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Good luck with this Orkney folk, see if it matches up with the history that you were told, read those words with care and you may see where you lost your freedom to religion and force.
NORWEGIAN KINGDOM OF ORKNEY—MARGARET REVOLUTIONISES SCOTLAND—DEATH OF MALCOLM AND MARGARET—ESTIMATE OF MARGARET’S CHARACTER AND SERVICES.
We come back to the battles of the sword. Before, however, returning to the church reforms of Queen Margaret, and the war ventures of Malcolm the “Bighead,” it may be well to run our eye over the outlying parts of Scotland on the north, and take note of the little bye-drama being transacted there.
Orkney and Zetland and the adjacent coasts had for some centuries a history of their own. A variety of causes contributed to separate their fate, for a while, from that of the mainland. In the first place, they lay remote from the center of government, and only at times were they careful to give obedience to the commands which issued from the royal palace of Scone, or of Dunfermline. In the second place, they lay on the highway of the Vikings.
When these sea robbers came forth to load their vessels with a miscellaneous booty, consisting of stolen goods and miserable captives, Orkney and Zetland were the first to feel the heavy hand of the plunderers. These islands, moreover, were placed between two hostile powers, who struggled for the possession and mastery of them.
They had Alban on the one side and Norway on the other, and they accounted it good policy to submit to the master, whether Scot or Dane, who should prove himself for the time the stronger. The Scottish King was the nearer to them. They were parted from Alban by only the narrow Pentland, whereas Norway was removed from them by the whole breadth of the German Sea. But before the King of the Scots could transport his army by slow and laborious marches over land to the northern extremities of his kingdom, a powerful fleet, manned by fierce warriors, would sweep across from the distant Norway, and the islanders had no alternative except to wage hopeless battle or accept the Norwegian or Danish rule. Thus their allegiance kept oscillating from side to side of the German Ocean.
They hung suspended between Alban and Norway, and their existence for two or three centuries was full of vicissitudes and calamities. Even Alban was not at all times equally near to them.
When the Scottish sceptre was weak, Alban would fall back to the Spey, and the Norwegian jarl was master in the intervening lands of Caithness and Sutherland. And when that sceptre again gathered strength, Alban would stretch itself northward to where the great headlands of Caithness look across the waters of the Frith to the bold precipices and cliffs that line the coast of Orkney.
The inhabitants of Orkney and Zetland belonged to the same race with those on the mainland. They were members of the great Caledonian or Pictish family. Their early religion was Druidism, that is, the worship of the sun or Baal. This, which was the universal worship of primeval times, would seem to have spread wider than any other religion since, if we may judge from the fact that it has left its imprints in every land. In the course of its progress it reaches these islands in the northern sea. Their secure situation, their equable climate, and the tractable dispositions of the natives recommended them to the Druid as a suitable centre where he might establish his worship and develop his system. Here he could celebrate his horrid rites and exercise his tyrannical sway without molestation.
In this secure retreat, with the tides of the stormy Pentland as a rampart, he could exact his dues and offerings, celebrate his festivals with becoming pomp, and drag as many victims to his bloodstained altars as he chose to immolate or his god demanded. The rude but massy remains of the structures in which the priests of this cruel superstition practised their rites, remain to our day, and attest the strength and splendour in which Druidism flourished in Orkney at an early age.
But light at last broke in, and the cloud which had so long hung above that region was dispelled. The emancipation of these islands from this terrible yoke was one of the first fruits of Columba’s labours. When the great missionary visited Brude, king of the northern Picts, in his palace at Inverness, he solicited and obtained from him a promise that he would use his power for the protection of any missionaries from Iona that might visit the Orkneys on a tour of evangelisation. In due time the missionaries were sent, and the result was that the Druid fell before the preaching of the Cross, and the islands became Christian.
