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Matters Arising (The History of Britain Revealed)
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Mick Harper
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Samuel Pepys, naval mastermind and bureaucrat to the stars, achieved fame because of his hobby.

At his death, there were more than 3,000 volumes, including the diary, all carefully catalogued and indexed; they form one of the most important surviving 17th-century private libraries

We are back, I’m afraid, in the minefield of statistics. An unlikely event should not be dismissed because it is unlikely. The world is so full of events a fair proportion of them will be unlikely. It is only when an unlikely event gets entwined, other than via cause-and-effect, with another unlikely event that the statistical odds climb beyond unlikely and are headed for the ‘oddities list’. As that is what revisionists are in business to identify, we have coined a memorably Orwellian saying for the juxtaposition

One world record, good
Two world records, bad

Who is the world’s most famous diarist? Samuel Pepys. Who put together (one of) the world’s most important surviving seventeenth century private libraries? Samuel Pepys. Is there a causal link? Not one that springs to mind. And do not look for one from Pepys biographers – as far as they are concerned this is just one more reason for writing a biography of Samuel Pepys. We have a companion rule made even more memorable by the office McGonagall

One world record good,
Two world records bad.
Three world records
You’re being had
.
and sure enough

but there are other remarkable holdings, including over 1,800 printed ballads, one of the finest collections in existence
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Mick Harper
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I was cautiously encouraged to receive this citation in Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century

For a modern example see M.J. Harper, The History of Britain Revealed (Thriplow: Icon, 2007)

and this
Compare, for instance, Harper, The History of Britain, 8.

but came back down to earth with this

This separates him not by degree but by kind from previous sceptics, aligning him instead with recent cranks like Edwin Johnson, Anatoly Fomenko, and M.J. Harper.
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Wile E. Coyote


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I was cautiously encouraged to receive this citation in Pseudohistory and Metafiction in the 18th Century


What is really extraordinary is such is the author's zeal to attack Hardoin as a crank who ignored academic evidence, he fails to see the obvious, that Hardoin's belief that the emerging narratives about ancient empires and their chronologies stemmed from his faith that the bible chronology was correct. This was absolutely standard for Christians at the time, Newton's understanding was similar, ie that the emerging chronology was wrong, and a lot of history was fable. Both Newton and Hardoin did at least consider inscriptions, coins, ancient finds as well as the biblical account to support their view, as they appreciated scientific evidence.

What the author ignores is that science at that time was studied within and alongside the devoutly Christian biblical perspective that permeated Western culture. The irony is that by some modern historians substituting a reliance on academic reading, quotes and a snowballed bibliography but without properly considering the archaeology, stratigraphy and coins, these modern authors actually end up with a much less scientific approach than either Hardoin or Newton. Newer revisionist approaches to chronology are not all based on biblical belief so to equate them with Hardoin is, of course, not correct.

When folks igonore physical evidence, you get academic name calling. There is of course no shame in holding a belief that the orthodox chronology is correct. Just start by showing the revisonists more than 300 continuous years of stratigraphy from a site during the first millenium, and then orthos will automatically start to engage with evidence based approaches, and therefore can get a serious evidence based response.

I wonder why he ignores Newton? Is it because he would look an arse calling Newton a Pseudo historian?
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Mick Harper
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Fab analysis. I found the writer's constantly expressed assumption that they know exactly who goes into which compartment -- trusted source/mountebank -- made it unreadable. In fact I'm arrowing in on this at the moment eg I wrote today

----------------

No consensus has ever been reached regarding the date of the collection, many archaeologists accepting the unhappy compromise that the daggers were manufactured over a period of a thousand years or so.

These archaeologists should not be accepting compromises, they should be rejecting archaeology. Or at any rate the subjective part of it. Because, for sure, some of them must have got it wrong and they were all trained the same way. For such discordance to result is a sure sign there is something radically wrong with that training.

But one of the worst aspects of universities is that that they recognise no higher authority so academics are trained to believe there is no higher authority than their own personal opinion. Even when they can plainly see that that training has produced opinions crying out for a higher authority. Though things only get really bad when they all agree.

