By Simon Schama
'Great Britain? What used to be that?' asks Simon Schama firstly of this, the second one ebook of his epic three-volume trip into Britain's earlier. This quantity, "The British Wars", is a compelling chronicle of the alterations that reworked each strand and stratum of British lifestyles, religion and inspiration from 1603 to 1776. vacationing up and down the rustic and throughout 3 continents, Schama explores the forces that tore Britain aside in the course of centuries of dynamic swap - reworking outlooks, allegiances and bounds. From the start of the British wars in July 1637, for two hundred years battles raged on - either at domestic and out of the country, on sea and on land, up and down the size of burgeoning Britain, throughout Europe, the United States and India. such a lot will be wars of religion - waged on wide-ranging grounds of political or spiritual conviction. yet as wars of spiritual passions gave option to campaigns for revenue, the British humans did come jointly within the imperial firm of 'Britannia Incorporated'. the tale of that groovy alteration is a narrative of revolution and response, suggestion and disenchantment, of growth and disaster, and Schama's evocative narrative brings it vividly to existence.
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Additional info for A History of Britain: British Wars 1603-1776 v. 2: The British Wars 1603-1776
It is certainly true James made no bones about the fact that his authority was based on appointment by God, to whom alone princes were ultimately and exclusively accountable. ‘For Kings sit in the throne of God and thence all judgement is derived’, as he would notoriously put it. This was the sort of utterance calculated to set parliamentary teeth on edge and persuade champions of the supremacy of common law, such as Sir Edwin Sandys, Nicholas Fuller and Sir Edward Coke, that James had been infected by despotic European attitudes to sovereignty and now needed a crash course of remedial instruction on just how things were in England.
Crucially, for our future, they were often, even excessively, mindful. The Victorian historians, especially Macaulay, who believed the good fortune of British birth to be a reward won by the sacrifices of ancestors, are habitually berated in much modern scholarship for their detestably insular smugness, their fatuous error of reading history ‘backwards’ and their habit of projecting on periods – entirely innocent of parliamentary civics – their own nineteenth-century preoccupations. Read those books, it’s said, and you are in a world drained of historical free will, of the uncertainty of outcomes, a past ordered to march in lock-step to the drumbeat of the Protestant, parliamentary future.
John Speed, tailor turned map-maker and historian, must have had some idea, for in 1611 he published an atlas of sixty-seven maps of the English counties, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, loftily entitled The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. An energetic opportunist, Speed was taking advantage of King James’s widely advertised desire to be known, not as the Sixth of Scotland and First of England, but as monarch of Britain. The fancy of a British history had been given fresh authority by William Camden’s great compilation of geography, the antiquarian chronicle, Britannia, already in its sixth edition by 1607.
A History of Britain: British Wars 1603-1776 v. 2: The British Wars 1603-1776 by Simon Schama