The wonderful stories from history.

Illuminateda
Jo here. I know that’s not a CBK or even a J or a B, but it illuminates another thing. The past could be lovely.

I’m a history lover, from the womb as best I can tell.

I was trying to remember what first piece of historical fiction I read and having trouble, and if we leave out the fantasies like Cinderella (always set in the 18th century) and Jack and the Beanstalk (middle ages) I’m not sure, but that’s because it was probably when I was very young.

But that led me to thinking about history, which I remember from my childhood as being a series of wonderful stories. It’s probably chauvinism on my part, but to me no other country seems quite so dense with great stories as England.

We started with the stories in primary school, listening to them told, then writing our own short versions and illustrating them with some sort of drawing.

The first, of course, was Julius Cesar arriving, finding people painted blue with woad and saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Then there was St. Augustine (I think, does anyone know?) who saw blond haired, blue-eyed English children in a slave market in Rome and asked what people they were. When told they were Angles he said, “Not Angles but angels.”

King Alfred and the cakes – and the first English navy, finally able to defeat the Vikings.

The whole Norman Conquest, from Harold being driven by storm into Normandy where he was tricked into swearing an oath to support William for the crown when Edward the Confessor died. About his rejection of that; William delayed by storms (it’s no wonder the English talk about the weather a lot. It’s shaped our history); Harold having to march north to defeat another invader then return south at an amazing speed; about Hastings and Harold with an arrow in his eye.

An illustrated story, that – the Bayeaux Tapestry.
See a frame here.
You can see the whole taspestry at the above site. http://rubens.anu.edu.au/htdocs/bytype/textiles/bayeux/

Then we have red-haired William Rufus shot by someone in the New Forest; the treasury and crown captured by his brother Henry; then Henry’s only son, Henry, killed in a storm in the Channel (there we go again!) in the White Ship. Which led to civil war. (It’s not at all surprising that a number of subsequent monarchs were obsessed by the need for an incontestable male heir.)

Henry II and Thomas a Becket. Richard the Lionheart. Only the noble side of him for children — crusades and his minstrel Blondel. Bad Prince John losing his treasure in the Wash. (Weather again.) The Edwards – strong, weak, strong – defeating the Welsh and almost, the Scots. The Eleanor Crosses. The death of the Black Prince. How can you not love a storyline that has a Black Prince?

We took in Joan of Arc without much reference to the bad side of the English in that affair by right of her being a Catholic Saint. There’s another mine of fabulous stories!

Richard III, the princes in the Tower, “My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse!” (it helps to have a lot of the history retold by Shakespeare) the Wars of the Roses (Of particular interest in Lancashire where I grew up. There’s even a cricket match still between Lancashire and Yorkshire called the Roses. Living history, you see.) The bizarrely dramatic Tudor cycle — Henry VIII and his six wives, the Nine Days Queen, Mary Tudor with Calais engraved on her heart, Mary Queen of Scots seeing her secretary murdered before her eyes and, well, her whole story is hard to believe anyway! All crowned with Sir Francis Drake (bowling on Plymouth Ho,) Good Queen Bess (“I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman….”) and the Armada.

This was all colored by a Catholic education — the conscientiously stubborn St. Thomas More and the dashing, martyred Jesuit, St. Thomas Campion. But that goes way back, too. To St. Patrick arriving to covert the heathen.

The Civil War, with the Cavaliers so much more dashing and romantic than the Roundheads, and illustrated by Victorian pictured such as And When Did You Last See Your Father? (I can’t see a way to link directly to the item about the picture, but it’s down the bottom of this page.)

The Victorians, vile as they were (there are some wonderfully funny books on English history and one is The Vile Victorians. I think another is The Nasty Normas. You get the idea. Great to get kids interested in history because it’s all the stories again.) did have their use as romantic illustrators of England’s stories.

The future Charles II in the oak tree. The Restoration, the Glorious Revolution. William of Orange killed by a molehole when riding, hence Stuart toasts to the little gentleman in the black velvet coat. (I think I have that right, but not precisely. I’m blogging this off the top of my head.) The ’15 and the ’45 with Flora McDonald helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape disguised as her maid….

There are few standard stories of romantic fiction that haven’t been true in history somewhere, sometime. After the ’15, one lady smuggled her condemned husband out of prison in women’s clothing.

Are you a lover of history’s stories? Which are your favorites? Share the best romantic, dramatic stories from your own heritage.

