One of the best light hearted books on English history “1066 And All That” was written by Walter Sellar and Robert Yeatman and published in 1930. In the introduction they write that “History is not what you thought. History is what you can remember…all other history defeats itself ”. It has also been said that the trouble with history is that there are too many facts and the historian Edward Gibbon wrote that history is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind”. The book brings out the main facts and follies of English history and illustrates them with supporting vignettes which try to emphasise the human dimension of our past.
The first part of this book covers the period when Sovereigns ruled (or tried to rule) by virtue of their birthright. The second part, which finishes at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, covers the more complex political landscape of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was then that Parliament increasingly held the reins of power. This was as a result of the Civil War, the Glorious Revolution and the arrival of the House of Hanover whose early Kings were, arguably, more interested in continental affairs than those of Britain.
This book is limited in scope but I hope it will be of interest for those who are a little vague about what has happened in our past. Seasoned historians can leave it alone!