Reviews of Books

Was there ever an England?

Sunday 07 May 2000 The New York Times, Peter Clarke
The Isles

Davies is determined to right the balance here against centuries of Anglocentric historiography. He will not lightly concede even the Englishness of England. Thus in 1066, he puts ''a rather different spin'' on a supposed battle between French invaders and English defenders, suggesting that they were all vikings really. The Normans who conquered England, however, are then treated not as Norsemen but as French. Here there is no William the Conqueror but instead Guillaume le Btard, and only with the death of Henri IV in 1413 do we salute Henry V. ''The idea that these people were English is a later fiction.'' Conversely, all four nations ''formed part of a grand international universal Catholic community.

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