The last children of Anglo-Saxon England

For the upper class of England, the Norman conquest was wipe out time

The last children of Anglo-Saxon EnglandHarold Godwineson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, died on the battlefield at Hastings in October 1066. It wasn’t a pretty ending. Whether he was killed by an arrow through the eye (the traditional story), trampled underfoot, or hunted down and (literally) cut to pieces by invading Norman knights remains a matter of speculation. For…

Thatcher didn’t blink in defence of the Falklands 40 years ago

The "Iron Lady" proved her metal

Thatcher didn’t blink in defence of the Falklands 40 years agoOn April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands – the archipelago of islands that constitute a British Overseas Territory in the remote South Atlantic. Although initially shaken by the event, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher quickly regained her footing and dispatched a naval task force to rectify the situation. During the weeks it took for…

Attlee and Churchill: bound together in war and peace

Churchill said history would be good to him, as he'd write it himself. But ostentation wasn’t Attlee's style

Attlee and Churchill: bound together in war and peaceFor the longest time, Clement Attlee lived in Winston Churchill’s shadow. Where Churchill was flamboyant, charismatic and eloquent, Attlee was reticent, dull and rhetorically challenged. Churchill was larger than life and Attlee was the little man who seemed to blend into the woodwork. After becoming leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party in 1935, Attlee…

Fall of Singapore shattered assumptions of British superiority

The shock waves of the defeat extended beyond the physical events

Fall of Singapore shattered assumptions of British superiorityOn Feb. 15, 1942, Singapore – the so-called Gibraltar of the East – fell to a numerically smaller Japanese force. Four days later, the port of Darwin in northern Australia was bombed by over 260 Japanese aircraft. To put it mildly, Allied prospects in the Second World War’s Asia-Pacific Theatre weren’t looking too auspicious. The…

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppression

Wealth can’t make what’s wrong right. It can’t make the truth disappear, and it can’t stop great people

Barbados shakes off the chains of centuries of brutal oppressionIn his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl discusses the internal character that allowed people to survive the Holocaust. He speaks of an “inner greatness,” where despite the horrendous circumstance, one can choose their attitude, their own way. This is the ultimate human freedom. We recently saw this inner greatness displayed by…

Everything I know about the U.K. I learned from TV

I’ve developed a real affection for British TV, even when the accents are so gumbo-thick that I’m forced to turn on subtitles

Everything I know about the U.K. I learned from TVIn my TV-besotted youth, we had precious little exposure to British television. There was Dr. Who, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Avengers. The Avengers starred the curvaceous, recently departed Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, every teenage boy’s fantasy figure (tied with Julie Newmar’s Catwoman on Batman). Otherwise, that was about it for exposure to British…

Time to make Britain answer for its colonial wrongdoings

Time to make Britain answer for its colonial wrongdoingsI’ve been teaching about Canada’s 2008 apology for residential schools for some time. In discussing the topic, I point out that this isn’t only a Canadian issue. Australia has apologized to its Indigenous peoples, and New Zealand continues to make progress in its reconciliation process. Quite often, I hear these questions from my students: “What…

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Queen Elizabeth must juggle her duties with her family responsibilities. But in her case, the stakes are higher and the scrutiny is intense

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crownThe House of Windsor is making headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. “The Firm,” as Prince Philip is fond of calling the British Royal Family, doesn’t look kindly on bad publicity. Ringing in my ears is a line from William Shakespeare’s play Henry IV: “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”…

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the bill

While not scrupulously accurate, it is still quite engrossing

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the billAn electrician in to do some wiring work a couple of months ago ran his eye over the media shelf, noticed the Vikings DVD set and announced that The Last Kingdom was better. So in the midst of a pandemic winter, we tracked down the extant four seasons and gave it a whirl. The series…

Boris Johnson: the man who got Brexit done

Boris Johnson: the man who got Brexit doneIn December 2019, I wrote a column arguing that United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was shaping up as a genuinely consequential politician. And the recent announcement of a new trade deal between the U.K. and the European Union bears that out. First, though, a clarification of terms. Declaring someone as consequential isn’t necessarily an…
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