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Subject: Re: celtic genocide
From: Leslie Jones <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Fri, 18 Feb 1994 09:12:32 -0800
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i don't really want to get too involved with this, but i'm a little
disturbed by the wild generalizations being flung around here.  (and
those who know me know that a generalization has to be pretty wild
before it registers on *my* consciousness.)  if this argument is to
stand up, dates have to be accurate.  the anglo-normans did not set
their sights on ireland until the 12th century, not the 11th.  the
controversy over the dating of easter was over long before the
normans even existed as normans, and the lunar calendar the celtic
church had been using to determine it was actually the hebrew
calendar, not the celtic calendar--the celtic church was going
literally by the timeframe in the new testament, where the last
supper is a seder.  married clergy was not a celtic peculiarity--the
idea of celibate *priests* (as distinct from celibate monks and nuns)
seems to have been an idea that sprang up at the "center"--i.e.
amongst the pope and his colleagues in rome--and then spread out to
the periphery, first really as a religious fashion, then with
increasing insistence from the pope.  the irish and welsh were among
the last to adopt the custom--again, following more of a hebrew line
of thinking, that priests(rabbis) should be married.  (i can't believe
that i am actually arguing a kim mccone-ish line of thought--i
usually disagree with him, too.)
 
i *have* read somewhere, and agree with, the idea that the romans
(jumping back to caesar here, not popes) developed their regimented,
anal-retentive military because they were so freaked out by the
sacking of rome by celtic marauders, but that there was any
systematic agenda of persecution is, i think, taking things too far.
in order to be convinced of this, i would want to see a *systematic*
comparison of the romans' treatment of the celts as opposed to their
treatment of other opponents.  i also think that there should be some
consideration of the relations between the normans and the welsh,
rather than just talking about norman-irish relations.  the welsh, in
fact, were the ones who regarded themselves as the heirs of rome,
citing the legend that when the saxons were harrying them in the
fourth century, the romans responded to requests for help by saying,
essentially, you're on your own now, you guys have the authority to
make your own decisions.  the medieval welsh historical tradition,
which came to anglo-norman attention through geoffrey of monmouth,
was that the welsh were the descendants of the same trojans who
founded rome--the standard sequence of welsh historical texts was the
Ystorya Dared (a version of the trojan war told from the trojan
p.o.v.), the Brut y Brenhinedd (a welsh translation of geoffrey's
Historia Regum Britannia), and the Brut y Tywyssogyon (a chronicle of
the events since the reign of cadwaladr, which usually ends around
1282 with the death of llewelyn the last).  any idea of the normans
being the heirs of the romans was an attempt to usurp this legitmacy
claimed by the native welsh tradition.
 
but finally, i am disturbed by the characterization of The Celts En
Masse as emotional, superstitious wildmen (i.e., children), compared
with the logical, rational romans and normans (i.e., adults).  this is
just stereotyping.  (patrick sims-williams has written on this
subject in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies in the last couple of
years.)  it's also swallowing the label your enemies have put on you.
as for an "erosion of celtic values and way of life"--everyone's
values and way of life have changed over the last 2500 years.  no
group--ethnic, racial, national, whatever--exists in a vacuum.
everyone interacts.  what has to change, i would argue, is not the
idea that romans are good and celts are bad, *or* that romans are bad
and celts are good, but the idea that there are winners and losers,
and winner takes all.  face it, the medieval welsh were *proud* of
their roman inheritance.  much of the classical (roman and
greek) learning that suvived the "dark ages" was preserved by irish
monks in monastaries *all over europe*, and the influence of the celts
in the evolution of christianity as a religion itself should not be
underestimated.  to restrict these enormously complicated questions
to a simple dichotomy of celt v roman/norman is to do a gross
disservice to everyone involved.
 
leslie jones
[log in to unmask]

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