Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics   Leave a comment

Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics
By Keir Martland

For much of the Middle Ages – ordered anarchy though it was, owing to the situation on the ground of overlapping jurisdictions and law codes – the path to a fully-developed political or legal philosophy of any kind was blocked. There were, to be sure, a number of obstacles for the political philosopher, and no single factor can be held entirely responsible. Among these factors was the very idea of Christendom itself, since men in the Middle Ages did not separate ‘Church’, ‘State’, ‘Empire’, ‘kingdom’, ‘Europe’ etc. If ever Hilaire Belloc’s line that “Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe” was factually correct, it was during the early to high Middle Ages. Naturally, this lack of clear thinking was one significant impediment to the development of serious political thought. At the same time, this Christendom required, so many thought, a single dominus. Whether pope or Western Emperor, for as long as the secular realm was thought of in the same terms as the spiritual realm, where one Lord and one Faith were both sufficient and necessary, for as long as the mission of the temporal powers was the same as the mission of the spiritual powers, one man on earth surely ought to be lord of the world. As a result, for much of the Middle Ages, while the battle for the position of dominus mundi raged between pope and emperor or pope and king or emperor and king, the ‘political thought’ produced was necessarily to a certain extent propaganda which took for granted the unity of Christendom under one divinely-appointed head. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted March 28, 2018 by keirmartland in History, Philosophy, religion

The Middle Ages as Ordered Anarchy (PFS 2017)   Leave a comment

Posted October 16, 2017 by keirmartland in History, Public Speaking, Video

Reflections on the importance of the medieval English parliament    Leave a comment

Reflections on the importance of the medieval English parliament 
Keir Martland
(Feast of Michael and All Angels, 2017)

What was the importance or significance of the mediaeval English parliament? This is a vast question and my thoughts on it are particularly difficult to articulate, but I think it requires a lengthy process of ‘setting the scene’ to begin with. To put the disputes between kings and representative institutions in their proper context, it is important to consider earlier mediaeval notions of law and kingship. The early mediaeval ‘customary law’ was not one of sovereignty, like the Roman law – whose famous maxim put it ‘whatever has pleased the ruler has the force of law’ – but one of compromises worked out according to a few immutable principles. In such an understanding, law – being the law of one’s fathers – was good because it was old, and old because it was good, and law was sovereign. The king was under the law, bound by it, and his very existence was predicated upon it. Indeed, the mediaeval Icelandic constitution functioned well without a king for centuries, with only one part-time ‘government employee’, a single lawspeaker. Furthermore, since ‘feudal’ relations were essentially personal ones of reciprocal rights and duties, territoriality, like sovereignty was alien to the mediaeval social and political order. As Frank van Dun has it in his essay Uprooted Liberalism and its Discontents, “…power rested on personal allegiances between freemen. Thus, the feudal lord-vassal relationship was not a transitive relation…” Tacitus’ words might well be applied to the early Germanic or barbarian societies, ‘Nec regibus infinita aut libera potestas’ (Their kings are not unlimited or free). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted September 29, 2017 by keirmartland in History

The mediaeval roots of European freedom   Leave a comment

On the evening of 27th September 2017, I visited the boys at The Oratory School to give a short talk. I gave no title at the time, but a title which suggests itself retrospectively is ‘The medieval roots of European freedom.’ Here is a very brief outline of the 30 minute talk:

How do we explain freedom or liberalism? Any Little Englander will tell you that England is a bit special, but there are other such places in Europe worth investigating. Racialistic accounts, such as in Mein Kampf, and other accounts such as Max Weber’s, of how small countries like England and Holland came to dominate the world, are flawed. Explanations of the ‘European miracle’, too, are mostly confused, often lapsing into 19th century historicism. Rather, we must look to how our early and high mediaeval forebears thought about and practised law and kingship to come to a better understanding of liberal England and liberal Europe. After all, it was in the mediaeval period that the foundations of much that we hold dear – whether economic, political, cultural, or religious – were laid. Ideas and practices worth considering here are: strong kinship bonds; fealty; oath-helping/compurgation; the sovereignty of law; the absence of sovereign territoriality; the absence of the Divine Right of Kings; the consensus fidelium; the right of resistance etc.

Posted September 27, 2017 by keirmartland in History, Public Speaking

Why was Charles I executed?   Leave a comment

Why was Charles I executed?
By Keir Martland 

Today is the 368th anniversary of the execution of the Anglican Martyr King Charles I. 368 years ago, Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall following two Civil Wars, also known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Charles had lost both Civil Wars and had failed to reach a settlement with the Scots, Parliament, or the Army, and eventually the latter took the initiative to break the deadlock, put him on “trial” following a royalist defeat in the Second Civil War, and murdered him. But why did this happen? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted January 30, 2017 by keirmartland in History, religion

Fin Tales Ep 001: Keir Martland – Bank of England Genesis   Leave a comment

Posted September 28, 2016 by keirmartland in Economics, History, Media Appearances, Video

How Glorious was the “Glorious Revolution”?   Leave a comment

How Glorious was the “Glorious Revolution”?
(Adapted from an address to the 11th meeting of the Property & Freedom Society)
By Keir Martland

I would like to begin by thanking Professor Hoppe and Dr Imre Hoppe for their generosity in inviting me to speak on 2nd September to such an august gathering as the Property and Freedom Society – and at such a young age. The topic of the speech I gave was the so-called Glorious Revolution, although it might as easily have been titled “On Politics and Religion”, so central were these two themes to my own speech. Therefore, at the beginning of this essay I cannot help but recall an anecdote told of G.K. Chesterton. The great man was offered a column by the Illustrated London News Company and he very humbly asked on what he could possibly write for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted September 8, 2016 by keirmartland in History, Public Speaking