1066 and All That begins with Julius Caesar’s arrival in 55 BC and the woad-covered Britons’ heroic defence ‘under their dashing queen Woadicea’. The Roman conquest was ‘a Good Thing, since the Britons were only natives at that time’. The Romans built a wall to keep out the Picts, but then the legions left to ‘take part in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall’, caused by the Romans’ desire for ‘bread and circumstances’. This ‘left Britain defenceless and subjected Europe to that long succession of Waves of which History is chiefly composed’. Britain was soon overrun by Angles, Saxons and Jutes, led by ‘Hengist and his wife (?or horse), Horsa’.
This is my sort of history: a strong, clear storyline, people at the heart of it, and a lurking suspicion of theory (in this case, the ‘Wave’ theory). Sam Moorhead of the British Museum and David Stuttard take precisely the same view. The result is splendid, easily the most attractive