116 – Wait, Where Are We? Part two of the history of Britain so far.

It’s been about 2 years and 100 episodes since I did a recap episode to remind you where we were, what the flow of history was, and give you a forest view of the whole thing.

Seriously, 100 episodes!

And since then, we have gotten to know the Anglo Saxons and their culture really well. Even though our sources are limited, we still are getting a sense for what makes them tick. And we are also learning about the events were occurring in their political lives that shaped their home lives.

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    1. After the amount of teasing I’ve done of the History Channel and it’s obsession with aliens, truckers, and alien truckers who live in swamps… I don’t think they’d ever allow me on air. ;)

      1. I would like to see a show where the two hosts from Ancient Aliens would be forced to read your scripts

    1. Here’s the rough transcript. :)

      While I tell the story and give you little asides, I don’t really talk about what I think of history as a whole… what my general point of view is. And I think now, after doing this monster recap of an episode, I might give you a few thoughts of mine (and they really are just my thoughts, so feel free to disregard them).

      For me, when I look at the full scope of things… from the very first episodes all the way to now what I see is rather comforting. Rather than fate, or great men, or some sort of grand cabalistic conspiracy running everything, what do we see?

      Well, what I see are a bunch of people who are making choices, but those choices are constrained by their own abilities and what their culture will allow. Sometimes they’re forced into action because that’s what is expected of them, as was the case with some Roman Emperors. Other times, they are unable to act because doing so would be outside of their specified roles. And still other times, I see people having a dramatic impact upon the world around them while navigating from within their own cultural constraints, as was the case with King Raedwald’s wife. Although she was barred from direct rule, and her name wasn’t even recorded, she was able to dramatically alter the course of Northumbrian and English history with a single conversation. And it isn’t just the spouses of leaders… what about the unnamed warrior who cut down Edwin? Or the Roman soldiers that decided to elevate their leaders into Emperors? None of these people were Great Men… their names weren’t even recorded… but here they are, changing the course of history.

      In many ways, history is chaos. And I find that comforting. There isn’t a secret group of oligarchs guiding us, but rather it’s just a massive chaotic blend of people all with their own interests and desires. So when we look at it all, rather than seeing something sterile… something like looks like Fate… we see something that is messy. Incredibly messy. And I like that, because humans are messy creatures.

      And in general when we look at things, we aren’t seeing callus autocrats guiding everything from on high with cold precision. Rather, we’re seeing a story that sometimes becomes incredibly irrational with people making decisions that look entirely counter to their own interests. For example, when Urien of Rheged was assassinated by one of his own allies right before he was about to finally defeat Bernicia.

      To me, that doesn’t seem entirely rational. There must have been something else at play there. And I find comfort in that. We are the way we always have been. Messy people doing stupid things for personal (but odd) reasons. Small and large choices, on matters of everything from war to what we will have for dinner, people have an amazing capacity to be astoundingly irrational. Emotions, grudges, flights of fancy, we’re influenced by all sorts of stuff that might not be in our true best interest. And it’s nice to see that even our ancestors struggled with that aspect of our humanity.

      So what I see is that that there isn’t fate, but rather chaos, and that gives us room to maneuver. After all, without fate, we aren’t pawns of forces greater than ourselves, but rather we can still dip an oar in and guide things, at least a little. We might not be world leaders, but I think the lesson from history is that we don’t need to be. In many regards, leadership is constrained and guided by us, as much as we are by them.

      And what I take away from the story that we’ve gotten to know so well, is that we all have agency of one sort or another in history. We all can have an impact.

      And so I find this story, with all of it’s strangeness and confusion, to be one of comfort. I hope you do too.

  1. This was a great recap, really helped me get back on track. But it probably wouldnt make much sense to someone who hadn’t listened to the regular episodes :D

    Maybe you should do these recaps more regularly?

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