The Normans were the original liberal metropolitan elite ‘Remainers’

The Normans were the original liberal metropolitan elite ‘Remainers’

Originally appearing at the Spectator Coffee House, October 14, 2016 Today is the most important date in our history, the day on which thousands of men fought outside Hastings and England was changed forever. By the end of Saturday, October 14, 1066, thousands were dead, among them England’s king, Harold II, and most of the country’s leaders. As historian Elizabeth van Houts put it, ‘No other event in western European history of the central Middle Ages can be compared… Read on

Me, my voice, again. This time talking about Vikings this time

And my face too, looking a state (and I wasn’t even drunk). At the Future Nations vlog, talking about Alfred the Great and the Vikings.

1215 and All That: A Very, Very short history of Magna Carta

Is available from Amazon. This began as an ebook in 2015 and was last year bought by Skyhorse to publish in print form. The downside is that I lost all the reviews for the original, and as the Spectator’s Rory Sutherland wrote, when a company upgrades a product now they do not always give it a new name because they want to keep its positive record. (I realised this when I bought a mini-hoover this year which was… Read on

Conservatism has no future unless it tackles housing

At the i. While Margaret Thatcher secured 42 per cent of the youth vote in 1979, Britain’s second female prime minister got less than half that, and to the vast majority of under-40s the party is essentially repulsive,  regarded as the Nasty Party, to use Theresa May’s famous Ratnerism. A number of factors might explain this, among them the expansion of university education, declining religious belief, the dominance of the Left in education and media, or the way small-c… Read on

Plutôt anglais que britannique

A Spectator article of mine on the modern significance of identifying as British or English appears in the latest Courrier International.

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

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

‘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