Friday, 30 May 2008

The Cinque ports (well 23 actually)

The oyster towns enjoyed privileges and trade beyond other counties because of this closeness to Europe. They assumed an intimacy with the affairs of state that other parts of Britain could never achieve, not until the industrial revolution and the opening of the colonies opened up the west coast ports.

English history, in a European sense was conducted across the Channel between the Thames and the northern coastal towns of the headland. The oyster folk were their boatmen and envoys.

From an early point, the emerging English monarchy encouraged the Kent ports to form the Cinque Ports, from the French for five (but pronounced sank) originally five but later spread out around 23 towns and creek and extended to include Brightlingsea in Essex. The origins are not precise but Edward the Confessor - 1042-1066 - offered the ports the power to raise taxes and make laws in return for protecting the trading routes with Normandy. As a defence against lawless Saxon fleets on the Channel. Edward demanded in return 57 ships, each with a crew of 21 men and a boy, for 15 days every year, should he need them...all of which would certainly have been built “by nearby coastal and creek-side” oyster towns. That oyster towns were not directly named suggests that they probably had other more important business to be tending to. As such the charters for the ports were to be administered by the Admiralty.
The flag though was an early political institution of heraldry