Their conversion is recorded in the Scandinavian chronicles, and attested by the traditions and memorials which still linger in these parts of this early visit from the fathers of Iona. The missionary zeal of that famous community was then just opening out into the first vigour of its enthusiasm. Enterprises were being planned to countries more remote, and involving greater perils to those who undertook them, than this expedition to the Orkneys, and it would have been strange, if, while the darkness was being rolled aside from France and Germany, the night should be left to brood over a territory lying only a few days’ sail from Iona. The first missionary to visit the Orkneys was Cormac, a companion of Columba. His visit was made about the year 565.
Christian Orkney had risen with Iona and it fell with Iona. Across the sea came the Viking, and the condition of these dwellers in the northern isles was speedily changed for the worse. In his first visits all that the Norseman sought was plunder. In his subsequent ones he aimed at making conquests. Having at last established his dominion on this side the German Sea, the heathen population of the Norwegian and Danish kingdoms flocked across to settle in Orkney and Caithness, and with this mongrel multitude returned the old darkness. It thickened in proportion as the number of the pagan immigrants increased, till at last the Orkneys and the adjoining coasts on the mainland were nearly as much in need of light from Iona as when the first missionaries of Columba visited them.
The Norsemen opened their invasions at the beginning of the ninth century in the spoiling of Iona, and they closed them in the middle of the thirteenth at the battle of Largs, where they sustained so decisive a defeat that their power in Scotland was finally broken. After a century of raids, in which much blood had been shed, and vast numbers of wretched captives carried across the sea, Harold Harfager, King of Norway, at the beginning of the tenth century, appeared with his fleet in the Scottish seas. It was evident that something more than plunder was now meditated. The Norwegian monarch made himself master of the Orkneys.
The subjection of the Hebrides followed. Harold Harfager committed his new conquests to the care of his earls, whom he appointed to govern in his name. Remote from the centre of the Norwegian authority, these governors forgot sometimes that they were deputies and vassals, and exercised as despotic a command as if they had been kings. They and their descendants governed the earldom of Orkney for some centuries. Not content with exercising sway over the northern and western isles, they became solicitous of extending their master’s possessions or their own, for it was often difficult to say who was the real king, the monarch or the vassal earl. With this in view they crossed the Pentland Firth, and annexed Caithness and Sutherland to their island earldoms. The Scandinavian sagas say that at one time they extended their sway as far south as the shores of the Moray Firth. But nothing in the Scottish chroniclers gives countenance to this, and we regard it as a fictitious apotheosis of Scandinavian heroes and heroism rather than an accomplished fact to have a place given it in history.
It fared ill with Christianity in northern Scotland during these centuries. The invaders, when they entered the country, and for some time after, were still pagans. Accordingly, the first brunt of their fury fell upon the Christian establishments, which their religion, cruel alike in it instincts and in its policy, taught them to destroy. The Columban churches were razed, the schools connected, with them rooted out, and all that had been won slowly and with labour during the three centuries that had elapsed since Columba’s visit to King Brude, in which their conversion had its rise, was in danger of being swept away by this torrent of heathen invasion. Here was a fine opportunity offered the Culdees of proving that they were sprung of the old stock, and still retained something of the zeal and courage which had faced hordes as barbarous, and carried the light into lands yet darker. And they were not wholly wanting to the occasion.
While the Norsemen were crossing the Pentland Firth, southward, sword in hand, to slay, the Culdees were on their way northward to cast in the salt of Christianity and heal these waters of desolation at their source. The second evangelisation, however, proceeded slowly as compared with the first, and the Culdee missionaries with great toil would have reaped little fruit if it had not been for an important event which came at this time to second their efforts. This was the conversion of Norway itself to the Christian faith under King Olave Tryggvosson. In the opinion of the Norwegian colonists the fact that their king and nation had embraced Christianity greatly strengthened the argument for its truth, and disposed them to give more heed to the instructions of those who were seeking to win them to what was now the religion of their countrymen on the other side of the German Sea. Moreover, King Olave Tryggvosson sought to spread the Christian faith among his subjects in Orkney and the Hebrides as a means of safeguarding his home dominions.
