Monday, 10 August 2009

How are the Romans, Monty Python and Jugglers all linked to Scotland?

Scotland was never completely subdued by the Romans, but they kept the barbaric northern tribes north of Hadrian’s Wall. The diverse peoples (Picts, Scots, Britons and Angles) gradually united, helped by the spread of Christianity.

During the Middle Ages there were recurrent wars and machinations amongst the Kingdoms of France, Scotland and England eventually ‘settled’ in 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded to the throne of England as James 1, though political union between the two countries was not established until just over a century later, with the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Typical Scene of a band playing to street watchers at the Fringe (above)

The continued independence through Scots Law, the Scottish Education System, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to Scottish Culture and Scottish National Identity since the Union in 1707.

The cramped tenements of the Royal Mile were once home to most of Edinburgh's population.
This independence encouraged Devolution in 1998, with Scotland now having partial self-government within the UK, as well as representation in the UK Parliament; the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament are based near Holyrood Palace, the Monarch’s Official Residence, in Edinburgh.

An interesting note: when Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne, her title “Elizabeth II” caused controversy as there had never been an Elizabeth 1 of Scotland. A legal case ensued arguing that the title would be a breach of Article 1 of the Treaty of the Union 1707. The case lost and it was decided that future British monarchs would be numbered according to their English or Scottish predecessors, whichever number is higher. Any future King James would become James VIII, since the last Scottish King was James VII, who was also James II of England; whilst the next Henry would be King Henry IX throughout the UK even though there have been no Scottish kings of that name.

Edinburgh, the country’s capital and second largest city (after Glasgow) is one of Europe’s largest financial centres; Edinburgh was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century which together with the Industrial Revolution transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe: by 1750, Scots were among the most literate citizens of Europe, with an estimated 75% level of literacy.

This cultural advance enabled Edinburgh to host a number of music festivals during the 19th century, the first being held in 1815 with the profits being distributed to the Royal Infirmary and other charitable institutions. Further festivals followed periodically.

The present festival first occurred in 1947. The idea had germinated in the mind of Rudolf Bing, the General Manager of Glyndebourne, around 1943. Bing was an Austrian-born impresario, who had fled Nazi Germany in 1934, bringing with him all that was good about German and Austrian culture. The idea of a music festival linked with the resources of Glyndebourne Opera appealed, especially as mainland Europe would not be able to support any cultural festivals for some time to come.

The Edinburgh Festival traces its roots to those days of 1947, when it was established in a post-war effort to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”: consisting of classical and contemporary theatre, opera, music, dance, visual arts, talks and workshops.
Street Performers in the Royal Mile

That same year 1947, eight theatrical companies ‘gatecrashed’ the festival by organising their own event, which has grown into and is now known as the Edinburgh Fringe. The Fringe is now the largest arts festival in the world and includes theatre, comedy, music, musicals, mime, dance and children’s shows.

The Fringe is an 'unjuried' festival – so any type of event is possible: often showcasing experimental works which might not be admitted to a more formal festival; while the Royal Mile hosts a street fair. The Fringe provided the platform for Flanders and Swann, Monty Python, Stephen Fry to launch their careers, to name a few.

Mudfire at the Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Festival is not one, but a collection of independent festivals which happen to take place in the same city at about the same time. Some of the others include the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, or the International Film Festival and many more.
Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
I went many years ago when I was too young, though I had always loved watching the Military Tattoo on the television, and I remember going up to the Castle, but sadly not a lot else. I was with a second cousin, Margie, whom I really did not know and was in awe of - you know the feeling (we are on good terms now), and we stayed with her relations in Edinburgh – the best part was swimming in the sea water wave pool at Portobello – yes, that is a suburb of Edinburgh!

From the audience’s perspective, the ability to see so many outstanding performances of all sorts in such a short time span at very affordable prices has been extremely attractive. There is an aura of excitement, enthusiasm, and appreciation at Edinburgh from both the performers and audiences that is unmatched anywhere else. The festival lasts for three weeks when Edinburgh is absolutely abuzz.
Panorama of the Old Town and Southside of Edinburgh from the Nelson monument. The term panorama was originally coined by the painter Robert Barker to describe his panoramic paintings of Edinburgh.
The Romans stayed out, letting the Scots rule supreme in one way or another, Monty Python could not resist the lure of the Fringe, nor the picturesque rural areas to film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, while jugglers and circus performers roam the streets mixing with the crowds – festivals of delight for all.

Dear Mr Postman thank you for delivering today on what started out as a bright sunny, but turned into a wet and miserable one .. so much so that my mother told me to go and put a warmer jacket on. I read her a chapter from a traveller's book of 1929 around the St Ives and Hayle area where she grew up.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Giovanna Garcia said...

Hi Hilary,
When I read the topic, I said to myself...WHAT!?
Thank you Hilary, I do enjoy read this post. There are no limits to things that one can learn from you.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than NO Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. thanks for that .. and very glad you enjoyed the tie in. The Edinburgh Festival is just a huge showcase for very talented people.

Have a good week .. all the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Thank you Hilary for that great post. You keep us learning with every post. Have a good day.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deanna and Dan - thanks for coming by .. glad you enjoyed Edinburgh ..

all the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Hillary,

What a great post. I feel like I just had a short history lesson on a subject I failed to learn in school. Fascinating stuff.

BTW: I like how you're using your blog to share all you do. Happy Blogging!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Barbara .. thanks so much for coming over. Just very glad to hear you enjoyed the potted history (or some of it miniscule amount!) on Edinburgh. Pleased you found it fascinating.

Thank you too for the extra bit I notate at the end re my mother and as we're Brits re the weather!

Welcome to the site ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

Hadrian's wall was the farthest point north of the Roman Empire. Rome was not at it's zenith during that period, but it is amazing to see how much they accomplished.

Thanks for the informative post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. this bit of history is very interesting - I'm finally learning! So there's a few things I'd like to post about .. one of which quite rightly is the Roman Empire and its spread. They certainly got around! and left us some great legacies ..

Thank you for being here .. and for your knowledge point on the Romans and this being their further northern outpost.

Go well - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories