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|There is still a bit of a debate
Written by JulieW
(8/21/2004 6:22 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, So that's the answer!, penned by Cinthia
The debate here illustrates this point rather nicely, IMHO.
The Norman Conquest has influenced historians to such a point that it is very easy to forget all pre-Norman Conquest history and the Kings who reigned in England before the first Norman William and, indeed , the first Norman Edward
As Carolyn points out above, there were other Edwards before the Norman ones ;-) Unfortunately for them( and possibly for us) it is the Norman monarchs who tend to be memorable,to paraphrase Sellar and Yeatman, and therefore they were the ones who got the numbers and the mentions in the history books!
The starting point for "real " history was very influenced by the Norman Conquest. What went on before 1066 was treated very cursorily by teachers and books alike.
The balance is being redressed these days, as more discoveries are being made about pre- Saxon History. Certainly my children are being taught more about the era before 1066 than I ever was ;-)
However, this is the type of approach that both JA and Sellar and Yeatman were parodying( in their book 1066 and All That , which was also turned into a very funny and successful musical).
Letís look at JAís source : Goldsmith starts his history with the conquest of England by Julius Caesar in 55 B.C. Of course , he does not bother to tell his reader of this date ;-).
Sellar and Yeatman devote hardly any space to preRoman Britain.One paragraph is devoted to Culture Among the Ancient Britons!, and parodys the prevailing attitude to pre-Roman Britain perfectly and somewhat dismissively:
The Ancient Britons were by no means savages before the Conquest, and had already made great strides in civilization, e.g. they buried each other in long round wheelbarrows( agriculture) and burnt each other alive ( religion) under the guidance of even odder Britons called Druids or Eisteddfods, who worshipped the Middletoe in the famous Druidical churchyard at Stoke Penge.
The Roman Conquest was , however, a Good Thing, since the Britons were only natives at that time.
For Sellar and Yeatman the Roman Conquest was the starting point:
The first date in English History is 55 B.C.-For the other date see Chapter XI, William the Conqueror
..and I think we can all guess what that date is , canít we?
Which probably explains why JA chose to arbitrarily start her history with the reign of Henry IV. She was being as arbitrary as the other historians. What is sauce for the goose,as they say ....
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