horrors of Stalin’s work camps. But, the strong parallels between the havoc wrought by communism and the economic enslavement of the English and genocidal behaviours of the Normans is ignored. Not only did the Normans usher in a new religious ideology that was enforced by rule of law as a tool to control the populace, but what might be called the Holomodor 1.0 was unleashed against the good people of Northern England in what would be remembered as ‘The Harrying of the North.’ James Aitcheson, writing for History Today, says:

The Harrying, which took place over the winter of 1069–70, saw William’s knights lay waste to Yorkshire and neighbouring shires. Entire villages were razed and their inhabitants killed, livestock slaughtered and stores of food destroyed. This scorched-earth operation is one of the defining episodes of the Conquest, not just from a military-political perspective but also in terms of how it has shaped modern perceptions of the Normans as a tyrannical and merciless warrior class.

The object of the campaign was two-fold. First, William sought to flush out and eliminate the Northumbrian rebels. More importantly, by destroying the region’s resources so comprehensively, he sought to put an end to the cycle of rebellions by ensuring that any future insurgents would lack the means to support themselves. The campaign was as efficient as it was effective. William’s armies spread out over more than one hundred miles of territory, as far north as the River Tyne. The 12th-century chronicler John of Worcester writes that food was so scarce in the aftermath that people were reduced to eating not just horses, dogs and cats but also human flesh.

We can see quite plainly that the Normans unleashed a campaign of terror against the good folk of England while also completely changing their economy and utilizing religious ideology as a means of enforcement. The similarities to both the Soviet regime and elite-driven social engineering today are striking. For an ethno-culture to whom freedom and individual autonomy were as valued as the bonds of kinship, and who cherished their cultural heritage and identity to the degree that heroic tales of valour from their origins in pagan Scandinavia continued to be told in the mead halls, this enslavement would have been insufferable. In addition to a new form of religion, confiscation of personal property, a new and foreign economic system, and the massive loss of life, the Normans also took away the beloved Teutonic communal woodlands.

A Legendary Folk Hero Arises

It is within this context that the legendary tales of Robin Hood would arise. While the Robin Hood figure with which we are familiar is legendary, most scholars are in agreement that the heroic figure was likely born from a historical person or is an amalgam of several figures who were known and remembered in folklore due to their resistance to Norman subjugation. This places the tale in the realm of mytho-history, as it discusses the life and escapades of figures who are impossible to verify; however, it is set squarely in a historical time and place and the themes rife within are perfectly in line with the concerns of the era. But separating what is fact from what is fiction is secondary from the lessons that the tales have to offer us as we navigate our way through our current society ruled by oppressive elites who seem hell bent on suppressing the white man while they socially engineer our nations through ideological psychological warfare and massive demographic replacement.

When we look to the character of Robin Hood, we see an archetypal woodsman who lives by an ancient primal code of honour. Rather than confronting the ruling class on their turf, he chooses to step outside of their matrix all together. He removes himself from economic dependence on the ruling class by living independently off the land, doubling down on the Teutonic ethnic traditional way of life. But he is not a lone-wolf, as it were. His ‘band of merry men’ remind us that while many of us today feel alone, we are not. There are others who see the tyranny, the social engineering, and who oppose it. Therefore we, too, can step outside of the matrix of these things and create our own communities based on shared values. We, too, can take from the rich to feed the poor by way of choosing how we spend our own coin. If we begin to see our brethren as ‘folk’ once again, we can turn our eyes upon our own community building. In Teutonic culture, bonds of kinship and tribe were considered something sacred. Therefore, conscious intention to spend our coin in ways that support of our folk who stand in solidarity against those who would see us destroyed can be considered a ‘folk tithe’.

But, Robin Hood’s primary function as an archetype of resistance to tyranny presents a message that is both basic and crucial. We must resist. We must resist at all costs the dark future that the social engineers are attempting to funnel us toward. Robin Hood, therefore, is a figure who embodies hope. His gang of unlikely brothers are not called the angry men, the depressive men, the hopeless men. No, they are the merry men. And why should they be happy living under the oppressive, murderous regime described above? Robin Hood and his merry men remind us that we have everything to live for. We are not yet dead. We are still standing. We have a glorious heritage and a beautiful culture. Again, looking to my own ancestors with the honour and reverence that they deserve, I remember when I had difficult times in my youth, my English-heritage grandmother always told me, ‘You come from strong stock.’

And I would say to you: We come from strong stock. And we will endure.

Bibliography

—Aitcheson, James. ‘The Harrying of the North’. 12 October 2016.Douglas, David C. William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England. University of California Press, 1967. Print.
—Goodson, Stephen. ‘The Hidden Origins of the Bank of England’. The Barnes Review XVIII.5 (2012): 5–14.
—Herbert, Kathleen. Looking for the Lost Gods of England. Anglo-Saxon Books, 1994. Print.
—Hirschman, Elizabeth Caldwell and Donald N. Yates. The Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales: A Genetic and Genealogical History. McFarland, 2014.
—Jolly, Karen Louis. Popular Religion in Late Saxon England. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Print.
—Owen, Francis. The Germanic People: Their Origin and Expansion. Dorset Press, 1960. Print.
—Russel, James C. The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print.
—Staff writer. ‘Brentry: How Norman Rule Shaped England’. December 2016. The Economist.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. This article brings a whole new scope on the Robin Hood legend beyond the usual “steal to the rich to give to the poor”. Deeper meanings are presented here and reveal an inspiring connection to our current situation. Well done!

