there’s always one…

vortigern, king of the britons. or maybe of some of the britons. rumor has it that HE was the one who invited the saxon mercenaries, hengist and horsa, over to england (or i guess britain) to help him deal with the picts and the scots … but once they got their feet in the door (according to gildas [more on gildas here])…

“Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them (like wolves into the sheep-fold), the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations. Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their minds — darkness desperate and cruel! Those very people whom, when absent, they dreaded more than death itself, were invited to reside, as one may say, under the selfsame roof…. They first landed on the eastern side of the island, by the invitation of the unlucky king, and there fixed their sharp talons, apparently to fight in favour of the island, but alas! more truly against it. Their mother-land, finding her first brood thus successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades….”

don’t hold back, gildas — tell us what you really think of the saxons! (~_^)

“…From that time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and branches. The barbarians being thus introduced as soldiers into the island, to encounter, as they falsely said, any dangers in defence of their hospitable entertainers, obtain an allowance of provisions, which, for some time being plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths. Yet they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished in sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate each occasion of quarrel, saying that unless more liberality is shown them, they will break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they follow up their threats with deeds.”De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae

did vortigern set the anglo-saxon invasion — sorry, settlement — of britain ball rolling? maybe. maybe not. if he did, he wouldn’t be the only guy in history to do something as stupid….

king david. the scottish one (david i). he invited lots o’ normans and other continental types up to scotland to take part in his “davidian revolution.” i suppose he had a bit of an excuse since his mother was an anglo-saxon, so david wasn’t 100% a scot, but still…

“King David I, who also had large estates in central England, consciously remodelled Scotland’s administration along Anglo-Norman lines. He encouraged Normans to come north by giving them senior office, thus strengthening his new feudal structure. Charters soon mention knight service, mounted serjeants, mounted and infantry archers…. In the south and centre fortified royal towns, *burghs*, sprang up to the inhabited by Englishmen, Flemings, Normans, Anglo-Danes and of course Scots. Older forms of loyalty and kindred groupings, later seen as clans survived in the western Highlands, while in the north-east the Celtic leadership survived but transformed itself into a feudal aristocracy…. [I]t is worth noting that 12-century Scottish rulers, addressing their subjects in order of importance, referred to their ‘French, English, Scots, Welsh and Galwegians’. Although the Normanization of Scotland was basically peaceful there was plenty of native resistance, both cultural and physical. Many risings were directed against the ruler and his ‘foreign friends’, particularly from the north and west. All were defeated as the building of castles spread across the land.” [pg. 43]

wait. flemings?! [pg. 19]:

“After a devastating storm ravaged Flanders in 1106, Flemings emigrated in droves from their homeland in Flanders, now part of Belgium, at the invitation of Henry I…”

i guess i should add henry to my list. (bloody norman!)

“…who offered them financial inducements and land grants to resettle in Britain. Skilled weavers and craftsmen [the original h-1b visa holders? – h.chick], the Flemings moved into southwest Wales and parts of the Scottish Borders, erected castles, farmed the land, and established villages in the shadow of their castles.

“As early as 1107, Henry I deliberately encouraged the Flemings, and English settlers from Devon and Somerset, to move into the Welsh lands in Pembrokeshire. By the beginning of the thirteenth century, the fully anglicized Flemings provided a buffer zone between the regions administrative center, the castle at Pembroke, and the local Welsh population.”

yes. yes, they most certainly did (links added by me):

“Flanders suffered greatly after a series of storms, in 1106. Samuel Lewis wrote, ‘During a tremendous storm on the coast of Flanders, the sand hills and embankments were in many places carried away, and the sea inundated a large tract of country.’

“This led a large number of Flemings to seek asylum in England, where they were welcomed by Henry I. They settled in various colonies across England, but soon, Samuel Lewis wrote, they ‘became odious to the native population’, and Henry I moved the Flemings to the remote farming settlement in the cantref, a district of Rhôs, in south Pembrokeshire.

“This systematic planting of Flemish settlers by Henry I, and later Henry II, had significant consequences for the people of south Pembrokeshire. Geography Professor, Harold Carter looks at the effects, ‘If you look at the “Brut y Tywysogyon” – the Chronicle of the Welsh Princes – it records “a certain folk of strange origins and customs occupy the whole cantref of Rhôs the estuary of the river Cleddau, and drove away all the inhabitants of the land”. In a way you could almost call it a process of ethnic cleansing.'”


diarmait mac murchada or “diarmait of the foreigners.” not a very bright guy:

“Diarmait Mac Murchada, anglicized as Dermot MacMurrough or Dermod MacMurrough (c. 1110 – 1 May 1171), was a King of Leinster in Ireland. In 1167, he was deprived of his kingdom by the High King of Ireland – Ruaidri Ua Conchobair. The grounds for the dispossession were that MacMurrough had, in 1152, abducted Derbforgaill, the wife of the King of Breifne, Tiernan O’Rourke. To recover his kingdom, MacMurrough solicited help from King Henry II of England. In return, MacMurrough pledged an oath of allegiance to Henry, who sent troops in support…. Henry II then mounted a larger second invasion in 1171 to ensure his control over Strongbow, resulting in the Lordship of Ireland. MacMurrough was later known as Diarmait na nGall (Irish for ‘Diarmait of the Foreigners’).”

apparently, mac murchada promised that, if they helped him get his kingdom back [pg. 103]:

“‘Whoever shall wish for soil or sod, richly shall i enfeoff them.'”

too clannish and too busy in-fighting to notice the bigger picture.


