Once upon a time the curators and purveyors of English History were the sectarian scribes who had retreated into the monasteries scattered across Europe.
Unsurprisingly, the sectarian scribes holed-up in the British monasteries busied themselves churning out sectarian screeds as the Tithe Empire secured its power-base.
What is surprising is that academia generally treat these sectarian screeds as reliable sources [aka gospel truth] when they construct their British History narratives.
Even when a “publishing industry” emerged beyond the confines of the monasteries a London based monopoly was established that was “responsible for setting and enforcing regulations”.
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (until 1937 the Worshipful Company of Stationers) (usually known as the Stationers’ Company) is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London.
The Stationers’ Company was formed as an organisation in 1403; it received a Royal Charter in 1557.
It held a monopoly over the publishing industry and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing regulations until the enactment of the Statute of Anne in 1710.
In 1403, the Corporation of London approved the formation of a Guild of Stationers.
At this time, stationers were either text writers, lymners (illuminators), bookbinders or booksellers who worked at a fixed location (stationarius) beside the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Booksellers sold manuscript books, or copies thereof produced by their respective firms for retail; they also sold writing materials. Illuminators illustrated and decorated manuscripts.
When the London based publishing monopoly expanded into printing the “Church and State” legally empowered The Stationers’ Company to seize “offending books” and bring “offenders” before the ecclesiastical authorities.
At the time, it was based at Peter’s College, which it bought from St Paul’s Cathedral.
During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the Stationers were legally empowered to seize “offending books” that violated the standards of content set down by the Church and State; its officers could bring “offenders” before ecclesiastical authorities, usually the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury depending on the severity of the transgression.
Then the level of published propaganda increased considerably during the English Reformation when a turf war erupted for control of the lucrative extortion racket known as The Tithe.
The English Reformation was a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church.
Based on Henry VIII’s desire for an annulment of his marriage (first requested of Pope Clement VII in 1527), the English Reformation was at the outset more of a political affair than a theological dispute.
The reality of political differences between Rome and England allowed growing theological disputes to come to the fore.
Until the break with Rome, it was the Pope and general councils of the Church that decided doctrine.
Church law was governed by the code of canon law with final jurisdiction in Rome.
Church taxes were paid straight to Rome, and the Pope had the final word in the appointment of bishops.
The spread of Gutenberg’s printing press provided the means for the rapid dissemination of religious materials in the vernacular.
The new movement influenced the Church of England decisively after 1547 under Edward VI and Elizabeth I, although the Church of England had been made independent under Henry VIII in the early 1530s for political rather than religious reasons.
England and Wales
The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855.
The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188.
The legal validity of the tithe system was affirmed under the Statute of Westminster of 1285.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the transfer of many rights to tithe to secular landowners and the Crown – and tithes could be extinguished until 1577 under an Act of the 37th year of Henry VIII’s reign.
Furthermore, these gospel truth sources [revered by academics] were further corrupted by the influences of The English Civil War (1642–1651), the Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing (1643) and The Restoration of the English monarchy (1660-1714).
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”) over, principally, the manner of its government.
During the period of the English Civil War, the role of bishops as wielders of political power and as upholders of the established church became a matter of heated political controversy.
The Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing also known as the Licensing Order of 1643 instituted pre-publication censorship upon Parliamentary England.
Motivated by a desire to eliminate chaos and piracy in the printing industry, protect parliamentary activities and proceedings from its opponents, suppress royalist propaganda and check the widening currency of various sects’ radical ideas, Parliament instituted a new state-controlled censoring apparatus in An Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing of 14 June 1643.
The Licensing Order reintroduced almost all of the stringent censorship machinery of the 1637 Star Chamber Decree including:
• pre-publication licensing
• registration of all printing materials with the names of author, printer and publisher in the Register at Stationers’ Hall
• search, seizure and destruction of any books offensive to the government
• arrest and imprisonment of any offensive writers, printers and publishers.
The Stationers’ Company was given the responsibility of acting as censor, in return for a monopoly of the printing trade.
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
The term Restoration is used to describe both the actual event by which the monarchy was restored, and the period of several years afterwards in which a new political settlement was established.
It is very often used to cover the whole reign of Charles II (1660–1685) and often the brief reign of his younger brother James II (1685–1688).
In certain contexts it may be used to cover the whole period of the later Stuart monarchs as far as the death of Queen Anne and the accession of the Hanoverian George I in 1714; for example Restoration comedy typically encompasses works written as late as 1710.
An additional complication is that these sources [relied upon by academics to write their British History narratives] primarily provide a very English [London] perspective of history.
In 1546 the first book in Welsh was printed.
