Arts feature

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

The British Museum’s new exhibition, Sicily: culture and conquest, celebrates the glories of this multi-ethnic, quadrilingual powerhouse

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

A few weeks ago, I looked out on the Cathedral of Monreale from the platform on which once stood the throne of William II, King of Sicily. From there nearly two acres of richly coloured mosaics were visible, glittering with gold. In the apse behind was the majestic figure of Christ Pantocrator — that is, almighty. The walls of the aisles and nave were lined with scenes from the Bible. In another panel, just above, Christ himself crowned King William.

It was a prospect of the greatest opulence and sophistication stretching in every direction from this regal vantage point. The mosaics are in the manner of Byzantium, and probably executed by Greek artists, but the architectural plan and inlaid floors are derived from medieval Italy. This then, Padre Nicola Gaglio, the priest who was escorting us pointed out, was a building in which the Christian traditions of East and West, Rome and Constantinople, were combined and contrasted.

That’s true. But what is extraordinary is that that list does not by any means exhaust the interaction of civilisations that took place in 12th-century Sicily, soon to be explored in an exhibition at the British Museum. For a century after the conquest of the island by Norman forces in the 11th century, Sicilian society deserved the contemporary term multicultural.

The island was also quadrilingual, as an inscribed stone from 12th-century Palermo demonstrates. This inscription recorded the transfer of the remains of one Anna, mother of a priest called Grisandus, to a private chapel. It does so, however, in Latin, Greek, Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic (an Arabic dialect written in Hebrew characters for an Arabic-speaking Jewish population). Each text is slightly different, since — for example — the stone is dated 1149, according to western Christian chronology, 6657 according to the Byzantines, who began at the creation of the world, and 544 by Islamic reckoning.

Norman Sicily even had an English connection. At Monreale, on the wall beneath the colossal figure of Christ — his right hand alone, according to John Julius Norwich, is six feet high — is the unexpected figure of St Thomas Becket of Canterbury. Perhaps Becket’s image was put there among other sainted bishops in an apologetic spirit, since St Thomas had been hacked to death at the instigation of William II’s father-in-law, Henry II of England. Becket’s murder took place in 1170, or at most two decades before the mosaics were created.

There was an intimate connection between Norman Sicily and Norman England, both of which had been conquered by Viking-descended soldiers from northern France. The rulers of Norman Sicily had begun as mercenaries and freebooters, the sons of a minor noble called Tancred de Hauteville. The youngest of these, Roger, ended up as Count of Sicily; while his older brother, Robert Guiscard, ruled much of southern Italy. Their Italian wars took place at much the same time as William the Conqueror’s invasion of England.

The first Norman incursion into Sicily was in 1061, though the process of subduing the entire territory took decades. Before the Norse buccaneers arrived, Sicily had been under Islamic rule for more than a century; most of the population at that point was probably Muslim. Until the Islamic invasion, the island had been part of the Byzantine empire and culturally Greek.

Norman Sicily was therefore a jigsaw of cultures. Its full complexity is made clear inside the Cappella Palatina of the Royal Palace in Palermo, which I visited the following day in company with Dirk Booms, one of the British Museum curators. There the walls are covered with superb Byzantine mosaics, floors made by Italian master craftsmen, perhaps from Salerno. The most startling feature, however, is the wooden ceiling of the nave, a complex masterpiece of carpentry with starburst patterns and the honeycomb forms known as muqarnas (see p29), the whole of which is covered in Arabic inscriptions and figurative paintings in the style of contemporary Egypt. Some of these represent the king who commissioned the work, Roger II (1095–1154), son of the original conqueror, seated cross-legged in the manner of an Islamic ruler.

By the time his chapel was inaugurated in 1143, Roger controlled Sicily, most of Italy south of Rome, and large areas of North Africa. In some respects he and his successors followed the ways of the Middle East. They maintained harems and built superb pleasure palaces around Palermo, enthusiastically compared by Ibn Jubayr, a poet and traveller from Andalusia, to ‘necklaces strung around the throats of voluptuous girls’. Some of these, including those known as La Cuba and La Zisa — from al-Aziz (‘the Magnificent’) — closely resemble similar structures in 12th-century Algeria and Egypt.

