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Re: Scandinavians and Normans
Dear Laurel and all:
Just a couple of thoughts on such questions as:"Are we Scandinavians or
I think the question is a good one to ask but in the end there is
really no satisfying answer other than we are for the most part, citizens
of where we reside. For example, I am Canadian and you, Laurel are
American. I would suggest that this informs most of who and what we are.
In my case I am six generations (150 years) removed from Scotland. Imagine
how faint the Scandinvian influence must be on us when we consider that a
growing Scandinavian culture died for our family 1000+ years ago and even
then, had been filtered through a 200 year French prism as well. This is
most definitely not to say that I am a 'rootless' Canadian because it is
also clear to me that, unlike aboriginals, my folks did not originate here
and I find it helpful, useful, satisfying or whatever the right word is, to
contemplate my ancestors origins.
So..... to say we have Scandinavian roots is correct but to place undo
emphasis on this fact at this great distance in time, is perhaps pushing it.
Alexander MacLean Sinclair, author of quite a few articles on Scottish
History and "The Sinclairs of Roslin, Caithness, and Goshen" (privately
published 1901 and available from the Secretary, Clan Sinclair Association
(Canada) @$12.00) has this to say on this subject:
Are the Sinclairs a Highland Clan? As the Normans and the Lowlanders had a
good deal of Celtic blood in their veins, it would be folly to look upon the
Lords of Roslin as Scandinavians. Sir Henry Sinclair, fourth of Roslin, was
the son of Celtic mother. William Sinclair, second Earl of Caithness and
progenitor of the Sinclairs of Caithness, was also the son a Celtic mother.
The Scandinavians who settled in Caithness occuppied only parts of the
country. They did not slay the whole of the original inhabitants. It was
indeed quite a common thing for a Norwegian to marry into a Celtic family.
Leod, the progenitor fo the Macleods, was the son of a Scandinavian father.
He married a Highland girl and two sons by her, Torquil of Lewis and Tormod
of Dunvegan. These sons were only half Scandinavians. Tormod of Dunvagan
married a Celtic girl and had a son named Malcolm by her. Malcolm was very
far from being a half Scandinavian. He was certainly a Celt rather than a
Scandinavian. Before a Sinclair, a Macleod or a Gunn talks about his
Scandianvian origins, it would be wise for him to calculate with some degree
of care to what extent his blood is Scandinavian blood. Patrick Sinclair,
third of Ulbster,was the son of Jane Chisholm. John fourth of Ulbster, was
the son of Elizabeth MacKay. John, fifth of Ulbster, was the son of Janet
Sinclair. John, sixth of Ulbster was the son of Jane Munro. Geroge,
seventh of Ulbster, was the son of Henrietta Brodie. Sir john Sinclair,
eighth of Ulbster, the most emanent man Caithness ever produced, was the son
of Janet MacKay. Was Sir John a Scandinavian? He believed himself to be a
The Gaelic form of the name Sinclair is Singlear. The Sinclairs of
Argyleshire call themselves Clann-na-Cearda or the Children of the craft or
trade. It is probable that the name was given them by their neighbours
would naturally take for gratned that Singlear meant shingler or
flax-dresser. The Sinclairs of Argyll are out-and -out Highlanders.
The Earls of Caithness held their lands of the Crown and were in no way
subject to the Saint Clairs of the Lowlands. They lived in the Highlands,
were Chiefs of the Sinclairs of Caithness, they ruled over a large number of
Gaelic-speaking Highlanders and they were to some extent Celts by blood.
They thus had a perfect right to regard themselves as Highland Chiefs and to
wear tartans and bonnets and use bagpipes if they saw proper. The Sinclairs
of Caithness are thus a Highland Clan just as much as the Sutherlands, Gunns
and Macleods are Highland Clans; but they are not Celts to the same extent.
I think this 100 year old analysis is still valid today............Yours
From: Spirit One Email <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Friday, May 07, 1999 5:01 PM
Subject: Re: Scandinavians and Normans
> I tend to side a bit more with Harold and whether he heard Edward the
>Confessor say anything useful or not, I'm sure those around were glad to
>their weight behind Harold and faulted him not for ignoring the trick
>Willful Will pulled with the Bible. Their only alternative was Edwards 1/2
>nephew's tiny son who probably only spoke Hungarian. Harold did a truely
>remarkable feet to beat back and kill his brother and the last remaining
>Viking chief that were just happening to attack in York at the same time
>that William was massing in Normandy. Then he got back with his ragged army
>almost in time to defeat William. It really was a close call for history.
