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10-07-2021, 07:20 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

I am now hoping the author joins and contributes to his own work. Now that would be the icing on the cake....I will give anybody that is interested plenty of time to read the start off, not about to rush ahead, as people sometimes have limited free time...
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12-07-2021, 06:52 PM
12

Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Chapter III: The Book of Invasions, Part two: Here be dragons!

It's hard to imagine properly the impact the sudden arrival of the Vikings had in Ireland. Apart from a raid on the nearby island of Lindisfarne in Northumbria (Wales) in 793 AD, there had been no sign of invaders from across the sea and the explosion of violence and mayhem unleashed by the Norsemen when they attacked Irish ports in 795 surely took the Irish totally by surprise. Apart from anything else, though they warred among each other as frequently as ever, Ireland would have to have been said to have been a generally peaceful place, and it was those centres of peace, the Christian monasteries and abbeys, that first became the targets of these fierce warriors from across the sea. Stuffed with gold and jewels and precious statues as well as fine cloth and other riches – most if not all for use in the creation of their works and not the monks' own personal goods – they were treasure troves to the Vikings, and even better, weren't even defended! The monks were men of peace, sworn to oppose violence and forgive those who trespassed against them, but that wasn't much use when a Viking sword was slicing into your ribs or you were on the receiving end of a blow from a battleaxe that could remove your head clean from its shoulders!

And so the early raids went largely unopposed, as fragmented Irish tribal kingdoms tried to come to terms with the fact that they were under attack, not from another clan, but by experienced and battle-hardened veteran fighters who seemed to know no fear, and dispensed no mercy to their foes. Apart from threatening their religion with their pagan beliefs and their vicious aim of forcing these beliefs on the Irish (a role reversal if ever there was one, minus the violence) the Vikings posed a threat to the fragile alliances and small kingdoms dotted throughout Ireland, and the Irish knew if they did not fight back they would soon be overrun, and so began to try to put aside petty rivalries in an attempt to present a united front against the common enemy.

This was not, however, easy, and to realise why we have to take something of a hard look at exactly how the system of government, such as it was, worked in Ireland at this time, which was, to be fair, not very well at all.

The Tuatha

Irish people were divided into clans, or tuatha, these being more or less simple gatherings of people in the same area. Like any clan, there was a leader, though in general he (always he) had no authority outside of his own tuath. They called these tuatha (the plural has an “a” added, like a lot of Irish words, in case you think I'm just being lazy with the spellcheck; one tuath, two tuatha) kingdoms but they really weren't, and there were about two hundred of them scattered across Ireland. Of course, they all got on with each other. To add to this, the north/south split had already been well in evidence in Ireland, with the powerful O'Neill family ruling pretty much all of Ulster, and casting greedy and ambitious glances South, and if O'Neill (known as “The” O'Neill, to denote the head of the family and the man in power, to differentiate him from the many other O'Neills scattered throughout Ulster) believed himself king of Ireland (High King), while there was no actual king in the South, his authority was not acknowledged there, though his southern cousins did control much of it.

The coming of Saint Patrick and the advent of the monasteries did little to change the age-old rivalries and tribal differences between the Irish, and while this tuath or that, this small king or that would support the monasteries with their patronage or gold, they continued to fight among themselves. Irish history is, sadly, replete with the seemingly unquenchable need to fight someone, often ourselves. With really little to no power over the local kings the abbeys and monasteries existed in a kind of oasis of peace within a maelstrom of in-fighting, petty rivalries and sneak attacks by one self-proclaimed king on another. As a matter of sad fact, the riches and lack of defences of the monasteries began to appeal even to certain Irish warlords, who would originally have fought to save them, and so the monks were caught between a rock and, well, another rock. Certain kings, chieftains or warlords would even ally with the Vikings if it served their cause, all of which increased the level of rivalry and violence that was spreading throughout Ireland.

Although power was mostly held in the fists of the Northern king, the O'Neill, history would record that Ireland's greatest leader of the time would arise out of an obscure town in the south of the country, near Limerick. It was called Dal Cais, and when the southern side of the O'Neills, led by a man called Mael Seachnaill, claimed overlordship and High Kingship of Ireland, they were opposed by the man who would eventually become Ireland's first true High King.