-------------

Needs a bit of a re-write, I see now.
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Mick Harper
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A mildly amusing and instructive exchange from a long time ago but only today landing in my in-tray. Somebody called Paul Crowley had posted up some questions (culled, I assume) from THOBR.

---------------------------------

John W Kennedy
I think he's discovered "The History of Britain Revealed", a book published about a decade ago by a raving loon named M J Harper with the central hypothesis that Modern English has always been spoken, and that Old English and Middle English are evil frauds perpetrated by the wicked Academic Establishment.

Bob Grumman
Yikes, someone else as crazy as Crowley!? No way. M J Harper must be Crowley.

Mark Steese
M.J. Harper isn't as crazy as Crowley. He's much, much, crazier. See the quotations from his book. Arguing that modern English has always been spoken is nutty enough, but arguing that Latin is an artificial language is so over-the-top that it begins to sound like parody. (The Fortean Times reviewer said the book was "The best rewriting of history since *1066 and All That*".) Lest you think that Language Log unfairly caricatures Mr. Harper, here's a comment he personally posted to a post about his barmy hypothesis that Beowulf is a forgery:

Once you get the hang of this national-epics-gotta-be-forgery business you can't stop! We're currently trembling on the brink of concluding that all the Icelandic sagas are forgeries. What is required is that each nation should ask that receivers from another nation be sent in to value their own national collection. That way we should get a daisy chain of truth rather than infinitely admiring Chinese whispers. The rule of thumb is if it's boring (like just another translation of the Bible) it's prolly genuine. But if it's epic poetry...or Tolkien or Sibelius...then assume it's modern, whether the author has actually signed it or not.

Can such fatuity be taken at face value, or is Harper, as Liberman suggests, applying Stephen Colbert's techniques to linguistics and literary history? Note that the blogger, who treats the barmy Beowulf bullshit respectfully, parenthetically mentions his belief that Eddie the Ox "is the best candidate for the real authorship of Shakespeare's plays."

John W Kennedy
Assuming this is supposed to make any sense at all, note how he has confused Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), a folklorist, with Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), a composer.

Mark Steese
I'm not sure how much crazier Harper is than Crowley in view of Crowley's apparently favorable view of at least some of Harper's stuff. I wonder: has Crowley discovered "New Chronology" yet? On the other hand, that might not appeal to Crowley, as its Slavophile leanings don't flatter his prejudices as neatly as nonsense like Harper's book and the "Ray Mignot" sonnet do.
.
Paul Crowley
I read Harper's book many years ago. But while, at that time, he had some genetic data, there has been a veritable flood since. Nor would he have been aware of the fairly recent discoveries -- and their extensive confirmation -- that farmers spread as a distinct population across Europe, starting around 9,000 years ago close to Turkey, and reaching the Britain around 4,000 years ago.

It's much easier to dismiss someone as 'a raving loon' than it is to try to answer the kinds of questions I pose above. 'Wickedness' is not necessary -- unless you regard as 'wickedness' the unthinking occupation of professorial chairs, and the refusal to consider any other evidence, except what your own professor told you when you were a student.

sasheargold
I haven't read this book, but glimpsing a few pages and looking at the opinions of the critics, as well as observing the company that Mr. Harper keeps on a certain forum, there is definitely a prima facie case for believing that this author and Mr. Crowley would make a marriage of true minds.

David L. Webb
Indeed! I wonder what Mr. Innes, who opines that Old English is *still* spoken, would make of Harper's book? His is a sort of converse lunacy.
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Wile E. Coyote


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One of the features of "Citadel of the Saxons", by Rory Naismith is his ignoral of landscape, when Hats and Mick trek off walking over ancient landscapes, they really want to understand the relationships and transformations of every feature, Rory on the other hand is more a compendium of informaton from ancient scripts, archaeological digs and finds by others. You can't say he hasn't put the work in as it has clearly involved a massive amount of reading, but he sets himself the task of compiling a history of the "Early Rise of London" with only a cursory look at the wider landscape, it's a sort of look at the bits that Rory believes that the "Anglo Saxons" would have considered "London" which he concludes they would have looked upon as a "Citadel", this is despite the fact that Ludenwic, the Saxon bit according to Ortho, was not a walled fortress.