>William was nearly defeated and he made one more desperate charge. If
>Harold would have had a few more hours for his arriving people/soldiers to
>swell his ranks he could have beaten William and changed history. But
>battles have turned on less than that.
> I will have some added idea on Rollo and Christianity in the web
>suppliment following the Summer article on him. Can you give me your
>reference on Edwards much earlier promise of the throne to William?
>From: J. R. Carpenter Jr. <gra_jrc@SHSU.EDU>
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
>Date: Friday, May 07, 1999 11:34 AM
>Subject: Scandinavians and Normans
>>Laurel and the list,
>>Very good synopsis, thanks.
>>As far as the Angles, Saxon, and Jutes go, well Angles never made much
>>continental history. Their claim to fame was being part of the
>>The Saxons were the bulk of the Anglo-Saxons. Before that, they were one
>>the last Germanic tribes converted over to Christianity, with great
>>difficulty. They had a lot of history on the continent. As for the Jutes,
>>they never made much of a mark on the continent either, but I may be wrong
>>as they were the origin for the name of Jutland. I think they joined the
>>Angles and Saxons just in the nick of time.
>>Didn't Rollo and company agree to convert to Christianity when given their
>>duchy? I thought that and the recognition of the overlordship of the King
>>France were the two main conditions. There were some isolated pockets of
>>Northmen in Normandy who resisted becoming romanized Normans for 2 or 3
>>generations (they kept their Norse longer and were the last to convert),
>>they had been romanized by the time of the Conquest. King Edward the
>>Confessor had many Norman advisors etc in his court. He was maybe even
>>of a Norman than an Anglo-Saxon. He had promised the throne of England to
>>William years before Harold became anything of a royal possibility. Harold
>>once swore an oath to William recognizing William's right to the English
>>crown in Normandy or Brittany when he was there. Harold was on a voyage
>>was shipwrecked and William kinda rescued him, but also kinda kept him
>>at hand too. There was some controversy over the oath, as Harold thought
>>that maybe it wouldn't "stick", but William had hidden a Bible under
>>something Harold was touching, therefore he "swore upon a Bible." There
>>also controversy in Harold's coronation in London. Apparently he was the
>>only one who heard Edward name him his successor on his deathbed, and
>>immediately jumped up and claimed the throne. I think Harold was crowned
>>quicker than ususal, reflecting his concern over William. Of course,
>>was pissed: he gathered his followers and mercenaries, and the rest is
>>history. The Irish PRENDERGAST family had their origin in William's
>>mercenaries, whether they took part in the Conquest or came a little
>>I am a Prendergast descendent. One of the main points in William getting
>>Papal approval or acquiescence was Harold's breaking of his oath.
>>The French were a mixture of Germanic Frankish etc and Celtic Gaulic blood
>>with a little Roman blood mixed in, but speaking a Romance language. The
>>English were Germanic Teutons, later adding in Scandinavian Danish blood
>>from the Danelaw settlers mainly in the north. The Scandinavians were
>>Teutons, and regarded the English as cousins. Cnute even reigned over a
>>short-lived superkingdom of Denmark, England, and Norway(?) in the early
>>1100s. I think he was the one who supposedly put his chair in the surf and
>>commanded it to stop. The "pure" Celts of Britain were driven to Wales,
>>Scotland, Cornwall, and the Islands, and there resisted Anglo-Saxon and
>>Norman cultural invasion for a while. However, it was the interesting
>>mixture of descendents of Normans, Welsh, and Flemish settlers in Wales
>>were the main component of the "English" invasion of Ireland starting in
>>1170s. The Prendergasts of Ireland were Cambro-Normans. And the Scots, who
>>also had some Norse blood in them, were lucky enough to get the Norman
>>that has produced us Sinclairs! And it was the Norman-Scots (is that the
>>correct term?) who were responsible for reintroducing British blood back
>>into the Norman monarchy in England.
>>Please don't roast me too badly on errors here, this is from memory.
>>Rick (descendant of Alexander SINKLER)
>>[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, firstname.lastname@example.org.
>>[ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html
>[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, email@example.com.
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