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

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By Simon Jenkins

The heroes and villains, triumphs and failures of English background 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 recognize the complete story.

A brief background of England sheds new gentle on all of the key contributors and occasions in English heritage via bringing them jointly in an enlightening account of the country’s beginning, upward push to international prominence, after which partial eclipse. Written with aptitude and authority by way 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 pretty single-volume background often is the common paintings for years to come.

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York fell and became a Viking trading post, Yorvik. The Danes then proceeded against Mercia and Wessex. Any who resisted were murdered, such as Edmund of East Anglia, whose body was used for archery practice, to be commemorated in Bury St Edmunds. The invaders reached Reading in 871 and Wareham in 876. By now the invasion was becoming an occupation. The newcomers began to settle, dividing their conquered territory north and south of the Humber. They intermarried and their language mixed with that of the local population.

A feigned retreat appears to have led the Saxons to break from their shield shell and charge downhill, at which point they became vulnerable to the Norman cavalry. The turning point came, according to most accounts, when an arrow hit Harold in the eye. Seeing their chance, four Norman knights fought their way to him and hacked him to pieces. With the death of their leader, the Saxons fled to the surrounding woods. Harold’s body was so mutilated in the melee that his mistress, the charmingly named Edith Swan-Neck, had to be summoned to identify its parts.

Alfred’s great kingdom had been reduced to a wasteland of marauding bands. Six months later Cnut married Ethelred’s widow, Emma of Normandy, partly legitimising his succession and embracing England in a Viking empire that eventually extended from Wessex through Denmark to the north of Norway. This, and not 1066 half a century later, marked the true demise of Saxon England. The Saxon missionaries built large churches such as Earls Barton in Northants. The windows suggest a survival of Roman decoration.

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