The difference is that, miraculously, the Sicilian buildings still exist. Nowhere else, in fact, does so much of the magnificence of an early medieval monarch survive. The Palace of the Normans in Palermo contains 12th-century interiors, including the ‘Room of Roger’, which has mosaics of regal leopards, peacocks and centaurs in a landscape of date palms and orange trees. In the royal gardens around the city there roamed a Romanesque menagerie, including ostriches, panthers, lions, apes, bears, giraffes and elephants.

The Norman kings of Sicily were among the greatest rulers of their day. Roger II clearly thought himself the equal of the Emperor in Constantinople. Under his reign Sicily, making full use of its pivotal position in the centre of the Mediterranean, was powerful and prosperous as it had seldom been before — and never has been since. His hybrid Greek-Latin-Islamic state was hugely successful. Islamic bureaucrats kept records in flowing Arabic, the bishops were Italian, French and English, and the Syrian Christian Arabic and Greek-speaking George of Antioch functioned as ammiratus ammiratorum, emir of emirs, or commander-in-chief.

However, there was a catch, as Dirk Booms explained as we stood in front of the wonderful church in Palermo built by George of Antioch. ‘Sicily was a place of tolerance, but it was not a place of integration — except at court.’ The various populations — Greek, Latin, Muslim, Jewish — lived in separate districts of Palermo. Under Roger II’s son, William I, this patchwork society began to disintegrate. In 1161, there was a rebellion. The chief minister, George of Antioch’s successor, Maio of Bari, was assassinated, the king himself was imprisoned, and there were attacks on the Muslim population, who fled into the mountains.

‘When the power of the king fell away,’ Dirk Booms concluded, ‘it was clear that there were underlying tensions.’ After William II died without an heir in 1189, Norman Sicily, after lasting for a glorious century or so, quickly fragmented. Perhaps its lesson is that a multicultural society can be remarkably successful economically and culturally, but without true integration it is vulnerably fragile.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Sicily: Culture and Conquest is at the British Museum from 21 April to 14 August.

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  • Ingmar Blessing

    Oh really? Was it a good place?

    Bad luck, I just recently stumbled over a Marxist history magazine with exactly the same title topic “The Norman Kings of Sicilia – a multicultural role-model for us” (“Damals” Magazine edition 10/2015 -> Let me elaborate my criticism on the Damals issue, which (intention-wise) is pretty much the same for this article:

    The main topic is the Normans in southern Italy and their later Kingdom of Sicilia and the borderline thesis, that it is a role-model for multicultural societies of different religions – including the peace one – especially in the context of todays mass immigration of Muslims.

    First, the Emirs brought pomp and glory to the island and later came the Christian Normans who put pomp and glory to a new level with the help of the Muslim population majority.

    Apparently, as the text says, the ruler was a tyrant and there’s not too much known about him and the daily life in his kingdom (“thin sources”), but his buildings were top-notch and he even managed to translate and publish the (taxation-)laws into four languages, among them Arabian. What an accomplishment! Multiculturalism and diversity at its best.. well if you ignore the fact that at first, the one third Christian population has been robbed relentlessly using the religion-tax for non-Muslims, to fund all this pomp and glory. But according to the magazine, that was not terrible, although the sources are very thin. It is known that Christians who didn’t pay that tax simply couldn’t climb up the ladder anymore (Question: Climbing up from where? The dungeon hole?)

    The entire scam then has been taken to new extremes by the new Norman king. He simply turned around the religion tax and henceforth it was the Muslims who had to pay for their religion. This was of course enforced by the sword and mass violence, since they had to turn a two third majority(!) of angry and enemy citizens into tax-obedient sheep. But obviously, this extreme violence and brutality is only a detail of minor importance for history-propagandists. Doesn’t really count.

    What counts is the miraculous doubling of the stately pomp and glory budget of the island. And so they could fund new and higher than ever church towers, all of them “with ornaments built by Islamic masters of craftsmanship”, which raises the question, from where the Sicilians should have gotten alternatives. They had capacities and experts on oriental interior design, so you use them!

    All the Sicilia articles of the magazine issue are filled with words of “multicultural society”, “role-model for all of us” and this strangely without any hint of irony. I really, really wonder, how someone can draw this kind of conclusion. Well, at least beyond the complete ignorance of any socio-economic and let’s say taxation-policing aspects.

