Time For a Change!!!

Due to technical difficulties having been experienced, over the last month or so, I have decided to use an alternative blog hoster. Time taken to access my own site, in addition to difficulties experienced by those trying to post comments, has led me to take this decision.

The address of my new site is:

 http://mpeterstaxingtimes.blogspot.com/

I hope you find time to visit the new site, which will contain my favourite posts from this site.  Hopefully, those who wanted to make comments will now be able to do so.

Best wishes,

Mark  

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Ralph Hopton and William Waller (Part 2)

Having declared his allegiance for the King, Hopton was instrumental in organising support for the Royalists in the south west of the country.  Waller was not idle either.  First forming a regiment of horse, then capturing Portsmouth in July 1642.

Initially, Hopton drove the Parliamentarians out of Cornwall in 1642, and then defeated Ruthin at the Battle of Braddock Down in January 1643.  Having displayed his undoubted ability, Hopton then became responsible for Royalist efforts in both Cornwall and Devon.  Marching towards the border with Devon, Hopton soundly beat the Earl of Stamford at Launceston in April, and again at Stratton in May.

Meanwhile, Waller’s cavalry force were part of the Parliamentarian force heavily beaten by the King at Edge Hill in October 1642.  Returning to Wessex, Waller returned to winning ways by capturing the historic towns of Winchester and Chichester, as well as the castles at Farnham and Arundel.  

Having been made Major-General of the West, Waller switched his attentions to Bristol; securing the port for Parliament.  Having done so, he then beat Herbert at Highnam and proceeded to threaten Royalist supporting Wales.  Losing to Prince Maurice on the English/Welsh borders at Ripple Field, Waller withdrew southwards into Gloucestershire and then Somerset. 

Having left Cornwall and Devon secure, and working in co-ordination with Prince Maurice and the Marquis of Hertford, Hopton turned his attention towards the Parliamentarian Western Army under Waller, by moving up into Somerset.  As a result, the two armies met just outside of Bath at Lansdown, where once again Hopton proved victorious.  However, Sir Bevil Grenville the senior Cornish commander was killed, and Hopton badly wounded.

Waller sensing his opportunity to strike back, proceeded to chase the Royalists through Somerset and Wiltshire.  The Royalist army was still nominally under the command of Hopton, who decided to make a stand at Devizes.  Lord Wilmot’s relieving cavalry force then fought a classic cavalry action at Roundway Down, beating the opposition horsemen through use of terrain and outflanking moves.  The Parliamentarian infantry were then subject to a co-ordinated attack by Hopton’s infantry and Wilmot’s cavalry, with Waller making a fortuitous high-speed escape.  As a result, the Parliamentarian Western Army ceased to exist, and allowed Hopton to move his forces towards the Parliamentarian held port of Bristol.  

  

Ralph Hopton and William Waller (Part 1)

The two pre-eminent commanders, in the south-west, during the English Civil War were Ralph Hopton and William Waller. 

Hopton was local to the Wessex region, being born in Witham (Somerset).  Waller was born in Kent, although later becoming a resident of Hampshire. 

During the Thirty Years’ War, Hopton and Waller had become close friends, both being involved in rescuing Elizabeth, sister of King Charles I, from Catholic forces in Prague.  This was part of the expedition to restore Frederick V and Elizabeth to the Palitinate throne.  

On their return to England their paths started to diverge.  

Hopton retained his staunch support for the King, and was arrested by Parliament for his vociferous defence of the attempt, by King Charles I, to arrest the 5 members of Parliament who were attempting to usurp power from the Monarchy.  He was to spend two weeks in the Tower of London before his release, and his declaration of allegiance to the King. 

Waller married, but his first wife died after giving birth to a second child.  He later married Anne Finch, a staunch Puritan.  It was around this this time he gained an interest in politcs and stood for Parliament.  Although being defeated, he tried again and was elected MP for Andover. 

Their paths were to converge again on the battlefields of Wessex …     

Captain Calthrop and the Art of War

Captain Calthrop is probably best known for the rather poor translation of Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ in 1905, and subsequently revised in 1908.  Whilst the Giles translation has become the standard text, Calthrop’s was the first.  For that, we should be grateful. 

Having become a little annoyed with all the criticisms of Calthrop, I wanted to find out more about him.  To be honest, there doesn’t seem much to find.  Everard Ferguson Calthrop served in the Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.), during the Boer War, and then worked for the Foreign Service in Japan.

Calthrop’s translation of the ‘Art of War’ was written whilst he was in Japan, and was also to provide translations on Japanese military reports of the Russo-Japanese War for the Royal United Services Institute. 