In the text Rory refers to Ludenwic as a "trading port" or as a "town". So you get this impression that the warlike Anglo Saxons have set a "trading port" outside the Roman walls but are then forced to retreat inside the Roman walls by the even more warlike Vikings, who audaciously sail up the Thames to threaten the newly occupied ancient walled citadel? I can't help thinking the language isn't aiding the clarity.

The root of these problems is something like this. The port of London stretches for miles along the Thames, it is an entrepot not a transit port, so the buying and selling and warehousing of goods is close to the embankments, these man made embankments were both formed to tame the water, aid shipping, and to drain and reclaim marshland. The fact that the ancients could achieve this transformation of landscape led to London's future success as a giant trading centre, and "Britannia ruling the waves". The ancient Dark Age accounts only mention longships and warfare, not successful trade, so the orthodox historian drops into thinking of a defensive citadel.

What is the difference in design between a Vik.ing longship used for warfare and a LudenWic longship used for trade?
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Mick Harper
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What is the difference in design between a Vik.ing longship used for warfare and a Luden Wic longship used for trade?

I have often pointed out that longships are no use for any sort of trade since you can only put people into them. I suppose they could have had some carry-on bags on their laps, though it would get in the way of the oars. Rollocks! They had overhead storage bins.

More generally re London, some stray thoughts

1. There has always been confusion between Middlesex (supposedly Middle Saxons) and London. I know this because I used to have to attend the Middlesex Guildhall court which is in Westminster.

2. The Danes liked London much more than either the Anglo-Saxons or the Vikings. Even the Normans seemed to think Winchester more important.

3. Why did none of them build a bridge given that London is supposed to be the lowest bridging point on the Thames?

4. I'm not sure about this wharfage theory of yours, Wiley. The Thames is extremely tidal, it is a major engineering exercise setting up permanent docking places. And it gets worse the lower down you go.

5. Good point about chroniclers preferring war to peace but let's not forget that anyone making up chronicles later on would have thought of London as the Big Cheese and written about it accordingly. Or, I suppose, leaving it out deliberately.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick Harper wrote:

I have often pointed out that longships are no use for any sort of trade since you can only put people into them. I suppose they could have had some carry-on bags on their laps, though it would get in the way of the oars. Rollocks! They had overhead storage bins.


Interesting, are you saying that you must have oarsmen to travel in a longship? I don't doubt that you can transform a long ship at a time of war to a more mobile troop carrier, but are you really saying that in peace time they won't operate simply as a sailing ship?
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Mick Harper
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It's simple geometry. Even now the only 'long ships' in existence are destroyer-type naval vessels' i.e. small warships where everything is sacrificed to speed. (Actually to overcome resistance from its own bow wave by sort of aquaplaning.) It doesn't apply to any other naval vessel, say battleships or aircraft carriers, which are normal three to one (or whatever the optimum ratio is) round ships because, as with all other ships, they are built to maximise carrying capacity and stability without incurring a penalty for forward motion. After that it is just a question of horse power. Note modern ferries are round ships with lots of horse power.

The only horse power for historic long ships was a) sail and b) rowers. But the sails are crap because you can actually load more sail area onto a roundship, so it is only rowers. This is why I don't believe in 'Viking' long ships. No-one can row across the North Sea (even ignoring the perilous instability of long ships in any kind of seaway). I'd maybe use them for sailing up estuaries but that's all.

This does not rule out galleys for naval engagements but that does not apply in this case.
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Mick Harper
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But I note I haven't answered your questions directly

Are you saying that you must have oarsmen to travel in a longship?

No, but it would be a yacht.
are you really saying that in peace time they won't operate simply as a sailing ship?

They could be used in peacetime as a very inefficient 'sailing ship', but I'm saying they can't be used in wartime (except as above).
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Wile E. Coyote


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Not a lot is known about Longships, the first examples I can google were in fact burials, Nydam, Sutton Hoo, so possibly you might be looking at representations for burial purposes rather than actual ships.

