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State formation in early modern Europe

A Research Annual

ISBN: 978-1-84663-904-3, eISBN: 978-1-84663-905-0

Publication date: 31 July 2008


The most generally accessible and entertaining history of Britain remains Sellar and Yeatman's 1066 and all that which, notwithstanding the title, begins in 55 B.C. with the landing of Julius Caesar in Britain, and not with the assumption of the English throne in 1066 by William, the Conqueror (Sellar & Yeatman, 1930, ch. 1). But even though there are only two dates in the book, it is the later date which is, as they rightly say, “memorable.” This used to be part of a shorthand history of Britain which every schoolboy knew: the seaborne invasion of England, the death of Harold with an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings, the addition of French to the mixture of Saxon, Norse and Latin that already made up the local language. When last summer I visited the French town of Bayeux so that I might at last view the tapestry about which I had read as a small boy, but in which the graphic evidence of Harold's demise is now the subject of some dispute, I discovered something my teachers had never told me. There in the record of the Tapestry is Harold swearing allegiance to William; so that when, two years later, Edward the Confessor died childless, William set sail to claim his inheritance. Or at any rate, that is what the French story is, based on existing Norman sources, of which the Bayeux Tapestry is an important component.


Tribe, K. (2008), "State formation in early modern Europe", Samuels, W.J., Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 26 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 93-97.



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