Compulsory Preface (this means you)
Here may be found a suitable ‘best of’ ‘1066 And All That’. This is the Memorable History of England, and thus the only useful history, as history is what you can remember, and no more. The excerpted version reduces in some way the comedy – the book is much better in whole. The first part reads in virtual chronology, while the second part skips a whole lot of years and decades and even centuries. If you are short of time (having spent years and decades and even centuries on the rest of this site) skip to PART TWO, as it is much the better half. Enjoy!
Preface to Second Edition
A first edition limited to one copy and printed on rice paper and bound in buck-boards and signed by one of the editors was sold to the other editor, who left it in a taxi somewhere between Piccadilly Circus and the Bodleian.
Caesar Invades England
The first date in English history is 55 BC, in which year Julius Caesar (the memorable roman Emperor) landed. This was in the Olden Days, when the Romans were top nation on account of their classical education, etc.
The Roman Occupation
After the Conquest the Romans did not mingle with the Britons at all, but lived a semi-detached life in villas. They occupied their time for two or three hundred years in building Roman roads and having Roman baths; this was called the Roman Occupation, and gave rise to the memorable Roman law, ‘he who baths first baths fast’, which was a Good Thing, and still is. The Romans also built a wall between England and Scotland to keep out the savage Picts and Scots. The wall was the work of the memorable Roman Emperor Balbus and was thus called Hadrian’s Wall.
Britain Conquered Again
The Roman Empire was overrun by waves not only of Ostrogoths, Vizigoths, and even Goths, but also of Vandals (who destroyed works of art) and Huns (who destroyed everything and everybody, including Goths, Ostrogoths, Vizigoths, and even Vandals), Britain was overrun by waves of Picts (and, of course, Scots) who had recently learnt how to climb the wall.
Humiliation of the Britons
The brutal Saxon invaders drove the Britons westward into Wales and compelled them to become Welsh; it is now considered doubtful as to whether this was a Good Thing.
Alfred the Cake
King Alfred was the first Good King, with the exception of Good King Wenceslas, who, though he looked 4th*, really came first (it is not known, however, what King Wenceslas was King of). Alfred ought never to be confused with King Arthur, equally memorable but probably non-existent and therefore perhaps less important historically (unless he did exist).
Ethelread the Unready: A Weak King
Ethelread the Unready was called the Unready because he was never ready when the invading Danes were. Rather than wait for him the Danes used to fine large sums called Danegeld, for not being ready. But though they were always ready, the Danes had very bad memories and often used to forget that they had paid he Danegeld and come back for it almost before they had sailed away. By that time Ethelread was always unready again. Finally, Ethelread was taken completely unawares by his own death and was succeeded by Canute.
Canute and the Waves
Canute began by being a Bad King on the advice of his Courtiers, who informed him that the King of England was entitled to sit on the sea without getting wet.
Canute had two sons, Halfacanute and Partacanute, and two other offspring, Rathacanute and Hardlicanute, whom, however, he would never acknowledge, denying to the last that he was their Fathacanute.
* For ‘looked 4th’, read ‘looked forth’.
- Discuss, in latin or gothic (but not both), which came first, AD or BC?
- What would have happened if Canute had succeeded in sitting on the waves? Does it matter?
Henry VII’s Statecraft
Henry VII was a miser and very good at statecraft; he invented some extremely clever policies such as the one called Morton’s Fork. This was an enormous prong with which his minister Morton visited the rich citizens (or burghlers as they were called). If the citizen said he was poor, Morton drove his Fork in a certain distance and promised not to take it out until the citizen paid a large sum of money to the King. As soon as this was forthcoming Morton dismissed him, at the same time shouting ‘Fork Out’ so that Henry would know the statecraft had been successful. If the burghler said he was quite rich Morton would do the same thing: it was thus a very clever policy and always succeeded except when Morton put the Fork in too far.
Age of Daring Discoveries
The greatest of the discoveries was St Christophus Columba, the utterly memorable American, who, with the assistance of the intrepid adventurers John and Sebastian Robot, discovered how to make an egg stand on its wrong end.
Massacre of Glascoe
The Scots soon began to squirl and hoot at the Dutch Orange (English monarch Williamanmary), and a rebellion was raised by the memorable Viscount Slaughterhouse and his gallivanting army. Finally, the Scots were all massacred at Glascoe, near Edinburgh (in Scotland, where the Scots were living at the time); after which they were forbidden to curl or hoot or even to wear the Kilt. (This was a Good Thing, as the Kilt was one of the causes of their being so uproarious and Scotch).
The Boston Tea Party
One day when George III was insane he heard that the Americans never had afternoon tea. This made him very obstinate and he invited them all to a compulsory tea-party at Boston; the Americans, however, started by pouring the tea into Boston Harbour and went on pouring things into Boston Harbour until they were quite Independent, thus causing the United States. These were also partly caused by Dick Washington who defeated the English at Bunker’s Hill. After this the Americans made Wittington President and gave up speaking English and became USA and Colombia and 100% etc.
The War lasted three years or the duration, the Americans being 100% victorious.
The Peace to End Peace
Though there were several battles in the War, none were so terrible or costly as the Peace which was signed in the ever-memorable Chamber of Horrors at Versailles, and which was caused by the only memorable American statesmen, President Wilson and Colonel White House, who insisted on a lot of Points, including:
- that England should be allowed to pay for the War
- that the world should be made safe for Democracy, i.e. anyone except pillion-riders, pedestrians, foreigners, natives, capitalists, communists, Jews, riffs, R.A.F.S, gun-men, policemen, peasants, pheasants, Chinese, etc.
- that there should be a great many more countries: this was a Bad Thing as it was the cause of increased geography.
A Bad Thing
America was thus clearly top nation, and History came to a stop.
DISCLAIMER: The webmaster would like to thank Methuen Publishers for the publication of this volume of folly, and hopes that the above taster of the book’s virtues might increase interest in the book.