The Norwegian colonists retained in their new country their old habit of roving and their love of plunder, and would at times cross the sea on a predatory expedition to the mother country. Olave Tryggtvosson wisely judged that if he could make them Christians, he would put an end to these unpleasant visits. He sent missionaries from Norway to take part with the Culdees in their good work in the Orkney Islands, and the work of evangelisation now went more rapidly onwards. By his influence, too, Sigurd the “Stout,” one of the more notable of the earls who governed in his name in Orkney, was led to accept Christianity, and, as the result of all these concurring agencies, by the Norwegian settlers in Orkney and the North of Scotland by the end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth century were nominal adherents of the Christian Church.
The spiritual change effected on these converts might not go far down, but it would draw after it doubtless many political and social ameliorations, and contribute to mix and finally amalgamate the two peoples.
It were needless to pursue minutely events which were transacted on a provincial stage, and the influence of which was not sensibly felt beyond the narrow limits within which they were done. Sigurd the Stout, whose conversion has just been mentioned, is said by the Scandinavian Sagas to have married a daughter of Malcolm II., King of Scotland. There was born to him, as has been recorded in a former chapter a son, whom he named Thorfin. Sigurd fell in the great battle of Clontarf in Ireland, in 1014. From the death of Sigurd dates the decline and fall of the Norwegian power in Scotland. The province of Caithness was taken possession of by the Scottish crown.
The shadowy authority the Norwegians had exercised over Moray and Ross vanished, and the Scottish sceptre was stretched to the Pentland Firth. Caithness was erected into an earldom by Malcolm II., and given to his grandson, Thorfin, who was the founder of the church of Birsay in Orkney. About this time an event took place which probably attracted little notice at the time, but which had graver issues than have resulted from some great battles. This was the marriage of the eldest daughter of Malcolm II. to Crinan, Abbot of Dunkeld. From this marriage sprang a race of kings destined not indeed to extinguish, but to displace or supersede the ancient Church of Scotland for some centuries by the importation of a foreign priesthood, with their rites, ceremonies, and doctrines of foreign origin. Crinan, to whom we see the Scottish King giving his daughter in marriage, was the prince-abbot of Scotland, as his great predecessor Columba had been the presbyter-abbot of the same land. There was this difference between them however: the duties of the Abbot of Iona lay in the spiritual sphere, those of his successor, the Abbot of Dunkeld, in the military domain.
He had taken the sword, and in verification of the warning of the old book, he perished by the sword: for like his predecessor in the chair of Dunkeld, Crinan fell in battle in 1045. He was one of the wealthiest temporal lords in the kingdom. The lands pertaining to the Abbacy of Dunkeld were extensive and fertile, and their value was further enhanced by their position in the centre of the kingdom. To this rich heritage the lay-abbot of Dunkeld had annexed the property of the monastery of Dull, in the districts of Atholl and Argyle.
From this marriage sprung Duncan, who was afterwards King of Scotland. From Duncan sprang Malcolm III., the “Big head,” who came to the throne after the usurpation of Macbeth. From the marriage of Malcolm Canmore with Margaret of England sprang those kings who gave the finishing touch to the transformation of the Scottish Church, which Malcolm and Margaret had inaugurated, changing it from the Culdee to the Roman type, and transferring its government from the Columban abbots to the chair of the pontiffs.
We return to Malcolm and Margaret. The conference with the Columban pastors in the palace of Dunfermline has ended, and Turgot claims the victory for Margaret. Her reasoning were so convincing, Turgot tells us, and so strongly supported by the testimonies of Scripture and of the fathers, “that no one on the opposite side could say one word against them.” 1 That the Columban disputants were silenced we may grant. The odds were sorely against them. These simple men had to bear up against royal rank, trained dialectic skill, and the reputation of saintly character, and their answers may have been less ready and their bearing less courageous than would have been the case had the two sides been more equally matched. But to be silenced is not to be convinced. This undoubtedly they were not.