    The example of the kingdom of Sicilia is in fact a gross rejection of the multicultural concept, since it was based on raw violence and – as always – the populations complete fiscal exploitation to fund absurdly over-winded particular interests in the name of a higher entity. So nicely those buildings in Sicilia may seem on todays education thirsty tourist, they are nothing but the result of generation long mutual tyranny, oppression, fear and loathing of not just one people but – the four languages imply it – a total of four peoples! Sicilia is definitively NOT an example of a better past! It was a place with an ongoing brutal and openly violent furor by its rulers, to establish and secure the legal stability of the new kingdom (and before that, I presume, happened the same in the emirate).

    No one can find this example a good one, except
    – you are completely ignorant about who’s paying it and how much
    – who doesn’t care what the authorities have to do to uphold the public order
    – who thinks the atmosphere within the population is irrelevant
    – who believes it is of minor importance what people think about their money being taken away by using any kind of force to fund lunatic prestige objects to make the rulers look like they are the masters of the universe.

    I wrote this (and some more) to the editors of the Damals magazine, but it’s the same with this article here on the Spectator. I haven’t expected such a low aim, like this very unreflected and heavily biased “look” on historic events. The magazine articles contradicted themselves by every paragraph. I bet, it the article here was any longer (and more detailed in the description of the context), it would be the exact same.

    To me this kind of selective examination is mind-blowingly scary. The Damals magazine e.g. costs 6,90 Euro and it’s readers are teachers, lecturers, doctors and professors – our functional elite. They are getting indoctrinated with extreme BS from the hands of people who surely studied Marx and Adorno at least as much as they studied history and story telling. That The Spectator takes the same line – WOW!

    Bottom line: I am shocked!

    • Mr B J Mann

      Same story shoved down our throats about the wonderful multi-culti Balkans, until those evil Christian Serbs started r-ping women and girls, killing men and boys and eating ickle baybees and even unborn children cut from the wombs of their r-ped mothers at the turn of the Millennium.

      Nothing to do with keeping the Saudis happy and jihadis and mujahadeen employed of course.

      • Ingmar Blessing

        Looking at the Kosovo today, I have the serious impression, the Serbian solution might have been the better one.

        Just imagine: The brother of the Kosovarian Prime Minister joined the migrant trek to Germany a few weeks ago.

        Again: The brother of the head of the government ran away from the country because he believed a stupid false story about money and houses and jobs for everyone in Germany.

        How f*cked up does it have to be?

        • Mr B J Mann

          Might be worse:

          These people are jihadi gangsters!

  • stephengreen

    Do not mistake multicultural, for multiethnic (or at least, multi-racial).

    • William MacDougall

      You’re right of course. Multi-racial is easy, it’s multicultural that’s occasionally difficult…

      • MikeF

        Multiculturalism is also easy when a society is reasonably mono-ethnic. If you think about it that it how the UK used to be – lots of local particularisms but a fundamental basic sense of shared identity and loyalty. It is the mix of multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism that is toxic.

        • William MacDougall

          Really???? Britain has always been multi-ethnic as well as multi-cultural, and the latter is the more difficult. Celts vs Norsemen in Scotland and Anglo-Saxons and Celts vs Normans in England have not been problems for nearly a thousand years; Scots of whatever ethnic background vs English of whatever ethnic background has been difficult rather more recently.

          • MikeF

            No great ethnic differences between the groups you cite. Perhaps what I should have said is that the toxic thing is when ethnicityis used as a tool to promote cultural divisiveness.

          • William MacDougall

            Objectively, looking at DNA for example, there are actually no great ethnic differences in the world full stop. But you are certainly right about the toxicity of using ethnicity to promote cultural splits…

          • Philsopinion

            Read the ‘Nation of Immigrants?’ pamphlet from Civitas. It details the exact genetic lineage of the country according to research from Oxbridge.

      • Philsopinion
        • Sargon the bone crusher

          Who on earth gives a fig here about mouldy Scotland. We are discussing the Sicilian condition – which, even at its fractured worst,, is infinitely more attractive and pregnant with possibilities than the Brigadoonic nightmare.

          • Suriani

            The people of Scotland thank you for your comment, whatever it may mean. Brigadoonic?

          • Sargon the bone crusher

            I suspect you cannot interpret the cacophanic noise-fest the Scotii emit. The wode-stained wailing, the fried-marsbar-glugging screamfest sometimes heard as far south as Manchester on a wet night.
            They thank nobody, and would mount fair virgins were they not repulsed by our best regiments of foot.
            DO not display you ignorance, celtic mud-encrusted, bath-shy horror.