The Romans, it is believed, had sailing vessels, Novis Lusoria, which were a combination of sail and oars. Planks have been excavated at Mainz. The thought is they were vessels used as a sort of coastal/river patrol.

A coin is here. https://www.coinworld.com/news/world-coins/ancient-coin-with-sailing-ship-an-affordable-type.html

In general terms it is believed that for longer sea voyages the Romans used "round ships" for both trade and warfare.
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Mick Harper
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You may be conflating two different things. A long ship can be powered by sail and a round ship can be powered with oars. Various longships have been dug up from Scandinavian mud and lovingly restored. (And repro's lovingly sailed... I mean oared). It is certainly the case that all ships concentrating on inshore and estuarine work will likely have oars (as well) in order to manoeuvre efficiently.

Just to confuse matters further, a round ship is long. The longer it is the faster it will travel and the more manoeuvrable it will be, but the less cargo it will carry and the more susceptible to rough weather it will be.

Just to confuse matters further, people love longships for romantic and nationalistic reasons but nobody gives a monkeys about round ships.
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Mick Harper
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This mind-blowing idea presents itself in an outrageous book only now making big global waves.
https://fiction-extracts.blogspot.com/

So did John Wayne Gacy. Does the author have any actual qualifications?

“The History of Britain Revealed” by Michael John Harper Ph.D

I heard it was self-published

The original small publisher, Nathan Carmody, has been reinforced by Icon Books of Cambridge, with an expanded hardback in 2006 and a paperback in 2007. Since then, sellers have spread to include Allen&Unwin, Penguin, Faber&Faber and others. The acorn has grown to a huge oaktree ... the Web is buzzing with its audacity...

You've convinced me. Where can I read more from this amazing man?

I did discover a related website, www.applied-epistemology.org, where enthusiasts debate new theories, and where “rudeness is permitted so long as it's funny”.
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Mick Harper
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This thumbnail summation of THOBR from an academic linguist came to me this morning and I thought I'd consider it from the wider aspect I have adopted with Revisionist Historiography. It begins thusly

Harper’s book The History Of Britain Revealed presents the astounding view that Modern English, while related to Old English, is not descended from it

The use of 'astounding' is really significant. Since academia only has agreed paradigms, any alternative paradigm is considered to occupy some kind of territory reserved for the truly fruitcake. The problem with this general position is that it does not allow practitioners to distinguish between what is revisionist and what is truly fruitcake. One might observe that the truly astounding aspect of this particular dispute is that (a) Modern English is related to Anglo-Saxon, that is not disputed and (b) there is no evidence that Modern English is descended from Anglo-Saxon, it is only an assumption that has been around since the seventeenth century and has not been challenged since.

and that Middle English therefore did not exist except as a highly artificial literary variety

Whether Middle English does or does not exist follows, of course, from the rival assumptions but there can be no dispute that it is only known as 'a literary variety' of English. There is no other evidence of it! The damning phrase 'highly artificial' appears nowhere in the book and has been lobbed in for good effect by the academic. It is a subset of 'astounding'.

that Modern English has existed since ancient times, when it was current across Western Europe

This is a complete travesty. I say that English has existed in Britain since ancient times.

and is indeed the ancestor of most modern western European languages, including the Romance languages

This is all due to something that, on reflection, I should not have done in THOBR. In a brief and unnecessary digression I pointed out that, given that English can be considered a mixture of the Romance and Germanic languages, it is a more reasonable to conclude that English is ancestral to both rather than -- as orthodoxy assumes - a hybrid of both. This is indeed reasonable but it frightened the horses far too much for its inclusion in the book. A definite tactical error.

that Latin was therefore not the ancestor of these languages and was in fact invented

This is treated as an entirely separate issue in the book and therefore 'therefore' is completely unfair on the part of the reviewer. But, alas, inevitable.

and that the vast majority of etymologies given for English words are therefore wrong

He rather underplays this so one should be grateful for such moderation.
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