TINE Forums
 SearchSearch   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
start blogging your Cornwall now...
Welcome to TINE Cornwall. Discussing the future of Cornwall. Forum Index - View unanswered posts
Cornish Historical Facts Goto page Previous  1, 2
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Discussing the future of Cornwall. Forum Index -> Cornwall as a historic nation - Cornwall as a county of England?
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 06 Aug 2007
Posts: 87

Network this topic
Digg It
Slashdot It!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of bollocks has been said about Cornish v Saxon battles by professional historians who should know better. For example: take Gafalforda 825 AD. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles is the only source we have for this and all it says is: "The Cornish and the men of Devon fought at Gafalforda". That's it. Did they fight on the same side or against each other? Who won or lost? We don't know and probably never will know. Best guess for the location is Galford, near Lydford, but it might have been elsewhere. We don't know.

Now see what Professor Malcolm Todd of Exeter University makes of it (in "The South West to AD 1000", P.273): "A rebellion by the Cornish in 825 failed when they were defeated by Ecgbert at Gafulford, possibly Galford in West Devon rather than Camelford in Cornwall".

Whoa - where did this "rebellion" come from? In any case, one can only rebel against a lawful authority. Cornwall was still a kingdom independent from Wessex and so a rebellion could not have happened. Where does Todd get the idea that the Cornish lost, or that Ecgberht was there? The ASC never mentions him in this instance.

It is what we call "twistory" - history twisted to suit a political purpose. It is bollocks made to look legitimate by the fact that the writer was a Professor at Exeter University.

Sadly all we really have to go on as regards Hengestesdun 838 is held by the ASC, just as the case with Gafalforda. It says only this: "There came a great ship army to the West Wealas where they were joined by the people who commenced war against Ecgberht, the West Saxon king. When he heard this, he proceeded with his army against them and fought with them at Hengestesdun where he put to flight both the Wealas and the Danes". That's it. End of story. We don't know the numbers nor, really, where Hengestesdun was, although we now think a Devon site much more likely than one West of the Tamar.

Professor Todd, of course, fantasizes like hell: "This victory marked the end of an independent British kingdom in the far west," he crows, with nothing to back his words. "We still hear of Cornish kings, like Dumgarth (sic), in the later ninth century but they can only have been dependents of the kings of Wessex, reigning as vassals in a conquered land. Dumnonia seems to have remained in this state of a subject province for some time to come, perhaps down to the reign of Athelstan". Absolute rubbish and utterly groundless political fabrication. Ecgberht allowed no "vassal kings" in Mercia when he took it over for a short period", so why would he have done so in Cornwall? Remember, too, that West British (Cornish territory) extended as far as the Exe at that time, and was not pushed back to the Tamar until the early 10th century.

There are other so called historians who claim that this was when Ecgberht conquered the Cornish but there is no record to say that he achieved any such thing. If he had, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles would have shouted it from the rooftops, just as they trumpet Ecgberht's take-over of Mercia (a rival Saxon kingdom). But they don't. There's nothing. Not a word. To claim Saxon conquest is fantasy based upon precisely nothing. What was going on, though, is that the Church in Cornwall was having more and more Saxon priests appointed to it, so that it was they who controlled the church estates like Polltun, Caellwic and Landwithan and illegally handed them over to Wessex kings. However, if you view Alfred's will, you will see that the lands he owned in Cornwall (probably because of this priestly infiltration) were small to the point of insignificant.

We just might as well claim that, because the Cornish won a battle at the unlocated "Hehil" in 722 (Annales Cambriae - not a mention of this in the ASC), they went on to conquer Wessex!

We don't know who the Cornish king was at the time of Hengestesdun. It might have Dunjarth but, for a man who was drowned in 875, it seems a little early. John Angarrack is wrong (one of the few times when he is) when he says that Dunjarth fought against the English - no record remains of him ever having done so: indeed he seems to have allowed Alfred of Wessex to conduct a hunting trip on Cornish soil. It all sounds like a fairly stable "live and let live" truce to me. Until Athelstan turned up.

The ASC did not shout about any Saxon Conquest of Cornwall - because there wasn't one.

I.S. Maxwell writes about Saxon Manors in Cornwall. Rubbish. There weren't any Saxon manors anywhere because the manorial system was a Norman concept. Even the word "manor" is Norman-French. There were estates, holdings etc., but few in Cornwall can be shown to be Saxon, let alone the three named by Maxwell (Polltun, Caellwic and Landwithan) which, in any case weren't Saxon manors or holdings - they were estates held by the Church. More "twistory" - rewriting history to backdate English history.