Jo 🙂

33 thoughts on “The wonderful stories from history.”

  1. Oh, yes! History is stories! I love British history for the same reasons- and the saints are great stories, too. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, and Bernadette of Lourdes- if you’ve never read Song of Bernadette you should. It was written by a Jewish author, so you don’t have to be Catholic to love it. But history so often is tragic- that’s why I like historical fiction. Happy Endings are guaranteed!

    Reply
  2. Oh, yes! History is stories! I love British history for the same reasons- and the saints are great stories, too. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, and Bernadette of Lourdes- if you’ve never read Song of Bernadette you should. It was written by a Jewish author, so you don’t have to be Catholic to love it. But history so often is tragic- that’s why I like historical fiction. Happy Endings are guaranteed!

    Reply
  3. Oh, yes! History is stories! I love British history for the same reasons- and the saints are great stories, too. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, and Bernadette of Lourdes- if you’ve never read Song of Bernadette you should. It was written by a Jewish author, so you don’t have to be Catholic to love it. But history so often is tragic- that’s why I like historical fiction. Happy Endings are guaranteed!

    Reply
  4. I think the stories did me in, too. One reason why I love English history is because it is like a long and bloody play — very entertaining! As for my own (Austrian/Tyrolean) heritage, there’s the “freedom fight of 1809” (never mentioned in romance novels, most likely because German is not accessible to most writers), one of the great struggles against Napolean – the Tyrol, having been lost by the feeble Austrians, was given to the Bavarians (allies of the French). In 1809 the militias, farmers and volunteers under innkeeper Andreas Hofer expell the French/Bavarian occupation, manage to win three decissive battles against overwhelming forces, and are defeated in the end. Andreas Hofer was executed in Mantova in 1810, and the Tyrol remained with Bavaria until after Napoleon was defeated…. or the stories about the defeat of the Turkish in the 17th century – after the Turks left, the Viennese found a lot of strange green beans. Someone figured out how to roast them and voila, the Viennese Coffee House was born!

    Reply
  5. I think the stories did me in, too. One reason why I love English history is because it is like a long and bloody play — very entertaining! As for my own (Austrian/Tyrolean) heritage, there’s the “freedom fight of 1809” (never mentioned in romance novels, most likely because German is not accessible to most writers), one of the great struggles against Napolean – the Tyrol, having been lost by the feeble Austrians, was given to the Bavarians (allies of the French). In 1809 the militias, farmers and volunteers under innkeeper Andreas Hofer expell the French/Bavarian occupation, manage to win three decissive battles against overwhelming forces, and are defeated in the end. Andreas Hofer was executed in Mantova in 1810, and the Tyrol remained with Bavaria until after Napoleon was defeated…. or the stories about the defeat of the Turkish in the 17th century – after the Turks left, the Viennese found a lot of strange green beans. Someone figured out how to roast them and voila, the Viennese Coffee House was born!

    Reply
  6. I think the stories did me in, too. One reason why I love English history is because it is like a long and bloody play — very entertaining! As for my own (Austrian/Tyrolean) heritage, there’s the “freedom fight of 1809” (never mentioned in romance novels, most likely because German is not accessible to most writers), one of the great struggles against Napolean – the Tyrol, having been lost by the feeble Austrians, was given to the Bavarians (allies of the French). In 1809 the militias, farmers and volunteers under innkeeper Andreas Hofer expell the French/Bavarian occupation, manage to win three decissive battles against overwhelming forces, and are defeated in the end. Andreas Hofer was executed in Mantova in 1810, and the Tyrol remained with Bavaria until after Napoleon was defeated…. or the stories about the defeat of the Turkish in the 17th century – after the Turks left, the Viennese found a lot of strange green beans. Someone figured out how to roast them and voila, the Viennese Coffee House was born!

    Reply
  7. English history is so wonderfully rich that it had to captivate a child’s imagination. I know it fascinated mine just from reading about it in fiction, although I had to eventually study it on my own since it wasn’t taught here.
    We grew up with tales of Revolutionary America and frontiersmen–Swamp Fox and Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. We were handfed KY history when I was in fourth grade, and I used to know all the forts and heroes. It probably helped that there were TV shows about the above heroes. “G” We didn’t get the Civil War history until much later on, and even then it was seriously truncated. Still, there was enough internal conflict in that brother against brother thing to capture my interest.
    That does make me wonder if kids today are taught any of this anymore, and if that’s why there’s a serious dearth in American history fiction.

