Rule Britannia

Dunn   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 03:54 GMT
A question about the British Anthem.
"Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never shall be slaves."
When were Britons slaves? Is this all about Romans?
Adam   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 03:56 GMT
It doesn't mean that Britons were ever slaves. It means that Britons will never become slaves, that's all.
Reggie   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 04:00 GMT
Weren't they? I thought they were invaded by various people like the Normans, Vikings etc...
Adam   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 04:05 GMT
I'm sure that some Britons were slaves at various times throughout history, but I don't think it was ever something that was widespread. When the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and then the Normans invaded, they either pushed the natives out or assimilated them into their culture.

Anyway, that line from the Anthem is not referring to any time in history that Britons were slaves, it just states that they will not be made slaves in the future.
Brennus   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 06:50 GMT
The Normans (French speaking Danes) were the last foreigners to successfully invade England (in 1066) . As Adam implies, they were eventually absorbed into the native English population. Ergo, no foreigner has ever conquered or enslaved the English people since then even though the Spanish and the Nazis might have if history had taken a different course. I think this is what the anthem refers to.

Of course, things like indentured servitude, impressment of seamen, child labor and the sale of kidnapped children for domestic labor were virtual forms of slavery that lasted in the English speaking world right up until the early twentieth century but that's a different story and not what the anthem is alluding to.
Jordi   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Dear Brennus,
According to logics it should have been the Spanish and the Germans. I gives me the creeps to see the word Spanish next to the word Nazis, although we 've had a few of the latter (under different names) in all Western civilisation countries.
The question should be more if the English (or others, including the Spanish, Germans or New World offsprings) have enslaved other human beings. It's funny how everybody else is Nationalistic except ourselves.
Brennus   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 08:05 GMT

I thought about using "Germans" instead of "Nazis". The only problem is that the Germans weren't trying to conquer England during World War I but during World War II.

In the 16th century, Spain sought an alliance even a union with England against France it's main enemy. It had already formed one about 70 years earlier with Austria (also an enemy of France). This is why it married off Catherine of Aragon to Henry VIII and Philip II to Mary Tudor. The Protestant Reformation through a monkey wrench into their plans however, forcing the Spanish to seek a military solution. King Philip II probably also wanted to protect Catholics in England (who were still a majority then) from Protestant persecution and thought that by sending the Armada to invade England he was actually doing something very noble and Godly.
Brennus   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 08:08 GMT
(Whoops! "through" should read as "threw")
Jordi   Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 08:14 GMT
Dear Brennus,
Don't worry. Much later, in the 18th century, we had the War of Successionto the Spanish throne. The old Crown of Aragon countries were helped by the English (and others) while the old Crown of Castille was helped by the French. There were, obviously two heirs, and one would make France much more powerful. Actually, Barcelona fell in 1714 and the grand-son of Louis XIV became King of Spain under the name of Felipe V. One of the first things he did was to ban the Catalan language and make Spanish official all over present day Spain. You know how France has exported a centralistic model all over the world. Thank God we're getting rid of that almost three centuries later! That is a fact of history. As you can see, not all the Spaniards have always been Spaniards in the sense you understand the term nowadays. Spanish is as "foreign" a language to me as it is to most of you. With one difference, I've learnt the language since early childhood and it is the official language of my country although it isn't of my home.
Brennus   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 05:33 GMT
Thanks for that little bit of information, Jordi. I have heard that Catalonia is a region of Spain that is always revolting and that there is a lot of nationalsim there. The Spanish have had the same problems with the Catalonians that the English have had with the Scotch and the Welsh. I remember in the late 1970's David Wallachinsky listed Catalonia as among the ten nations in the world most likely to secede in his "Peoples Almanac". Some other candidates included were Quebec, Scotland, Tibet and the Ukraine. Of course, even here in the United States the South is a different country for all practical purposes. They would be an independent country today if the North had not blugeoned them into submission during the Civil war of 1860 - 1865. When you look at what is going on in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, however, you begin to see that Catalonia, Galicia and the Basqueland actually could all become independent some day.
Jim   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 05:47 GMT
I'm sure Catalonia is quite a pleasant region of Spain. How unkind of you to call it revolting!
Brennus   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 06:27 GMT
Well, you've simply hit upon an ambiguity in the English language, that's all. But I think you know what I mean.
Jim   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 06:40 GMT
Of course, what I hit upon was a bad joke (caused of course by English's wonderful ambiguity).
Damian   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 08:04 GMT
Rule Britannia sounds so jingoistic and seems to hark back to the old days of the Empire..."When Britons first at Heaven's command, arose, arose, arose from out of the azure main...." and all that guff. It "sounds" stirring on TV during the Last Night of the Proms though, but even so it's preferable to the dirge we present day Brtitons call the National Anthem.....asking some Deity to "save" one individual. It doesn't actually say what it is she has to be "saved" from! Corgi bites maybe? "Land of Hope and Glory" has more appeal and should replace the plea to save Liz from some unimaginable fate. "Jerusalem" is all about England's "green and pleasant" land so that can be discounted on acount of the existence of the rest of us here in the Celtic fringes of the glorious Kingdom. ;-)
Damian   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 08:07 GMT
Sorry...I should have said "HAPPY and glorious". Well, that's what it says? Anyway, I'm happy.