As the temperatures begin to plummet, there is no better time to delve into some history–and this week is full of remarkable events, so let’s dive in!
On Oct. 2, 1263, the Scots and Norwegians would clash in The Battle of Largs, putting an end to nearly 500 years of conflict between the two groups.
As Norwegian Vikings attempted to settle across the British Isles, a large portion of the fighting occurred in the Scottish highlands and coastal regions. These territories were sparsely populated, and loosely controlled by the fledgling Kingdom of Scotland.
The low density of this region would make it the primary target of the Norwegians, with raids and pillaging parties rampaging across towns and cities, until many were under Viking control.
However, as the Scots struggled to defend their homeland, King Alexander III – a young and strategically minded ruler – would finally turn the tides. He intentionally prolonged diplomatic talks, causing the Norwegian’s campaign to begin in poor weather conditions, crippling the Vikings naval power. As a result, the Vikings were ill-supplied, and beaten back by the Scots.
The effects of this battle were immense, curbing Norwegian influence in the Isles, and paving the way for Scottish prosperity and cultural resurgence in the following years.
Moving southward from Scotland, Oct. 3, 1990 would be a momentous day in German history, as East and West Germany would finally be united after decades of division.
As a consequence of the Second World War, Germany was to be occupied by the Allied powers, causing the eastern half of the nation to be controlled by the Soviet Union, and the West to be controlled by the United States, France and Britain.
As treaties and consolidations occurred, these two occupation zones would become two distinct political entities, both bearing the German name. The communist German Democratic Republic would exist in the east, and the democratic Federal Republic of Germany in the west– with an ‘iron curtain’ dividing the two.
Years would pass marked by division, but by the 1990s, Soviet influence waned, causing democratic ideals to seep into the communist bloc. Consequently, Germany would finally be reunited, celebrated in the modern day this week with food, and a break from school and work.
Shifting focus from Germany to the United Kingdom, the years leading up to the Second World War would be tumultuous in British politics. Parties holding extreme values would rise, claiming to have solutions to various problems, but in reality, they would just cause division in the population. One infamous result of such hectic times would occur on Oct. 4, 1936, known as the Battle of Cable Street.
While many remember the United Kingdom for their heroic and vital contributions to the defeat of fascism in Europe, for a time, a sizable group of British citizens would actually champion the ideology in England.
Led by an aggressive figurehead, Oswald Mosely, the “British Union of Fascists” would take many cues from the German Nazi Party, with members marching in uniform and carrying various national symbols.
On Oct. 4, the group planned to march through East London, known for having a large Jewish population. The party’s goal was to spread their ideology, and encourage hatred for the communities living in the district – but the reaction to this plan was swift and just.
Mosely must have been shocked, as the number of anti-fascists who protested the march ranged from nearly 100,000 to 300,000, whereas the number of fascist marchers was just less than 10,000.
The police would get involved to subdue the march and subsequent protests, while the British government would issue the Public Order Act of 1936, outlawing the use of political uniforms and regulating demonstrations. The event stands as a testament to the spirit of the British, who only years later would fight in a global conflict against the ideology.
That concludes this week in history, certainly a week full of conflict and battles, but met with moments of unity as well. See you next week!