    Reply
  8. English history is so wonderfully rich that it had to captivate a child’s imagination. I know it fascinated mine just from reading about it in fiction, although I had to eventually study it on my own since it wasn’t taught here.
    We grew up with tales of Revolutionary America and frontiersmen–Swamp Fox and Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. We were handfed KY history when I was in fourth grade, and I used to know all the forts and heroes. It probably helped that there were TV shows about the above heroes. “G” We didn’t get the Civil War history until much later on, and even then it was seriously truncated. Still, there was enough internal conflict in that brother against brother thing to capture my interest.
    That does make me wonder if kids today are taught any of this anymore, and if that’s why there’s a serious dearth in American history fiction.

    Reply
  9. English history is so wonderfully rich that it had to captivate a child’s imagination. I know it fascinated mine just from reading about it in fiction, although I had to eventually study it on my own since it wasn’t taught here.
    We grew up with tales of Revolutionary America and frontiersmen–Swamp Fox and Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. We were handfed KY history when I was in fourth grade, and I used to know all the forts and heroes. It probably helped that there were TV shows about the above heroes. “G” We didn’t get the Civil War history until much later on, and even then it was seriously truncated. Still, there was enough internal conflict in that brother against brother thing to capture my interest.
    That does make me wonder if kids today are taught any of this anymore, and if that’s why there’s a serious dearth in American history fiction.

    Reply
  10. I’ve always suspected that other nations have equally colorful history, but since English and American history are what I know, that’s what I love most. (Loved the Tyrolean freedom fighters, though!)
    Like all novelists, I loved the stories. Though as mark of my Yankee ancestry, I’ve always preferred the Roundheads to the Cavaliers, who were too much spoiled frat boys for my taste. 🙂
    Though I’ve written contemporaries, I was drawn back to historicals (not that I ever left) because of the larger-than- life quality of the world. Every day life is, by definition, mundane. For excitement, read the tales of the past, either real or fictional!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  11. I’ve always suspected that other nations have equally colorful history, but since English and American history are what I know, that’s what I love most. (Loved the Tyrolean freedom fighters, though!)
    Like all novelists, I loved the stories. Though as mark of my Yankee ancestry, I’ve always preferred the Roundheads to the Cavaliers, who were too much spoiled frat boys for my taste. 🙂
    Though I’ve written contemporaries, I was drawn back to historicals (not that I ever left) because of the larger-than- life quality of the world. Every day life is, by definition, mundane. For excitement, read the tales of the past, either real or fictional!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  12. I’ve always suspected that other nations have equally colorful history, but since English and American history are what I know, that’s what I love most. (Loved the Tyrolean freedom fighters, though!)
    Like all novelists, I loved the stories. Though as mark of my Yankee ancestry, I’ve always preferred the Roundheads to the Cavaliers, who were too much spoiled frat boys for my taste. 🙂
    Though I’ve written contemporaries, I was drawn back to historicals (not that I ever left) because of the larger-than- life quality of the world. Every day life is, by definition, mundane. For excitement, read the tales of the past, either real or fictional!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  13. Jo here.
    Wonderful, LizA.
    Susan Wiggs wrote something with mountains and revolutions in the early 19th century. Does anyone remember what book that was, and where it was set?
    We certainly knew about William Tell, though not a lot.
    Does anyone else remember all the wonderful historical series for children on TV? Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, William Tell. I’m sure there was another one.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  14. Jo here.
    Wonderful, LizA.
    Susan Wiggs wrote something with mountains and revolutions in the early 19th century. Does anyone remember what book that was, and where it was set?
    We certainly knew about William Tell, though not a lot.
    Does anyone else remember all the wonderful historical series for children on TV? Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, William Tell. I’m sure there was another one.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  15. Jo here.
    Wonderful, LizA.
    Susan Wiggs wrote something with mountains and revolutions in the early 19th century. Does anyone remember what book that was, and where it was set?
    We certainly knew about William Tell, though not a lot.
    Does anyone else remember all the wonderful historical series for children on TV? Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, William Tell. I’m sure there was another one.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  16. Albania’s great hero is Skanderbeg. Acc. to http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9068069,
    “In the period 1444–66 he effectively repulsed 13 Turkish invasions, his successful resistance to the armies of Murad II in 1450 making him a hero throughout the Western world.” There is a statue of him in Rome (and elsewhere, I believe), and he has been mentioned in a number of books I’ve read, including one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels. My big fascination with Albanian history, though, focuses mainly on the late 18th and early 19th C, and its infamous ruler Ali Pasha Tepelena, who not only chopped people’s heads off for every little thing but roasted them on spits and had them shot out of cannonballs. But he also built schools and bridges and was lackadaisical about imposing Islam on everybody. Like his counterpart in Egypt, he acted independently of the Porte (the big cheese(s) of the Ottoman empire). I think of him as a classic machiavellian.

