A Short History of England: The Glorious Story of a Rowdy by Simon Jenkins

By Simon Jenkins

The heroes and villains, triumphs and mess ups of English historical past are immediately familiar—from the Norman Conquest to Henry VIII, Queen Victoria to the 2 global Wars. yet to appreciate their complete value we have to recognize the entire story.

A brief heritage of England sheds new gentle on all of the key contributors and occasions in English heritage by way of bringing them jointly in an enlightening account of the country’s start, upward push to international prominence, after which partial eclipse. Written with aptitude and authority by means of Guardian columnist and London Times former editor Simon Jenkins, this can be the definitive narrative of the way today’s England got here to be. Concise yet accomplished, with greater than 100 colour illustrations, this gorgeous single-volume heritage often is the ordinary paintings for years to come.

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I return to these themes in my epilogue. This is specifically a book about England. I regard Wales, Scotland and Ireland as countries with their own histories. They have spent less than half their existence as components of a union of ‘Great Britain and Ireland’, an embrace that tends to subordinate them in conventional histories of Britain. But England is a country in its own right, different from its neighbours and with a people who call themselves English in differentiation from Scots, Welsh and Irish.

Bear is artos in Celtic. This glint of light in the darkness is the nearest history gets to ‘Arthur’. On it was based a giant edifice of legend. From Gildas was derived the Arthur of the ninth-century propagandist Nennius, and of the twelfth-century fantasist Geoffrey of Monmouth, responsible for much of the imagery of north European chivalric culture. This led to the bestseller by Thomas Malory in the fifteenth century, Morte d’Arthur. Following Malory came Tennyson, the pre-Raphaelites, Hollywood and the ‘Holy Grail’, conjecturing a mystic pre-Saxon paradise called Camelot, with a wizard called Merlin, and many a knightly deed, heartbreak and tragedy.

One is that Germanic tribes moving south towards France were balked by the Franks under Emperor Clovis and diverted across the North Sea. Their invasion, perhaps assisted by Roman mercenaries already resident in Britain, was essentially genocidal. They massacred or wholly subjugated the indigenous British tribes of eastern England, such as the Iceni and Trinovantes, and obliterated their culture. England was born of the aggressive settlement of the eastern coast of the British Isles by Germanic Anglo-Saxons: warrior’s helmet from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, now in the British Museum.

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