Nor is it true what Turgot affirms, that “giving up their obstinacy and yielding to reason, they willingly consented to adopt all that Margaret recommended.” 2 This we know to be the opposite of the fact. The Columban pastors we find long after celebrating their worship as their fathers had done, and clinging as tenaciously as ever to those “rites” which Turgot denounces as “barbarous,” and which he tells us the Columbites now renounced. We find, moreover, David I. fighting the same battle which the bishop says his mother had already won, and which had conclusively settled the matter for all coming time. 3 In truth, so far as we can gather, the conference appears to have yielded little or no immediate fruit. No great measures were adopted in pursuance of it. The introduction of a foreign hierarchy, and the partitioning of the kingdom into dioceses was the work of a subsequent reign. The conference was the turning of the tide, however; it brought great changes ultimately with it, but these came slowly, and after some considerable time.
Finding the Columban pastors obdurate, and their flocks bent on following the perverse ways into which Columba had let them, Margaret changed her tactics. She saw that little was to be gained by holding barren debates with the Columban clergy, and that a more likely means of compassing her end was to show the Scots the beauty and pomp of the Roman worship, assured that they could not possibly resist its fascination. By the advice of Turgot, her confessor, she built a superb church at Dunfermline. 4 Previous to her arrival in Scotland, the churches north of the Forth were constructed of wood or wattles, roofed with reeds.
Such sanctuaries in Margaret’s eyes were fit for nothing but the “barbarous” rites of the Columbites. A temple of stone did she rear “for an eternal memorial of her name and devotion in the place where her nuptials had been held,” says Turgot. “This church,” he continues, “she beautified with rich gifts of various kinds, among which, as is well know, were many vessels of pure and solid gold, for the sacred service of the altar. . . She also placed there a cross of priceless value, bearing the figure of the Saviour, which she had caused to be covered with the purest gold and silver studded with gems, a token, even to the present day, of the earnestness of her faith. . . .Her chamber was never without such objects, those I mean which appertained to the dignity of the divine service.
It was, so to say, a workshop of sacred art; copes for the cantors, chasubles, stoles, altar cloths, and other priestly vestments and church ornaments, were always to be seen, either already made of an admirable beauty, or in course of preparation.” In this passage Bishop Turgot unconsciously take stock of Margaret’s piety. It worked by Art, and it brought forth the good fruits of “copes, chasubles, stoles, and altar cloths.” He also painted her ideal of worship taken at the highest. Her “ideal” as not borrowed from that book, which, seeing it has the Deity for its author, alone contains the authoritative definition of worship. It is there shown to be severely simple and exclusively spiritual.
Worship is not gold and silver in however large a sum. Nor is it art, however skilful and beautiful; nor is it a temple, however superb; nor is it a priest, however gorgeously attired. Worship is the communion of the soul with God, direct, immediate, and without the intervention of earthly priest. And religion is that principle in the heart from which this communion springs. So does the book to which we have referred define worship. This gives it a sublimity that soars far above temple however grand, and priest however mystically robed.
To this true and grand conception of worship Queen Margaret had not lifted her mind. She needed a crucifix formed of the wood of the true cross that her faith might lay hold on the Crucified, and an altar of marble, with priests in splendid vestments ministering before it, that her piety might burn and her devotion soar. The patriarchs of an early day worshipped without these accessories; their altar of unhewen stone on the open Palestine plain had little of show, yet the devotions performed there lacked neither faith nor fire. It was not amid magnificent fanes that the zeal was kindled which bore Columban and his disciples over so large a portion of Europe in the execution of their great mission.Queen Margaret had seen the Culdee pastors, in their wattle-built and rush-thatched cells, celebrating their supper at wooden tables; this, said she, is not worship, it is barbarism; she would show them a better way.
Summoning her masons, a superb church arose; calling her craftsmen, curiously fashioned vessels of gold and silver were forthcoming; assembling her ladies, it was marvellous in how short a time stores of richly embroidered vestments, meet for priestly shoulders, were fabricated; a staff of priests completed Margaret’s preparations for banishing the “barbarous” customs of the Culdees, and replacing them with the elegant services of a church in which it was her wish to fold the Scots. It is a universal law that when the vital principle in an organism grows weak and begins to decay, the body transfers its vitalities to the surface, and covers itself with new growths. This is an effort to stave off approaching dissolution.
