Classic History Books

The History of England

A Study in Political Evolution

A. F. Pollard

 

CHAPTER I. THE FOUNDATIONS OF ENGLAND
CHAPTER II. THE SUBMERGENCE OF ENGLAND
CHAPTER III. EMERGENCE OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE
CHAPTER IV. THE PROGRESS OF NATIONALISM
CHAPTER V. THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT
CHAPTER VI. THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND
CHAPTER VII. THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
CHAPTER VIII. A CENTURY OF EMPIRE
CHAPTER IX. ENGLISH DEMOCRACY
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE
BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

CHAPTER I. THE FOUNDATIONS OF ENGLAND

55 B.C. - A.D. 1066

"Ah, well," an American visitor is said to have soliloquized on the site of the battle of Hastings, "it is but
a little island, and it has often been conquered." We have in these few pages to trace the evolution of a

great empire, which has often conquered others, out of the little island which was often conquered itself.

The mere incidents of this growth, which satisfied the childlike curiosity of earlier generations, hardly

appeal to a public which is learning to look upon historical narrative not as a simple story, but as an

interpretation of human development, and upon historical fact as the complex resultant of character and

conditions; and introspective readers will look less for a list of facts and dates marking the milestones on

this national march than for suggestions to explain the formation of the army, the spirit of its leaders and

its men, the progress made, and the obstacles overcome. No solution of the problems presented by

history will be complete until the knowledge of man is perfect; but we cannot approach the threshold of

understanding without realizing that our national achievement has been the outcome of singular powers

of assimilation, of adaptation to changing circumstances, and of elasticity of system. Change has been,

and is, the breath of our existence and the condition of our growth.

Change began with the Creation, and ages of momentous development are shrouded from our eyes. The
land and the people are the two foundations of English history; but before history began, the land had

received the insular configuration which has largely determined its fortune; and the various peoples, who

were to mould and be moulded by the land, had differentiated from the other races of the world. Several

of these peoples had occupied the land before its conquest by the Anglo-Saxons, some before it was even

Britain. Whether neolithic man superseded palaeolithic man in these islands by invasion or by domestic

evolution, we do not know; but centuries before the Christian era the Britons overran the country and

superimposed themselves upon its swarthy, squat inhabitants. They mounted comparatively high in the

scale of civilization; they tilled the soil, worked mines, cultivated various forms of art, and even built

towns. But their loose tribal organization left them at the mercy of the Romans; and though Julius

 

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