          • Tom M

            Hilarious (and not so far wrong either).

          • Jab

            Try living in Sicliy and just see how difficult it really is, most of my friends left and went north after studying.There was a shoot out just 2 weeks ago in central Palermo on the road I used to take to University between immigrants and mafia.The central stations in all the cities are now frightening places after dark and the migrants have taken control of the areas around these stations.
            The result of all the invasions over the centuries is the cosa nostra and rejection of state.These days the young have gone to London to work .

          • Sargon the bone crusher

            I maitain a fine converted small castle there for winter and spring time visits. It is a delight; a rich and fine society with regrettable issues, but no worse than the petty proletarian barbarism of New Inclusive Celebrate the Cultural Differences Sharia-Law encroaching quite dreadfully mediocre and dangerous Britain.
            Truly a place to shy a way from.

          • Jab

            Thanks for your reply.It made me smile and yes, you are right about UK but Italy is also going that way.

  • Conway

    In 1161, there was a rebellion. The chief minister, George of Antioch’s successor, Maio of Bari, was assassinated, the king himself was imprisoned, and there were attacks on the Muslim population, who fled into the mountains. ‘When the power of the king fell away,’ Dirk Booms concluded, ‘it was clear that there were underlying tensions.’” No doubt those in charge had spend years denying there were any tensions and shutting down all forms of debate.

  • Father Todd Unctious

    Monreale is without doubt one of the finest cathedrals in the world. I have had the pleasure to visit it on three occasions when in Sicilia visiting family.

    • Jab

      It hasnt thrown it off.

  • Suriani

    There is a tendency to over romanticise ‘multi-culturalism’ and societies that exhibited the marks; Al Andalus, Sicily, Istanbul/Constantinople, Alexandria, the Levant. First and last tolerance depends on the character or whim of the ruler and everyone and each minority ethno-religious group knowing its place in the social order. Keeping a bag packed for a quick escape is usually advisable for the wise know it aint gonna last.
    The Saracens were rulers of Sicily for some 100 years and a Siculo Arabic dialect developed but it seems unlikely that Greek Christianity did not endure during that period.

  • Nextpert

    Thank you mr Gayford for an interesting angle on this topic.
    As a Swede I have to say that the multicultural situation in my country is on the brink of disaster. We’re way passed a mere problem and sadly we are now awaiting for the first grand scale terror attack, followed by racial and cultural disturbances and violence.

    Helping vast numbers of people from a hostile culture by incorporate them into our society without any demands of assimilation has shown to be extremely problematic. And – I am afraid – it will get a lot worse before it will get better.

    The question – raised by this article – is if the end result will be the downfall of our society, as with the Sicilian, or if we can turn the tide. I feel pessimistic because the majority of politicians does not seem to understand or still be in denial.

    There is no problem for a society to uphold a very diverse ethnic population, but there is almost impossible to do so with an extremely diverse cultural society. This we know empirically, because that has never worked in any known society. Especially not in a democracy.
    Not without one or more grops being severely oppressed and/or in various degrees of conflict with other groups or the society at large.

    Even more problematic when one cultural group seem to be determinerad not to accept the foundations that makes up the rest of the society, i.e. the liberal-democratic secular democratic political system, the basic human values of equality, justice and freedom we have in the West.

    As some refugees put it: we did escape from the oppression from the religious groups just to be met and harassed by the very same here in the new country. Well established and supported both from the old regimes and strangely enough also accepted and supported by the politicians in the West.

    • Jab

      Thanks for your post.It looks to me that the Swedish people have been lied to and the truth hidden.How can people decide when the facts are witheld.The question is to what purpose or is there a psychopathic politician trait?

      • Nextpert

        Jab – You are of course right on the money, but even mor unfortunately this does not concern only Sweden (and Germany), but will in time affect EU as a whole.


      • Anna Bananahammok

        If you treat Swedes, like (their beloved Muslims) blameless responsible-free children, who don’t understand anything, have no clue about the world, and have never opened a newspaper in their lives, then I suppose you might have a point.

        But to some, Swedes look as follow: an arrogant, delusional-morally superior people, who like to preach unrealistic delusional utopias, while letting their women get mass raped, on such a level, that they have put Uganda to shame.
        A SELF INFLICTED cesspit of grandiose proportions.

