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Friday, January 20, 2006

Shock and awe

Culture Minister, Alun Pugh, likes to think that he has the popular touch, often coining tabloid-like phrases to drive home his point. Wednesday's debate on the Historic Buildings Council for Wales (Abolition) Order 2006 was no exception. Alun started the debate by reflecting on our heritage:

For a small nation, we have the legacy of a wonderfully rich built environment. I am not sure whether that legacy was in the forefront of Edward’s mind when he built his series of castles in the north. He was out, of course, to shock and awe the local population, and, in that, perhaps he was the Donald Rumsfeld of the thirteenth century.

Despite his reputation as a tyrant, I felt at the time that this was a little unfair on Edward I and certainly far too flattering a comparison for Donald Rumsfeld. Edward was perhaps the most effective and successful medieval monarch in Europe. He was a military strategist and tactician par excellence but on top of that he was also a highly successful administrator and diplomat. He was a tyrant but then he was also a product of his age. As Alun said, regardless of their symbolism today, his legacy can still be seen along the North Wales coast and elsewhere. By comparison Donald Rumsfeld is an insignificant warlord.
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