    Reply
  17. Albania’s great hero is Skanderbeg. Acc. to http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9068069,
    “In the period 1444–66 he effectively repulsed 13 Turkish invasions, his successful resistance to the armies of Murad II in 1450 making him a hero throughout the Western world.” There is a statue of him in Rome (and elsewhere, I believe), and he has been mentioned in a number of books I’ve read, including one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels. My big fascination with Albanian history, though, focuses mainly on the late 18th and early 19th C, and its infamous ruler Ali Pasha Tepelena, who not only chopped people’s heads off for every little thing but roasted them on spits and had them shot out of cannonballs. But he also built schools and bridges and was lackadaisical about imposing Islam on everybody. Like his counterpart in Egypt, he acted independently of the Porte (the big cheese(s) of the Ottoman empire). I think of him as a classic machiavellian.

    Reply
  18. Albania’s great hero is Skanderbeg. Acc. to http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9068069,
    “In the period 1444–66 he effectively repulsed 13 Turkish invasions, his successful resistance to the armies of Murad II in 1450 making him a hero throughout the Western world.” There is a statue of him in Rome (and elsewhere, I believe), and he has been mentioned in a number of books I’ve read, including one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels. My big fascination with Albanian history, though, focuses mainly on the late 18th and early 19th C, and its infamous ruler Ali Pasha Tepelena, who not only chopped people’s heads off for every little thing but roasted them on spits and had them shot out of cannonballs. But he also built schools and bridges and was lackadaisical about imposing Islam on everybody. Like his counterpart in Egypt, he acted independently of the Porte (the big cheese(s) of the Ottoman empire). I think of him as a classic machiavellian.

    Reply
  19. I love the richly storied history of England and the United States too. But it was local and family history that first brought history to life for me: the story of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette who named my hometown during his 1825 journey across Georgia because the area reminded him of his own country estate; the story of the Nancy Harts, a group of local women, not one of whom had ever fired a gun, who formed a militia to protect their homes against the Union army; the story of my grandfather’s grandfather, a gunsmith who expected the War between the States to make him wealthy and instead ended up with a trunkful of worthless Confederate money.

    Reply
  20. I love the richly storied history of England and the United States too. But it was local and family history that first brought history to life for me: the story of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette who named my hometown during his 1825 journey across Georgia because the area reminded him of his own country estate; the story of the Nancy Harts, a group of local women, not one of whom had ever fired a gun, who formed a militia to protect their homes against the Union army; the story of my grandfather’s grandfather, a gunsmith who expected the War between the States to make him wealthy and instead ended up with a trunkful of worthless Confederate money.

    Reply
  21. I love the richly storied history of England and the United States too. But it was local and family history that first brought history to life for me: the story of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette who named my hometown during his 1825 journey across Georgia because the area reminded him of his own country estate; the story of the Nancy Harts, a group of local women, not one of whom had ever fired a gun, who formed a militia to protect their homes against the Union army; the story of my grandfather’s grandfather, a gunsmith who expected the War between the States to make him wealthy and instead ended up with a trunkful of worthless Confederate money.

    Reply
  22. I just have to mention that it was my brother-in-law, Arnie Rosen, who wote the infamous sketch where Carol Burnett rips off the drapes to wear them – a la GONE WITH THE WIND, and they are the Bayeaux tapestries!
    Lud! How they stick in our collective memory!
    best,
    Edith, the subversive

    Reply
  23. I just have to mention that it was my brother-in-law, Arnie Rosen, who wote the infamous sketch where Carol Burnett rips off the drapes to wear them – a la GONE WITH THE WIND, and they are the Bayeaux tapestries!
    Lud! How they stick in our collective memory!
    best,
    Edith, the subversive