(note: comments do not require an email. there’s always one…)



  1. I think there’s two recurring patterns here

    1) A settled, agricultural population that has become relatively pacified hiring mercenary fighters from regions that are wilder and less pacified i.e. still have a higher frequency of violence related genes. I think large chunks of ancient egyptian history revolves around this.

    2) One side of a political conflict inside a nation inviting foreign peoples into their land to help that side against the other side and then eventually regretting it.


  2. @g.w. – “One side of a political conflict inside a nation inviting foreign peoples into their land to help that side against the other side and then eventually regretting it.”

    yes. oops! i’ve been wondering if, maybe, clannish peoples do this more — ’cause they’re so distracted at being clannish that they fail to see the bigger picture. like mac murchada. or like different tribes of north american indians variously fighting for or against the french or the english (but not uniting up together to try to kick all the europeans out of their lands) — or the plains indians fighting each other on behalf of the white man.

    i guess everything’s probably easier to see in hindsight, too. =/


  3. @luke – “Never heard that story about the Saxons being invited in. Wonder why?”

    yes, it’s funny, isn’t it? i only came across it recently. the only source seems to be gildas. and there’s some dispute about whether or not he said/ meant vortigern. but otherwise, he seems pretty sure that someone invited the d*mn saxons in!


  4. “i’ve been wondering if, maybe, clannish peoples do this more”

    Could be – their sense of where “us” and “them” start being different. IIRC i think that was the general case during the Roman invasion – the various tribes of Britons had no sense of a common identity and would side with the Romans against their traditional local enemy.

    On the other hand i’ve always tended to think of the better known events as being more the idea of a single ultra ambitious sociopath operating on sociopath rules where “us” is just “me” and “them” is everyone else but maybe not.

    In British history there’s also Harold’s brother Tostig who brought in the Norwegian invasion at the same time as the Norman invasion leading to Harold having to win one battle in the north and then force march back to fight the Normans.


  5. I suppose you could say there’s a thid option to my list

    3) Where an invaded clannish population can’t unite against an invader because of traditional rivalries and/or some of the clans/tribes side with the invader against their traditional local enemy.


  6. I have read somewhere that the Muslims who eventually conquered most of Spain where also invited in as mercenaries to help one king in Spain to fight another.


  7. “Never heard that story about the Saxons being invited in”: it was pretty standard behaviour in subRoman times – set a thief to catch a thief. In fact, it’s probably pretty common throughout history.


  8. Some Muslim groups allied with the later Crusaders against their competitors. At least in New England, some Indian tribe used their relationship with the Puritan allies against other tribes, which in turn, attempted to punish them for adopting white ways. Mohicans, and the less-remembered history of Western New England abounds with this.

    It seems to be human nature to worry about short-term rivals for local resources rather than greater competitors to the whole batch of ya. See, for example, many Democrats regarding Republicans as not to be negotiated with, but just sure that we could get all those Middle Eastern nations to like us if we just said nice things about them and built schools for them.

    I suspect this phenomenon is what is reflected in the folk tales about not inviting dangerous monsters – vampires, witches – over the threshhold.


  9. Quote: “Never heard that story about the Saxons being invited in. Wonder why?”

    Maybe due to a lack of education on your part? ;)

    [edit: let’s refrain from being a d*ckhead, shall we? – h.chick]


  10. @avi – “It seems to be human nature to worry about short-term rivals for local resources rather than greater competitors to the whole batch of ya.”

    yes. we humans pride ourselves on being a pretty smart bunch, but in many ways, we’re just a bunch of dolts. *facepalm*


  11. @t – “The Reconquista was invited by the Muslims.”

    that’s interesting! you wouldn’t happen to have a reference for that, wouldya? thnx!


  12. @g.w. – “IIRC i think that was the general case during the Roman invasion – the various tribes of Britons had no sense of a common identity and would side with the Romans against their traditional local enemy.”

    that’s what i’ve read/heard, too. not very bright!


  13. The Reconquista was not “invited” by the Muslim rulers of Spain. The history from 711 to 1492 is *much* more complicated than that. In the middle of that period, there were multiple Christian and multiple Muslim kingdoms, and the alliances were not always along religious lines. The existing Muslim power structure in Spain was invaded by North African fanatics at least twice. The French tried (with some success) to conquer bits of Spain; this always involved invading Christian kingdoms.


  14. @joe walker (and anybody else out there who feels like being rude) – no personal insults (or attacks) around here. that’s the law. either make a civil contribution to the discussion, or don’t make one at all.


  15. I believe that you are the one who used the term “d*ckhead” not me. Therefore you are the one who is being rude. If you were not happy with my posts you could easily have criticized them without resorting to name-calling.


  16. @joe – “Therefore you are the one who is being rude.”

    fair enough – i was rude. but the fact remains, you were the one who was rude first. and you were rude TWICE in a row (first referring to germans as “krauts” and then personally insulting another commenter) which is why i was annoyed.

    don’t be rude. be civil. (that goes for anyone else out there who feels like being rude. if you wanna be rude on the ‘net, head over to 4chan.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s