Monday, 22 June 2015

English History

I have just started reading The English and Their History by Robert Tombs. I earlier lauded That Sweet Enemy (which is by both the Tombses) and this one looks to be just as good.

Tombs has an eye for the telling and interesting detail. In a few pages, I have learned that in the dying days of the Roman Empire, the Romans stationed "more troops in Britain than any medieval English monarch would ever command" (at the outermost edges of Empire!), that Offa's Dyke is the longest and, from an engineering point of view, most demanding earthwork known to European history, that, "In more than 1,000 years of European history between the emperor Marcus Aurelius and Alfonso the Wise of Spain, Alfred [the Great] is the only European ruler we see reflecting personally on the moral duties of kingship" and a fair bit about the difference between English and Danish hairstyles at the time of the Danelaw. So far, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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