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In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today's England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it, and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly beginning a new period in their long history. Especially at times of change, history can help us to think about the sort of people we are and wish to be. This book, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division, and yet also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger. ROBERT TOMBS is Professor of French History at Cambridge University and a Fellow of St John's College. His book That Sweet Enemy: the French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, co-written with his wife Isabelle, was published in 2006.
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book Robert Tombs’s momentous The English and Their History is both a startlingly fresh and a uniquely inclusive account of the people who have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. The English first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those first precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today’s England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly embarking on a new chapter. The English and Their History, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division and also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger.
"The English and Their History presents the momentous story of England "first as an idea, and then as a kingdom, as a country, a people and a culture." Here, in a single volume, is a fresh and comprehensive account of the English and their history. With extraordinary insight, Robert Tombs examines language, literature, law, religion, politics, and more while investigating the sources of England's collective memory and belief. The English and Their History spans 700,000 years, from the island's very first inhabitants to the present day, stopping along the way to recount the tales of conquerors, kings, and queens; a nation's myths and legends, facts and extraordinary truths. No history of England has come close to matching the scale and scope of this historical masterwork--with an eye for detail to rival his ambition, Tombs has managed to cover every significant happening and development over hundreds of thousands of years while accessibly explaining how they connect. But The English and Their History is more a work of narrative nonfiction than one of reference or record, expertly guiding the reader from footprints in the mud of early Homo sapiens through Shakespeare, Reformation, revolution, and industrialization in a narrative stretching all the way to the present"--
From Blenheim and Waterloo to 'Up Yours, Delors' and 'Hop Off You Frogs', the cross-Channel relationship has been one of rivalry, misapprehension and suspicion. But it has also been a relationship of envy, admiration and affection. In the nearly two centuries since the final defeat of Napoleon, France and Britain have spent much of that time as allies - an alliance that has been almost as uneasy, as competitive and as ambivalent as the generations of warfare. Their rivalry both on peace and war, for good and ill, has shaped the modern world, from North America to India in the eighteenth century, in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it is still shaping Europe today. This magisterial book, by turns provocative and delightful, always fascinating, tells the rich and complex story of the relationship over three centuries, from the beginning of the great struggle for mastery during the reign of Louis XIV to the second Iraq War and the latest enlargement of the EU. It tells of wars and battles, ententes and alliances, but also of food, fashion, sport, literature, sex and music. Its cast ranges from William and Mary to Tony Blair, from Voltaire to Eric Cantona; its sources from ambassadorial dispatches to police reports, from works of philosophy to tabloid newspapers, from guidebooks to cartoons and films. It's a book which brings both British humour and Gallic panache to the story of these two countries, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, in victory and in defeat, in dominance and in decline.
Simon Schama brings Britain to life through its portraits, as seen in the five-part BBC series The Face of Britain and the major National Portrait Gallery exhibition Churchill and his painter locked in a struggle of stares and glares; Gainsborough watching his daughters run after a butterfly; a black Othello in the nineteenth century, the poet-artist Rossetti trying to capture on canvas what he couldn't possess in life, a surgeon-artist making studies of wounded faces brought in from the Battle of the Somme; a naked John Lennon five hours before his death. In the age of the hasty glance and the selfie, Simon Schama has written a tour de force about the long exchange of looks from which British portraits have been made over the centuries: images of the modest and the mighty; of friends and lovers; heroes and working people. Each of them - the image-maker, the subject, and the rest of us who get to look at them - are brought unforgettably to life. Together they build into a collective picture of Britain, our past and our present, a look into the mirror of our identity at a moment when we are wondering just who we are. Combining his two great passions, British history and art history, for the first time, Schama's extraordinary storytelling reveals the truth behind the nation's most famous portrayals of power, love, fame, the self, and the people. Mesmerising in its breadth and its panache, and beautifully illustrated, with more than 150 images from the National Portrait Gallery, The Face of Britain will change the way we see our past - and ourselves.
A collection of essays which explore the interaction of local, regional and national identities in early medieval England. There are detailed discussions of local and regional elites and the interplay between them that fashioned the distinctive institutions of local government in the pre-Conquest period; radical new readings of key events such as the crisis of 1051 and a reassessment of the Bayeux Tapestry as the beginnings of the Historia Anglorum; studies of the impact of the Norman Conquest and the survival of the English; and explorations of the social, political, and administrative cultures in post-Conquest England and Normandy.

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