The Normans were the last of a string of Scandinavian and Germanic cultures, which conquered Europe and supplied the military aristocracy that ruled Europe for over a millennium. At the turn of the 1st millennium the Normans spread down from Scandinavia to establish themselves as military overlords in France, specifically Normandy, which is named after them. From here some of the Normans spread south to conquer Sicily and southern Europe from the Byzantium Empire. Another contingent led by William, Duke of Normandy, conquered Britain.
In each of these places the Normans established themselves as hereditary rulers devoted to war and conquering. These northern tribes held a common belief system – the values of the warrior cult connected with Norse mythology. As with the other European tribes the Normans converted to Christianity, worshipping Jesus as the Military Messiah of the Old Testament, while maintaining their rigid caste system.
The Normans were just an overlay on the militaristic cultures that already existed in the places they conquered. For instance the ‘ancient’ English culture that the Normans conquered was not in fact that ancient. There were the Danes who had first raided and then conquered northwest England only a few centuries before the Norman invasion.
The more ancient rulers were the Germanic Jutes, Angles and Saxons who had settled in England about five hundred years before as conquerors. Five hundred years is over twice the age of the US. Columbus ‘discovered America’ just a little over 500 years ago. The Angles, Saxons, and the Jutes were part of the aggressive Germanic tribes. Because of population pressures and pressure from the east by the Huns, whole colonies of these Germanic tribes migrated to England as conquerors beginning with a decisive victory in 456 AD.[i] By 600 CE they controlled most of the country of England. Only Ireland, Scotland, Northwest England and Wales were still under control of the more ancient Celtic tribes.
The Anglo-Saxons controlled the main trade centers on the southeast of the island, as that is where the wealth was. Extensive trade had been taking place between these islands and the continent beginning about 1500 BC[ii]. Even at this early date the British Isles supplied the raw materials, while the Continent supplied the finished goods, including wine. And those that control the trade, also control the wealth; and those that control the wealth control the real power. Thus these Germanic tribes were the real power of England. They took control over the same wealthy areas that attracted a series of invaders over the centuries.
As evidence of their lasting influence our days of the week come from the gods of Saxon mythology[iii]: Tuesday = Tiw, Wednesday = Wotan, both gods of war, Thursday = Thunor, god of thunder, Friday was named after Frigg, Wotan’s wife, also considered to be a fertility goddess.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize the connection between Thunor and Thor, Norwegian god of thunder. Further the Saxon Wotan is equivalent to Odin, father god of the Vikings, while Frigg, wife of Wotan, is equivalent to Freya, the Viking goddess. These equivalencies are only meant to establish that the Germanic Angles and Saxons had the same roots to their mythology as did the Scandinavian Vikings. Thus the Normans were not the first to bring the warrior cult to England.
The Warrior had already conquered the Farmers of England with the arrival of the Angles and Saxons five hundred years prior to the Normans. The warrior cult had already been superimposed over the existing Celtic culture long before the Normans arrived. The Germanic invaders brought with them their own gods. As with most polytheistic religions these were not jealous gods and so accommodated the local religions, which were also polytheistic.
Although Rome, another warrior culture, had conquered the Brits prior to the Anglo-Saxons, their religion, Christianity, had died out in most of England by 500 CE [iv]. That which remained, primarily in Celtic Ireland and Wales, developed an eclectic brand quite separate from the authority of the Pope based in Rome. As the ruling Germani tribes never conquered the Irish, the pagan Anglo-Saxons separated the Christian Celts from the power center of the Catholic Church. Having lost contact for centuries the Irish Catholics acquired a taste for independence, which had grave ramifications for both Scotland and Ireland. [See Scottish Ancestry].
Like the ensuing Normans and the preceding Romans, the ruling Anglo-Saxons were the minority in England. There were only about 100,000 Anglo-Saxons to about a million Britons in the 6th century, a one to ten ratio.[v] Further the Britons were certainly the underclass, treated almost like slaves.
