We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Geoffrey Malaterra, who compares Robert Guiscard and his brother to "Joseph and Benjamin of old," says of Roger: "He was a youth of the greatest beauty, of lofty stature, of graceful shape, most eloquent in speech and cool in counsel. He was far-seeing in arranging all his actions, pleasant and merry all with men; strong and brave, and furious in battle."
Thus says Wiki. In 1061, he defeated 35,000 Saracens in the Battle of Cerami in Sicily:
His name came up today not only because Roger is a contributor to Maggie's Farm, but because in researching summer travel we got looking into the history of Malta. It's always interesting to be reminded of the Norman conquest of Southern Italy and of Sicily (which was Moslem at the time) - and of Malta, also Moslem at the time.
Those descendents of Vikings really did get around. Besides conquering England and southern Italy, they even invaded Greece and sailed up the Danube.
You cannot mention the history of Malta without mentioning the knights hospitalers of The Order of St. John, properly known as The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. Maybe Gwynnie will sing their praises here some time.
I wonder how many little "hostages to fortune" the Vikings left behind in Malta. Must be some. Invading forces always leave mementoes of their visits. That's why one of my middle names is Titus, and I'm mostly English in background. I wonder if Titus the centurion was a handsome guy who regularly scored with the ladies, or if he was faithful to one nice Saxon maiden.
Titus: Roger Crowley, in his brilliant and exciting new book Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto and the Contest for the Center of the World writes of Malta:
"The Maltese are the Basques of the Mediterranean, a unique micro-people formed by the particular position of their island at the center of every invasion, migration, and trading enterprise in the history of the sea. They comprise a genetic summary of the sea's past. Grafted onto an ancient rootstock, successive waves of Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, and Sicilians had shaped a people of original identity—"a Sicilian character with a mixture of African," a French visitor simplistically called them in 1536. The Maltese had strong affinities with the Islamic world and spoke an Arab dialect, in which the word for God was “Alia,” but they were fervent in their Catholic faith, proudly traced back to the biblical shipwreck of Saint Paul and the early conversion of the islands. These hardy people, scratching an impoverished living from the thin soil, endured a life as destitute as any in the Mediterranean."