A short note for regular readers: I had these three items ‘stacked up’, so now seems the right time to use them. I think I should be back to ‘usual’ next week.
I have mentioned before, I am sure (I am not one for hiding my shame under a bushel) my complete negligence in attempting to get to grips with the rudimentary research required to tackle History at ‘A’ level and my subsequent abject failure to attain a standard that the examination board could even be bothered to grade. I am not proud of this – there is little in my schooldays that I can be proud of – but it has prompted me to investigate just how far my historical knowledge (at least of my own country) does spread. Curiously, I discover that it does cover quite a lot – albeit breathtakingly thinly…
500,000 B.C. – Boxgrove man stumbled into Sussex only to find that all the sunbeds had already been taken by Boxgrove German.
2,000 B.C. – In an attempt to make the game more media-friendly, a group of druid football fans invented a round pitch featuring 5 goals with a convenient slab in the centre on which to sacrifice the referee if he refused to overrule VAR. Stonehenge (later known as the Plumbing4U Arena) was carefully orientated so that the sun was always in the opposition goalie’s eyes during the second half.
43 A.D. – The Roman’s conquered England (despite Julius Caesar having claimed to have done so in 55 B.C. – ‘I’m sorry J.C., but standing on the beach saying Veni, Vidi, Vici does not constitute conquest, even in Kent’) and introduced straight roads, coinage, apples and pears (much later adopted by Cockneys in order to get up to the first floor), regular bathing (much, much later adopted by Cockneys) extravagant hand gestures and swearing. Most of England and Wales did not actually succumb to military take-over but merely adopted Roman habits and laws in exchange for toilet facilities. This was not the way in Scotland where the natives – particularly the strange and heavily bearded women – refused to stop deep-frying the pizza and fortifying the wine with Irn Bru, and eventually (122 A.D.) the Romans erected a huge wall that ran from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway to mark the northernmost extent of their empire and the southernmost reach of the bagpipes (although they did later expand further and built a new wall between the Firths of Forth and Clyde which was abandoned only eight years after completion when the Roman Empire retreated back to Hadrain’s Wall and both Celtic and Rangers claimed the victory).
1066 A.D. – The Norman Invasion and the defeat of the English King Harold by William, Duke of Normandy. The Normans gave us castles, churches and monasteries, and a deep-seated distrust of all things French. Harold was famously killed by an arrow through the eye, but contemporary accounts state that he was also attacked with swords as he lay dying – perhaps he asked for gravy with his snails.
1086 A.D. – The Domesday Book: an early Norman census that detailed all of the property pinched from the English by the French and provided a guide to how much tax could be raised from all of those who could not possibly afford it.
1215 A.D. – The Magna Carta: a royal charter of rights decreed by King John to a group of 25 barons who, it transpired, were twenty-five times as bad as a single king for most of the country’s population. The charter listed a number of civil rights and the people who could trample on them. Legal precedents were created, such as Habeus Corpus, and civil liberties were enshrined into English Law – although not so enshrined that 99% of the population would ever have the faintest idea about it. The charter was modified and reissued in 1216,1217, 1225 and 1297 on each occasion signing away a little more of the monarch’s divine right in exchange for hard cash. The Magna Carta also provided the blueprint for the American Constitution which is equally effective at protecting the poor and the disenfranchised.
N.B. I can only apologise if my interpretation of events is at odds with your own. Loathe though I am to admit it, I do get things wrong.
*This is not The History of Britain because I have no desire to thoroughly piss off the people of three other nations.
You can find part two here and part three here.