Enclave life

Normans invaded Ireland.  They were originally Viking Norsemen who invaded northern France.  They settled there and integrated, creating the Duchy of Normandy.  Then they invaded England with William the Conqueror.  Through England and Wales they established a method of invasion that was rapid and effective.

The Normans were great builders.  They would move into an area, and construct a Motte and Bailey, which is effectively a fortified village.  This was a simple construction of earth and timber, quickly erected, but very defensible, especially against the local population.  What gave greater impact to the Normans was their heavy horse.  The native Saxons had no military equivalent to the mounted heavy knight, who was the battle tank of his day.

The Normans set up their Motte and Bailey forts as enclaves.  The knights stationed within would ride out and bring the local population into line.  If opposition was organised a number of lords could combine, and move from fort to fort across the countryside, to subdue the rebellion.  This is the key to enclave life.  You build strong points across the country which welcome your arrival.  They provide you with a safe place to sleep, and a hot meal.  Most importantly they allow you to move across the countryside, through enemy lands, in relative safety.  You can be mobile, fast, and easily outflank your opposition.

As time passed by ditches and wooden walls and draughty halls were replaced by moats, stone keeps and snug palaces.  Norman lords took the daughters of local chieftans as their brides and married their sisters to tribal chiefs.

Ultimately the Normans were subsumed into the local population.  When they invaded Ireland it is said that they “became more Irish than the Irish themselves”.

Enclave life is much harder if you don’t want to integrate.  When the Protestant English invaded Ireland they did not want to mix with the Irish Catholic natives.  Their enclaves were fortified towns which we called “Plantations”.  Three were attempted.  The first in “Laois/Offaly” began in the reign of the Catholic queen “Bloody Mary” oddly enough.  The second was the Munster plantation in County Cork.  Neither of them were very successful.  The final one was.  The Ulster plantation benefited from the abdication of the Ulster royal families in what was called the “Flight of the Earls”.

The Ulster plantation of the 17th Century resulted in 400 years of strife and division in Ireland, with two communities who held separateness to the fore.  To survive 400 years in enclave life takes a particularly hard headed nature.  Few populations are up the challenges involved.

White South Africans lived, and many still live, an enclave life.  Enclave populations appear to reproduce at a slower level than those who surround them.  Birth rates are a greater enemy than knives, spears or guns.

The Normans of Outremer carved out the Counties of Tripoli and Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the Kingdom of Jereusalem.  The monastic orders built great castles such as Crac de Chavaliers and Karak.  They lived an enclave life but it was doomed from the beginning.  Outremer lasted less than 200 years.  For the first Crusaders this possibly looked like victory.  In retrospect it looks like a folly.

So it is that I cast a jauniced eye at settlers in the West Bank.  Jewish settlers are like those ancient Normans.  Nobody can doubt their bravery, their resolve, their faith and forebearance.  Their villages are safe havens for the IDF to move through the occupied territories.  Settlements are the modern version of the Motte and Bailey.   The modern knights drive Merkavas rather than riding horses.  But I wonder if these enclaves will be any more successful than those of the Norman crusader knights of Outremer?

Only time will tell.

Palestinians will not go away.  They will endure.  They will resent. They will resist, and based on historical precedent, they will probably prevail.

If I were an Israeli today, I think I would be seeking to firmly resolve a 2 state solution, to fix borders and draw fixed lines.  But I am not a Jew and I am not an Israeli,  and I am not a Palestinian, so what do I know?  Nothing.

I do have one thought though.  I think those Irish Normans, the ones who became Irish, I think they had a happy life.

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