  2. It hits me how I’ve always been caught in the matrix: this tale of Robin Hood has always been about taking money from the rich and giving to the poor to me, now I see how money itself is a tool of conquer by our rulers, and how this story is about much more than that. It is a great idea for us to step out of the frames given to us and create our own media platform to live off, just like the merry men of Robin Hood did. Miss Emerick somehow always manages to give you new ways to view the world we live in.

  3. Carolyn provides reinvigorating context to the Robin Hood folk tale, showing–as she always does–the relevancy and potential adaption in the modern era of our folk stories, enriching the present by connecting us to our past.

  4. Carolyn Emerick’s article explores important points about the Norman conquest of England and changes regarding money, debt, and tax collection imposed on the English natives. William the Conqueror also did something else of lasting significance: In 1086 he ordered a survey of England and part of Wales to determine the land owned by the king, taxable property (including animals, etc.) owned by the citizens, and what taxes were owed to the king. The record of that survey is known as the Domesday Book. Although censuses of people and property had been conducted in ancient China and by Rome, it was the first known countrywide census in Europe. It lives on today with virtually every country periodically invading the privacy of its citizens by conducting a census that compiles varying degrees of information about their life. The U.S. Constitution mandates a nationwide census (“Enumeration”) every ten years.

  5. Very interesting article. Today, as Europeans, we have a duty to rediscover our roots. Globalism wants us all the same. The best way to oppose it is to rediscover our ancient legends, like that of Robin Hood. We always remember Nietzsche’s warning: “The future will belong to those who have the longest memory”!

    1. I was honestly hoping the journal would be a serious medium of exchange for ideas and discussions, as this was also the claim that Mr Leonard made in the beginning.

      What I see now is that some authors, who are not interested in exhange but in publicity and exposure at all costs, encourage their followers and fans through social media to leave indiscriminately positive comments.

      This, in my opinion, undermines the genuine spirit of debate this journal ostensibly has been launched for.

      It would be nice if authors would have enough integrity to let their objective readers, not a frantic entourage of fans, gauge the quality of their article instead of starting an aggressive publicity campaign.

      1. I am grateful to you, Mr. Haffield, for recalling the spirit that this journal hopes to achieve. But that spirit will not be realized by the hoping alone. For our part, we can hardly censor comments simply because they are enthusiastic for or complimentary toward an author or an article; nor do we censor comments which critique or dispute the ideas presented by our authors. Your observation suggests there has so far been a dearth of the latter; perhaps your words would be better spent in supplementing that dearth, rather than lamenting it?

        I for one am more than ready to discuss the subjects treated by the journal, and I know that our authors and readers are as well. I warmly invite you then to spark off some of the exchange you would like to see more of.

        1. Mr Leonard, your comment is very much appreciated. You have a few outstanding writers contributing here, whose quality of work proves that it can stand on its own. I am more than willing to engage in further discussions as your journal grows.

  6. As always, Carolyn brings a highly researched and refreshingly nationalistic perspective to history and folklore. She has brought into the light some of the most important and oftentimes disturbing facts about our history. The more people she can reach then the better it will be for us all. Her work is highly important and as such deserves to have as wide an audience as possible. Kudos to Arktos for their platform.

  7. Ms. Carolyn Emerick has taught me many things I am happy to learn about. I have only been reading her for about a month but what she offers fills the gap inside me that has been growing for a long time. In general I’m a satisfied, happy individual who feels appreciation for being an American, especially because I served in the armed forces. Unfortunately, recent decades have disenfranchised me from feeling super-positive about the community around me. I feel hostility directed at me (from the people around me) solely because of my demographic (my skin pigment), which is not how I felt in the military. I think the void of civilian leadership has contributed to this. Ms. Emerick offers ideas and insights that inspire me to have hope; she is the kind of leader I need. Her scholarly work is a solid foundation for identifying how we can really identify our heritage and move forward towards a positive goal. She has opened my eyes to how I can appreciate the history of my ancestors and their struggle to be free.

  8. Holodomor* Not holomodor. I saw that misspelling repeated. I’m sure somebody else in the comments mentioned, but just in case… 😀

    Aside from that, great piece as always, Carolyn. I was just listening to the “Folk Chat part 2” in YouTube, and knew I needed to come and read the piece, as well as the others you linked to. Fantastic work, and thank you. It is very welcome and appreciated. Keep the high quality work coming.

  9. “Jews settled in towns where there was a significant mint.” Which also had new Norman mot and bailey forts. Imported into England at the same time the Doomsday Book was created and for the same reason. Ironically, Anglo-Saxon England identified with and idealized the Hebrews of the Vulgate. However, after 200 years of close personal contact, Germanic-like King David was eclipsed by Aaron “Son of the Devil”.
    Robin Hood’s “Trysting Tree”, tryst=pledge and ting=meeting, hence the tree is the designated meeting place were pledges are made. The State of Virginia still has a Court of Husting, our Germanic roots and customs are everywhere.

  10. Astonishing work by Carolyn in this article! She manages to open windows that I never knew could open. Great piece, I hope to see more in the future.

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