The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, Bilderberg meetings or Bilderberg Club is an annual private conference of 120 to 150 people of the European and North American political elite, experts from industry, finance, academia, and the media, established in 1954.
A rose by any other name….
It seems the tradition has far deeper roots. What we have come to understand about the meetings of the elite today – such as meetings of the Bilderberg Group – cannot be distinguished from similar gatherings held over 1000 years ago….
Struggle for Empire: Kingship and Conflict Under Louis the German, 817 – 876, by Eric J. Goldberg.
The royal assembly was the truest manifestation of the kingdom, since it instilled the nobles with the sense that they were members of a community of the realm with the king at their head.
This assembly included nobles from all corners of Louis’ kingdom. Depending on his favor with his father, Louis the Pious, and his own military reach, Louis’ kingdom at times included Bavaria, Alemannia, Franconia, Thuringia, and Saxony.
There were ethnic components to the eastern provinces, since their inhabitants spoke different Germanic dialects and had their own written law codes and distinctive social and legal customs.
Each region had its own unique cultural characteristics; this mattered little to the nobles who lorded over the people. The nobles from these provinces considered themselves as separate from those they ruled, shedding their cultural connections to the uniqueness of their homes; they were members of a different community – not Saxon, not Bavarian:
By the ninth century, most of the leading families of the eastern regna considered themselves Franks, either because they were Frankish transplants to the east or because their ancestors had married into Frankish families.
The nobles were more connected to the culture of the western realm – supposedly more sophisticated, more civil. The nobles were more connected to each other than to their homeland.
This noble connection across regions and the noble separation from those over whom they ruled came most forcefully to a head in what is known as the Stellinga rebellion. The Saxon peasants – taking advantage of Louis’ distractions of empire, rebelled against their lords.
The primary cause was religious: while the peasants wished to continue in their traditional worship, their lords embraced Christianity. Louis’ grandfather Charlemagne had ordered the conversion to Christianity under penalty of death:
While the Saxon nobles embraced Christianity quite willingly, the frilingi and lazzi associated the new religion with Frankish oppression.
In addition to the desire to cling to their traditional faith, the peasants feared this acceptance of Christianity would lead to a further loss of numerous other civil features of their culture – including their role in the governance of the tribe.
The peasants held a governing role – prominent considering their station – in the annual council at Marklo, on the Weser River. At this council they confirmed their laws, pronounced judgment on outstanding cases, and made decisions about war. They participated in all of these discussions and decisions, alongside the nobility.
This annual council was also a religious event, including prayers to their gods to offer wisdom in their decisions; therefore Christianity was seen as a threat to the peasants’ role in governance.
In any case, in the end Louis crushed the Saxon peasant rebellion.
Returning to the gathering of the elite, Louis would announce the date of the assembly in advance. He would specify the royal officials that were to attend – talk about wanting to get into the “in” crowd” and remaining politically correct; you really had to stay in Louis’ favor. It was the great social and political event of the year.
The king, queen and royal family would wear their most resplendent royal attire; the palace would be decorated with the best tapestries and ornaments, conveying the king’s wealth. The assembly was extremely costly…
… [requiring] the king to provide housing, food, drink, entertainment, and probably gifts for hundreds of attending nobles and dignitaries.
But this was not merely a lavish house party.
At the assembly, the king and his nobles reaffirmed their social ties and shared aristocratic culture: they exchanged gifts, hunted, attended Mass, formed marriage alliances, and the like.
So much for the social; what about the political?
The king and magnates discussed all pressing issues confronting the kingdom: treaties, alliances, military campaigns, local politics, aristocratic conflicts, and the like. The king distributed patronage to his supporters, admonished public officials to carry out their duties, received foreign ambassadors and tribute, and planned future treaties and military campaigns.
The royal assembly also functioned as the highest court of law in the kingdom.
No peasants allowed….
Can you distinguish this annual gathering from what we have come to believe of events like Bilderberg and the actors that make up today’s global elite? I cannot.
Except that we don’t call them kings and nobles anymore. That’s it, I guess.