Saint of the day: Oswald of Northumbria

Saint of the day: Oswald of Northumbria

After Edwin’s death the different parts of Northumbria split once again, and Ethelfrith’s son  Eanfrith ruled Bernicia, the people reverting to the ‘abominations’ of paganism in Bede’s words, whatever that means. Paulinus fled, leaving another Italian, James the Deacon, all alone to run an isolated church in the wilds of Deira. Luckily Northumbrian kings never lasted long, and Eanfrith was no exception; he had made a truce with the local British chieftain Cadwallon but after falling out he went off… Read on

How single men and women are making politics more extreme

At the Week In the late 20th century a similar thing happened with a number of products on the market, among them children’s toys. When Lego first came out, your options were basically a Lego set or a slightly different Lego set; even when I was very young in the 1980s the spaceman was about as complex as it got. But today you have a vast range of options, including Star Wars Lego, Batman Lego, princesses, knights, aliens, and… Read on

The Great Viking Army turned up in early medieval England. What happened next will blow your mind

The Great Viking Army turned up in early medieval England. What happened next will blow your mind

I thought I’d take a sideways step from making the world a better, happier place writing about politics and how everything is terrible – and instead write some history books about how everything used to be terrible. They’re aimed at the young adult market, although they can happily be read by adult-adults, a sort of slightly older Horrible Histories. The five books cover English history in the medieval period, from the fall of Rome to the War of the Roses…. Read on

No, Dunkirk isn’t about Brexit

A great war film, but what does it mean?

It’s okay to hate foreigners so long as they’re rich

At the Spectator. On why absentee foreign landlords aren’t to blame for the housing crisis.

The Week: Jeremy Corbyn’s topsy-turvy culture war

Me, in The Week: That referendum turned into a bitter and ugly culture war, a marked sign of the shifting from the traditional left/right axis towards a conflict between globalism and nationalism. Yet it has had a huge unintended consequence, too: What started as a battle for Britain’s soul between metropolitan liberals and conservatives seems to have left both sides exhausted and impotent and instead emboldened hardline socialists, viewed until recently as harmless relics of a bygone age. And… Read on

I’m a Leaver who would be happy for a second referendum

At the Spectator I voted Leave but if it looks like clearly being an economic disaster, then it’s ridiculous to pursue it whatever the cost. In no field does someone continue along the same course, knowing it will end in complete failure, whatever the consequences. It is true that there would be public anger at a second referendum, but there would be far more if the economy went down the toilet. There is also the fact that, while we… Read on

‘Saxons vs Vikings’ and ‘1066 and Before All That’ published August 8

I have a series of history books aimed at young adults published in the US. It came about as a result of an Amazon Kindle Single on Magna Carta, which Skyhorse wished to publish (in extended form – the ebook was 30,000, the book book is 50,000). The five books are sort of my idea of a slightly older Horrible Histories, officially aimed at young adults but accessible to non-young adults too (I was too old for HH, although I… Read on

The spiritual cause of the ‘European intifada’

Me, for the Acton Institute. Others are not so optimistic. In Germany, historian Rolf Peter Sieferle has made even more of a splash. His account of German political psychology and its effects, Finis Germania, has enjoyed good sales just as it has been roundly condemned by the prestige press. Die Zeit called it a book of “brazen obscenity.” (He has not been able to enjoy his surprise bestseller, having taken his own life last September.) A former socialist who grew disillusioned… Read on

The Week: Of course language is essential to class. Take it from an Englishman.

Me in The Week Throughout history, food and the manners that surround it have always been important class markers. There’s a reason why the words for the stuff served at the table — beef, pork, mutton — bears no resemblance to the names of the animals they originate from — cow, pig, sheep. The latter are Old English while the former are French in origin, reflecting that language’s prestige status after the Norman Conquest and France’s cultural dominance in the Middle… Read on