Happy 950th Anniversary

Today is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. I don't usually like to commemorate events of slaughter, so you'll have to bear with me on this. When the invading William The Conqueror defeated the Saxons in 1066 he imposed Norman-French rule on every citizen in his new realm; new language, new laws, new officials, new systems of government at every possible level. It was the most complete power take-over the country had ever known, and the last time the British Isles was successfully invaded. It was, to be plain, brutal. What happened was that over the next few centuries the local cultures began to push back, slowly. English eventually became the language of rulers and ruled alike. Powerbrokers and peasants could actually communicate once again. A new country arose from the bloodbath. It wasn't a miraculous rebirth; it was painful and hard and often it must have felt counterproductive much of the time. Yet gradually the people curtailed the power of the gentry and moved towards something that might look a bit more like democracy. So today I'd like to recognize the battle, but also to show gratitude to those uncounted generations who pushed back against tyranny, inch by inch. To paraphrase Gandhi: remember, whatever you do may seem inconsequential, but it is important that you keep doing it.