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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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delirium happy
The most recent set of questions from altfriday5 have appeared on my friends page a few times and concern nations. I don't normally do these things, but I just had to give my thoughts on this one. See, the first question there is:

1. How old is your nation? Did you have to go look it up?

I rather feel that the author of this question failed to realise just how difficult and complex a question that is. For starters, what is my nation? I can say that I'm a citizen of the UK, certainly, but that's a different question. That's the political state where I claim citizenship; the word "nation" tends to carry many more social connotations (consider, for instance, the Kurdish nation).

I generally tend to consider myself British, though that's possibly more by default than by anything else. I remember talking about this a long while ago with livredor who mentioned that she couldn't really see how British as a national identity could work, since there was, to her, such a clear distinction between the Scottish and English identities.

And that is fair enough. I'm not sure that such a thing as a true nation state exists, at least outside of microstates. If you bring political union to any group of formerly disparate peoples they're always going to retain some sense of their old identity. How do you decide what constitutes a nation and what constitutes a region within a nation? Not easily, I should say.

Being from the north-west of England, I tend to notice the large divide in culture between us lot from the north, and them lot from down south. I suspect that in many ways I'd share more similarities with someone from north Wales or southern Scotland than I would with someone from south eastern England (though in other ways I don’t doubt the reverse would be true). And in a way this makes sense: Northumbria at its peak covered that sort of area, and even though we're some 1400 odd years on from then, bits of culture die hard. Or we could consider that the unification of England was actually conquest by the southern kingdom of Wessex, or that the Normans after their invasion made their government in the south; either way the north became somewhat marginalised in a similar fashion to what happened to Wales and Scotland after their unification with England.

And just to make things even more interesting, different people in the regions of England have greatly different magnitudes of regional identity. You only need to look at some of the political arguments over the proposed regional assemblies to find that there are some people who feel a regional identity more strongly than an English identity, and others who feel opposite.

For me to try to claim "Lancastrian" as my nationality would probably be a little on the silly side, but for me to try to claim Englishness doesn't ring true. If British (or even UK-ish) is disallowed for me due to the internal, disparate cultures, and the fact that I have no real sense of British pride or identity, then English should be denied for the same reason.

So what, then is the age of my nation? Several possible years seem to suggest themselves:

c. 519: Formation of the Kingdom of Wessex, which would later take over all of England
c. 604: Bernicia and Deira united to form Northumbria
c. 880: Alfred the Great was the first King of Wessex to also stylise himself as King of England
927: Aethelstan conquers Northumbria to de facto unify most of england
936: Aethelstan also conquers Cornwall, giving England approximately its modern shape.
1066: The most recent successful invasion of England by a foreign power, creating an entirely new dynasty and new political structure.
c. 1070: William the Conqueror gives Roger de Poitou the land that would later form Lancashire
c. 1181: Earliest known reference to Lancashire as a county.
1603: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England, putting the whole of Great Britain under a single monarch for the first time.
1707: Acts of Union officially unite the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1800: Another Act of Union, this time joining Great Britain with Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1801: The previous year's act comes into affect
1922: The Irish Free State gains independence from the UK, leaving the territory of the UK in approximately its current form.
1927: The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act changes the name of the UK to its current form (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

So how old is my nation? Well, I have to say that your guess is as good as mine.

And for the record, I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that I did have to look up a good deal of that information.

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This is my favourite post of the day.

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