volume Social History of Britain: From First Humans to the Creation of Great Britain
is presented in four books; Book 1, Prehistory; Book 2, Dark Ages; Book 3, Middle Ages;
and Book 4, Renaissance. This is the story of people in northern Europe
(north of the Alps), and in particular, it is about early people in that part of Western
Europe that would be separated from the European continent.
They lived in a place the Romans would later refer to as beyond the inhabited
author has tried to keep all observations in context.
Context means time and place: their time and place, not ours. It is about how the family bands of hunters and
gatherers of 500,000 BC were displaced and how the lives of the island people struggled
through the Dark and Middle Ages, and how they progressed to enjoy the glory of the
British Renaissance and to populate the farthest reaches of the planet, spreading their
lanuage while doing so..
1 covers a period from 500,000 BC to near 500 AD. It begins with a short discourse on early humans
(anthropology) and then there is a review of their environment. When such information is presented there can
be the logical question: How do we know all this if there were no records?
answer this question, there is a review of archeological techniques and procedures. Following this is general background material to
support a narrative of the significant events in the part of Western Europe that became
BOOK 2 is the social history of the British
Dark Ages. It begins with the end of Book 1,
the British Prehistory, and follows through the period of the first locally developed
The period between 300 and 500 is a transitory period that does not wholly
fit the Dark Ages. Is this period
Romano-British or Anglo-Saxon? Perhaps it is
depends on the exact geographical area being discussed.
The distance between the very different Romano-British and the Anglo-Saxon cultures
could be no more than 20 miles.
By this time, the once sophisticated Romano-British could be called just
British without any stretch of literary interpretation. These people were killed or assimilated. In a few decades, the society of pax Romana no
longer existed on the island. The British who
were left had once looked down on the previous, occupying Celts as being barbaric brutes;
and now the British had become brutes themselves.
The story of BOOK 3 tells
of the earliest times when leaders were starting to appear more enlightened by Christian
learning and more humane by Christian example, yet it was far from peaceful. There had been great strides in achieving some
degree of unity, but it still lacked a totally cohesive social system.
However, now the
people desired to be better organized and function as a common people rather
than groups of isolated and often warring subcultures.
Social history is a story of flesh
and blood and in this story of the Middle Ages, there are names of husbands, wives, and
children. They were often unknowing and
unwilling actors in a real-life drama.
BOOK 4 details the significance of the
Spurred on by changing circumstances, the peasant-farmers left the
inoperative manors and took to the lanes looking for work.
They were seeking some relief from an outdated and harsh social condition, though
this desire was more monetary than philosophical. There
was rebellion and while this did not succeed for several reasons, it did show that the
people at the lowest strata of society were demanding change.
Peasantry would continue, but strict serfdom would not. The medieval/feudal days were over.
With these new thouights and desires ending an old age, many in Britain
were starting to ask questions. It is the desire for answers that defines the age of
the British Renaissance.
And the most important question being asked by people at all levels of
society was, "Does this really make sense?"
This simple question helped many shed the old instiitutions that demanded
strict observance of rituals. The people in the streets were no longer interested in
being obedient to those who were elevated in rank by mere circumstance.