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A Short History of England

£9.95

Most history books are written to correct other history books. Chesterton’s A Short History of England is no exception. In every other sense, however, it is exceptional to every other history book.

Chesterton wanted to write a popular history, that is, “a history from the standpoint of a member of the public.” Most historical accounts of England, he said, were extremely “anti-popular,” that is, they ignored all the large and obvious things, “like the size of Gothic churches” and the fact that the squires in large country houses are not called an abbots but their houses are called abbeys. The difference between a popular history and a scholarly history “is not about the facts but about the importance of the facts.”

Chesterton maintained that legend is usually more important than history, because legend is what everyone in a village knows is important, whereas history is only what one person-usually a crank-thinks is important.

Chesterton starts with Britain’s barbarian beginnings, then he introduces the civilizing order of the Romans and the Saints, then he takes us through the Crusades and the Middle Ages (lingering a bit in the long light of this era), and then through the rocky Renaissance (which he calls “The Rebellion of the Rich”), the eras of the Puritans, the Whigs, the Revolution that never happened, and finally the Return of the Barbarian.

Chesterton tries to restore the proper proportion to history, especially to that giant thing called the Middle Ages. He of course paints a big picture with a broad brush, yet he does not neglect the charming details, as, for instance, when he points out that Henry VIII “was almost as unlucky in his wives as they were in their husband.”
      -      Dale Ahlquist

School textbook-style. 8.5" x 11".

Paperback. 108 pp.


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