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

By Simon Jenkins

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

A brief heritage of England sheds new mild on the entire key participants and occasions in English heritage through bringing them jointly in an enlightening account of the country’s delivery, upward push to international prominence, after which partial eclipse. Written with aptitude and authority via 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 finished, with greater than 100 colour illustrations, this gorgeous single-volume historical past could be the typical paintings for years to come.

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The Birth of England 600 - 800 IN 596 POPE GREGORY NOTICED two blond-haired slaves in a Roman market place and asked where they were from. On being told they were ‘Angli’ he is reported by Bede as replying, ‘Non Angli sed angeli,’ not Angles but angels of God. Britain was a forgotten colony on the distant border of the Frankish empire, then covering much of modern France and Germany. Gregory was an ardent missionary and sent a bishop, Augustine, to the court of Ethelbert of Kent and his wife, the Frankish Christian Bertha.

Realising Hardrada was unprepared, Harold’s forces immediately charged and, in a fierce encounter, killed both Hardrada and Tostig. The surviving Norwegians were sent home humiliated. The death of Hardrada, ‘the last of the Vikings’, greatly lessened the threat from that quarter to the English throne. Twelfth-century depiction of William of Normandy, whose ruthless conquest and Norman settlement of England supplied the framework of the future nation state. Harold had spent just a week securing York when he was told the desperate news that William had sailed from France after all, and landed on 28 September at Pevensey.

His one tactical advantage was the blessing of Pope Alexander II, angry at Godwin’s appointment of Stigand as archbishop of Canterbury. A relic of St Peter was sent for William to carry into battle. Harold responded by gathering a navy off the Isle of Wight and summoning a fyrd, or Saxon militia, which he deployed along the south coast. This supplemented the king’s own corps of ‘house ceorls’, 2,000 full-time soldiers of his personal guard. Such a defence should have been sufficient, but the first requirement for William’s invasion, a south-west wind, failed to materialise.

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