Torries, Visigoths, and the End of Empires

Torries, Visigoths, and the End of Empires

The LTC was sitting in his high-backed leather chair in front of the fire.  As I approached, I could see the side of his face.  His eyes were closed, and his glasses sat further down on his nose than good fashion allowed.  His hands were clasped together in his lap.  An untouched Jameson neat rested on the coffee table next to an ashtray holding two unlit cigars.  Further to the left on the table rested another crystal glass of Lagavulin.  Between the two was his cell phone.  Screen up.



At first I thought he had fallen asleep waiting for me, then, noticing the beads of the rosary in his hands, I realized he was in prayer.



I halted my approach for a moment to let him finish.



While I waited, I looked casually around the familiar room.  Napoleon in his gilded frame looked down from his perch over the fireplace and the bust of Caesar Augustus looked at us with his ambivalent marble eyes from the corner of the room.



The LTC stirred, and I saw him shift his weight as he placed the rosary back in his pocket while he glanced at his phone.



“Evening, Colonel.”



He looked up and smiled.



“Evening, Captain.  Your weapons have been laid out for you,” he said gesturing towards the drink and cigar.



“Indeed.  Expecting a call?”



“Hoping I don’t get one.”



“Ah, the West Point nerves.”



The LTC’s son, Antonio, was now officially a new cadet at West Point and undergoing “Beast Barracks”, essentially the Academy’s version of basic training before they become official Plebes and inducted into the Corps of Cadets.  During this time there is no communication with the outside world, save for one phone call that happens midway through the six-week program.  Sandy and I had gone through this period of trepidation ourselves five years ago when Chaney was in Beast.  We knew things would be fine for her, yet there was always that fear in the back of our minds that something could happen that would necessitate an “emergency call”.  All parents go through this; I understood his latent anxiety.



“Antonio is going to be fine, Colonel.  He is prepared and has a warrior’s heart.”



The LTC chuckled.



“I know.  Funny, I think I said the same thing to you a few years ago when you were sitting here with your cell phone at the ready.”



“Indeed, my friend.”



The LTC waived towards the empty chair.  “Sit, Captain; load and make ready.  We have much to discuss.”



I complied with his wishes and sat down as the two of us took the time to light our cigars.  After mine was burning without assistance, I raised my glass in a mock toast and said “to absent companions”.



The LTC grabbed has glass and returned the toast and we both sipped our whiskeys.  The smokey, peaty taste of the Lagavulin, blended with the tobacco, and I could feel myself instantly relaxing into the leather chair.



“So, Colonel, what is on the agenda tonight?  Presidential ambitions?  Our cousins across the Pond reacquainting themselves with collectivism?  The French seeking again to emulate our revolution?”



I saw the LTC raised an eyebrow.



“Interesting observation about the French, Captain.  Are you suggesting that Trump’s victory a lifetime ago was a revolution?”



“In a sense, I am seeing it that way.  He ran against the State and prevailed.  It may not have been a philosophical revolution in the classical sense, but the overtones are certainly present.”



“So the Democrats are counterrevolutionaries?” the LTC said chuckling.  “I actually like that.”



“Yes, the dorm room communists are still having a crisis of identity.”



“So England embraces the twentieth century idea of government control, while France, once again, looks to her ally in the west as inspiration to throw off the shackles and follow our revolutionary path.”



“Maybe. But I suspect her motivations may be a tad different,” I said taking another sip from my glass.



“Agreed, Captain.  The legacy media is having a tough time decoding the message, but I think it is actually more historically deep than you may be letting on.”



“Do tell, Colonel.”



“England did not vote in Labor; they voted out the Torries.  Just as we have always suspected that no one voted for Biden in our last election; they voted against Trump.”



“And in France?”



“France is, indeed, different.  Do you remember your history of the Visigoths?”



“The Eastern Europeans who settled in France before they were ultimately displaced by the Franks?”



“The one and the same.  But modern France was not on their radar screen when they began their long march in the 370s.”



“Ah, you are going to take me back to Western Civilization with Professor Harnett!” I said with a chuckle.



“Indeed, I am, Captain.  The Visigoths lived in what is now the Czech Republic, generally anyway.  Though they were Barbarians, they had a good commercial and working relationship with the Roman Empire.  They had a problem though:  the Huns.  The Huns were putting pressure on them from the north, you know, raiding, raping, pillaging… Hun stuff.  So they asked the Roman Empire if they could move south of the Danube into Roman Empire territory and set up a new state.  The Roman Empire was ambivalent, not disagreeable to the idea, but reliant on their bureaucracy to ultimately get the necessary paperwork in order.  That did not come fast enough, and eventually the Visigoths decided to take matters into their own hands and just move across the river on their own.  Incidentally, while it may have been the Huns back in the 370s, today you could call it the Islamists or economic opportunity.  They were being pressured to move from instability to safety, and they were not going to let a bureaucracy get in the way.  They also had absolutely no intention of becoming “Roman” or having any cultural connection to either the Eastern or Western Roman Empire.  They were Visigoths (or, as we now call them, Gauls)!



The Roman Empire had to respond, and indeed they did, but in a mealy mouth fashion.  Skirmishes were held, and hilarity ensued, but rather than decisively forcing them out of the Roman territory, they were allowed to move westward to what is now the west coast of France and set up their own kingdom.  Think of it modernly as an enclave.  The Roman Empire allowed them a certain form of independence within the Empire, as long as they generally behaved as the Roman Empire wanted them to.



The Huns were watching this too.  They decided they would pursue their prey into France and eventually realize that Napoleon’s defeat in Russia can work in reverse.  A coalition of Gauls and Franks defeated them in 451.  This inspired the Gauls themselves to march on Rome and defeat Romulus Augustus in 476.”



“That I am familiar with.  476, the date we use as the end of the Roman Empire,” I said, taking another sip of my Lagavulin.



“Yes and no, Captain.  It is the date we use, but the Roman Empire, in a sense, never fell.  It just changed.”



“So, you think the French are trying to push out the occupiers?”



The LTC nodded, while taking a drink of his Jameson.



“History repeats itself not because it is written, but because it is a record of human nature and human nature does not change.  What France is going through right now is exactly what France went through 2000 years ago and is exactly what America is going through as well.  The end results are not necessarily predictable, but the conflicts that emerge certainly are.”



“Those conflicts are what keeps me up at night, Colonel.”



“As they do for me too, Captain.”


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Comments (2)

  • M Reply

    Can someone explain in laymans terms what is going on in France?

    07/10/2024 at 17:20
  • Ryan Rutledge Reply

    Well done. This definitely whets my appetite for learning about more world history

    07/12/2024 at 10:42

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