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A Short History of England by G. K. Chesterton

A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND

by

G. K. CHESTERTON

London Chatto & Windus MCMXVII

Printed in England by William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles. All rights reserved

CONTENTS

PAGE I. INTRODUCTION 1

II. THE PROVINCE OF BRITAIN 6

III. THE AGE OF LEGENDS 19

IV. THE DEFEAT OF THE BARBARIANS 30

V. ST. EDWARD AND THE NORMAN KINGS 43

VI. THE AGE OF THE CRUSADES 58

VII. THE PROBLEM OF THE PLANTAGENETS 71

VIII. THE MEANING OF MERRY ENGLAND 86

IX. NATIONALITY AND THE FRENCH WARS 104

X. THE WAR OF THE USURPERS 119

XI. THE REBELLION OF THE RICH 133

XII. SPAIN AND THE SCHISM OF NATIONS 151

XIII. THE AGE OF THE PURITANS 163

XIV. THE TRIUMPH OF THE WHIGS 179

XV. THE WAR WITH THE GREAT REPUBLICS 195

XVI. ARISTOCRACY AND THE DISCONTENTS 209

XVII. THE RETURN OF THE BARBARIAN 223

XVIII. CONCLUSION 238

A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND

I

INTRODUCTION

It will be very reasonably asked why I should consent, though upon a sort of challenge, to write even a popular essay in English history, who make no pretence to particular scholarship and am merely a member of the public. The answer is that I know just enough to know one thing: that a history from the standpoint of a member of the public has not been written. What we call the popular histories should rather be called the anti-popular histories. They are all, nearly without exception, written against the people; and in them the populace is either ignored or elaborately proved to have been wrong. It is true that Green called his book "A Short History of the English People"; but he seems to have thought it too short for the people to be properly mentioned. For instance, he calls one very large part of his story "Puritan England." But England never was Puritan. It would have been almost as unfair to call the rise of Henry of Navarre "Puritan France." And some of our extreme Whig historians would have been pretty nearly capable of calling the campaign of Wexford and Drogheda "Puritan Ireland."


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