980 years ago a seven-year old William became Duke of Normandy. It was a succession that would have the most profound effect on our island’s history. William eventually ended five centuries of Anglo-Saxon rule, made France our natural enemy for eight centuries and wrecked our property market forever.
Twelve years of chaos followed young William’s accession to the Dukedom before he was secure, with backing from King Henry of France. By 1051 the childless King Edward of England had named sixteen year old William as his heir. He now had a claim to a throne. Fifteen years later he invaded England to make good that claim, changing Britain’s course.
To consolidate his power in England, in one of the biggest land grabs of all time, he declared that every acre of land belonged to the monarch. He replaced the entire Anglo-Saxon aristocracy with Normans and ordered the construction of twelve personal castles (including the awesome Lincoln Castle). He created vast royal forests which were his exclusive domain and ordered the compilation of the tax-collecting Domesday Book. All of these created huge resentment amongst the Anglo-Saxon majority, and Norman minority eventually, resulting in Magna Carta.
Unsurprisingly, non-Normans called him William the Bastard. To be literal and fair, he was the illegitimate son of his father Robert, the previous Duke.
Prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, there were no armed conflict between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. William’s accession to the throne of England locked us into conflict with France which lasted intermittently until 1815 in Europe and 1898 globally (excluding occupied France).
And then there’s the effect of William’s land grab on today’s house prices. Author Kevin Cahill FRSA argues the main driver of land prices in the UK is that so much of the land is owned by a tiny Anglo-Norman elite, directly descended from the 1066 conquest. Just 0.3% of the population, a mere 160,000 families, own two thirds of our country. Less than 1% of the population owns 70% of the land. The Queen is technically the legal owner of one sixth of the land on the Earth’s surface (6.6 billion acres), more than any other individual or nation.
That said William caused the legend of Robin Hood and created ‘English’, as George Trevelyan wrote in 1959, “One outcome of the Norman Conquest was the making of the English language, […] the speech of Alfred and Bede, was exiled from hall and bower, from court and cloister, and was despised as a peasant’s jargon […] It ceased almost, though not quite, to be a written language. […] Now when a language is seldom written and is not an object of interest to scholars, it quickly adapts itself in the mouths of plain people to the needs and uses of life. […] It can be altered much more easily when there are no grammarians to protest. During the three centuries when our native language was a peasant’s dialect, it lost its clumsy inflexions and elaborate genders, and acquired the grace, suppleness, and adaptability which are among its chief merits.”
Tomorrow, William the Leadbetter, celebrates his sixth birthday. Granting him a dukedom for his seventh birthday might be a bit of a challenge. And he’s going to be disappointed if he needs the promise of a kingdom at 16.
Photo: David via Flickr
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How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
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