Friday, September 30, 2016

A Historian After My Heart?

Dominic Selwood.

Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers
AMAZON History No. 1 Bestseller

Four Sample Chapters

After reading what he had to say, I'd say yes. Probably in the balance of probabilities. I'll quote some paragraphs from the foreword:

There are, of course, fixed historical facts. For instance, in 1215, the barons forced King John to agree Magna Carta. In 1533, King Henry VIII broke from Rome. No one is going to dispute these dates. However, scratch deeper into the surrounding events, and things become less certain.

Take Magna Carta. It is one of the world’s most famous documents—the West’s charter of liberty and democracy. Except it wasn’t. John and the barons disowned it within nine weeks and threw it in the bin, where it lay unused and irrelevant for centuries. Our modern image of its significance was only invented in the 1600s, when it was resurrected and dubiously hoisted as a battle standard for the will of the people against tyranny.

Or take Henry’s break from Rome, and the transformation of English religion finished by his children, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. We now know many of the changes were implemented with state terror and violence—the Tudors effectively massacred their people into a new religion. And yet, the Tudor spin machine constructed its story of Henry the benign Renaissance spiritual liberator so well that it is still taught in schools around the world.

What is true for Tudors, is true for most Wasas too - Gustav I Wasa, who made the country offidicially Lutheran in 1527, his son Eric XIV were heavily tyrannising Catholicism, Eric's brother John III gave us Catholics a break and married a Polish princess. His son, Sigismund (III in Poland, only one in Sweden) "overdid it" by actually allowing Catholic priests, Jesuits, in Stockholm. Among the opposition was one French Huguenot having found refuge in Sweden, who made all who were willing to listen to him afraid Sigismund would be preparing a St Bartholomew's massacre. And at the head of the opposition, Duke Carl, the last main son of Gustav Wasa, uncle of the young King. His - Sigismund's - flight and the defeat and massacre of the loyal Catholics (there were some around still) is a bit like Culloden./HGL

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