The forest tree, when its root is old and its trunk begins to be rotten, unwilling to yield up its place and disappear from the forest, sends forth with a sudden effort young shoots and branches to hide the rottenness of its stem, or it woos some parasitic plant which clothes it with a greenness not its own. Instead of death, the tree seems to be renewing its youth. The expiring lamp will unexpectedly blaze up, and fill the chamber it is about to leave in darkness with a sudden gleam of light. In obedience to the same law, worn out races, with the sentence of extinction hanging over them, will suddenly burst into an unexpected prolificness, and multiply their numbers in proportion as the constituents of their corporate existence die out.
This, too, is an effort of nature to ward off death. The same law holds good in bodies ecclesiastical. When the inner and vital principle of religion in churches is stricken with incipient decay, there is sure to come an outward efflorescence of ceremonies and rites. This fungus growth, which is so apt to overrun churches which have sunk into spiritual decay, and to give to their withered age the aspect of efflorescent youth, is analogous to the herbage and moss that convert the rotten trunk into a seeming garland, and deceive the eye with an appearance of health while deadly disease is preying upon the plant. A church, vigorous and strong at the core, conscious of inward health and power, is content to abide in the calm path of prescribed duty, and to feed its piety and zeal by the appointed acts of spiritual worship. It eschews spasmodic effort and ostentatious profession.
They are felt not to be needed, and therefore are not sought. But when inward decay sets in, then it is that exterior helps and supports are had recourse to. The quiet that is indicative of peace is exchanged for outward bustle and parade. The acceptability of worship to the Deity is believed to be in the ratio of the grandeur of the temple in which it is performed, and the worshippers, unable to transact directly with the skies, are fain to employ the mediation of consecrated altars, apostolically descended priests, and rites of mystic virtue and aesthetic beauty. “The age,” say the onlookers, “how pious it is! The Church, how her activity and zeal are awakening!” It is a mistake.
What appears a marvellous outburst of religious life is only the vitalities smitten at the heart rushing to the extremities, dying piety concealing its decay under the guise of a fictitious energy. The sun has gone below the horizon, and there comes the afterglow on the mountains which is the harbinger of the coming darkness. The last years of Malcolm III. and Queen Margaret were clouded with calamity. We have already traced the story of the terrible wars waged between England and Scotland in the early part of Malcolm’s reign. At length a peace was established between the two kingdoms, of which the public signatory was the stone cross on Stanmoor common.
That peace remained unbroken while Malcolm was occupied with the ecclesiastical reforms of which his queen had taught him to be enamoured. Meanwhile a great change had taken place in England. William the Conqueror had gone to the grave. He was succeeded on the throne by his son, William Rufus. The new English king had different tastes and pursuits from those of his royal father, and also from those of his brother monarch of Scotland. There is the less likelihood on that account, one should think, of the two sovereigns coming into collision. But no; the master passions of the age, ambition and war, once more assert themselves, and compel the sword to leave its scabbard. The cause of quarrel is obscure. The two border provinces of Cumbria and Lothian were fruitful in misunderstandings; and the pretensions of Edgar Aetheling, Queen Margaret’s brother, to the English throne, strained at times the relations between the two kings.
Whether the strife grew out of these matters or had its rise in another cause will now never be know. Let it suffice that in the old doomed borderland we find the Scotch and English armies again confronting one another. King Malcolm, with his two sons, Edward and Eadgar, had penetrated into England, and were besieging the Castle of Alnwick. Robert de Mowbray and his men-at-arms rushed suddenly out upon them, and in the onset King Malcolm and his elder son Edward were slain. 6 The Scottish army, dispirited by the fall of the King, broke up in disorder, many falling by the sword, while numbers were drowned in the River Alne, then swollen by the winter rains.
Next day the body of Malcolm was found among the slain by two peasants who had visited the field. Placing the royal corpse in a cart, they conveyed it to Tynemouth, and there buried it. It was afterwards disinterred by his son Alexander, and laid beside that of his queen at Dunfermline. Malcolm did not receive sepulture in Iona; as in life, so in death, he was separate from the Church of Columba. He died on the 19th November 1093, having reigned thirty-five years.