Take Lizard Town as an example. The jury is still out on whether this place-name is Cornish, English or French but those who claim a Cornish origin translate it as lys arth, "court/administrative centre at a high place" (where's the high place in a flat-topped landscape?). This translation and description of this being a "Manor" implies significant importance. Now take a look at how the Domesday Book actually describes it: one hide of land (anything between 60 and 120 acres, most of it barren moorland), 4 wild mares, 3 head of cattle, 20 pigs and 60 sheep. Wow! Hugely important? Hardly. And a court or admin centre, it wasn't. Chysauster and its field system 1000 years earlier were bigger than that, and that was just a communal farm!

There are even recent books claiming that English was spoken in these islands when Caesar landed. Really? Then how come all the placenames, personal names and tribal names he mentions are Celtic, and none of them English? For the last 20 years we have had "English" Heritage marketing pre-English sites and monuments as being the heritage of a people who have no connection with them whatsoever.

Regarding the Vikings, in 722, the Cornish allied with Danish Vikings in order to hold Wessex from expanding into Cornwall. A Wessex Saxon army led by King Ine was beaten by an alliance of Cornish and Vikings near the Camel estuary at "Hehil", possibly somewhere near modern day Padstow. The Danes provided tactical support to their Cornish allies by raiding Wessex which weakened the authority of the Saxons. In 831 AD, the Danes raided Charmouth in Dorset, in 997 AD they destroyed the Dartmoor town of Lydford, and from 1001 AD to 1003 AD they occupied the old Roman city of Exeter.

In 1013 Cornwall's enemy and Anglo-Saxon neighbour, Wessex was crushed and conquered by a Danish army under the leadership of the legendary Viking leader and King of Denmark Sweyn Forkbeard. He annexed Wessex to his Viking empire which included Denmark and Norway, and humilated the Saxons by reducing their status to that of a defeated subject people. However, Sweyn, and later his son Canute the Great never incorporated Cornwall into the Danish empire. He did not annex Cornwall, Wales and Scotland, allowing these "client nations" self rule in return for an annual payment of tribute or "danegeld".

In 944 King Edmund issued a charter, styling himself "King of the English and ruler of this province of the Britons".

During the latter part of the pre-Norman period, the eastern seaboard of modern day England became increasingly under the sway of the Norse. Eventually England became ruled by Norse monarchs, and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms fell one by one, with Wessex being conquered in 1013 by King Sweyn Forkbeard. Notably, while Sweyn's realms, which included Denmark and Norway in the north, and modern day English areas such as Mercia (an Anglian kingdom of the current Midlands), much of which, along with northern England, fell under the "Danelaw".

But while Sweyn ruled Wessex, along with his other realms, from 1013 onwards, followed by his son Canute the Great, Cornwall was not part of his realm of Wessex. This map called the "The Dominions of Canute / (Cnut)" illustrates that Cornwall, like Wales and Scotland, was neither part of Sweyn Forkbeard's nor Canute's Danish empire - they fell outside his British realms.


Neither Sweyn Forkbeard nor Canute properly conquered or controlled Scotland, Wales or Cornwall; these modern day Celtic nations were both "client nations" who had to pay a yearly tribute or danegeld to both Sweyn and Canute, but, provided they did so, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall could keep their autonomy from the Danes. Ultimately, the Danes control of Wessex was lost in 1042 with the death of both of Canute's sons (Edward the Confessor retook Wessex for the Saxons) but nevertheless this important piece of history, that Cornwall was not part of the Danes empire is critical and shows that both the Saxons and the Danes had very little political input into Cornwall during the pre-Norman conquest era.

The Wessex Burghal Hidage

Constitutional status of Cornwall
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   

Post new topic   Reply to topic
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Page 2 of 2

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

 Random Information. 
 The Cornish Rebellion of 1497 was a popular uprising by the people of Cornwall in the far south west of Britain. Its primary cause was the raising of war taxes by King Henry VII on the impoverished Cornish for a campaign against Scotland, motivated by brief border skirmishes that were inspired by Perkin Warbeck's pretence to the English throne. Tin miners were angered as the scale of the taxes violated previous rights granted by Edward I of England to the Cornish Stannary Parliament which exempted Cornwall from all taxes of 10ths or 15ths of income. The Cornish had little sympathy for English wars against Scotland, considering that most Cornish were not English speakers at that time.  

Powered by FTI
There are a total of visits to this site since 13th July 07.