Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Writing - Birth of Democracy



A number of years ago, while holidaying near Carcassonne in the south of France, we attended a sound and light show during which the name Simon de Montfort came up. I had heard the name before but knew nothing about him or his actions.


Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester (c. 1208 – 4 August 1265), also called Simon de Munford, was a French nobleman who inherited the title and estates of the earldom of Leicester in England. He led the rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Barons' War of 1263–64, and subsequently became de facto ruler of England. During his rule, de Montfort called two famous parliaments. The first stripped the King of unlimited authority, the second included ordinary citizens from the towns. For this reason, Montfort is regarded today as one of the progenitors of modern parliamentary democracy. After a rule of just over a year, Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham.

In fact the parliament called on 20th January 1265 was the first to include representatives of towns and cities throughout the land and met in Westminster Hall in London. It is quite interesting that 850 years later there are discussions in the UK about the nature of democracy. I'm sure de Montfort wouldn't recognise what his original intentions have developed into.

In the world today democracy seems to be controlled by a political elite spawned from money. MPs are elected, usually as the result of a minority vote, but then represent their own views or those of the party they represent rather than the people whom they purportedly stand for in London. Simon called the counties, towns and cities to send 2 representatives each and I've no doubt they were at Westminster Hall to represent their own area rather than some financially motivated personal agenda.

Democracy is dead - long live democracy

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Stephen Hawking

This man is a modern hero of mine and I've just returned from seeing the film, The Theory of Everything, about his life to present. Eddie Redmayne who plays the lead has done a fantastic job as has Felicity Jones as his wife. The reasons for my being drawn to this amazing man's life is not just his success through adversity, or his brilliant mind, but the fact that he has maintained a sense of humour throughout. Spend a couple of enlightening hours and watch this film.

God Bless