Room with a view

Members of the House of Lords do not have their own individual offices.  We have to share.  Mine, as regular readers will know, is shared with several other peers.  This, I hasten to add, is not a problem; quite the reverse – it is a valuable means of keeping in touch with what is going on as well as using colleagues as a valuable source of information.  The office also has the advantage of being well appointed.  Some members have offices with windows that look out on walls.   I have the good fortune of looking out on Westminster Abbey.   The picture – taken this morning – shows the view from the window by my desk.  I don’t get much chance to take advantage of it.  Yesterday, I was so tied up with business, including a five-hour stint in the chamber, that I didn’t even notice the weather.  Nonetheless, it is a fantastic view.

At the bottom of the picture, you will see the statue of Richard the Lionheart, sword held aloft – ready to smite any advocates of an elected second chamber….

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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15 Responses to Room with a view

  1. franksummers3ba says:

    Indeed…

  2. maudie33 says:

    But, Richard, didn’t speak English and spent his life in France. He was a staunch European. He used the UK as a source of revenue and had little or no interest in the British people except to maintain power for his income. So his motive was purely his elevation.

    Nigel Farage would have him down as a traitor.

    Still, I suppose little has changed when you think it through.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England

  3. maudie33 says:

    PS: Nice picture though, and great view. How fortunate you are.

  4. Jana says:

    A splendid view.

    This business of sharing offices does make one think though. How could the prospective hard-working members of an elected second chamber possibly share offices? That situation could not possibly properly reflect their importance in the eyes of the box-ticking electorate. More offices would be required – many more. And of course many members would have to move offices following an election, even if they were still members. So that the size of their offices and views enjoyed from their windows properly reflected the ticks of the populace, so that the popular parties enjoyed the sunlight, and the others, well, faced the wall… Hardly a cost saving in these straightened times, and then there is the question of their salaries, and all the hangers-on they would need a la Northcote-Parkinson…

    Maudie – wikipedia really?

    Casting Richard as a “staunch European” is hilarious, he was pure Plantaganet! certainly not about to get into bed with Philip of France (even if his inclinations did lie that way, which isn’t clear), or with Leopold (Austria) or Henry (Holy Roman Emperor) who took and then held him captive, exciting an even greater need for money, which was not assisted by his little brother John (who was second inline to the throne) and Philip paying his kidnappers not to release him …

    He did make good use of councils, which he called frequently, and he did not always prefer his own opinion to that of his advisors, but this hardly makes him a democrat!

    As for the “British people” it would be hard to say they existed at that time. Richard got some money from Scotland by selling them Northumberland (minus the castles)… He needed that to try to sort out the situation John and Philip had created for him in across the channel.

    If you want to know about Richard try reading Roger of Hoeveden, William of Newborough, and Richard of Devizes for starters. There is also the chronicler ususally known as Benedict of Peterborough, though I am not sure that work is available in English translation.

    • maudie33 says:

      LOL!

      You missed the gist, Jana. I wasn’t implying he was not of English heritage, but, it is a fact, he was not raised to speak English and spent most of his life in France where he died of some disease…..

      However, during his time there is did bleed the English dry. He was only interested in how much he could leach from them for his military games and didn’t show any interest otherwise. Which is why his brother, John, was able to sneak in so easily. ….Whilst the cats away the mice will play!

      And then of course, there was Robin Hood.

      • Lord Norton says:

        maudie33 and Jana: A very interesting exchange, though I think you overlook the two essential points: (a) he has a jolly big sword, and (b) he’s guarding the entrance to the House of Lords.

        Jana: The point about space is a very serious one and something overlooked by the Government in its risible costings of its proposals. There will not be space to accommodate members (wirth individual offices) and staff. Indeed, some of the offices are so small that I suspect they would be deemed unsuitable even for occupancy by one member. It is not clear, therefore, where space will be found. It will necessitate either (a) taking over some space currently occupied by the House of Commons; (b) acquiring new buildings to add to the parliamentary estate; (c) new build, or (d) a combination of these. Each creates its own problems.

  5. Lord Norton,
    Will there be any zoom lens pictures of the Women’s beach volleyball matches taken from Westminster Palace on the blog? Perhaps from the higher portions the Horse Guard parade is visible…

  6. Jana says:

    Lord Norton:
    “he has a jolly big sword” Hahaha. Thought it wasn’t that sort of blog…? 🙂
    Re: “sword held aloft – ready to smite any advocates of an elected second chamber….”
    Maudie has a point here. In addition to his 100,000M ransom, Richard was highly motivated to pay for the wars other people committed him to. He would not, I think have used that sword to smite – in the sense of lopping bits off – any would-be members, elected or otherwise. By way of example, when he returned to England after his release from captivity, he did not lop bits off those who held the two key northern castles, Notts & Tickhill. Tickhill surrendered quickly, but Nottingham held out longer, some only leaving the castle & surrendering when they were absolutely sure it was the king who was besieging the castle (no shortage of politics in that one), others held another day or so longer. The captives from the castles were dealt with as follows: the poor ones were released as soon as someone could be found to stand surety for them (the closest modern equivalent being bail, particularly in American courts), the rich ones (who were clearly also those likely to be later able to resist any demand for payment, i.e. you’ll have to fight through my men to get it…) were locked up and ransomed.
    I think he would have treated the putative electees (and/or their electors) in a similar vein: first using the jolly big sword of course to scare the b’jesus out of them, and then say well so you want (this person) to hold an office in this house? This is the price, for the appointment…