However, during the Great War, as Lieutenant-Colonel he was officer commanding of the 38th Brigade Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.).  He was killed in action at Ypres on 19th December 1915, and is laid to rest at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

The Evolution to a Saxon Wessex

Wessex is perhaps the most famous kingdom that constituted part of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy.  The Kingdom was initially established during the 6th Century ; at it’s height extending from Cornwall to Kent, and up to Gloucestershire.

The name Wessex is derived from the shortening of West Saxony.  Although the Saxons were the dominant ethnic grouping from the 6th Century onwards, Wessex was also inhabited by Celts and Jutes.  The Jutes occupied the Isle of Wight, and colonised adjacent lands along the Hampshire coast.

I believe it to be a popular misconception that Anglo-Saxon colonisation  was a particulalry violent episode, resulting from the aftermath of Roman withdrawal, despite sporadic battles as seen at Badbury Hill in 520AD.

Ah, Badbury Hill!  It has been popular ‘folklore’ that King Arthur led the Britons against the Saxons at that particular battle.  However. Roman forces under future Emperor Constantine, left in either 406 or 407AD.  That would have been a full 113 years before Badbury Hill.  So, it seems highly unlikely that the Celtic commander at Badbury Hill could have been Arthur himself.  However, such is the stuff of legends!

Professor Kathleen Burk’s paper on the Roman, Viking, and Norman conquests states that the early Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came as “… traders and small tribal groups.  There appears to be no archeological evidence for slaughter and destruction, nor for the fleeing of thousands to Wales … but the answer will probably be that rural Britain evolved into, rather than was driven into, a changing set of Anglo-Saxon statelets.” 

Military Strength v The Will to Win

It is reasonable to assume that, in general terms, the country with greatest resources will invariably win a protracted war.  The American Civil War instantly springs to mind whereby Federal resources, in conjunction with an ability to deprive the Confederacy of theirs, ensured an eventual win.

In cases whereby the sides were pretty much even, although resources may have not been, attrition is very much the name of the game.  During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was able to maintain trading links around the world.  Despite the uneven resources in manpower, British economic might and geographical position allowed the continued ‘bank rolling’ of the war until the French war effort eventually collapsed.

However, sometimes it is necessary to set aside logic and wonder where things went wrong.  During the American Revolution, Great Britain appeared to have all the things going for it.  Wealth, manpower and support from a sizeable proportion of the population.  But this brings in another factor; which sees the biggest side losing against all the odds.  That of the ‘will to win’.  There are times when the lesser power demonstrates that it refuses to be beaten, and that the larger protagonist decides continuation is not worth the cost. 

During the American Revolution, such a time came during the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge.  Despite, numerous losses in battle, from the cold, and from disease, an Army that should have simply ceased to exist was, by the summer of 1778, one to reckon with.  I would argue that the Continental Army, in itself, was never particularly effective.  But that is for another day.  What is important is that a continued existence sent out a statement to the British government; “You can’t make us go away, and we’re not going to do so!”

The Americans were to find this out during the North Vietnamese Thet Offensive, in April 1968.  Although the Thet Offensive was a military failure for the North Vietnamese, it sent a message to the American public.  The same one sent to the British, some 200 years previously. “You can’t make us go away, and we’re not going to do so!” 

Unfortunately, Allied Forces have now encountered the same problem in Iraq.  Countries such as Spain and Italy had already made the decision that costs were too high.  Now it appears that the United States has once again reached the same conclusion, that the costs are just not worth it, and is beginning to initiate the process of withdrawal.

King Weiwang and the Implementation of Tax

Yesterday, I mentioned King Weiwang and his relationship with one of my favourite philosophers; Zhuang Zi.  I thought I might mention King Weiwang again, whilst the subject was still fresh in my mind, and because he is of interest to me for several reasons.  

King Weiwang was part of the Zhou dynasty, and reputedly ruled from 378-343 B.C in what is now Shandong Province.  He is of interest to me because of his part in the Warring States Period, whereby the Warring States supposedly saw innovations in the fields of commerce, agriculture, and iron-working.  It is interesting to see how often developments are achieved in time of war, despite the disruption that societies are forced to deal with.  

King Weiwang’s particular contribution to the aforementioned developments was the overseeing of complimentary reforms in the tax system and the military.  This, of course, is not without parallel in the western world.  William Pitt ‘The Younger’ introduced fundamental tax reform by levying Income Tax to fund the war against France and her allies.  Abraham Lincoln did likewise to help fund the United States in their struggles against the Confederacy. King Weiwang just happened to do it some 2,150 years earlier!

Regionalisation and the The Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy

As the government continues in its attempt to push through their plans for Regional Assemblies, within England, they attempt to suggest that this is a return to some previous system of political representation.  This is of course absurd, and demonstrates a distinct lack of historical nowledge. 

By the time of the Roman invasion, Celtic Britain had reached the third stage of Adam Smith’s four stages of economic development; farming.  Although the Celts, in Albion at least, had past the stages of hunting and pasturage, they had yet to develop the concepts of commerce. 

