During the fifth century following the withdrawal of the Roman military establishment from England, the armed incursions of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and others of the Barbarian tribes from across the North Sea increased, and soon became a surge. After a relatively short time the subjugation of the British was complete and England a patchwork of warring domains and isolated settlements. Yet within the space of two centuries the English (as the tribes may collectively be called) had achieved a sense of themselves that may fairly be described as nationhood. It is the evolution of this sense and of the distinctive characteristics of England and the English that gave it form and substance which Geoffrey Elton traces through twelve centuries. The result is the first one-volume history of the English nation from its origins to the present for over twenty years: it is a tour de force.
"This book will surely be recognised as the best single-volume
concise history of England - lively, authoritative, and yet
personal and humane. Only Elton could have written it." Michael
"This work is thoughtful, witty, and graceful in style, a marvel
of compression ... Elton argues forcefully that the English formed,
and were formed by, a unique reconciliation of individual freedom
with monarchically supervised order. Like Joseph Strayer's on
The Medieval Origins of the Modern State (1986), this
splendid work is a brief distillation of a lifetime of thoughtful
scholarship and deep reflection." Choice
"Anyone may enjoy this book." The Times
"A study that is both authoritative and individualistic, showing
a full awareness but not a full acceptance of recent research."