    Reply
  24. I just have to mention that it was my brother-in-law, Arnie Rosen, who wote the infamous sketch where Carol Burnett rips off the drapes to wear them – a la GONE WITH THE WIND, and they are the Bayeaux tapestries!
    Lud! How they stick in our collective memory!
    best,
    Edith, the subversive

    Reply
  25. I love history. The more I learn the more interesting it is. I took extra courses in High School and college. But history that is memorization of dates and battles is not what gets me panting for more. It’s the telling of stories that involve people and their characters. I still remember one of my college professors who told history as though it were gossip; it was such a delightfully wicked way make it memorable. This woman was a true Southern belle with a thick Mississippi accent. “Well, Mrs. Andrew Jackson was not accepted by the ladies of Washington society because she was a *Divorced Woman*. Insert raised eyebrows, then pause for effect. President Jackson was so upset that he actually fought a duel over her honor.” and so on. It was a way to show how history is a result of interaction between people/personality and events of the times.
    As a Texan, one is raised on stories of the Alamo and cattle drives, Texas Rangers, Indians and the yellow rose of Texas. I have to say, though, that the stories are so focused on Texas that they don’t help someone understand how the events in Texas were affected by events elsewhere in North America.

    Reply
  26. I love history. The more I learn the more interesting it is. I took extra courses in High School and college. But history that is memorization of dates and battles is not what gets me panting for more. It’s the telling of stories that involve people and their characters. I still remember one of my college professors who told history as though it were gossip; it was such a delightfully wicked way make it memorable. This woman was a true Southern belle with a thick Mississippi accent. “Well, Mrs. Andrew Jackson was not accepted by the ladies of Washington society because she was a *Divorced Woman*. Insert raised eyebrows, then pause for effect. President Jackson was so upset that he actually fought a duel over her honor.” and so on. It was a way to show how history is a result of interaction between people/personality and events of the times.
    As a Texan, one is raised on stories of the Alamo and cattle drives, Texas Rangers, Indians and the yellow rose of Texas. I have to say, though, that the stories are so focused on Texas that they don’t help someone understand how the events in Texas were affected by events elsewhere in North America.

    Reply
  27. I love history. The more I learn the more interesting it is. I took extra courses in High School and college. But history that is memorization of dates and battles is not what gets me panting for more. It’s the telling of stories that involve people and their characters. I still remember one of my college professors who told history as though it were gossip; it was such a delightfully wicked way make it memorable. This woman was a true Southern belle with a thick Mississippi accent. “Well, Mrs. Andrew Jackson was not accepted by the ladies of Washington society because she was a *Divorced Woman*. Insert raised eyebrows, then pause for effect. President Jackson was so upset that he actually fought a duel over her honor.” and so on. It was a way to show how history is a result of interaction between people/personality and events of the times.
    As a Texan, one is raised on stories of the Alamo and cattle drives, Texas Rangers, Indians and the yellow rose of Texas. I have to say, though, that the stories are so focused on Texas that they don’t help someone understand how the events in Texas were affected by events elsewhere in North America.

    Reply
  28. This is a really thought-provoking subject. Jo’s wonderful, insightful blog and all the other comments made me try to analyse just what originally drew me to history, because I knew at once that it was *not* the dramatic or colourful stories quoted by the rest of you. I could take them or leave them: I like a good story as much as the next person (if I did not, I should not be reading novels at all), but it was never the famous people and the crucial events that really caught my attention about the past, but the whole *idea* of living long ago, the way in which life in the past was different from our time in so many ways. This was genuinely the basis of my interest even as a child. By the time I was 18, I had been exposed to some 19thC social history as well as the political/military framework that I saw as a duty rather than a pleasure, and I went up to university with the full intention of reading for a history degree. It was only when I got there, and had to register for a third subject for my first year, to add to history and English, that I discovered archaeology.
    What a revelation! Suddenly, I was actually required to pay close attention to all the things I loved best about historical study – that personal contact with the different world of the past, the different buildings and art, different rituals and ways of doing mundane things, different everyday utensils and equipment – without the need to worry quite so much about the kings and generals, the politics, battles and dates! Above all, this was about ordinary people, the peasants as well as the aristocracy, the women and children as well as the men. Furthermore, instead of just reading what academic historians had written about events, based on what (invariably politically or nationally biased) contemporary individuals had written, we were required to work things out for ourselves, from the raw data, the actual objects that our remote ancestors had used! Within the wider scope of ‘history’, archaeology is markedly democratic rather than aristocratic: a female peasant and her way of life is every bit as significant in the overall picture we are trying to draw as a male member of a royal or ruling family. Just as in real life. 😉