Brian Boru (941 – 1014 AD)

Born in the south province of Munster, Brian succeeded his brother to the throne shortly after the death of their father, and became the king of Munster. He then marched to challenge the declared High King, Mael Seachnaill, who controlled Meath, another province of Ireland. Brian wished to take Leinster and Connacht, the remaining two provinces in the south, and so went to war against Meal Seachnaill. Although he did not win every battle he fought, he proved a determined commander and a shrewd tactician, laying down much of the strategy later generations of Irish military would use. After fifteen years of attack and withdraw, bloody fighting and huge casualties on both sides, Brian finally prevailed and brought Leinster under his control. Meal Seachnaill was allowed to live, providing he swear fealty to Brian as the new High King, and the two men divided control of the southern half of Ireland between them. Meal Seachnaill, however, was quickly overthrown on his return to his own province, leading to a new rebellion against Brian, led by Mael Seachnaill's successor, Mael Morda .

It took another three bloody years before Brian finally took Dublin, after fighting the Viking lord of the city, Sitric Silkenbeard, whom he sent back to rule over the city in his name, as well as giving the Viking one of his daughters in marriage. As the first millennium turned, Brian faced off against the High King again, this time for the overall kingship of the island, and after two years of war Brian was crowned High King of Ireland in 1002. He then turned to consolidate his power by warring upon the long-independent northern province of Ulster and taking on the O'Neill and his allies there. A measure of how implacable and determined an enemy Ulster was shows not only in the fact that it took him a further ten years to subdue the province, but also when you realise that Brian had the massed forces of three quarters of the country against essentially a much smaller land, and yet they held out. Nevertheless, it was inevitable that the superior forces should triumph, and eventually in 1011 Brian Boru was crowned High King, and also recognised as the only Emperor of Ireland.

However the replacement for Mael Seachnaill, Meal Morda, decided he was going to challenge Brian's power, but knowing he could not do so by himself, and failing to sway any of the other leaders to his flag, he turned to Silkenbeard – who in addition to being ruler of Dublin was his cousin - for help. The Viking lord was able to reach out to his comrades in the Orkney Islands and the Isle of Man and bring them to the assistance of Mael Morda, and the two armies finally met in one of the most climactic battles in early Irish history.





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12-07-2021, 06:53 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

The Battle of Clontarf (1014 AD)

The struggle between Mael Morda and Brian Boru for control of Ireland was pretty much the very first Irish civil war, though it would not be the last. It was not Vikings against Irish, as Brian had Norsemen on his side too; the Vikings who fought for Mael Morda did not do so out of any family loyalty, despite Sitric Silkenbeard's ties to him, nor indeed in the hope of gaining land. This was a raiding party, a chance to grab riches, loot the monasteries (again: you get the feeling the monasteries must have had something similar to a sign on the door saying “X days/weeks since being looted”!) and return across the seas. They were not interested in settling in Ireland, and once they had made Mael Morda High King and taken their spoils they would just **** off back to where they came.

Brian suffered his first setback when his old enemy Mael Seachnaill, with whom he had once shared the High Kingship of Ireland, withdrew his forces, though promising not to join in the attack. However he did not take part in the defence either, severely weakening Brian's forces. Though the Viking were armoured and the Irish were not, the former used swords and battleaxes, which required close-quarters fighting, while the Irish tended to hurl short spears that could kill from a distance, and they had the numerical superiority. Brian's own son, Murchad, is said to have fought valiantly, killing “fifty men with the sword in his left hand and fifty with the sword in his right”. That's probably over-romanticised, but the facts of the battle are that there was much death on both sides, and that the fighting was fierce. It's said the battle lasted the entire day, though this again could be down to the poets making more of the story later.

In the end, as darkness began to fall and the Vikings withdrew, pressed by Brian's men, the high tide at Clontarf rose and cut them off from their ships, which were carried away. Didn't they think to anchor them? Did Vikings not have anchors? Anyway, that's the account. With many of them perishing in the sea as they drowned, others making for the safety of a nearby wood but unable to gain access thanks to the rising tides, the men under Brian Boru surged forth and dealt them a crippling blow. By nightfall, they had proven victorious.