By 1660, 108 books had been published in Welsh.
It may not be a great number when compared to English and French publications, but during the same period only four books were published in Scots Gaelic and 11 in Irish.
BBC – Wales History – Literacy in 17th century Wales
Moving further towards the modern era it becomes evident that the content of British History gained another layer of varnish when “German George” [George I] became king in 1714.
Until the eighteenth century the teaching of British history was based on the Bruts‘, he began.
‘These were chronicles of events, beginning with the arrival in Britain of Brutus and the Trojans, through the epoch of the Roman Empire to King Arthur and the Saxon takeover of England, and on to the Middle Ages.
Respected historians such as Percy Enderbee, whose Cambria Triumphans or Britain in its Perfect Lustre was published in 1661 and dedicated to Charles II, used the Bruts as their base material.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth century text, History of the Kings of Britain, was also believed to be a substantially correct source.
With the accession of “German George” in 1714 all this changed.
Court historians were anxious to cool down any nationalistic feelings in Britain that could prejudice the safe rooting of the House of Hanover.
The Scottish rebellions of 1715 and 1745, when the Stuarts came close to regaining the throne of Britain, the French Revolution of 1789 and the ensuing Napoleonic Wars probably reinforced the view that the Bruts should be suppressed.
The Holy Kingdom
Adrian Gilbert, Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett
The “German George” changes to British History were partly ushered in by the convenient resurrection of the long lost Beowolf and Finnesburg Fragment manuscripts which were written in Anglo-Saxon [aka Old English].
Beowulf is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative lines.
It is the oldest surviving long poem in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature.
In 1731, the manuscript was badly damaged by a fire that swept through Ashburnham House in London that had a collection of medieval manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton.
The ownership of the codex before Nowell remains a mystery.
The Beowulf manuscript itself is identified by name for the first time in an exchange of letters in 1700 between George Hickes, Wanley’s assistant, and Wanley.
In the letter to Wanley, Hickes responds to an apparent charge against Smith, made by Wanley, that Smith had failed to mention the Beowulf script when cataloguing Cotton MS. Vitellius A. XV.
Hickes replies to Wanley “I can find nothing yet of Beowulph.”
Ashburnham House is an extended seventeenth-century house on Little Dean’s Yard in Westminster, London, United Kingdom, which since 1882 has been part of Westminster School.
Ashburnham House took its present form shortly after the Restoration when it was leased by Charles Ashburnham, a friend of Charles II. and subsequently became a London seat for his family that became the Earls of Ashburnham.
The Ashburnham family lived in the house for less than eighty years until John, 1st Earl Ashburnham sold the lease to the Crown in 1730.
The Finnesburg – or Finnsburh – Fragment is a portion of an Old English heroic poem about a fight in which Hnæf and his 60 retainers are besieged at “Finn’s fort” and attempt to hold off their attackers.
The extant text is a transcript of a loose manuscript folio that was once kept at Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury.
The British scholar George Hickes made the transcript some time in the late 17th century, and published it in an anthology of Anglo-Saxon and other antiquities in 1705.
This anthology also contained the first reference to the sole manuscript of Beowulf.
Since the time when the copy was made, the original manuscript folio has been lost or stolen.
The “German George” changes to history evolved further with the discovery of the long lost The Description of Britain [aka De Situ Britanniae – On the Situation of Britain] which mysteriously materialised in Copenhagen.
Charles Bertram was an English expatriate living in Copenhagen who began a flattering correspondence with the antiquarian William Stukeley in 1747 and was vouched for by Hans Gram, the royal librarian to King Frederick V.
After a few further letters, Bertram mentioned “a manuscript in a friend’s hands of Richard of Westminster,… a history of Roman Brittain… and an antient map of the island annex’d.”
A “copy” of its script was shown to David Casley, the keeper of the Cotton Library, who “immediately” described it as around 400 years old.
Once it had been accepted as genuine, The Description of Britain exerted a profound effect upon subsequent theories, suppositions, and publications of history.
It was the premier source of information – sometimes the only source – for well over 100 years.
The Description of Britain: Translated from Richard of Cirencester
However, British History gained yet another layer of varnish during Britain’s “imperial century” [1815-1914] when mainstream historians re-enforced the monarchy’s Anglo-Saxon heritage whilst seeing “pre-Roman Britain in the same light as pre-colonial Africa”.
With the accession of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the process of historical “sanitization” was taken a stage further.
Bishop William Stubbs, who was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University in 1866, set about a total reform of the teaching of British history on German lines, ruthlessly suppressing what he saw as heretical ideas.
A staunch Anglican, Germanophile and notable historian of the Church of England, he established a new curriculum for the teaching of history in schools.
