Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Spaniard's Perspective

It wouldn't let me put all this in my profile so I'll put it here.

From Friar Antonio Agapida’s “Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada”:

This cavalier was from the island of England and brought with him a train of his vassals, men who had been hardened in certain civil wars, which had raged in their country. They were a comely race but far too fair and fresh [for the appearance] of warriors. They were huge feeders also and deep carousers and could not accommodate themselves to the sober diet of our troops, but fain eat and drink after the manner of their own country. They were often noisy and unruly, also, in their wassail, and their quarter of the camp was prone to be a scene of loud revel and sudden brawl.

They were withal of great pride, yet it was not like our Spanish pride…their pride was silent and contumelious. Though from a remote and somewhat barbarous island, they yet believed themselves the most perfect men on earth… With all this, it must be said of them that they were marvellous good men in the field, dextrous archers and powerful with the battleaxe. In their great pride and self will, they always sought to press in their advantage and take the post of danger… They did not rush forward fiercely, or make a brilliant onset, like the Moorish or Spanish troops but went into the fight deliberately, and persisted obstinately and were slow to find out they were beaten.

He was followed by a body of his yeomen armed in a like manner and by a band of archers with bows made of the tough English yew tree. The Earl turned to his troops and addressed them bluntly according to the manner of his country.

“Remember my merry men all” he said, “the eyes of strangers are upon you. You are in a foreign land, fighting for the glory of God and the honour of Merry Old England!” A loud shout was the reply. The earl waved his battle axe over his head. “St George for England!” he cried. They soon made their way into the midst of the enemy but when engaged in the hottest fight they made no shouts or outcries. They pressed steadily forward dealing blows right and left, hewing down Moors, and cutting their way with their battle axes like woodmen in a forest, while the archers, pressing into the opening they made, plied their bows vigorously and spread death on every side.

13 Comments:

Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Good word "contumelious". I like words.

Sun Oct 23, 01:13:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Span Ows said...

..are you contumacious Gavin?

More of the same please...all this stuff that reads the same of Englishmen centuries ago as it does today !

Sun Oct 23, 06:48:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Obstinate; stubbornly disobedient; persistently, willfully, or overtly defiant of authority... Moi?

Sun Oct 23, 07:44:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Do you know, I typed that. Out of a book! A real one. No cut and paste involved.

But it's oh so true!

Sun Oct 23, 08:02:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Kayfer Kettle said...

What a little gem this is!

Great post.

I've finished reading Watching the English, and it is very clear to see that we have not changed a bit!

The exact same traits (silently proud, loud in the good old pastime of wassailing, quick to brawl, yet capable and true) have made up Kate Fox's final summary of the characteristics of the English.

Wassail - lovely word that.

Thu Oct 27, 08:10:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

I'm glad I posted this. I've just read it again.

Fri Oct 28, 08:47:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I'm glad you posted this too. Spot on!

Sat Dec 03, 03:59:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Thank you Cheryl!

Sat Dec 03, 04:05:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Augustus said...

That was absolutely TERRIFIC. I've just emailed it off to a few people. It's really got us down pat hasn't it? When you revel in the fact that other nations think you're arrogant it really is one of those self-fulfilling paradox type wotsits isn't it?

I was in a pub in Kuala Lumpur during the last World Cup when England beat Argentina. It was full of English and all the locals serving the drinks had that funny wiggly smile Charlie Brown gets sometimes. Every time I went to the bar you got a feeling from the staff of what it must have been like to look out over the North Sea and see large square Viking sails on the horizon. They were so nervous. England fans + beer = riot was obviously uppermost in their minds. When Beckham scored the look of shock followed by relief on their faces will stay with me for a very long time. Our reputation goes ahead of us. Frankly, I rather like that aspect of Englishness. It means when we all behave ourselves we are surprisingly popular.

Moor please...

Wed Dec 07, 12:29:00 AM GMT  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Augustus you would be surprised how popular we are...

Wed Dec 07, 12:37:00 AM GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having been at a loss what to do with home delivered organic courgettes, I found myself here - a most enjoyable way to pass 10 minutes, very amusing all of it - keep up the blogging!

Mon Dec 01, 01:56:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Alec Powell said...

Great stuff this is! I use it as my sig file just to let folks know that the image of the British/English squaddie hasn't changed much over all those years.
Arte Et Marte

Fri Apr 12, 03:17:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger alice mi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tue Dec 29, 04:00:00 PM GMT  

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