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The History of England - Volume 1 Part 3

David Hume

Book Overview: 

David Hume is one of the great philosophers of the Western intellectual tradition. His philosophical writings earned him lasting fame and renown; his historical writing earned his bread and butter. His "The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688", published between 1754 and 1764, was immensely popular and Hume wrote that "the copy-money given me by the booksellers much exceeded any thing formerly known in England; I was become not only independent, but opulent." The six volume work has had numerous editions and is still in print today. David Hume and Thomas Babington Macaulay have frequently been compared as the premier English historians but we don't have to choose because Macaulay begins where Hume leaves off.

This is Volume 1C which covers the reigns of Henry VII to Mary I.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .m he conferred offices, sensible that they owed every thing to his protection, were willing to support his power, though at the expense of justice and national privileges. These seem the chief causes which at this time bestowed on the crown so considerable an addition of prerogative, and rendered the present reign a kind of epoch in the English constitution.

This prince, though he exalted his prerogative above law is celebrated by his historian for many good laws, which he made be enacted for the government of his subjects. Several considerable regulations, indeed, are found among the statutes of this reign, both with regard to the police of the kingdom, and its commerce: but the former are generally contrived with much better judgment than the latter. The more simple ideas of order and equity are sufficient to guide a legislator in every thing that regards the internal administration. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Clearly, from Hume's perspective the early Anglo-Saxons were barbarians, the Norman kings of England were pure thugs no better than the popular view today of the Mafia, and the church at Rome was the evil empire. Reading Hume is very entertaining as long as you don't expect anything even remotely li

"Such was the idea which the popes then entertained of the English: and nothing can be a stronger proof of the miserable ignorance in which that people were then plunged, than that a man, who sat on the papal throne, and who subsisted by absurdities and nonsense, should think himself entitled to tre

Very hard going. Lots of cross references. Lots of difficult similar sounding names. Authoritative, possibly but most older citations are single documents written long after the events. Accurate contemporaneous accounts are unlikely. Writing style is definitely one for academia not light reading.

This isn’t exactly cutting edge history, crammed with all the latest insights that can be provided by modern archeology, but it is beautifully written and an enjoyable read.

This is the best telling of early English history that I’ve come across. Hume gives the facts as he believes them and weaves a narrative that makes for a coherent story as he believes them to be and relevant for his time period of 1760.

I found this book and its accounting of its history to parallel

One word to desribe it: "incredible." All done without a proper library. Appealed to all for its frankness. No not painting the wart on the King's nose. And why am I the only one to rate this book?

Yes! The wonderful thing about reading an old history is that you learn about two periods in one fell swoop: the period described and the period in which it is written. On top of that, I really appreciate Hume's obvious charm and wit and perspective. His treatment of Beckett is interesting and refre

Several years ago, my son-in-law gave me the six-volume history of England by David Hume. I put it on a shelf, admiring how impressive the books looked there. The sheer size of the work was intimidating; starting it seemed like a big commitment. Plus, the fact that it had been written in mid-18th Ce

What can you do once you have completed Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire but still yearn for more? Can any other history survive comparison with its deliberate opinions, its vast scope, its lofty style? Well, it took me twenty years, but I have stumbled upon an answer: you can read

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