For many years, historians have argued among themselves on how history ought to be seen and studied. There is a lot who consider that the fact concerning history is that history does not narrate accurately. There are also those who disagree to such a view- including Clayton Roberts, the author of “The History of England. ” Clayton Roberts published his writings at the time wherein the prevailing thought was that history is “nothing but a reenactment of past thoughts in a historian’s mind” (Collingwood 282).
His works rather stood out because in these, not only does he boldly assert that history tells truth, but even explains past events causally (qtd. In PSU Press 1). His belief was that, historical exploration is not hopelessly immanent, not irremediably comparative and that every man is not his own historian. The objectivity of history lies in the fact that historians widely agree upon the validity of these canons of evidence and rules of logic” (Roberts x-xi).
For Roberts then, history is not merely a description of a sequence of events; rather these events are causally linked together in an orderly fashion, as if following a certain rule or law (George and Bennett 225). Such a view of history of his is very much evident in his work, “The History of England”. The manner by which he had arranged and discussed Britain’s experiences, the type of language he had used, and his overall writing style conveyed his theory on the effective way of proceeding to a historical inquiry into a subject matter, such as Britain’s history.
Well-regarded as one of the more trusted resource materials for students or just about anyone who wished to get a general education of Britain, this author concurs that Robert’s approach does provide for a better understanding and appreciation of history. Theme As earlier discussed, Roberts held that events in history are not just a series of events that happen without any cause or reason. These are linked together in a cohesive manner and understanding how these are inextricably related to one another provides for a thorough discussion of history.
This can be visibly seen in his book. In “The History of England,” he discusses different parts of the country’s history providing for smooth transitions in between to show that each and every event that happened has led to the later occurrences. Before he put in the part detailing the Protestant-Catholic religion, a section showing the growth of Protestantism preceded such, Catholicism still being regarded the primary religion at that time, to provide for the explanation of the impending colloquy between camps from the two aforementioned religions.
He always answered the questions, “how” and “why” in every significant incident that he explained in his book. In Chapter Two of the book for example, he vividly describes the demise of the Roman rule. The subsequent chapter then goes on to discuss the conquest of Britain and the conversion of the people to Christianity- all resultant of the fall of the Roman Empire.
Roberts also spoke of the wars in the 1300s and the 1500s and the significant events therein. But prior to discussing those hard times, he explained the systems of government and provided a descriptive account of the type of life that the people had, as well as the tensions and minor instances wherein people displayed their dissent with regard to those types of systems that governed them and their dissatisfaction with their current state of lives.
The showing all these conflicts existing before tackling the waging of full-on wars provided the necessary “build-up” for readers to understand the true nature of wars- that they are not merely caused by an isolated event, but a combination of political and social factors that converge at a time, that which cannot be contained anymore or settled amicably. The manner by which Roberts organized the events in Britain’s history and the major themes he assigned them under also show his absolute subscription to the theory that events in history are invariably associated under a common factor or rule.
In the Chapter of the Elizabethan Rule for example, he not only relays the events that happened under the woman monarch’s rule simply because these happened at the time she sat on the throne, he specifically included the events that he discussed under the said topic: Queen Elizabeth and her relationship with the Church and Scotland, the War against Spain, the Queen and the Government of England- all to characterize and capture what was meant by the Elizabethan rule and its long-term effects to the events thereafter, moreover, the existing English culture as a whole.
Finally, the author used a variety of primary and secondary resources that were up-to-date, appropriate and adequate in the discussion of the topics he had set to give the reader a wide view of Britain’s social, economic, cultural, intellectual and political history from as early as the Paleolithic stage to 1714. One must take note that although he stressed dominant themes in every Chapter, he never espoused any single interpretation to such, and even provided suggested ‘Further Reading’ lists at the end of each chapter.
Such is still keeping in line with his belief of the possibility of objectivity in history because he never asserted his account or interpretation to events that transpired as the gospel truth. The abovementioned situations are just some of the specific examples that show Robert’s consistency in maintaining his thesis that there is indeed a causal link between the various events that transpired in history.
Though he has always been careful to note that in terms of major events, these causal links are not as pronounced as in the minor events, there is a relationship between them nonetheless, a lesson that people must not forget in studying history. Critique Robert’s “The History of England,” though lengthy and descriptive, is easy to read.
Therein, it becomes clear that the author’s primary intention in using descriptive but simple language is to make his work easy accessible to people coming from different parts of the academe from the few highly specialized scholars to the broad popular audience who said that it is not surprising that this book is being used by a lot of students and professors who wish to get a general view of England’s history. Overall, Robert’s work is well-written and organized, primarily thanks to Robert’s painstaking attention to showing the links between the events that transpire in history.
Not only has it taught me to scrutinize historical data from his work, but writings by other authors as well. To be quite honest, as a student of history who has read numerous history books by different authors who possess different styles in writing, I appreciate history more when my attention is focused in knowing and understanding why and how an event in history happened in a certain manner, rather than memorizing a multitude of names of famous people or significant dates in history.
Robert’s style which was mindful of the relationships between events in time changed my perspective on studying history and has made doing so easier and more enjoyable. History for me became more than just a field of study wherein memorization of events, dates and names of people were of primary importance- that which was difficult for me to do. Now, not only do I find history more fascinating, I am also able to retain factual data with less time and effort than before. Studying the significance of knowing the relationships between the events, which Roberts espouses, has greatly contributed to such.
Courtney from Study Moose
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