Escaping from the battlefield, Eadgar carried to his mother the tidings of the death of her husband and son. Queen Margaret now lay dying in the Castle of Edinburgh. Turgot gives us a very touching account of her last days, as reported to him by the priest whom he had left to minister to her on her deathbed. Margaret, in our judgment, appears at her best when she comes to die. She has now done with fastings and feetwashings, and, as a penitent, turns her eye to the cross, which, let us hope, she saw despite the many obstructions—helps she deemed them—which she had industriously piled upon between her soul and the Saviour.
Her earnest simple utterances, her tears, the psalms now so sweet to her, and the promises of Holy Scripture turned by her into prayers, give us a higher idea of her piety, and pourtray more truly her character, we are persuaded, than the high-wrought encomiums of Turgot, in which he claims for Queen Margaret an all but perfect holiness. Margaret had been ailing for half a year. And now in her sick chamber on the Castle rock, lonely and anxious, she could not help following in imagination her husband and sons to the fateful fields of Northumbria, and picturing to herself what was destined to be but too literally realized. On the fourth day before that on which there came news from the battlefield—the very day on which the king fell—Margaret’s forebodings of some near calamity were so strong that she could not refrain from communicating them to her attendants.
“Perhaps,” she said, “on this very day such a heavy calamity may befall the realm of Scotland as has not been for many ages past.” “The disease gained ground, and death was imminent,” says Turgot’s informer. “Her face had already grown pallid in death, when she directed that I, and the other ministers of the sacred altar along with me, should stand near her and commend her soul to Christ by our psalms. Moreover, she asked that there should be brought to her a cross, called the ‘Black Cross,’ which she always held in the greatest veneration. . . .When at last it was got out of the chest and brought to her, she received it with reverence, and did her best to embrace it and kiss it. And several times she signed herself with it. Although every part of her body was now growing cold, still as long as the warmth of life throbbed at her heart she continued steadfast in prayer. She repeated the whole of the fiftieth psalm, 7 and placing the cross before her eyes, she held it there with both her hands.”
It was at this moment that Eadgar, just arrived from the battle, entered her bedroom. The shock of his message was more, he saw, than the emaciated frame before him could sustain. He forbore to speak it. But Margaret read it in her son’s face. “I know it, my boy,” she said, with a deep sigh, “I know it.” She at once began the prayer in the liturgy of the mass, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to the will of the father, through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, hast by Thy death given life to the world, deliver me,” “As she was saying the words ‘deliver me,’ says the narrator, “her soul was freed from the chains of the body, and departed to Christ, the author of true liberty.” 8 She breathed her last on the 16th November 1093, just four days after her husband had fallen in battle on the banks of the Alne, Northumbria. 9 The morning and the evening of Margaret’s life were alike darkened by heavy clouds, between which there shone forth a noon of singular brilliancy.
She exhibited amid the strong lights and shadows of her career an admirable equanimity of soul and great stability of character. She was large of heart, capacious of intellect, more studious of the happiness of others than of her own, and wholly devoted to a country on the shore of which she had stepped as a fugitive and exile, when a chivalrous prince took her by the hand, and let her to a seat beside himself on the throne of his realm. She repaid his generous love by her wise counsels, and her efforts to refine and elevate the manners of his court, and improve the dress, and the dwellings, and the trading relations of his subjects. But if we would form a just estimate of the influence of Margaret for good or for evil on Scotland, we must enlarge our view, and take other considerations into account besides her personal virtues and the ephemeral benefits which sprang out of them. These are “the good,” which the poet tells us, is interred with the men’s bones, but they may be conjoined with the “evil” that lives after them.
