Page 4, 10th May 1957

10th May 1957
Page 4
Page 4, 10th May 1957 — By Henry Edwards
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Locations: Llangollen, Breiz

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By Henry Edwards

have been made to maintain the Sames as a nation even to the extent of running high schools for Sames only.

' LAGTING

FURTHER south are the 27,000 Alanders, who are Swedes living in the Aland Isles which are part of Finland. They have their own parliament.

To the west are the Faroese, some 29,000 altogether. These also have their own parliament, the Lagting. Their language is Facroya, a west-Nordic tongue used in the schools, the newspapers and in parliament.

To the south of the Faroes stands a very ancient and important kingdom and nation we know as Scotland, which strictly belongs to Minoritania, since as a nation it has no distinct European representation, though it has its own laws.

Scotland or Alba has 5 million inhabitants of whom 90,000 speak Scottish Gaelic and the great majority of the remainder a West Nordic language so near to English that most English people suppose it is merely an English dialect.

Only 18 miles from the south west of Galloway are the partitioned Six Counties of Ireland (population 1,300,000). A few speak Irish Gaelie, but the majority use English or speak in a manner somewhere between that of the Irish of Eire and the Scots.

The Six Counties have a parliament. In 1949, 100,000 voted for the ending of partition and 235,000 for the status quo.

MANNIN

TN the Irish Sea stands Mannin (the Isle of Man) which has a population—not in the holiday

season of course—of 50,000. A few hundred still speak Manx Gaelic. The isle is administered by its own laws by the Court of Tynwald.

Further south is the Principality of Wales (Cymru) with a population of just over two million, of whom just under half commonly speak Welsh, by far the most important today of all the Celtic languages.

Of the rest perhaps as many as half a million speak some Welsh, e.g„ enough to sing the national anthem and to talk in the kitchen.

There are several newspapers in Welsh and Welsh is treated as the medium of instruction in many schools. The people of Europe look especially to Wales because it is in the mountain town of Llangollen that the annual International Eisteddfod takes place.

To the south west of Wales is the old Welsh province of Kernow (Cornwall) where today there are several score folk who have revived the old Cornish tongue which is very closely akin to Welsh, and hold the annual Gorsecldl.

Cornwall is said to need no introduction to holidaymakers. but that is because holidaymakers probably do not bother about the people of the place they are visit mg.

OLD FRIENDS

OLD friends and rivals are the Cornish and the Bretons, partly because of their long interest in wrestling competitions. The Bretons live in Breiz which has a population of three millions of whom about half speak Breton Revolution, and the Breton nationalists provide a curious exception to the rule that most nationalists are republican in sentiment. One of the most firm of Catholic nations, the Bretons have an excellent Catholic organisation in Bleun 13rug (Heather Flowers).

Once again, one must say that though many go to Brittany for their holidays, they do not appear to realise that Brittany is really a nation distinct from France, even if it is under the French State.

But now we come to a quite unusual part of Minoritania. Here are regions where there are two or more peoples who have managed to combine without losing their idenl itics.

Belgium provides the first example. Switzerland the second.

In Belgium are four and a half million Flemings and four million Walloons.

Both have equal rights. Both languages (the Walloons are French speaking) are official. But there is a nationalist element among the Flemings who are more rural than the Walloons and, oddly enough, more inclined to support the monarchy than the Walloons.

In Switzerland there exists a cantonal system whereby four " nations " using French, German, Italian and Romanesch (a tongue very near Latin) have equal status, The comparative numbers are three million, 900.000, 250,000 and 50,000.

FRONTIERS

ON the frontiers of France and Switzerland lies the Aosta valley with a population of 80,000. After the last war the valley folk obtained a remarkable degree of autonomy.

I suppose that some people would stake a claim for the inclusion of the Republ:c of Andorra in Minoritania. If I do not admit this. it is because the Republic has no sense of lacking complete, responsible government, even though it does not manage to exert any exterior influence.

But to the north the nation of the Basques is quite a different problem.

There are about two million Basques (Ertakadi) who live on either side of the French and Spanish frontiers. Autonomy was promised the Spanish Basques, but, alas, this was felt by General Franco to he inconsistent with his notion of Spain One and Ind:visible.

The six million Catalans who speak a language as different from Spanish as Portuguese have also lost their promised autonomy. In the Mediterranean the holiday islands of Sicily and Sardinia have their own parliaments and privileges similar to those of the Aostans.

COMPLEX

THE most complex region of Minoritania seems to be south and south west of Denmark, home of the Frisians and the Schleswigians.

The Schleswigians of the south present a most intractable problem. Those who regard themselves as Danes have no less than 100 schools with 13,000 pupils who receive their education in Danish, though the state to which they submit is West Germany.

The North Frisians tend to AO with them in demand for minority rights. But it is to this part of Germany that many thousands of refugees have come to live.

Of the Frisians, there are 20.000 Northerners, 100,000 Easterners, and 450.000 Westerners, who may be regarded as Frisians in the fall sense. About 300.000 of the last speak Frisian at all times but all can speak it. The Frisian flag has been hoisted at the University of Groningen.

It occurs to me that I shall have to leave what might be called Eastern Minoritania for the time being. Eastern Minoritania has a much more tragic story, a story which is still unfinished.

Here are what Chesterton has called " the little lands laid bare " from the assaults of Islam in the past and the assaults of Marxist Imperialism today. It is in any event quite unlikely that any of us will be able to travel freely in this region for a long time.

Meanwhile we have Minoritania quite near at home. Indeed we may be living in it.




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