The Making Of A Mind-Set:

grm-name

17th Century Scottish Military Professional and Soldier of Faith

The Making Of A Mind-Set:

grm-name

17th Century Scottish Military Professional and Soldier of Faith

If you ask: why I wrote these Observations? It was because I loved my Camerades. If why I published them, know it was for my friends, and not for the world, for which I care not, nor for any that is ungrate. But those which accept well of this, will encourage me betime, to take greater pains for their sakes, if they view them.

– Colonel Robert Monro, Expedition, Intro: 7

Robert Monro was truly a genuine luminary of his time. In a military career spanning almost twenty-five years, this peripatetic Scot served as a military entrepreneur, rising from lieutenant to lieutenant-general. He emerged from complete obscurity to become friend of and confidant to many of the movers and shakers of the day. Multi-lingual and exceptionally well-read, he was an authentic Renaissance man who witnessed, experienced and sagely commented on his age. From his pen flowed a prodigious amount of information and opinions; and, through his words, a rich tapestry of persons who and events which defined his, as well as earlier, era(s) – both in Europe and in the British Isles – may be observed. Indeed, the Seventeenth Century was a tipping point during which the trends and institutions of the preceding millennium were transmogrified into a revolutionarily new paradigm [my primary dissertation director not unkindly described my writing style as ‘turgid prose’. I’ll leave the accuracy of his interpretation to you, dear reader.]. It is most assuredly the century during which many modern mores and dogmas – (un)written & (un)spoken – coalesced and became de rigueur. More specifically, it was during his lifetime (1590–1680) wherein many principles and standards – political, economic, social, military and intellectual – were embedded in the structures of Western European Dynastic, Territorial States [DTS[i]]. The single biggest shift was, instead of land being the primary basis for wealth and power, coined money, more specifically gold coinage, determined power, affluence and confident rule. Concomitantly, a Price Revolution took place and was, to no small degree, a significant factor in determining who benefited most from the changes.

Pivotal to this paradigm shift in Early Modern Europe was an explosion of knowledge about the world of which Europeans were but a small part. During the Age of Exploration and Colonization (1492–1789) Western explorers pushed the boundaries of geographical knowledge from the Mediterranean Sea and a small part of the northern Atlantic Ocean to the circumnavigation of the globe. Westerners moved away from the Mediterranean Sea which had long been under the control of Italian city-states, Byzantium and the Muslims. They eagerly placed themselves into new and unfamiliar exchanges with a bewildering variety of races, creeds and cultures. Because of superior organization, technological strength and drive, Westerners extended their power and influence throughout the world. There was no single western centre, but rather there were a number of competing centres, each perfectly willing to cut the throats of the others. Yet these deadly rivalries neither weakened nor delayed the processes of conquest and expansion; undeniably, it enhanced and accelerated it. By 1789 the expansion of Europe affected almost every part of the world. These were not ‘New Worlds’ which Europeans exploited or conquered for there existed thriving cultures and civilizations throughout areas of European penetration. Contact meant different things for Europeans and for those with whom they contacted; the only absolute result of the exchanges of ‘Seeds of Change’ was creolization. Contact meant change of some kind. In some cases it meant merely an exchange of commodities and goods which were integrated into a world economy, one which is yet on-going. In other cases technology, especially weaponry, allowed Westerners to defeat, control or destroy many of the cultures with which they dealt. Within Europe itself, feudalism withered under the multiple impacts of the Price Revolution, the strengthening DTS monarchs, and the rising middle classes who earned much of the money made during the Commercial Revolutions.

Throughout my teaching career, more than half of my teaching load included Western or World Civilization. My students usually tolerated material up to the collapse of the Roman Empire but then went brain dead until the Renaissance. Looking out at a room-full of 18-year-olds who could care less about the topic of the day reminded me of Zombieland. My SGWBs {done for each course} were the notes they weren't taking. To me, teaching is a performing art. If I could get them to like what I was doing, I’d see them again. A significant and very sad trend: the humanities are being reduced to a bare minimum. When I began college, requirements included four courses of history, one of political science, two or more of English, and six courses in a foreign language. Those days are long gone! Hence, my dog-and-pony show. I hope that some of my posts will be of use to you in your classes. Even better, I hope your students will use them how to learn and to appreciate history. What I did was to take my lecture notes and create a Study-Guide Work Book [SGWB], then put it on the school website for them to download. Basically, I provided class notes for them and then explained how it was all interconnected and why contact with new ideas always results in change.

On the first day of class I would first describe how spiders constructed their webs so people could walk into them on their way to class. ‘You see,’ said I, ‘spiders have these little anti-gravity devices so they can start in the middle and work outward.’ By the time my ‘eensy weensy spider’ had constructed her web, my students were not looking at me as if I were crazy – they were sure of it. So I’d start over by using the spider web as a simile for helping students make sense of history. A web has to be anchored, hence one long strand between the car mirror and a tree limb and another between two bushes but touching the first strand. What are the strands? They are the macrocosm, i.e., these are the themes of history: economic, political, social, geographic, technological, et al. Then Ms. Spider uses two kinds of silk: one on which she can manoeuvre and the other with which she ensnares her prey. Have you ever seen a spider turn a fly into what looks like a cocoon? I have, but only once. It happened so fast that I almost missed it – but that is often the way history works. That is why organization is critical. The themes are the big picture (macrocosm) and are the un-sticky threads holding all together (microcosm). All the rest of the web are sticky threads which makes up the raw data that fills out the web.

