English National Identity

Foreman: Although it is quite easy for us to characterise the Royal line of England as a bunch of thieves, philanderers, murderers and fratricides, the period when John O'Gaunt was alive was a time when the English national identity was formed.

We had:

  • Parliament conducted in English.
  • Use of English as a poetic language (by Chaucer and the "Gawain poet" by comparison with whom Chaucer looks pretty thin)
  • Use of the red cross of Saint George as the English emblem (Richard II ordered it to be worn by the English soldiers against "the auld enemy" the Scots)
  • Establishment of the Grand Tradition of the Travelling Hooligan going across to the continent, getting into drunken brawls duffing up the locals and generally making a flaming nuisance of ourselves with rowdy behaviour.
  • Bringing back funny curios from holidays in Spain such as May revels, Maid Marians and Morris dancing.
  • Quite a few folkloric customs, which we now regard as being "TYPICALLY ENGLISH", seem to have been introduced in this period of our history.

The mainspring was the celebration of Whitsuntide with a carnival/pageant/choosing of a May Queen/holding a fair/Lamb/Youth/Whitsun Ale.

Next: Characters Associated with the Morris