On the evening of 17 March, we will be welcoming Christine Gadsby to Iffley Church Hall. Christine is a Blenheim Palace guide & lecturer – so clearly excellently placed to tell us all about “Blenheim – the Battle for Europe“!
I know I have a lot to learn: the War of the Spanish Succession was off the history curriculum – at least in my childhood last century!
Strangely, I did grow up happily singing the French nursery rhyme Malbrough s’en va t’en guerre – words that, it seems, were devised in the French ranks after the battle of Malpaquet (1709). A rumour that the English general had actually been killed bolstered the French sense of victory. ( It was to be Marlborough last major battle: brought down by politics at home, rather than bullet or cannon.) Allegedly, Napoleon was fond of humming this as he mounted his horse before going on campaign. To English ears the tune is For he’s a jolly good fellow!
The title of Christine’s talk (which will start at 7.30pm) also reminds me how much I enjoyed the 2002 TV docudrama/love story, The Gathering Storm. An account of Winston Churchill as (nearly) the only voice warning against the rise of the Nazis, it opened with Winston gathering inspiration for continuing his anti-Nazi work from a vision of his ancestor Proper historians remind us that we shouldn’t confound this film with history – Professor Richard Overy, King’s College, London, called it “Short on drama, crassly scripted, historically inept” and “a travesty of the historical truth it seeks to establish”, in failing to portray Churchill’s confrontation with archappeaser Neville Chamberlain – but I’m the type of amateur who can happily surrender to a fictional account, if done convincingly … and beautifully shot.