The course of a nation may be fatally, although imperceptibly, altered, and only after the lapse of centuries can the nature of the revolution it has undergone be rightly understood, and its disastrous issued duly measured. Margaret and Scotland are an exemplification of this. Had Margaret brought with her a love for the Scriptural Faith and simple worship of the Scots, the nation to its latest age would have called the day blessed on which she set foot on its soil. Unhappily she cherished a deep-seated prejudice against the Scottish religion, and, believing that she was doing an acceptable service, she strove to supplant it. The revolution she inaugurated was at war with the traditions of the nation, was opposed to the genius of the people, and while it did not make the Scots good Catholics, it made them bad Christians.
The system of irrational beliefs which Queen Margaret introduced destroyed intelligence and fettered conscience, and so paved the way for the entrance of feudal slavery by which it was followed, and which flourished in Scotland along with it. It is noteworthy that Roman Catholicism and the feudal system came together. The fundamental principles of the Roman Church, it has been remarked by the historian Robertson, “prepare and break the mind for political servitude, which is the firmest foundation of civil tyranny.” 10 No finer spectacles can we wish to contemplate than Queen Margaret, if we restrict our view to her shining virtues and her heroic austerities. She is seen moving like a being from another sphere in Malcolm’s court, meek, gracious, loving and maintaining her steadfast mind alike amid the storms that raged around her in her youth, the splendours that shone upon her in her midday, and the deep, dark shadows that again gathered about her at the close.
But we must not sacrifice our judgment at the shrine of sentiment, nor so fix our gaze upon the passing glory of a moment as not to see what comes after. When we turn from Margaret the woman to Margaret the Queen, and trace the working of her policy beyond the brief period of her life onward into the subsequent centuries, we forget the radiant vision in the darkness of the picture that now rises to our view. It is the spectacle of a land overspread by ignorance, of a priesthood wealthy, profligate, and dominant, and a people sunk in the degrading worship of fetishes. Such issue had the changes which were initiated in Scotland by Queen Margaret.
Margaret had added a kingdom to the empire of the Papacy, but an hundred and fifty years passed away before Rome acknowledged the gift. We do not blame her for being so tardy in bestowing her honours where they were so well deserved; we rather view the fact as corroborative in part of what we have ventured to suggest, even, that the changes effected by Margaret were not very perceptible or marked in her own day, and that it was not till a century and a half that Rome was able to estimate the magnitude of the service rendered by the Scottish Queen. At length in the year 1250, under Pope Innocent IV., Queen Margaret received the honour of canonization. It is for services, not graces, that Rome reserves her highest rewards. Margaret might have been as fair as Helen, or as learned as Hypatia or Olympia Morata; she might have been as pious as the mother of Augustine, or as virtuous as the wife of the Roman Poetus; but unless she had enlarged the bounds of the Papal sway by the addition of a great kingdom, a place among “those who reign in heaven” would never have been assigned her by those whose prerogative it is to say who shall sit on the thrones of the Papal Valhalla.
Image by mzdoherty via Flickr
Whole thing taken from somewhere else, I can’t remember where but credit goes to the author anyway.
Recently NASA has been warning us of a catastrophic event that will occur within the next 2 years. National power grids could overheat and air travel severely disrupted while electronic items, navigation devices and major satellites could stop working after the Sun reaches its maximum power in a few years.
Senior space agency scientists believe the Earth will be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from solar flares after the Sun wakes “from a deep slumber” sometime around 2013. Such a storm occurred in 1859.
Shortly after the Sun reached solar maximum in 1859, the Sun experienced a significant increase in sun spot activity as well as a sequence of intense solar flares. The largest solar flare on record during the maximum was then observed by British astronomer Richard Carrington. The result of the flare was a coronal mass ejection that sent charged particles streaming toward Earth, reaching the atmosphere only 18 hours after the ejection. This is startlingly quick given that the trip normally takes several days.
Once the particles reach the Earth they caused a series of phenomena to occur, the likes of which the Earth has not experienced since. First of all, charged particles are usually captured by the Earth’s magnetic field, and primarily get funneled to the poles. There, they interact with the Earth’s atmosphere creating brilliant colors known as aurora.
