A Short History of England by R. J. A. White

By R. J. A. White

This is often an agreeable narrative, effortless to learn, of the background of the English state via twenty centuries. it's meant for the reader who desires a complete survey that brings out the $64000 traces of improvement yet doesn't clog the tale with too many proof, dates, treaties and battles. Underlying the account is a certified scholar's acquaintance with ancient scholarship, conveyed as a stimulating succession of rules. The reader will get a powerful feel of the evolution of English society: the combination of legislations, customized and innovation in its constitutional background; its curious combination of features. there are lots of vigorous - and occasionally stunning - quotations from the assets. Its compass is the total box of English background from the Roman career to the tip of the 19th century; a quick postscript brings the tale as much as the current day.

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It was long before the Normans replaced Saxon wood and rubble with the masonry of military feudalism in its monolithic might. Much of the castlebuilding of the first generation of the conquerors was improvised out of the debris of old destruction as they piled up mound and 1 See Ladies whose Bright Eyes, by Ford Madox Ford. Some of the aspects of the medieval landscape surveyed by Mr Sorrell may be seen in the passage which serves as epigraph to the present chapter, p. 41 above. 46 THE ANGLO-NORMAN STATE motte to hold a strong-point in emergency.

We have learnt to forget romantic abstractions like the wicked barons and knights in shining armour, and to take it for granted that the feudal host consisted of farmers and fighters and business-men with work to do, a living to make, and a world to win between dawn and dusk. Carlyle, with his superb imaginative insight, and despite all his thunder-and-lightning style, did more than anyone before Maitland to make us see this. He showed, in his Past and Present (1843), that the feudal baron was more like the eighteenthcentury captain of industry Richard Arkwright than he was like 1 That is, the obligation to attend the court of one's feudal lord at stated intervals.

Oxen continued to plough the arable fields, and the basis of the shareout of land among the warriors may well have been the number of plough-beasts each contributed to the team of the community. Corn continued to be grown, but more on the valley bottoms where the ancient oak-trees receded before the axe. Sheep continued to be reared for wool and mutton, but the wool was now woven in individual households and by women rather than by slaves in the villas, and barley-drink or beer became the staple drink.

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