Ostensibly, Albion was a land settled by tribes, and would have had no concept of a greater community.  After the Romans left Britannia, an agrarian society was subject to invasions by an assortment of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes from approximately 450A.D. 

These newly colonised ‘regions’ were to form an Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy; independent kingdoms namely Cornwall, East Anglia, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex.  To further confuse issues, Angleland’s western kingdom of Cornwall was to remain predominantly Celtic in nature, whilst the eastern side of the country was to absorb Norsemen from a number of Scandinavian kingdoms. 

The last successful invasion of Angleland by the Normans in 1066, and subsequent conquest and subjugation of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, saw the historic seats of power subjugated to an ever-increasing centralisation of power.  So, when the government talks about returning power to the regions I ask myself, what the hell are they talking about.

A Change of Subject Matter

Zhuang Zi is one of my favourite Chinese philosophers. Reputedly coming from a noble family that had seen better days in the State of Song, Zhuang Zi came to prominence under the patronage of King Weiwang of Chu.

One of his sayings struck a particular resonance with me, as I sat here yesterday.

“A man good at employing his wits is not happy when he does not see the chances to develop his thoughts; a man good at debates is not happy when he does not find the opportunity to display his eloquence; a man good at picking mistakes is not happy when he does not have a chance to vent his reproaches. They are all confined by external things.”
(‘Zhuang Zi Says’, Sinolingua, 2006)

Whilst I would not consider myself either witty or eloquent, I would consider myself fairly good at pointing out mistakes. Maybe that’s why I ended up in accounts, and was tempted to move over to the dark side of audit. However, several events over the last couple of days have resulted in some soul searching and wondering where this ‘blog’ was going.

I had intended that the ‘blog’ would reflect my interests, but have found that the content was usually tabloid in nature; the obvious reason being that those subjects provided most amusement for me at the time.

So, to the events that made me re-evaluate my approach.

Firstly, someone that I have come to consider as a friend started a second discussion group forum. Eric Wittenberg has written a number of books on the American Civil War, and has run the Civil War Discussion Group for a number of years. This has provided a great deal of enjoyment for me, over the last few years, and has enabled me to develop my interest in the conflict and the chance to have met a number of people I still keep in contact with. He has now started a second discussion group on the American Revolution, which I have also joined. The links are provided at the side of the home page. Eric has provided the opportunity to provide a forum for interested parties to discuss another aspect of world history, and for that I’m grateful.

Secondly, I must admit that I look at the ‘Blog Stats’ provided by the site provider. Some of the searches indicated show that I’m not really providing the type of ‘blog’ that satisfies me, although I am grateful for the number of people who’ve taken the time to read my posts. I really am! However, whilst the government cutting back on the British X-Files, Zinedine Zidane, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all provided lots of links to my ‘blog’; these areas don’t really interest me.

Thirdly, I have asked several people their thoughts on the site. The feedback has suggested that I would be, perhaps, best using what talents I have elsewhere; and where my interests truly lay.

This takes me back to Zhuang Zi. My real interests lay in the past, and not using the opportunity to share and develop my understanding has left me just a little unhappy and unfulfilled. Despite the fact that the ‘blog’ will be of far less interest to the majority who take their valuable time to read the ‘posts’, in fairness to myself, I have decided to be self-indulgent and satisfy my interest in history instead.

Gwyneth Paltrow Displays Her Class

I usually try to mix the serious up with the less important.  However, after the shock of the Aussies with their ‘screw tops’, Gwynnie Paltrow did make me laugh today.  She is a decent actress, but diplomat she is not! 

To be fair, Gwynnie has shown herself to be a lady of discernment.  Now I must apologise to my American friends here, because in no way would I endorse, or share, any of her views.  Really!!! 

For those of you who don’t know, she has followed the likes of Madonna, Kevin Spacey, and Gillian Anderson to this side of the pond.  Now, these are all interesting people.  However, other than Dana Scully, they’re not my cup of tea but, to be fair, they’re all pretty successful at what they do. 

So, Gwynnie made that mistake that all foreigners make.  She didn’t know that we do find out what appears in foreign papers.  So, her interview in Diario De Noticias was either naive or as clever as marrying Chris Martin.  Or, maybe she just didn’t give a damn.  I prefer that latter option. 

Gwynnie obviously loves living here and has no intention of returning to the States.  Not that she’d have much choice now.  She loves living here so much that she claimed the “British are much more intelligent and civilised than the Americans.”  Obviously this extends to us leading more fulfilling lives.  In addition she stated that she “love[s] the English lifestyle.  It’s not as capitalistic as
America.  People talk about interesting things at dinner – not about work and money.”
 

What a sweetie!!!