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Historiography of the United Kingdom


Dec 16, 2021

The historiography of the United Kingdom includes the historical and archival research and writing on the history of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. For studies of the overseas empire see historiography of the British Empire.

. . . Historiography of the United Kingdom . . .

Depiction of Bede from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

Gildas, a fifth-century Romano-British monk, was the first major historian of Wales and England. His De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (in Latin, “On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain”) records the downfall of the Britons at the hands of Saxon invaders, emphasizing God’s anger and providential punishment of an entire nation, in an echo of Old Testament themes. His work has often been used by later historians, starting with Bede.[1]

Bede (673–735), an English monk, was the most influential historian of the Anglo-Saxon era both in his time and in contemporary England. He borrowed from Gildas and others in writing The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Latin: “Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum”). He viewed English history as a unity, based around the Christian church. N.J. Higham argues that he designed his work to promote his reform agenda to Ceolwulf, the Northumbrian king. Bede painted a highly optimistic picture of the current situation in the Church.[2]

Numerous chroniclers prepared detailed accounts of recent history.[3] King Alfred the Great commissioned the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 893, and similar chronicles were prepared throughout the Middle Ages.[4] The most famous production is by a transplanted Frenchman, Jean Froissart (1333–1410). His Froissart’s Chronicles, written in French, remains an important source for the first half of the Hundred Years’ War.[5]

. . . Historiography of the United Kingdom . . .

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. . . Historiography of the United Kingdom . . .