Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Why of English (and Western) History

In this book I am trying to give you only those events of the past which can throw a light upon the conditions of the present world. If I do not mention certain countries, the cause is not to be found in any secret dislike on my part. I wish that I could tell you what happened to Norway and Switzerland and Serbia and China. But these lands exercised no great influence upon the development of Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I therefore pass them by with a polite and very respectful bow. England however is in a different position. What the people of that small island have done during the last five hundred years has shaped the course of history in every corner of the world. Without a proper knowledge of the background of English history, you cannot understand what you read in the newspapers. And it is therefore necessary that you know how England happened to develop a parliamentary form of government while the rest of the European continent was still ruled by absolute monarchs.

--from The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Van Loon (Chapter 45)

1 comment:

Javamom said...

Oh, Van Loon! I haven't touched Van Loon since Jonathan was little. Wish I was fast enough to read everything the kids have read over the years. I'm enjoying Plimoth Plantation right now, myself. I take so many more notes than the boys do. SIGH. And I am trying to 'lecture' or present material for five minutes only, and save the rest of the time for group discussion. (Lord, help me finish well!)