Saxons in Cornwall?

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CJenkin
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Post by CJenkin » Fri May 13, 2005 10:24 am

Is there any evidence of Saxon activity in Cornwall before William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066? Saxon conquest of Cornwall is supposed by anglo-centric historians but can anybody come up with some hard and fast evidence to support this?

Fulub-le-Breton
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Post by Fulub-le-Breton » Sat May 21, 2005 5:21 pm

As J Angarrack pointed out and as i have reproduced else where.

If you want to argue that between [[Athelstan]]s victory over the Cornish in 936 and the Norman invasion of 1066, Cornwall became a shire (county) of Wessex (later to contribute to the formation of England), then you will need to address the following points.

Of a cultural nature.

*Cornwall would have spoken Cornish, with Saxon being a tiny minority.
*From this period nearly only Cornish pottery is found in Cornwall.
*The Cornish had different measurement systems than the Saxons at this time.
*Cornwall showed a very different type of settlement pattern than Saxon Wessex
*Places continued generally (even after 1066) to be named in the Celtic Cornish tradition not Saxon tradition.
*Saxon architecture is very rare in Cornwall.

On a legal Front

*Cornish religious institutions at this time paid no Saxon land tax.
*Cornish industries like fishing and tin paid no Saxon tax.
*Vast ares of Cornwall paid no Saxon land tax.
*Only a very small tribute was paid to London, the rest probably going to the native Celtic ruler.
*There is next to no evidence of Saxon manorial law in Cornwall at this time. Cornish law was probably in operation.
*There is next to no evidence of Saxon moots, Saxon justice, centres of Saxon administration or the collection of Saxon customary dues in Cornwall.
*The Normans then created the Earldom of Cornwall and governed it with a viceroy (colonial governor), England on the other hand was governed directly by the King. Cornwall was therefore treated as part of an empire but separate from England.
*Cornwall has never been a shire and indeed had shires of its own.

"""John, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Earl of Anjou confirmed the aforesaid, and Richard, King of Germany and Earl of Cornwall, in like manner, confirmed the aforesaid"""
Treaty of Bretigny 1360.

It is clear from this address that refers to nations of Europe not counties of England, that when Richard was viceroy (1227-72) Cornwall was not part of England. If Cornwall had been part of England at this time it would have been incorrect to devise such an address.
I would be like saying Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and Scotland, the latter have being redundant because Scotland is part of the United kingdom. John Angarrack in our Future is history.

CJenkin
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Post by CJenkin » Sun May 22, 2005 8:47 am

Thanks guys
I am trying to quantify exactly what evidence there is of English influence before 1066 - there seems to be very little. When you challenge people to come up with evidence they find it very difficult.

Though it doesn't seem to stop Anglo-centric historians claiming Cornwall was conquered by a 'superior' Wessex at a very early date.

Porthia1947
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Post by Porthia1947 » Sun May 22, 2005 10:20 pm

Perhaps slightly off the subject: I believe we were even outside the pre-Saxon Roman British borders and had much more direct links with the Mediterranean and in particular the eastern Med. I think Cornwall from a very early period because of it's geographical position had wide social/cultural/political contacts with the then known 'advanced civilisations' and because of it were relatively peaceful people. As in the 1800's and early 1900's Cornish people were per head of population relatively well travelled, moving between Cornwall and mining communities all over the world (and to work in places like the Detroit Ford motor works where my grandfather went, where he found the lodging house where he stayed filled with many other St Ives men). It's only the ignorant (in the true meaning of the word) and a modern anglo-centric education (and political) system that has painted Cornwall, the Cornish and indeed the other countries of the British west to have always been insular, economically poor and not in the mainstream of European civilization.

Porthia1947
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Post by Porthia1947 » Sun May 22, 2005 10:22 pm

Oh and I forgot to say thanks fulub-le-breton - I keep meaning to buy and read John A's books but have yet to get around to it.

CJenkin
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Post by CJenkin » Fri Jun 10, 2005 9:31 am

Thanks for the Map URL, interesting but essentially based on anglocentric historiography. What I am keen to identify is any saxon evidence within Cornwall before 1066 especially geo-political evidence from 930-1066.

Despite the claims of early Saxon conquest, the evidence doesn't seem to stack up. Can anyone proove pre 930 conquest or what the nature of the relationship was between Wessex (/England) and Cornwall between 930 and 1066?

Pfishwick
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Post by Pfishwick » Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:13 pm

There are the Bodmin Manumissions in Latin and Old English. I'll let the following notes speak for themselves:

http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/tangwystyl/bodmin/

Regards,

Patrick[/url]

CJenkin
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Post by CJenkin » Tue Jun 14, 2005 1:42 pm

Nick - thanks for the reminder of Alfred's estate near Stratton (About as close to the border with Wessex as you can get). Its worth remembering that it is very common for nobles to own estates in different countries - For example Robert the Bruce had extensive estates in England! Certainly no historian could claim that Alfred's Cornish estates are extensive. As you say no evidence to suggest government of that country. The Burghal hidage is much stronger evidence to the contrary. Interestingly the estates are mentioned in his will to his sons.

CJenkin
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Post by CJenkin » Tue Jun 14, 2005 1:50 pm

Patrick - yes the Bodmin Manumissions are fascinating and probably date from the second half of the tenth century. What they say about Saxon influence is clearly up for debate. They certainly indicate that there were clergy present in Bodmin at this time that could write in Old English. This is perhaps not surprising as the church was clearly under the control of Canterbury at the time.

They also show that some members of society were using Saxon forms of names - how many of these indicate people of saxon origin moving in or locals using these names is again up for debate. Interestingly the use of Saxon names in Cornwall seemed to decline after the Norman Conquest.

Regarding the history notes on the website they follow the same flawed anglo-centric perspective and ruin what is actually a very useful and interesting historical resource.

Certainly the Bodmin Manumissions are limited in giving us any indication of the political situation of Cornwall in the late 10th Century.

Pfishwick
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Post by Pfishwick » Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:46 pm

Yes, I agree the historical notes are highly Anglocentric; the phrase "Anglo-Saxon advance" is hardly from a Cornish perspective, the timescale is probably too hurried (at least according to all the sources I've seen), and even a cursory glance at a map of Cornwall directly contradicts the word "complete". Completeness would imply a much greater degree of acculturation and more Old English or at least (Old) Anglicized place names - these are almost entirely confined to the East.

That's why I wanted to let them speak for themselves.

Regards,

Patrick

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