“Fifty years after the Romans left, the Saxons, Angles and other tribes from north Germany took over England. They settled in much the same areas as those occupied by the Romans. The British were pushed into the north and west of England and into Wales. They became slaves or foreigners in their own country (the Saxon word walh or wealh, from which the name Wales comes, means both Briton and slave).”[vi]
The Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans ruled roughly the same territory in Britain and enslaved the same native population. The Anglo-Saxon and Norman rule was fairly equivalent, as the military elite had a similar mythology, which believed in a rigid caste system with the Warrior on top – who only reached heaven/Valhalla by dying in battle.
After conquering England William the Conqueror demanded the first census in order to better control and tax his newly subjugated English citizens. The English people called it the Domesday Book, or Dooms Day Book, because it was literally the end of their society, as it had continued for over 500 years. This was their cultural Armageddon. The Normans built fortresses, which we call castles, all over England to protect this new order.
Armageddon, Ragnarok, or any other End of the World scenario, has both personal and collective components. While many view Armageddon as the point in time when the clouds open up and God comes from Heaven with his armies of angels to banish evil from the Earth, this is just a reflection of an internal state. It reflects the fear or hope of a culture - representing a distinct way of life - dying and then being reborn in a new form.
Noah of Biblical fame: “Mend your ways or god will send a flood.” This was the first recorded Armageddon. But there have been countless since then. Armageddon on a collective level is when the life style of a culture or segment of the culture goes through a drastic immediate change. The English aristocracy went through an Armageddon when the Normans arrived.
As the life of the indigenous serfs remained virtually the same – new rulers, same rules – they didn’t really experience an Armageddon. Their Armageddon had occurred when the Angles and Saxons had arrived to conquer them 500 years before. As witnessed an Armageddon can just happen to a certain segment of the population as well as the whole population.
A gradual evolution such as occurred in the Roman Empire over a series of centuries, or such as occurred in England after the Anglo Saxons invaded, or after the Normans conquered them, does not count as an Armageddon. An Armageddon must be relatively quick, such as when Genghis Kahn conquered the Islamic cities in Persia and Russia, exterminating everyone in their cities. It was an Armageddon of sorts when the Crusaders descended upon Jerusalem and slaughtered the inhabitants.
A personal Armageddon might occur when losing a job or a sudden death of someone unexpected which causes a big life style change. The death of elderly parents or the changing of jobs would not be considered a personal Armageddon.
Further an Armageddon must come from external sources, or at least perceived that way. If parents tell a child to move out of home, this could be considered an Armageddon, while if the child moves out of home on his own this would not be the end of a world. The Anglo-Saxons who migrated to England didn’t go through an Armageddon while the Britons who lived there did, as they were subjugated – demoted to serf status.
The enslavement of a culture by invaders is always considered an Armageddon, a Ragnarok, a Doom’s Day. The Britons experienced this with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. The Native Americans experienced their Doom’s Day with the arrival of the Europeans. The Third World experienced Ragnarok with the arrival of the Euro-Americans.
The enslaved cultures always hope for an Armageddon for the enslaving culture. These are usually the myths that are propagated by religions and the Bible. Evil rules this way of things for now, but at Armageddon, they will experience justice, which normally means that they will be thrown off their thrones into hell - where they will experience eternal damnation and suffering.
The real suffering for the slavers had already occurred. Beaten by parents and superiors, as was the custom of the day, they were emotionally calloused – unable to really feel. Dull to life these zombies and their masters accumulate excessive wealth and crave more power to give them a shallow rise. Compensating for their emptiness the slavers get off on excessive displays of materialism - to fill their Void - a pathetic attempt to feel At-one-ment - inevitably falling short - leaving these wraiths ever ravenous for more.
[i]Page 65 A Children’s History of Britain and Ireland 1986, Christopher Wright
[ii]Page 22 Ibid.
[iii]Page 66 Ibid.
[iv]Page 67 Ibid.
[v]Page 66 Ibid.
[vi]Page 61 Ibid.
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