Saturday 24 December 2016

Happy Histories?

It may just be me, but there seem to be a number of dark clouds hovering over my reading this year. In the first place, I read and commented on here Geoffrey Parker’s ‘Global Crisis’, which was a fascinating if rather depressing read. Part of the argument is that the world’s leaders pretty well carried on with their squabbles and wars, ignoring the plight of their rapidly impoverishing, starving, disease ridden populations. Leaders stood upon their dignity, rights and, in some cases, divine appointment. Somewhere around a third of the world’s population died.

I am currently, as I mentioned the other week, reading Jonathon Sumption’s  ‘Cursed Kings’, the fourth volume of his Hundred Years War series. France in 1400 was a happy, peaceful, prosperous place. The only problem, really, was that the king was, more often not, bonkers. But that was fine, because there was a range of princes all ready and willing to take up the reins of government.

Shame they fell out among themselves over who got the biggest cut of looting the treasury and taxes. By 1414 France was undergoing a civil war, both government and princes were deeply in debt and the tax burden had skyrocketed. Across the Channel, Henry V, having succeeded his father and played a large part in crushing rebels against him, was bent on invading France. He did not seem to be particularly bothered on which side in the civil war he intervened on. The scene is now set for another round of devastation, caused by world leaders.

This blog has never been a political one. After all, it is about my hobby, wargaming, and not about current events, modern conflicts and the news. The litany of appalling and callous leadership of the past, however, has started to make me wonder about the present. Not that I wish to debate recent events and elections across the globe, but to raise fears about leaders and mandates that appear to be as misguided as those claimed by our medieval and early modern leaders. I dare say that the cult of management and leadership with which the world is becoming ever more infected does not help either.

Still, I am trying not to be depressed this Christmas tide. Incidentally, might I remind the rest of the world (it seems) that Christmas strictly starts at sun down on 24th December, not sometime in November? The bit before Christmas is Advent; it is a time of preparation and fasting, at least in traditional terms, rather than spending money we do not have and eating things we really, secretly, do not like. I mean, does anyone really like mince pies? Seriously?

My mood is probably not being improved by a number of medical semi-crises this year, and the fact that the estimable Mrs P has to dash around like a mad thing validating everyone else’s ‘Xmas Warm Fuzzies’ at this time of year.

It is enough to make me say ‘Bah, Humbug!’ But I shall refrain, and wish you all a Merry Christmas. 


  1. I like mince pies.

    It is one of the things I look forward to at Christmas time...I mean Advent.

    Merry Christmas! And hopefully less dark clouds in 2017.

  2. Merry Christmas!

    Thanks for another year of thought-provoking posts that got my brain working on Saturday mornings.

    Oh, and I like mince pies too.

  3. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let us hope it is kind to all of us.

    I also like mince pies. To my mind, they are the best thing about Christmas and/or Advent.

    And, if I may be permitted a little rantette, why do so many companies begin 1st day of Christmas adverts on 1st December? Grrr!

  4. I had a mince pie and coffee this morning at one of my haunts... yum!

    Christmas is feeling different this year, can't quite put my finger on it, but the impression I get is that once people get to Christmas Day, they are OK and enjoy it to what ever extent they can and do.

    Then that limbo between Christmas and New Year is becoming less of an issue as I get the sense that fewer people care about New Year and would much rather just get back to normal after Boxing Day.

    Only 24 hours to go and then then the holiday adverts start :-)

    Best Wishes to all.

  5. A Merry Christmas to you and your, Tony