His magnum opus was his three-volume Constitutional History of England, which traces the development of the English constitution from the Saxon invasions to 1485.
Following his lead, historians at this time painted a new picture of pre-Roman Britain as a land of barbarians ignoring all evidence to the contrary in traditional histories.
As the Romans had little to say about Britain itself (or at least little has been preserved), a large vacuum was created in the historical record. Since Stubb’s time this vacuum has been filled by an avalanche of speculation, wild theories and completely false assumptions which are themselves totally at odds with the traditions of the British.
The reason for this baffling attitude of nineteenth-century British historians towards the history of their own country seems to be that subconsciously they equated the Empire of their own time with that of ancient Greece and Rome – the inevitable outcome of a public school and university system that for centuries was overloaded with an obsession with Greek and Latin classical studies. Seeing pre-Roman Britain in the same light as pre-colonial Africa, they looked upon the Romans as heroes bringing the light of civilization to “darkest Britain”, which, they now believed, had until then been the preserve of unwashed tribes living primitive lives.
The Holy Kingdom
Adrian Gilbert, Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett
Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain’s “imperial century” by some historians, around 10,000,000 square miles (26,000,000 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.[
The changes were dramatic.
More long lost Anglo-Saxon manuscripts mysteriously materialised.
The Vercelli Book is one of the oldest of the four Old English Poetic Codices (the others being the Junius manuscript, the Exeter Book, and the Nowell Codex).
It is an anthology of Old English prose and verse that dates back to the late 10th century. The manuscript is housed in the Capitulary Library of Vercelli, in northern Italy.
The meticulous hand is Anglo-Saxon square minuscule.
It was found in the library by Friedrich Blume, in 1822, and was first described in his Iter Italicum (Stettin, 4 vols., 1824–36)
The “premier source of information” [The Description of Britain] was debunked [in Germany] during 1845.
Enough doubts had arisen by 1838 that the English Historical Society did not include The Description of Britain in its list of important historical works.
Still, the end did not come until 1845.
In that year the German writer Karl Wex effectively challenged the authority of the Description in the Rheinisches Museum.
He had been working on a new edition of Tacitus’s Agricola.
Consulting the Description, he found that it included impossible transcription errors that had been introduced to editions of Tacitus by Venetian printers in the 15th century.
His work was translated into English and printed by the Gentleman’s Magazine in October 1846.
British scholars were slow to accept the truth.
The Welsh language was classified as “evil” and “approximately 1 million people” were left to die of starvation in Ireland by the Imperial English.
The Treachery of the Blue Books or Treason of the Blue Books (Welsh: Brad y Llyfrau Gleision) was the name given in Wales to the Reports of the commissioners of enquiry into the state of education in Wales published in 1847.
The commissioners often simply reported verbatim the prejudiced opinions of landowners and local Anglican clergy.
The more bilious editorial attacks on Welsh culture mostly emanated from Commissioner Lingen.
The Great Famine or the Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.
It is sometimes referred to, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine, because about two-fifths of the population was solely reliant on this cheap crop for a number of historical reasons.
During the famine, approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.
The massive famine soured the already strained relations between many of the Irish people and the British Crown, heightening Irish republicanism, which eventually led to Irish independence in the next century.
Throughout the entire period of the Famine, Ireland was exporting enormous quantities of food.
Cormac O’Grada points out that, in Ireland before and after the famine, “Although the potato crop failed, the country was still producing and exporting more than enough grain crops to feed the population. But that was a ‘money crop’ and not a ‘food crop’ and could not be interfered with.”
Yet more long lost fragments of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts mysteriously materialised.
Waldere or Waldhere is the conventional title given to two Old English fragments from a lost epic poem, discovered in 1860 by E. C. Werlauff, Librarian, in the Danish Royal Library at Copenhagen, where it is still preserved.
The parchment pages had been reused as stiffening in the binding of an Elizabethan prayer book, which had presumably come to Europe following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England in the 16th century.
And William Stubbs produced his “standard authority” Constitutional History of England.
William Stubbs (21 June 1825 – 22 April 1901) was an English historian and Anglican bishop.
He was Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford between 1866 and 1884.
He was Bishop of Chester from 1884 to 1889 and Bishop of Oxford from 1889 to 1901.
It is, however, by his Constitutional History of England (3 vols., 1874–78) that he is most widely known as a historian.
It became at once the standard authority on its subject.
The appearance of this book, which traces the development of the English constitution from the Teutonic invasions of Britain till 1485, marks a distinct step in the advance of English historical learning.
No wonder academics avoid studying the History of British History.