Friday, June 18, 2021


 This book does not seek to rival the works of professional historians. It aims rather to present a personal view on the processes whereby English-speaking peoples throughout the world have achieved their distinctive position and character. I write about the things in our past that appear significant to me, and I do so as one not without some experience of historical and violent events in our own time. I use the term “English-speaking peoples” because there is no other that applies both to the inhabitants of the British Isles and to those independent nations who derive their beginnings, their speech, and many of their institutions from England, and who now preserve, nourish, and develop them in their own ways.

This first volume traces the story of the English-speaking peoples from the earliest times to the eve of the European discovery of the New World. It concludes upon the field of Bosworth, the last battle of the tumultuous English Middle Ages. The year is 1485, and a new dynasty has just mounted the English throne. Seven years later Columbus landed in the Americas, and from this date, 1492, a new era in the history of mankind takes its beginnings.

Our story centres in an island, not widely sundered from the Continent, and so tilted that its mountains lie all to the west and north, while south and east is a gently undulating landscape of wooded valleys, open downs, and slow rivers. It is very accessible to the invader, whether he comes in peace or war, as pirate or merchant, conqueror or missionary. Those who dwell there are not insensitive to any shift of power, any change of faith, or even fashion, on the mainland, but they give to every practice, every doctrine that comes to it from abroad, its own peculiar turn and imprint. A province of the Roman Empire, cut off and left to sink or swim in the great convulsion of the Dark Ages; reunited to Christendom, and almost torn away from it once more by the heathen Dane; victorious, united, but exhausted, yielding, almost without resistance, to the Norman Conqueror; submerged, it might seem, within the august framework of Catholic feudalism, was yet capable of reappearing with an individuality of its own. Neither its civilisation nor speech is quite Latin nor quite Germanic. It possesses a body of custom which, whatever its ultimate sources may be—folkright brought from beyond the seas by Danes, and by Saxons before them, maxims of civil jurisprudence culled from Roman codes—is being welded into one Common Law. This is England in the thirteenth century, the century of Magna Carta, and of the first Parliament.

Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain. RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

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