Brian, however, paid a high price for his victory. As the Vikings fled, and while praying in his tent in thanks for their defeat, Brian was discovered by one of the leaders of the opposition, Brodir, who had led the forces from the Isle of Man, and beheaded as he knelt. Shortly afterwards Brodir himself was killed, but the first Irish High King was dead. His son, too, died in the battle, as did his grandson, effectively ending the line of succession. Perhaps ironically, Mael Seachnaill was restored as High King after Brian's death. Brian was given probably the first official Irish state funeral, his body lying in state for twelve days of mourning before being finally buried in Armagh.

Although the power of the Vikings was not broken after the Battle of Clontarf, and indeed Silkenbeard remained as King of Dublin until 1036, though like most of his people in Ireland by now he seems to have converted to Christianity, making a pilgrimage to Rome in 1028, they were no longer invaders, no longer an occupying force. Like other invaders would find as the centuries turned, Ireland was a place that tended to defeat you not by military might, but by its allure of lands and climate. Most of those who attacked Ireland ended up settling in it, intermarrying Irish women and forming alliances, and often defending the country against their own fellows when fresh invasions came.

The next to try would also learn this lesson, though it would take a longer span of time before the Normans would yield up and surrender to the irresistible pull of the Emerald Isle. Their arrival would also echo down the annals of Irish history and change Ireland forever.

Written under the name of Trollheart
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12-07-2021, 07:14 PM
14

Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Wow this is starting to read like an episode of game of thrones. What with betrayals, people changing sides etc. Keep them coming Di.
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12-07-2021, 07:21 PM
15

Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Written in the name of Trollheart


Chapter IV: The Book of Invasions, Part three:
Boots on the ground – the beginning of eight hundred years of occupation and oppression

Timeline: 1073 – 1316

With the death of Brian Boru Ireland descended - or rather, returned - into petty wars, as claimants to the throne of Ireland (not literally: there was no single throne, no ruling palace or even indeed any idea of real kingship in Ireland, and would not be for hundreds more years, but various chieftains and warlords vied for the position of High King of Ireland) fought among themselves, but nobody was a worthy successor to Brian. As ever, the power of the Christian, and in particular Catholic Church, would be the real force for change in Ireland, and the real power would rest not in Dublin or Ulster, but in Rome. With increasing dissatisfaction with what it saw as the unacceptably semi-autonomous power of the Church in Ireland, and the reported misuses of power there, the papacy was eager to assert its own control over the island. Pope Gregory VII had already established his absolute accepted rule,not only over the Christian Church, but all of creation (and that surely included Ireland!) so the way was clear, in 1155, for Pope Adrian IV (who just happened to be an Englishman, the only English pope in history) to issue a papal bull.

A papal bull, in case you don't know, was not some sort of pet the pope kept, nor was it a description of doubletalk coming out of the Vatican. It was a letter signed by the Pope, each a formal decree, a command that something must be done. Papal bulls could start or finance wars, revoke kingships or even excommunicate sinners from the Church, denying them the benison of Heaven on their death and banning them from churches. They could also provide annulments of marriages and, as in this case, confer authority upon a person to do something the pope wanted done. The papal bull of 1155, called Laudabiliter (“laudably”, or “in a praiseworthy manner”) allowed King Henry II of England to invade, at his convenience, Ireland, in order to bring it into line with religious orthodoxy. In other words, the King of England was encouraged to reassert the power of the Pope over the Irish monasteries.

Henry, however, was a little busy, fighting those pesky French, his eternal enemy, so he deferred invasion until such time as it might be possible, or, in the event of the war ending in victory for him, politically expedient. With rather telling Irish tragedy though, it would actually end up being the Irish – or one Irish lord, anyway – who would force Henry's hand and bring his troops to the shores of Ireland, where, once entrenched, we would suffer their yoke and oppression for the next nine centuries. As you read on through this journal, you may get an idea of exactly why Irish people hate English – historically; not so much now, but even when Ireland plays England at football or rugby, the latter is always referred to as “the old enemy”.