In this case, however, the flux of particles was so high that the magnetic field could not shield the Earth from them all. So instead of aurora only being created near the poles, they came into existence throughout the Earth. Reports of aurora were common over the Caribbean, as well as the central United States. At one point the glow in the Rocky Mountains was such that it awoke the sleeping miners, causing them to begin getting prepared for the day, believing that it was in fact dawn.
Another, and perhaps more significant, problem was that the charged particle flux began to wreak havoc on electronic systems. Specifically, failure of telegraph systems world-wide were reported.
A recent report commissioned by the office of the President showed that in fact such a storm would not only cause problems for electronic devices, but could potentially bring down the entire power grid. And not just here, but around the world. The kind of damage that would be caused could take months to repair.
In response to the report, scientists from around the world have been working to make our power grid more robust, and are seeking to find ways to protect our satellite systems. Also, development of other technologies could help protect electronic devices that we use every day. However, time appears to be quickly running out so what can you and I do to prepare for such a day? I am sure not everyone will be taken care of in the event of a global event like this – the United States government failed miserably to respond to the people’s needs during Hurricane Katrina and many died. We all know what happens when a power blackout occurs within a major metropolitan area. Imagine every metropolitan area around the World going dark all at once. I don’t know about you, but I think I will have a better chance of survival if I started to prepare an alternate source of energy to get me through this predicted event.
Could you imagine? No electricity for months? No phones, no computers, no internet? According to NASA that is the possibility that we are facing. However, this would take a massive storm like the one in 1859 to even approach such cataclysmic events, but it is something that we need to be aware of.
Although it is possible to live life without electricity, the fact is that we rely on electrical energy to survive. Electricity powers our lights, our home heating devices, our water pumps, our phones, our radios, our TV, our streetcars, … get the picture? Yes electricity is essential to our survival. But we need not rely on our government and for profit public utility companies to provide the electricity we need. Almost everywhere you go, you will find surplus raw materials, machinery, and technology. It is entirely possible to create free energy from literally scrap and junk. The simplest electrical energy producing apparatus is the earth battery. The earth battery is free energy. The earth battery is renewable energy with zero emissions.
Earth batteries were used extensively around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century to power telegraph lines. They were buried in convenient locations along the power lines and supplied free current for that infrastructure. The technology was discarded and replaced with hydroelectric because hydro was a measurable, finite resource that industry could use to make money. Much like oil.
The earth battery bears a resemblance to the common chemical/acid battery you may be familiar with, if you’ve ever torn apart a battery or done science experiments. Basically, the battery consists of two metal sheets or rods: one copper or carbon, and the other zinc or aluminum (galvanized steel is a zinc surface), each with wires running from them. These are negative – and positive + terminals of the battery. Once these metals are buried in soil (at a distance of 1-10 feet), you will have measurable current between your terminals. The key to a good earth battery is the moisture content of the soil – wet and acidic . Always bury your metal rods or sheets in wet acidic soil.
The average single earth battery produces about .8 volts. Some say that to obtain the best current, the rods/sheets should be positioned in a North (copper) to South (zinc) alignment, but it actually doesn’t matter. There are a few ways to increase your available current with an earth battery setup:
1. Size and number – this is basically the ‘more is better’ principle – you vary the size of your rods/sheets, and how many of them you decide to bury in series. Using a larger surface of metal, and planting several of them in series, will deliver more telluric current.
2. Efficiency – passing your current through a circuit and capacitor can improve the output and reliability of your voltage. A great example that is easy to set up is called the ‘joule thief’. This takes your direct current and oscillates it so that it actually delivers more usable energy than is actually available in the form of a direct stream.
3. Magnification – Current can be amplified by a number of salvaged devices and standalone equipment such as the common store-bought 12v-110v power inverters used with car batteries and solar panels.
With some basic ingenuity, you should be able to pull together a portable kit that you can plant in any moist soil, and which can supply you with free energy for lighting, small devices, or perhaps a recharge station. If you developed this technology, you could very easily power a small community for free with a very small investment in simple resources (metals, wire, etc). There are people powering entire buildings using earth batteries in the same way that solar panels are used. The difference is, they keep their mouths shut. The Powers That Be don’t like this technology, because they can’t make money from it.