The ‘Home Page’ is little more than a starting point filled with teasers. It is supposed to get you, dear reader, to click on a link to find out what Spider-person is writing about and has to offer. Wait until you reach the end of this paragraph before you start clicking; there is organization to grm.com, I promise. Your first click should be on Who am I? There you will find information pertaining to Liam Brockington (me), and includes three short essays on my points of view [POV] and my Curriculum Vitae. Next is What Is History?. This a collation of a Chronology of Western Civilization (CWC), which is basically the SG part of SGWB. It begins with James Ussher {1581–1656 CE}, Church of Ireland {Anglican} Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656, who deduced in 1650, by adding up everybody’s age in the Old Testament, that in 4004 BCE God said, ‘Let there be light.’ The CWC is merely a chronological overview of Western and World Civilization. The next webpage is that of Chronologies. As stated, it is a collection of various chronologies I have compiled over the years. The rest of GRM.com is discussed in the Addendum. Considering that GRM.com’s geographical parameters stretch from eastern Prussia/Poland to Texas and from Stockholm to Florida as well as encompasses a time-frame of 400 years, let it hereby be known that you, dear reader, will need to return regularly to this site to see what new plum will have suddenly appeared. Grm.com is finally underway. As Robert Monro so succinctly put it: ‘But those which accept well of this, will encourage me betime to take greater pains for their sakes, if they view them.’[ii]

Yours aye.

Liam

William S. Brockington, Jr.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History
University of South Carolina Aiken


ADDENDUM (June 2018)

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley
‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns (1785)

When I first began planning this website, I had grandiose ideas about what I intended to accomplish with GeneralRoberMonro.com, Sadly, circumstances intruded on my mostly happy academic career, thereby derailing many of the ideas. But, I have not given up! I have a wealth of data stored on my computer {that is well backed-up; ask me in the relatively distant future about my computer nightmare} which will ultimately find its way to the site {Good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise}. What will find its way to the site {which I will purchase the rights thereto for another fifteen years} will be the fruits of my teaching and research/writing for over forty years. I plan to post solid academic data as well as material which is now deemed popular culture, that is, pictures, photographs, literary work – which says that my goal is to make the site not only one which is academically usable as well as one which is aesthetically pleasing and enlightening.

Additions to the site now include The Scottish Paradigm, which will cover four significant Scots – Scots-Ulster – Scots-Irish Drop-Down pages.

  1. The Early Modern Era with a focus on Scots and Scotland during the Thirty Years’ War [including my Master’s Thesis] as well as various presentations and articles I (and hopefully others) offer to you.
  2. The British Civil Wars with a focus on the Bishops' Wars and on The Scots Army in Ireland [focuses on Robert Monro’s role in the British Civil Wars, including a transcription of Adv MS 33/4/8, Transactions of the Scotts Army in Ireland from 1643 to June 1648 [TSAI] co-edited by Kirsty McAlister and me. Various presentations and articles I (and hopefully others) will be offered to you.
  3. The Scots-Irish diaspora of the Eighteenth Century and their impact upon American history. Several hundred thousand of these hardy settlers largely chain-migrated to the south-eastern section of the fledgling Thirteen Colonies/United States, making them the single largest group in the white South. Various presentations and articles (and hopefully others) will be offered to you.
  4. The Ulster Protestants who stayed behind, developing a siege mentality, hence the Home Rule Crises of the late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. My dissertation will be located here as well as various presentations and articles (and hopefully others) will be offered to you.

All of the four Drop-Downs will include maps, pictures and other popular culture items to enhance the learning experience. Three final Landing Places will be: Bibliography which will have four drop-downs corresponding to The Scottish Paradigm; a catch-all page of things that do not fit into the format drawn up above; and a Contact page. This is where you get to critique what is posted. This is also where you can add depth and breadth to the website by submitting items to be added. My call on whether it goes up or not. My job is to show how all fits together, a task I have worked on throughout my academic career.

That's it. I will be grinding it out over the summer, fall {save for two weeks on a Viking Cruise}, winter and spring. Again, feedback would be nice. Double again, data you'd like to post should be sent to me and will be reviewed and posted, if relevant


[i] Garnet-coloured words or phrases are significant persons, places, events or concepts which are critical for using GRM.com. These are marked where they first appear (and I am sure more than once). Many of these appear again on the Definitions and Appendices page.

[ii] Monro, Robert.  Monro His Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes Regiment levied in August 1626 by Sir Donald Mac-Key Lord Rhees … and reduced after the Battaile of Nerling, to one Company in September 1634 …  ending with Souldiers Meditations going on service.  London: W. Jones, 1637 [my personal copy, thanks to Steve Murdoch who told me when one came up for sale (and was my Xmas, Anniversary & Birthday Present for the following three years], Intro-7.