    • Anna Bananahammok

      I’m afraid, I do not feel much compassion for the Swedes. You have betrayed your own daughters, and sold out the future of your own children, for a people who wouldn’t spit on you. As a mother of girls, my compassion is limited, for those who don’t fight for their children.
      The Vikings are rolling over in their graves.
      Every country gets the government it deserves.

      • Jab

        I too have felt a mixture of anger and bewilderment towards my Swedish friends.Thanks for your post.I just dont understand the whole of European approach when hundreds of thousands of African economic migrants are about to invade Sicily !

    • Paul Moylan

      The only thing delaying the ethnic cleansing of the Swedes is the welfare system, when there aren’t enough Swedes paying tax to support these people then they will really turn on you. I can’t envision the Swedes of fighting for their lives with the same ruthless suicidal efficiency that Muslims are capable of.

      Given the opportunity the majority of Swedes would rather promote love and peace and tolerance of their enemies, in the reverse situation of power, these people will enslave your women and kill every man. All they need is the opportunity, as soon as the balance of power shifts once, they will act.

    • Larry Bond

      I really hope you don’t suffer a massive terror attack in Sweden.

      Is there no chance, however slim it may seem now, that these people you say come from a hostile culture can at least come to terms with your society and live in peace within it? What about their children, perhaps they will integrate better?

  • Mr Grumpy

    What a silly headline. Sicily may have been at peace and produced some cool architecture, but any medieval society was a paradise for very few of its members. Nonetheless I’m looking forward to the exhibition.

  • The great mosaics of Cefalu were created by a team of mosaic artists from Constantinople. They remind us the great humanistic artistic achievements of 12th century Byzantium and Comnenian court artists. The only thing that survives in Istanbul from this period is the Great Deesis of Hagia Sophia and the nearby panel of the Emperor John, his wife Irene and their son Alexios. The Deesis is one of the great treasures of art.

    • Sue Smith

      It’s a very distressing idea to realize that history – ESPECIALLY ‘ancient history’ – is no longer taught in schools. Today’s students have a view of their own world and the very very recent past. This explains an awful lot about modern, er, thinking!!

  • Soon after the Normans control Muslim dominated universities and schools is Sicily began losing scholars to other Muslim countries like Egypt and Syria etc. Many such scholars wrote accounts of loss of freedom of expression and environment of fear in Sicily.
    Palermo cathedral was a converted Mosque

  • Fraser Bailey

    Funnily enough I’m reading John Julius Norwich’s book about Norman Sicily (and the Normans in southern Italy) at the moment. It is very entertaining.

  • Frank

    Is this a coded comment on the lack of integration visible in many British towns?

    • Sue Smith

      And if the people in those towns where ‘lack of integration’ is ‘visible’ decide they just want to sell peanuts, oh how I’ll love those peanuts!!

      • Frank

        Sue, too cryptic!

        • Sue Smith

          I’m afraid I’ve stolen a line from George Cukor’s “Holiday” where Katharine Hepburn wants to marry a man from the wrong side of the tracks, Cary Grant. She runs off with him after telling the family that she’ll go where ever he wants, and do whatever he wants,…”and if he wants to sell peanuts, oh how I’ll love those peanuts”! It’s a famous line.

    • Tom Cullem

      There is no inherent moral value in integration or multiculturalism. Denmark lacked integration and multiculturalism until a very few years ago. It built a great society not despite, but BECAUSE of the deeply shared cultural roots, history, language, and values of its people. Now, it has jihadists, Jewish schools have to have armed guards, and during the last election, fundamentalist Muslims that Denmark was foolish enough to let in went around trying to dissuade other Muslims from voting, because voting ceded power to someone besides Allah.

      Yes, multiculturalism will be a great blessing to boring, bland, formerly peaceful, prosperous, happy, united Denmark. Did I forget to mention that Copenhagen last week was on high alert after the Danish authorities found a cache of weapons belonging to a little jihadist cell?

      There’s also a huge lack of integration visible in Nigeria, which ha 174 million people, but only 50,000 Caucasians. Oddly, no one seems to be worried about it.

      • Frank

        I think it better if all races / faiths do integrate if they are living in the same patch of land. As an example, the Huguenots appear to have managed to integrate perfectly into British society, not sure that one can say the same about other arrivals!!