Prelude to invasion: the Normans

The story is well known in Ireland about Diarmuid MacMurchada who, having abducted the wife of a rival chieftain, had his lands in Leinster confiscated by the closest to a High King Ireland had at the time, the powerful Rory O'Connor. Forced to flee abroad, Diarmuid plotted revenge and swore to regain his kingdom. If you feel bad for him, don't: legend has it that the man said himself he would rather be feared than loved, and any of his enemies he did not have killed outright he had castrated and blinded, so that they could have no progeny who could avenge them. Indeed, the story is told of the time he became incensed because leadership of the Abbey of Kildare had been granted to one of his rivals, and furious he rode there, attacked the place and seized the abbess and had her thrown into a soldier's bed and raped, thereby disqualifying her from holding her position. Not a nice guy!

And forevermore branded as a traitor in Ireland, though some historians see it differently. However the indisputable facts of the case are this: Diarmuid fled to France, where he found the English King, Henry II, engaged in war. Busy as he was, Henry could not spare any troops to help the dispossessed king, but he allowed him to go to Britain and recruit men in his royal name, in return for Diarmuid's promise to submit to him, hold the province of Leinster in his name and offer his daughter to the leader of the troops he would raise.

And he found troops in Wales, men who called themselves Normans. These were the descendants of Vikings who had come to originally raid and then settled in France, in what is now known as (anybody?) Normandy. Gradually acclimatising to and being assimilated by the French lifestyle, they basically became French, and when they invaded England in 1066 led by the famous William the Conqueror, a whole new way of life was stamped on the English nation, and would be visited on the Irish too, a hundred years later. 1167 saw the first wave of Norman troops arrive in Ireland, where they quickly regained Diarmuid's kingdom, and two years later their leader brought more troops, this time taking Dublin and Waterford, sweeping all before them contemptuously.

Strongbow (1130 – 1176)

Having inherited his late father's lands as the Earl of Pembroke in 1149, Richard Fitzgilbert de Clare, known as Strongbow, lost them again when he supported King Stephen when Henry's mother, the Empress Matilda, rode against him but failed to take the throne of England. When Stephen died, and Henry inherited the throne after his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry had his revenge on the rebel earl. Seeking to better his fortunes, Strongbow was receptive when Diarmuid came looking for help to reclaim Leinster by force of arms, and after first dispatching some of his knights to aid the dispossessed Irishman, Strongbow himself followed Diarmuid to Ireland where he began a two-year rule of the country.

1170 saw the arrival of Strongbow and he laid siege with his knights to Dublin and Waterford, taking both towns easily. The Irish had never seen anything like the Normans: they were mounted and armoured, and they used longbows and crossbows, which could kill with great accuracy at a distance, and pierce armour (though the Irish wore none; indeed, they often charged naked into battle), as well as long lances. There was no contest, and Rory O'Connor, the de facto High King of Ireland, was reduced to the role of a provincial king. Diarmuid MacMurchada, who had married his daughter Aoife to Strongbow as part of the agreement, and had hoped not only to regain Leinster but to take all of Ireland and make himself High King, would not live to see this ambition fulfilled. In 1171, a mere year after Strongbow arrived, he died. On his death the kingship of Leinster fell to Strongbow, through Aoife. He was now in total control of the province.


The marriage of Strongbow and Aoife

Rory O'Connor, however, while weakened was still a threat, and the Normans under Strongbow only held Dublin, Wexford and Waterford, a relatively small percentage of the whole of Ireland. In 1171 O'Connor laid siege to Dublin, hoping to starve Strongbow's people into submission. The Irish were not experts at siege: they had no clue what siege engines were, and merely surrounded the town with their troops. After a weak attempt at a truce, wherein his promise to swear fealty to the High King and renounce the feudal ties to his king were rejected, Strongbow engineered a daring attack by day. He literally (so the tales say) caught Rory O'Connor and most of his men bathing in the river Liffey. Unprepared (as you are, when naked) for the assault, the Irish were routed and the story spread of Strongbow's cunning and guile, bringing more Irish lords over to his side and further weakening Rory O'Connor.

