Tuesday 21 June 2011

Im Gott Vertrauen Wir

Having more or less lost the picture on the Greek bailout and the issues involving the Euro and the ECB which centre on Germany, the last thing I needed was to see a headline saying that fifty per cent of English (more or less) males were of German descent.

Moreover, the calculations were said to suggest that in the 5th and 6th Centuries around two hundred thousand of the blighters came swanning over to take our land, our women and displace our ancient beers. Inevitably, I suspected some of the more sensationalised aspects of this brutal and ruthless invasion.

Working back to the original academic document I tried to find my way through the thickets of prose much as the ancient Saxons cut through the entangled forests and discovered that the research centred on a small number of key micro-satellites in the DNA which identified this “Frisian” type of ancestry.

They looked familiar, so I checked my own Y Chromosome DNA information and sure enough there they were. Staggered by this revelation I cried “Gott und himmel” and reached for the schnapps and took a slice of cold pork sausage as comfort food. Having spent a good deal of time on holidays ensuring my family towels were down at the swimming pool before theirs what did it all mean?

Not much in reality. Given that the article was talking about 1500 years ago a lot of wasser has flowed down Der Rhein in that time and we are looking at about sixty to seventy generations for the Saxon genes to get into a lot of female and male persons still around in the UK. They may not be the key genes in either the male or female lines of descent, but like the Normans and sundry others they are there.

The media played the news as “invasion” without doing the sums. If it was about 200,000 over a period of two centuries then this is 1,000 a year. Given the size of boats at the time this means about 30 to 40 boats a year down the entire eastern seaboard roughly from the Tay to the Thames and south.

Moreover, the Romans before they left imported many Germans and there was extensive trade with the various tribes along Der Rhein and to the north. After that we know little about trading patterns until the Middle Ages but the findings in the soil indicate considerable activity across the North Sea connected to far distances to the East.

In short there is likely to be a good deal of “natural” movement apart from groups of fighting men and going both ways. As for the Frisians and those on the coasts the rising sea levels may well have affected some along with those displaced from other population movements to the East. Like most human activity it was likely to be messy, variable and unpredictable.

Inevitably, there were groups of adventurers seeking land and power so there would be frequent outbreaks of violence, eventually become more formalised as larger power groupings established themselves over wider areas. But what exactly was happening is unlikely to have been a simple business and we shall never know.

What we should be worried about is will the ECB and the EU break the British Bank?


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