StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,

(Meme) Your country's history

There's a thread on this over on the RPGnet forum, and I thought it would be fun to give it a go here.

Describe your country's history - not as it really was, but as the average person in your country remembers it. What are the major events that everybody knows about? What's taught in schools? What do your politicians and media talk about when they want to boast about how great your country is? Or are there embarrassing episodes in your nation's past that everybody knows about but nobody likes to mention?

We're not looking for a balanced, measured or accurate view here. Broad generalisations and sweeping stereotypes are welcome. Consider this a disclaimer. ;-) Also, people with actual academic qualifications in history may need to take a stiff drink or three before reading this post...

So, under the cut, the Condensed History of England as Most People Here Remember It.

I did my best to avoid just quoting '1066 And All That' verbatim...

  • The Ancient Britons paint themselves blue and ride around in chariots with swords tied to the wheels.
  • The Romans invade. First they massacre everyone, but then they build cities and roads - lots of roads - and villas and baths and stuff. And a big wall to keep the Scots out of England.
  • The Romans leave. The Anglo-Saxons invade. More massacring. King Arthur fights them, assuming he existed, but he dies and the Saxons win and become English.
  • The Vikings invade. Again with the massacring. King Alfred burns some cakes, then defeats the Vikings.
  • The Normans invade. Yep, it's massacre time again. King Harold gets shot with an arrow in his eye, and the Normans make a tapestry about it.
  • The Middle Ages. Knights and castles, and grubby peasants and Robin Hood and the Black Death. We invade France and now it's our turn to do some massacring for a change (see: Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt. Nobody has ever heard of Castillon.)
  • Henry the Eighth has six wives. Or was it Henry the Sixth who had eight wives? People get burned at the stake for being the wrong flavour of Christian.
  • Queen Elizabeth is a virgin who has the heart and stomach of a king. Sir Francis Drake beats the Spanish Armada during a game of bowls. Shakespeare writes some plays.
  • The Stuarts take over and England is now ruled by the Scots. Guy Fawkes tries to blow up Parliament but, sadly, fails.
  • The Civil War. Cromwell's Roundheads beat King Charles's cavaliers, and Charles gets his head cut off. Cromwell then goes and makes himself unpopular in Ireland, causing problems ever since.
  • England and Scotland become Britain. Nobody outside the UK ever seems to get the names right. It's a conspiracy.
  • Britain starts an empire. Lots of wars with France. We get involved with slavery (boo!).
  • The Americans decide to leave the Empire. Good riddance. We go off and conquer India and Australia to make up for it.
  • Napoleon tries to conquer the world, but we defeat him. Britannia now, officially, Rules.
  • We suddenly realise slavery is a bad thing after all, and abolish it (yay!).
  • Industrial revolution. Railways and steam engines and dark satanic mills. Little boys being forced up chimneys. Poor matchgirls freezing to death in the snow. Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes.
  • The First World War. Mud and blood and poison gas, and millions of people killed in futile attacks against the enemy trenches.
  • The Great Depression. Hunger marches and strikes and Neville Chamberlain appeasing Hitler (boo!).
  • The Second World War. Britain's Last Great Moment of Heroism. We save the world (some other countries may have helped at the end) but ruin ourselves doing it. Dunkirk, Battle of Britain, Churchill's speeches, the Desert War, D-Day, and the Dambusters.
  • Britain is now too poor to be a world power. We comfort ourselves by setting up the Welfare State and the NHS instead. All our former colonies leave the empire, although many of their inhabitants decide to come and live here instead.
  • The Swinging Sixties: The Beatles and Carnaby Street. Doctor Who is first broadcast.
  • The Depressing Seventies and Even More Depressing Eighties: the Three Day Week and Winter of Discontent. Punk Rock. Margaret Thatcher. The Falklands War, the Miners' Strike and the Poll Tax Riots.

...and after that, it becomes Current Affairs rather than history.

Or, if you prefer the tl;dr version as taught in modern British schools:

1. Romans and Vikings and knights and Tudors and Stuarts and stuff.
2. Slavery.
3. Hitler.
(for 2. and 3, first we were in favour of them, then realised they were Bad and opposed them.)


So, over to you. How is history remembered in your country?

Tags: history, meme
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