But all was not well for Strongbow. He had taken Ireland (well, Leinster) at the command of and under the auspices of King Henry, on condition he hold it as a vassal of the English king. When he offered to renounce this fealty, even though the offer was dismissed, it would not take long for the news to reach Henry. And news of attempted treachery and betrayal never sits well with kings.

Henry II and the arrival of the English

As already related, Henry was no friend to Strongbow, and did not select him for the task of helping MacMurchada regain Leinster; he told the Irish king he had licence to seek aid in his royal name, but did not mention Strongbow. Henry and the Earl of Pembroke had already butted heads, and the king certainly did not trust Strongbow. When his vassal seemed on the point of turning Ireland into a staging point for a possible attack against his former king – which may or may not have been in Strongbow's mind; remember, his roots went back to the Vikings, whose ethos had always been conquest – he decided it was time for him to take a personal hand in things. With the war in France over he was able to turn his attention to this annoying little island, and see how it might become a problem.

In October of 1171, a mere five months after the death of the man who had unwittingly provided him the excuse he needed to come to Ireland, and only two months after Strongbow had married Aoife and taken the kingship of Leinster, King Henry II arrived in Waterford with a massive fleet of four hundred ships. This was a proper invasion, intended to bring the Irish church into line with the Crown and to subjugate the population to its rule. It was the beginning of an occupation which would last well into the twentieth century.
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12-07-2021, 07:23 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Although Henry II only stayed in Ireland for six months, he ensured that his power and authority there was unquestioned, securing fealty from Irish chieftains – including, eventually, the self-styled High King, Rory O'Connor, who was granted the province of Connaught – and conferring land on barons from among Strongbow and his own contingents, English nobles who were awarded Irish counties, such as Meath, Westmeath and Cavan, which were granted to Hugh de Lacy, one of the king's trusted advisers. Henry's son, John Lackland, who would become King John on the death of his father in 1199, presaging a new century which would be plagued by deprivation and bad governance, rebellion and unrest, and give rise to the legend of Robin Hood, was named Lord of Ireland. And yes, he was the same King John who signed the Magna Carta – not Encarta, kids: that's a whole different thing.

An interesting and indeed important historical event around this time was when Rory O'Connor, former High King of Ireland and now content (without any real choice) to have Connaught for his realm, married off his daughter to Hugh de Lacy, which not only strengtened ties between Ireland and England but became the point in history to which the direct involvement of the English in Irish affairs can be traced. The status of Ireland was changed from a free independent land to that of a lordship of the English Crown, bringing it under direct rule of the English king. Meanwhile, John de Courcy, another English baron who had arrived with King Henry, set out for Ulster and took various towns there, setting himself up as the ruler of Ulster. He had done this, however, without the blessing or even the permission of the King, who then sent Hugh de Lacy to rein him in.

The story goes that de Lacy was told that de Courcy was such a religious man that the only time he would take off his armour and shield (which, it was said, he even slept in) was on Good Friday. On that most holy of days, he could be found in the church, praying, and defenceless. Caring, it would seem, nothing for the sanctuary of the church, de Lacy sent his men to apprehend the earl of Ulster, who was taken after a ferocious fight. Hugh de Lacy was then granted the earlship in his place by Henry. De Courcy would spend much of his life in exile, and after an abortive attempt to retake his holding in Country Down, but was repulsed and late imprisoned by the king.

In addition to their fierce knights and terrifying longbows and crossbows, the Normans were superior to the native Irish in that they believed in towns and settlements, and built castles, many of which survive today. Notable among these are Dublin Castle, which served as the centre of English power in Ireland right up to the Rising and until Ireland's independence was procured in 1922. They introduced the idea of towns and cities to Ireland, though their superior weapons and charging knights could become bogged down in the mazy Irish landscape, which the Irish, familiar with, could navigate much more easily and use to set traps for their enemy. The Normans also introduced the idea of proper commerce to Ireland, with trade guilds set up. These were basically clubs, but vital to be part of. If you were not, for instance, part of the baker's guild, you could not bake. If you weren't a member of the carpenters' guild, you couldn't be a carpenter. And so on. As a way of excluding Irish tradesmen, membership of any guild was restricted to those of English name and blood. The very first “No Irish!” sign, as it were, something that immigrants down the centuries would see and turn away from.