  • WilliamJ38748

    We cannot and will not go back to the bland,
    monochrome Britain of the past. As John Bercow said, we now live in a
    “kaleidoscope Britain”. A vibrant, dynamic, exciting melting-pot which
    is something to celebrate.
    Damn those those Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Nomans, African
    Slaves, Refugees from Germany, Afro-Carribieans, Ugandan Refugees,
    Indians,Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Cantonese, Nepalese, Cypriotes,
    Polish,… coming over to this country, being British and making it
    better. How dare they!
    We are a mongrel nation, this is just a continuation of a trend over the last few thousand years.
    England has been invaded so many times that means English people are
    Mongrels there has been intermarriages of different ancient peoples over
    the years English people have ancestry from other parts of the UK and
    also Southern Europe Northern Europe Western Europe Central Europe South
    East Europe and Eastern Europe English people also have Sub Sahara
    African and Middle Eastern ancestry the Romans where Mongrels themselves
    not every Roman was Italian Romans come from all over the place the
    majority of English people like other British people have Pre Celtic
    ancestry English people are mostly Celtic like 75% only 5% of English
    people are Germanic the Celts where from Central Austria Angels Saxons
    and Jutes came from Northern Germany and Southern Denmark the Vikings
    and the Normans where from Norway Sweden and Denmark the Angels Saxons
    Jutes Vikings and Normans were basically Russian but English people are
    not Slavic they are Mongrels.

    • 22pp22

      We are actually not a mixed race people. Colombians are and I hear they are getting sick of all the Poles, Brits and white Americans seeking asylum there.

      This British are mongrels line is a PC lie that has been totally debunked and is genetically wrong.

      • Tom Cullem

        What he really wants to say is just because we were so much white doesn’t mean we were really . . . so much white. I know, convoluted doesn’t begin to describe the, er, logic.

    • Sue Smith

      I think you are right only when you use the word “invaded”.

    • TotoCatcher

      You sound like a ragging racist. There is only one human race. There is no blending of races as you state in your incredibly racist comment.

      There are ideas however. And the ‘best ideas’ are not necessarily the ones that produce a liberal democratic society!!

      It may turn out that a brutal dictatorship headed by a theocratic leader might be the ‘best idea’.

      The problem is, you don’t understand what ‘exciting society’ means! You said you want a vibrant, dynamic, exciting society. Life under Pol Pot was exciting, dynamic, and certainly vibrant!

      The problem with your type is that you don’t have any respect for native people, community, or family! And neither did Pol Pot.

      Families, communities, and social cohesion require stability, maturity, comfort, and yes, boredom.

    • Tom Cullem

      Ah yes the bland monochromatic Britain that produced . . . Shakespeare, Marlowe, Turner, Constable, cathedrals, Tolkien, Auden, Waugh, Eliot, the Brontes, Galsworthy, Stevenson, Philip Larkin, CS Lewis, some the world’s greatest English language cinema, the Royal Ballet, great orchestras, great universities out of which came some of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century’s great scientific breakthroughs, held off the Third Reich, and stood for – until the great wave of “multiculturalism” – a sort of bedrock decency and respect for law – the fact is, that bland monochrome (which in fact it wasn’t, quite) produced one off the greatest and most successful cultures in Europe. Now read our oh so much more colourful front pages and you can see what happened to that culture.

      And we all know what a disaster, say, Scandinavia turned out with its bland monochrome societies – oh those pathetic blond Vikings! – and we can all see what “multiculturalism” has done for Sweden, hmmm?

      Very few societies are completely “pure” but then again, China, isolated for so long from contamination by the West and Africa and Saudi Arabia . . . still managed to develop a tremendous culture and artistic heritage and invented gunpowder and a printing press. How on earth did the music of Grieg and Dvorak and Chopin, with their distinct national strains, turn out so beautiful, and OMG, Mozart, Brahms, and Beethoven, how did those sublime masters evolve in those revoltingly white environments?!

      If you’re trying to suggest that you like the UK better this way, fine. Personal choice all yours. But suggesting that overwhelmingly white Britain before 1970 was an arid place devoid of art, science, architecture, learning, or political progress. . . is quite simply a piece of leftwing luvvie brainwashing.

    • Richard

      I lived in Africa which is incredibly monochromatic and bland and they are pleased as punch about it. And the Left loves that they are monochromatic and bland because they are BLACK.