Myths That Shaped Our History: From Magna Carta to the Battle of Britain

Myths That Shaped Our History: From Magna Carta to the Battle of Britain

by Simon Webb


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All nations and peoples have a body of legendary tales and semi-historical episodes which explain who they are and help to define their place in the world. The British are no exception and in this book Simon Webb explores some of the most well-known episodes from British history; stories which tell the British about themselves and the country in which they live.

Examining these events in detail reveals something rather surprising. In every case, the historical facts are greatly at variance with what most British people think that they know about such things as the Battle of Waterloo, Magna Carta, the suffragettes and so on. Indeed, in many cases the reality is precisely the opposite of what is commonly believed. For example, the Battle of Waterloo was not a victory for the British army, Magna Carta did not set out any rights for ordinary people and the suffragettes delayed, rather than hastened, the granting of votes for women.

This book shows that much of what the British believe about their history has been either grossly distorted or is just plain wrong; revealing some of the misconceptions which are held about famous incidents from the nation’s past. In each case, the truth is far richer and infinitely more interesting than the version learned by schoolchildren. These myths, for that is what they essentially are, reveal as much about the way that the British people like to see themselves now as they do about what happened in the past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781473895935
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 01/04/2018
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.

Table of Contents

List of Plates vi

Introduction: The Meaning of Myth vii

Chapter 1 Magna Carta 1215: 'The great cornerstone in England's temple of liberty'? 1

Chapter 2 The Battle of Agincourt 1415: 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers' 17

Chapter 3 The Spanish Armada 1588: 'Mars and Neptune seemed to attend him' 30

Chapter 4 Mutiny on the Bounty 1789: 'I have been in hell for weeks with you.' 46

Chapter 5 The Battle of Waterloo 1815: 'The nearest run thing you ever saw in your life' 59

Chapter 6 Florence Nightingale in Scutari 1854-1855: 'A Lady with a Lamp shall stand, In the great history of the Land' 73

Chapter 7 The Suffragettes 1903-1914: 'Votes for Ladies' 90

Chapter 8 The Golden Age of Edwardian Britain 1901-1914: 'La Belle Epoque' 103

Chapter 9 British Generals of the First World War 1914-1918: 'Lions led by Donkeys' 120

Chapter 10 The Battle of Britain 1940: 'So much, owed by so many, to so few' 133

Endword 145

Bibliography 147

Index 149

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