    Maudie:
    I’m not sure from which of my comments you take that I argue any English heritage for Richard –arguable as it may be…? I hope it was not my comment about his being such a Plantaganet, that was only meant as a reference to a family whose capacity for internecine warfare makes the Borgias look wet.
    I don’t understand all the fuss about Richard not speaking English. He likely didn’t. I don’t know of any contemporary sources that comment either way on it, please let me know if you do? I am aware of a source that states that his father (Henry II) did not speak English, but did understand it. Your wiki article states that Richard had an English nurse, who by her name was very English (unlike Matilda, or “Maud” :)), so he likely understood English, at least. He certainly spoke la langue d’oil, and there is poetry he wrote which remains to us in la langue d’oc.
    Richard’s doubtful choice of chancellor (William de Langchamps), was vividly criticized for not understanding English, but this was the least of Longchamp’s recorded faults. He was not only chancellor, but also invested as papal legate, and wielded both swords inappropriately. He gave himself enormous airs, and although his father was not a surf as some contemporaries attempted to claim, he was a horrible little oick, who introduced – a la Justinian – such things as bowing and scraping, and the royal “we”.
    In Richard’s time, English was not the language of the ruling class, but rather the Anglo-Norman version of old French (the development of which requires more than one or two speakers). Neither was it the language of the law. Pleadings in English courts were not made in English until the statute of 1362 allowed it recognizing a decline in spoken French (curiously at around the same time the written language of English law changed from Latin to French). This is also around the time that English writers, such as Chaucer, start to produce work in English rather than French.
    And as for Robin Hood, have you been reading Thierry? – though I’m not aware that he’s been translated from French, or has he?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Jana: Hmm, perhaps I should be making the case for the statue of Richard I to be replaced with one of Elizabeth I…

      • Jana says:

        Well… if you want to watch blood coagulating amidst the cobble stones from the drying eyes of your own severed head, she is probably your man…

        I know who I’d rather follow into battle. Richard, whilst he fleeced those whom he thought could pay, and in particular those who said they would fight, and then wanted to go home (he let them of course, minus their support money and armour – which others could put to better use), he did have the odd idea that his soldiers needed to be fed, and also paid.

        The Gloriana, and the fervent promoters of her cult, are a bit scary for my blood, which I’d prefer to keep in my veins.

        I’d opt to keep Richard. Not a nice man, but not wont to get you killed unnecessarily.

    • maudie33 says:

      Jana:

      As you were not enamoured by ‘wiki’ here is a little more information with the mention of ‘Robin Hood’ at the end, if you scroll down that far. It does not approach the English language question however. For that, you have to delve much deeper.

      http://www.themiddleages.net/people/richard_lionheart.html

      Either way, it turns out Richard Lionheart was a skunk. So, change is all in the mind.

      LOL

  7. Jana says:

    On Robin Hood: The comment you refer to must be “…in the earliest Robin Hood ballads the only king mentioned is “Edward our comely king”, presumably Edward I, II, or III”, exactly my point, I think.

    The reference to “..Edwarde, our comly kynge” is from the early ballad, which appears to be a compliation, “A Gest of Robin Hood”.

    An earlier reference to “oure cumly kyng”, is also found in “Robin Hood and the Monk”, probably c.1450. I understand this has often been though to refer to Edward IV or Edward III.

    I’m not sure what your point was, you’ll have to be more specific. I’m a bit slow.

    On the language question: I was only asking if you could direct me where I should delve. If you are interested in Henry’s linguistic capacity, Walter Map discusses this in his de nugis curialium, though I am not aware of any English translation of this work. I understand that it may also be discussed in an even more contemporary source, Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), in his Itinerary through Wales, I have not read this, but I understand it is available in English.

  8. Jana says:

    “The point about space is a very serious one and something overlooked by the Government in its risible costings of its proposals. There will not be space to accommodate members (wirth individual offices) and staff. Indeed, some of the offices are so small that I suspect they would be deemed unsuitable even for occupancy by one member. It is not clear, therefore, where space will be found. It will necessitate either (a) taking over some space currently occupied by the House of Commons; (b) acquiring new buildings to add to the parliamentary estate; (c) new build, or (d) a combination of these. Each creates its own problems.”

    There could be something in this then, show them how much it’ll cost and they’ll run away screaming…?

    Bring on the (cheap, office-sharing) appointed members !

  9. Dean B says:

    One of the few photographs you didn’t make a caption competition, and I have the perfect one 😦

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