Prior to My Self-Imposed Challenge
Guys, applaud, please, I'm getting out of my comfort zone, mysteries. All with Jeff's Yoak's encouragement, and I'll say thanks, Jeff, when I finish. Maybe.Yes, I'm Happy I Read It and Yes, Happy I Finished the BookDedicated to Jeff Yoak who said "Look forward to reading your review."
My effort to step outside my comfort zone due to Jeff's kind remark. My apology for the length, however I can assure you it's not as long as the book!
Sir Winston S. Churchill, who himself made history as Prime Minister of Great Britain twice, twice (1940–45 and 1951–55.) He began the book in 1939 and delivered the book prior to the outbreak of WWII to his publisher with about half a million words. This book was finally published in 1956. However, this book, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume I, The Birth of Britain, was the one I read and finally, finished.
This book took me 10 days to read. My average read is one to two days, three max but there are a few reasons for taking so long on this great book.
Not quite sure the adjective ‘nerd’ pertains to me (I’m not going to dismiss it for lack of another word) but I have a difficult time reading history without knowing where the action is taking place. And while I know where England is, of course, Wales, and Scotland and Ireland, I had no idea where Dobnni, Catuvellauni or the town of Durobrivae was/is located during the time that Rome inhabited Great Britain. (Therefore the Latin names.) So I stopped and printed out maps of Britain when it was under the control of the Roman Empire (which owned much of the known world at the time) and, of course, looked on the maps to see where the events were taking place.
When an obscure character was mentioned, I stopped reading, turned on my Kindle and read more about the person and how he/she related to the event happening.
When I came across words that meant nothing to me, not in my vocabulary, I had to stop, and then look up on my Kindle or computer.
Here are some words and definitions unknown to me until now:
• Mail - flexible armor composed of small overlapping metal rings, loops of chain, or scales;
• Assizes -one of the periodic court sessions formerly held in each of the counties of England and Wales for the trial of civil or criminal cases;
• Scutage - a tax paid in lieu of military service in feudal times;
• Ken - to understand; perceive;
• Suzerainty - dominance or power through legal authority.
You get the idea, reading an unfamiliar word, it not making sense in the context of the sentence, then stopping to look it up and re-read the sentence. It’s certainly not the fault of the author, the reader’s (my fault) because readers of books such as this, should have some background and knowledge of the subject. In this case, I’m a novice on the history of Britain and that’s being very kind. Such a word ‘of lesser degree’ than novice? If so, that’s me on British history; that is, until now.
Thus the main reasons this book took me so long to read because as I’ve stated in other reviews, is I love the back story, the meaning of words, and the places of events and will not rest until I satisfy my curiosity at that moment.
The book was such an eye opening read for me, bringing together subjects and events I had heard about throughout my life, but didn’t ‘know’ about.
As mentioned above, the book began with Brittania, ruled by the Roman Empire.
A surprise was how hostile, land grabbing for the purpose of stealing jewels and anything of value, and simply cruel, were the Vikings. I had never read much of their conquests until now. And of course, had to stop and print out maps of the travels and conquests of the Vikings all over Europe.
Most of us readers have heard of Common Law but until now, didn’t know from where it came. It’s explained in depth with intermingling of the power of ultimate authority, the King. How the Parlament came to be, the back and forth of powerful earls and lords the resulting wars occurring, both civil and abroad.
And imagine this! It was all about money and power.
At one time Britain inhabited and ruled much of France but with the divine intervention of Joan of Arc, France was once again an independent nation. (Needless to say, printed map of where Joan of Arc lived and traveled to meet the King and had to stop and read more about Joan of Arc on Internet.)
The English Common Law and the Magna Carta both had stand alone chapters knowing the importance of these documents to the basis of the history of law in Britain and ultimately, the United States of America.
Further chapters include the importance of the long bow in warring and how it changed history, and the Black Death and the end of the Feudal Age. (Feudal system - A political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th century, based on the holding of all land in fief or fee and the resulting relation of lord to vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture.)
I had heard of the Wars of the Roses, so named because the two Houses of the Plantagenet Dynasties fought among themselves for 30 years, determining what historian is quoted. The House of York (white rose) and House of Lancaster (red rose) warred and murdered hundreds of members of the royalty on both sides with one house taking the kingdom, then the other. Intrigue and deception was the norm of the day. And of course, I had to read more about some of the key players in the long event for control of the Island especially the Earl of Warwick, the ‘Kingmaker.’
Eventually, the small remaining area in and around Calais (Burgundian area) in France controlled by Britain was no longer an issue, due in part to the Wars of the Roses. The Earls and Lords were too busy killing each other.
The decades long Wars of the Roses ended with the marriage of Henry VII of the House of York to Elizabeth of the House of the Lancaster thereby creating the House of Tudor with their symbol a red and white rose. It was a marriage made for peace. However, it was not over as historians still debate exactly when the last war was fought.
Fortunately for me I read about ten books on Henry VII, his six wives and society of the period, so the ending of this book, takes me up to very close to that period of British history.
I really loved the book. And just one reason I loved it so much was because it seemed to bring all these small subjects together that I had heard about, read about, and studied, unfortunately very little, but now I know how they interrelate. That’s the bonus for me. I just feel smarter, that’s all. Not historian smart, but Cathy smarter. It took enough time, though; I damned well should feel smarter.