Dublin Castle today

And so the subjugation of the Irish began in earnest: their lands were taken over by Norman barons and they were forced into serfdom to the lords. As the thirteenth century drew to a close, over sixty percent of the land of Ireland was occupied, owned and held by Norman lords loyal to the Crown, but essentially allowed a modicum of autonomy, as the feudal system was introduced to the previous independent island. Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinian orders moved in to “civilise” the Irish Church, taking over the monasteries and building new ones, and stamping their authority – and the authority of the King and the Pope – on the abbeys and monasteries that had enjoyed such independence for so long.

In England, the reign of King John had passed by now and he had been supplanted by the weak Henry III and then by Edward I, who came to be known as “The Hammer of the Scots” (you've seen Braveheart, haven't you?) for his implacable suppression of the Scots' attempt to gain independence. He further impoverished Ireland by taking thousands of fighting men and sending them to war against the Scots, at Ireland's expense. Scotland had her revenge though when the king's son and successor, Edward II, lost to Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314, and his own son Edward Bruce then tried to take Ireland from the Normans, at the behest of the Irish in Ulster. Ireland sent a famous letter to the Pope, The Papal Remonstrance, decrying the conditions the Normans foisted upon them, and asking His Holiness to intervene, but he never did. Edward Bruce landed in Ireland in 1315 and though initially he had many successes, and was in fact on the verge of complete victory, nature conspired to overturn his plans.

He failed, mostly due to the terrible famine that was sweeping across Europe at that time, and which had reached Ireland in 1316, but the power of the Normans was beginning to wane. Irish power was being re-established by the middle of the fourteenth century, by which time Ulster and most of Connaught were again under the control of the Irish chieftains, and even the Norman invaders were beginning to “go native”, adopting Irish customs and language and laws, intermarrying with Irish women and considering themselves, as the quote went, “more Irish than the Irish themselves”, resulting in the Statutes of Kilkenny, laws passed by British Parliament which made adopting Irish customs, language and laws illegal.

I'd like to digress here for a moment to recount a very funny story our history teacher told us, to illustrate how sometimes, winging it can be hilarious. He related how one question on the history paper at an exam was “What were the Statutes of Kilkenny?” and one clever dick wrote “The Statutes of Kilkenny were tall stone figures, twenty feet high, and Americans from all over the world came to see them”! Yeah, well I thought it was funny. Anyway, back to the real text.

With the defeat of Edward II at Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce had achieved for the first time that which no other Celtic country could boast: he had taken on England and won. The mythical infallability and superiority of English forces developed an important crack, one the Irish would worry at and exploit over the next few hundred years. The power of the English in Ireland would be further weakened, as would all reigns and all kingdoms across Europe, by a force that not even kings or popes could stand against, and which was believed by many to be a punishment from God.

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12-07-2021, 07:35 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Thanks Chillie6,
I have really enjoyed the way he writes, as sometimes History is quiet Heavy to take in and keep you interested as well.
Just will do a couple of Chapters here and there so anyone reading can enjoy and pace...
The next Chapter..snip..

Chapter V: A plague on both your Houses:
The Black Death, the War of the Roses and the rise of Kildare.

Timeline: 1348 - 1512
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12-07-2021, 07:38 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Originally Posted by DianneWoollie ->
Thanks Chillie6,
I have really enjoyed the way he writes, as sometimes History is quiet Heavy to take in and keep you interested as well.
Just will do a couple of Chapters here and there so anyone reading can enjoy and pace....
Well Di it takes me a while for things to sink in so I shall be reading slowly
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12-07-2021, 07:40 PM
19

Re: Journal he calls it but History...

baggy trousers...gotcha..
but on a serious note.....next time..drum roll...
Chapter V: A plague on both your Houses:
The Black Death, the War of the Roses and the rise of Kildare.

Timeline: 1348 - 1512
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12-07-2021, 07:43 PM
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Re: Journal he calls it but History...

Originally Posted by DianneWoollie ->
baggy trousers...gotcha
Yes good one

Definitely is game of thrones
 
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