Emmett Tyrrell

From his castle high atop a mountain, he looked down into the valley, saw the hated farmers chopping down his beloved forests, and sent out his warriors to suppress them -- the bloodier the better. (One cannot but be impressed by the instruments of torture preserved in the museums in these parts.) I have yet to estimate the number of villages that spread throughout this valley during the 12th century, but from the historical accounts I have read, whenever a handful of merchants, artisans and perhaps a priest or palm reader got together to set up a village and engage in the transport and marketing of local goods, Bertran would react as furiously against them as he did against the farmers.

Bertran de Born, like his fellow nobles, had a romantic sense of the forest and the hunt. They would ride their horses into these darkened cathedrals of trees and hunt or make love or compose their idiotic songs. Their knowledge of the environment was defective, possibly even more defective than our wackos' environmental knowledge is. Certainly, I would like to think that our wackos have a better grasp of today's environment and its needs, for they have a lot of power in our society, and if they are as ignorant as Bertran, we are in trouble.

Given Bertran's love of hunting, his brutal efforts to preserve the forests were actually counterproductive. The boars and deer and lesser creatures that attracted his venatic enthusiasm were much reduced in numbers because of his early efforts against farmlands. The simple fact is that wildlife does not thrive in the darkness of the forest, but on the edges of the forest where there is more to eat. The small animals eat the vegetation; larger animals eat the smaller animals; and the largest eat just about everything. If Bertran had left the farmers and the villagers alone, he would have had an abundance of targets for his primitive weapons. Moreover, the farmers would have provided him with a more balanced diet and would have provided the villagers with warm socks.

I urge you to think of Bertran de Born's energetic initiatives against farmlands and villages the next time you hear an environmentalist wacko harangue about carbon initiatives and global warming. The fact is that we have not had much global warming for a decade, and what we had before that, during the last quarter of the 20th century, was often good for the crops -- certainly in these parts.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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