A Short History
Where does the idea of ‘England’ come from, how did it evolve, and is its relevance real or imagined?
There is no English state within the UK—no English passport, Parliament or currency; nor is there any immediate prospect of one. But that does not mean that England lacks an identity.
The extent to which English nationalism has a deep history is a matter of controversy. Jeremy Black argues persuasively for its existence from ‘the Old English State’ onwards, predating the Norman invasion. By looking to the past, he seeks to understand England’s historical identity, and what it means for English nationalism today.
English Nationalism also probes how other nationalist movements within Britain have helped shape an English identity. Has hostility to ‘England’ and ‘Englishness’ been the principal driver of resurgent English nationalism?
The Brexit vote may appear to have cancelled out Scottish and other nationalisms as an issue—but in fact it has made what it is to be English a question of great urgency.
Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter, and one of Britain's most published academics. His interests include military history, British politics, newspaper and cartographic history, and international relations. Among his many books are Maps and History, War and the World, and A Short History of Britain.
‘This pithy history argues that England’s tolerant brand of nationalism has been a force for good.’—The Times, Book of the Week
‘A balanced account of a subject mired in confusion and emotion . . . absorbing . . . Black succeeds in showing the deep roots of a sense of “Englishness”‘. — History Today
‘Jeremy Black’s book on English nationalism could not be more timely. He puts complex issues regarding British and English identity, patriotism, ethnicity and nationhood into their proper historical context, and makes them perfectly comprehensible. As we move towards a largely English-led Brexit, this well-written, well-informed and lively book will provide invaluable guidance.’ — Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
‘Jeremy Black is an outstanding historian of ideas and one of the leading historians of these islands. This survey of English national feeling is penetrating, original, and incredibly well-informed. Its publication could not be more timely, or its subject matter more relevant, and there is no better guide to this issue than Professor Black.’ — Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
‘The distinction between Englishness and Britishness is one of the most crucial issues of our time. Jeremy Black’s lucid and intelligent analysis strides through Tudor exceptionalism and the rise and fall of British imperialism right through to the present day. It is an excellent guide to the sources of Britain’s current distress.’ — Professor Norman Davies, author of Beneath Another Sky: A Global Journey into History