07:30
Friday, 11
October 2019


Idea
07:30

How the Knights Templar explain Portuguese politics

by Ed West

Portugal held elections this week, which I won’t pretend to know a thing about except that it’s all to do with the Knights Templar.

As this Twitter thread shows, the political division in Portugal already maps onto the country in the 12th century, when the south was conquered by crusaders, who established large latifundia and so with it a largely landless peasantry ripe for Communism centuries later (Lisbon, incidentally, was conquered by passing English crusaders on their way to the Holy Land). The same thing also occurred in Spain, as the thread explains.

You can see similar things all over Europe.

Political maps in Poland still, strangely, map onto the old frontier between the German and Russian Empires that once divided the country. And in Romania, those parts formerly in the Habsburg Empire tend to vote for more liberal pro-western parties.

In both these cases it could just be that parts of the country closest to the west are, quite obviously, more western, except that there is strong evidence for the long-term effects of being part of the Habsburg Empire – generally a good thing.

More recently, and obviously, support for AfD maps quite perfectly onto the former East Germany, although lack of support does, coincidentally, map onto the former British zone of occupation, even in Berlin.

We’re all prisoners of history then.

There are some more interesting – and spurious – historical maps. Closer to home, for example, Brexit was most heavily supported on the east coast, and readers of David Hackett Fischer’s magisterial Albion’s Seed will know that the eight eastern counties – Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire – had the highest concentration of Puritans and of settlers to New England during the Great Migration.

In contrast the Thames Valley, the heart of southern Remainia and which provides the elderly foot soldiers for the anti-Brexit movement, roughly corresponds to the old Kingdom of Wessex which Fischer saw as the genesis of the American South.

Coincidence? Absolutely.

My favourite historical political map, however, is that showing the correlation between support for Le Pen’s Front National and the after-effects of Chernobyl pollution on France.

Well, it’s an interesting theory, as Grandpa Simpson would say…


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20th November 2019