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Burke, politician, essayist & long-lasting influence

Edmund Burke was born in Dublin in 1729. Educated in this city, it was not long before he quit ‘the bogs of Ireland’ and moved to London, where he got the job of being private secretary to Lord Rockingham in 1765, when Burke was 36. So far so slow, but the Irishman never wasted a moment of his long apprenticeship with Rockingham, which lasted until the latter’s death in 1872. (more…)

New Year’s message from Dean Swift

'Dean Swift'The book, a compilation of selected articles from three years of General-History.com is keeping us all it, mainly because the website has so many categories. Between bouts of sciatica (don’t try it yourself) and Christmas festivities, I feel a bit exhausted. We have, according to seasonal things like college terms anything between three to fifteen thousand hits per month. Especially pleasing are the thousands of Comments, especially those from those United States of America – far more than from Europe. I very much like the precise, inquisitive and informed comments from the Rhys family.

2014 draws near. I wish the very best of Happy New Years for all the patient (and occasionally impatient) observers of this site, and welcome all rational comment, which make the continuous study and research required for a history site worthwhile.

Dean Swift.

By | 2013-12-26T17:52:12+00:00 December 26th, 2013|English Language, World History|2 Comments

Thomas Cromwell: different opinions

Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell

This early sixteenth century politician has had a mostly stinking press since his execution at the order of his master Henry VIII. In the 1960s BBC TV serial The Six Wives of Henry VIII Cromwell is played masterfully by Wolfe Morris as a wicked and unscrupulous schemer, of sinister mien, probably troubled by evil spirits. In the splendid film written by Robert Bolt called A Man for all Seasons the part of Cromwell is acted, again with consummate mastery, by Leo McKern. (more…)

Quotable quotes from Winston Churchill (1864-1965, edited)

He is one of those orators of whom it was well said, ‘Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said’. To the House of Commons, February, 1906.

I remember that as a child I was taken to the circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monsters. The one I most desired to see was called ‘The Boneless Wonder’ My parents judged that the spectacle would be too revolting for my youthful eyes; I have waited fifty years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury bench. To the House of Commons, January 1931, referring to Mr Ramsay Macdonald. (more…)

Dorothy Parker: some things worth remembering . . .

She was born Dorothy Rothschild (nothing to do with the bankers) in 1893 and died just over seventy in 1967. She was American, one of the founders of the wits’ Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, New York. She was not unhappy all her life, but never really happy. Here are some of the sayings she is remembered for: (more…)

Lords Rampant: how the British nobility won’t lie down

Not very long ago Mr Blair and his henchmen decided that the Upper Chamber of Parliament, where matters of the day were discussed calmly instead of noisily and rudely, as in the Lower House, was obsolete, unnecessary, out-of-date and up for the chop. The House of Lords, as it was called, had benches packed with hereditary lords of every rank, plus many life peers (those who had earned a title but could not pass it on to heirs). The hereditary peers were, in ascending order of rank, barons, viscounts, earls, marquesses and dukes. Quite a lot of these were women, though only a few noble titles pass only in the female line. What they had in common was normally a good and ancient surname, and a tradition (how modernists hate this word) of involvement in politics, for good or bad. Some were sane and very serious; a few were insane but kept out of asylums, one assumes for the sake of the other inmates. (more…)

The father of Winston

Lord Randolph / brooklyneagle.com

Lord Randolph / brooklyneagle.com

Lord Randolph H.S. Churchill was born in 1849, the third son of the then Duke of Marlborough. In character more similar to his grandson Randolph than his son Winston, he got into the House of Commons for the family borough (and almost fief) of Woodstock in 1874. I say ‘fief’ because near Woodstock stands Blenheim Palace, presented to John Churchill Ist Duke of Marlborough by a grateful Queen and Nation after his military successes. The building was designed by a retired playwright called John Vanbrugh, and the massive park was designed by Vanbrugh himself aided by Queen Anne’s gardener Henry Wise, with later additions by ‘Capability’ Brown. (more…)

State theft or The Dissolution of the Monasteries

Rievaulx - 'one of the ruins that Thomas Cromwell knocked about a bit' / walkingenglishman.com

Rievaulx – ‘one of the ruins that Thomas Cromwell knocked about a bit’ / walkingenglishman.com

In civilized society there is a multitude of ways used by ‘the authorities’ to extract money from citizens like squeezing pips from a lemon or orange. Clever people, versed in these ways,  invent new names for new taxes every day, and equally astute parliaments in democratic countries shovel them into a hat and out roll new Acts or Orders perfectly phrased – and the citizen reaches into his fast emptying pocket to pay, again, for something he has certainly already paid for. Charging  direct tax on income, for instance, and then charging indirect tax on everything sold including services, means duplication or triplication of the same tax. As far as I know only the State of New Hampshire USA charges no income tax but maintains indirect taxation on goods and services. (more…)

What really happened to William II (Rufus) in 1100?


Rufis falls dying, struck by an arrow that 'bounced off' a stag / daviddarling.info

Rufis falls dying, struck by an arrow that ‘bounced off’ a stag / daviddarling.info

  William the ‘Red-faced’ was the second son of William, Duke of Normandy and William I of England, a.k.a. the Conquerer (q.v.). He was bad-tempered, wily and unpopular, and certainly not a chip off the old block. His father had made himself King of England, turning out the Saxon dynasty and replacing their language with Norman French, which was used officially in local and national government almost up to the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. Latin was universally used in the Church. When the Conquerer died, Rufus succeeded but not without considerable opposition from the barons of England, led by his own uncle, Odo Bishop of Bayeux, who wanted the older brother Robert on the throne. The Bishop’s rebellion was crushed first in 1088, as was a second attempt in 1095. (more…)

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