    Reply
  29. This is a really thought-provoking subject. Jo’s wonderful, insightful blog and all the other comments made me try to analyse just what originally drew me to history, because I knew at once that it was *not* the dramatic or colourful stories quoted by the rest of you. I could take them or leave them: I like a good story as much as the next person (if I did not, I should not be reading novels at all), but it was never the famous people and the crucial events that really caught my attention about the past, but the whole *idea* of living long ago, the way in which life in the past was different from our time in so many ways. This was genuinely the basis of my interest even as a child. By the time I was 18, I had been exposed to some 19thC social history as well as the political/military framework that I saw as a duty rather than a pleasure, and I went up to university with the full intention of reading for a history degree. It was only when I got there, and had to register for a third subject for my first year, to add to history and English, that I discovered archaeology.
    What a revelation! Suddenly, I was actually required to pay close attention to all the things I loved best about historical study – that personal contact with the different world of the past, the different buildings and art, different rituals and ways of doing mundane things, different everyday utensils and equipment – without the need to worry quite so much about the kings and generals, the politics, battles and dates! Above all, this was about ordinary people, the peasants as well as the aristocracy, the women and children as well as the men. Furthermore, instead of just reading what academic historians had written about events, based on what (invariably politically or nationally biased) contemporary individuals had written, we were required to work things out for ourselves, from the raw data, the actual objects that our remote ancestors had used! Within the wider scope of ‘history’, archaeology is markedly democratic rather than aristocratic: a female peasant and her way of life is every bit as significant in the overall picture we are trying to draw as a male member of a royal or ruling family. Just as in real life. 😉

    Reply
  30. This is a really thought-provoking subject. Jo’s wonderful, insightful blog and all the other comments made me try to analyse just what originally drew me to history, because I knew at once that it was *not* the dramatic or colourful stories quoted by the rest of you. I could take them or leave them: I like a good story as much as the next person (if I did not, I should not be reading novels at all), but it was never the famous people and the crucial events that really caught my attention about the past, but the whole *idea* of living long ago, the way in which life in the past was different from our time in so many ways. This was genuinely the basis of my interest even as a child. By the time I was 18, I had been exposed to some 19thC social history as well as the political/military framework that I saw as a duty rather than a pleasure, and I went up to university with the full intention of reading for a history degree. It was only when I got there, and had to register for a third subject for my first year, to add to history and English, that I discovered archaeology.
    What a revelation! Suddenly, I was actually required to pay close attention to all the things I loved best about historical study – that personal contact with the different world of the past, the different buildings and art, different rituals and ways of doing mundane things, different everyday utensils and equipment – without the need to worry quite so much about the kings and generals, the politics, battles and dates! Above all, this was about ordinary people, the peasants as well as the aristocracy, the women and children as well as the men. Furthermore, instead of just reading what academic historians had written about events, based on what (invariably politically or nationally biased) contemporary individuals had written, we were required to work things out for ourselves, from the raw data, the actual objects that our remote ancestors had used! Within the wider scope of ‘history’, archaeology is markedly democratic rather than aristocratic: a female peasant and her way of life is every bit as significant in the overall picture we are trying to draw as a male member of a royal or ruling family. Just as in real life. 😉

    Reply
  31. Great post, AgTigress.
    Yes, archeology is fascinating and very illuminating. It’s the same with primary sources such as letters and diaries. They are much more revealing than books about how people lived which, as you say, make assumptions from where the author is at that moment.
    Such books are useful, depending on who writes them, but have to be read very warily.
    But I do love those sweeping stories of power and drama.
    Jo

    Reply
  32. Great post, AgTigress.
    Yes, archeology is fascinating and very illuminating. It’s the same with primary sources such as letters and diaries. They are much more revealing than books about how people lived which, as you say, make assumptions from where the author is at that moment.
    Such books are useful, depending on who writes them, but have to be read very warily.
    But I do love those sweeping stories of power and drama.
    Jo

    Reply
  33. Great post, AgTigress.
    Yes, archeology is fascinating and very illuminating. It’s the same with primary sources such as letters and diaries. They are much more revealing than books about how people lived which, as you say, make assumptions from where the author is at that moment.
    Such books are useful, depending on who writes them, but have to be read very warily.
    But I do love those sweeping stories of power and drama.
    Jo

    Reply

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