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A Short History of England

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

“But it is especially in the matter of the Middle Ages that the popular histories trample upon the popular traditions. In this respect there is an almost comic contrast between the general information provided about England in the last two or three centuries, in which its present industrial system was being built up, and the general information given about the preceding centuries, which we call broadly mediaeval. “

As this quotation taken from the Introduction clearly shows, he is no mere pedant reciting dry dates and locations, but a profound thinker flooding new light onto those modern “myths” that have filled our histories. He is a master of paradox, and the technique of reducing his opponents arguments to the logical absurdity they have inherent in them. He often turns them upside down. All of which makes his work both a sound subject for reflection and highly entertaining all the while it remains permanently timely.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He was loyal to the kingdom he had not yet made. Thus the Norman Bruce becomes a Scot; thus the descendant of the Norman Strongbow becomes an Irishman. No men less than Normans can be conceived as remaining as a superior caste until the present time. But this alien and adventurous loyalty in the Norman, which appears in these other national histories, appears most strongly of all in the history we have here to follow. The Duke of Normandy does become a real King of England; his claim through the Confessor, his election by the Council, even his symbolic handfuls of the soil of Sussex, these are not altogether empty forms. And though both phrases would be inaccurate, it is very much nearer the truth to call William the first of the English than to call Harold the last of them.

An indeterminate debate touching the dim races that mixed without record in that dim epoch, has made much of the fact that the Norman edges of France, like the East Anglian edges of England, . . . Read More

Community Reviews

As other reviewers have observed, this would be better titled “G.K. Chesterton’s Short History of England.”

I appreciated a native of England, giving a broad brushstrokes perspective on the history of English society. Helpful for those who do not claim England as their heritage, and orienting to bet

La edición en mi poder (Calleja, 1920) cuenta con un breve resumen preliminar de la historia de Inglaterra y con suficientes notas al pie como para permitir al lector no familiarizado con dicha historia no perder el hilo de la narración. Y esto es importante ya que, básicamente, el libro es un comen

El propio Chesterton advierte en el prólogo que él no es historiador ni pretende ser exhaustivo. Aún así, esta visión muy personal de la historia de Inglaterra está demasiado sesgada por su catolicismo militante (no creo que juzgar la civilización celta o las leyendas artúricas desde una perspectiva

I have some friends and acquaintances that really think a lot of G.K. Chesterton. So I thought that I would read a few of his books. This was my second book by him (after The Man Who Was Thursday). I am told that he was the C.S. Lewis of his generation and that he had written many profound things. S

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