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Bill Thayer

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Readings in
British History

The page before you is no more than a guide to the rather miscellaneous collection of pages onsite of some significance to the history of Great Britain. As my site has grown to over fourteen thousand webpages and about two hundred books on various historical topics, the increase in the number of such pages was inevitable, and this index may therefore prove useful to some. These pages are all in English, unless otherwise indicated.


[image ALT: A wooden column capital depicting two affronted peacocks in a setting of luxurious stylized foliage. It is a sixth-century capital from Sicily. The image rather bizarrely serves as the icon on this site for the orientation page to Resources on Roman Britain.]

Resources on Roman Britain: Three books provide an overview of the Roman presence in Britain thru their roads and other remains; a fourth surveys in rather great detail the County of Gloucester. A few briefer items round out the material.

[ 65 webpages
— 1347 pages of print, 92 maps, 123 illustrations ]


[image ALT: A highly stylized drawing of a fish, made up mostly of small dots. It is an illumination in an 11c Welsh manuscript.]

After an initial chapter covering the end of Roman Britain, Nora Kershaw Chadwick's Celtic Britain (1963) deals entirely with the brief period of Celtic independence before the advent of the Saxons. The Celts, their kingdoms in Scotland and Wales, their institutions, their art and literature: a general survey by an expert in Celtic literature.

[ 14 webpages
— 238 pages of print, 26 drawings, 9 plans and maps ]


[image ALT: A highly stylized drawing of a fish, made up mostly of small dots. It is an illumination in an 11c Welsh manuscript.]

Richard John King's Handbook to the Cathedrals of England, a multi-volume work of well over a thousand pages, is for now represented onsite only by five of his cathedrals — Ely, Lincoln, Norwich, Oxford, and Peterborough: but what's there is solid and provided with many good illustrations (although my transcription doesn't yet include all of them).

[ 13 webpages
— 342 pages of print, 66 engravings, 3 plans ]

Onsite link

Two books on the history of Tristan da Cunha tell the story of this remote British South Atlantic island from different viewpoints: Douglas Gane's Tristan da Cunha and Margaret Mackay's Angry Island. The site also includes several journal articles and the like.

[ 11/26/20: 79 webpages
— 482 pages of print, 1 map, 22 photos, 2 other images ]


[image ALT: A head-and-shoulders portrait of a young woman in uniform against a solid background with a striped bar running down the left side. She is Bessy Myers, author of 'Captured', an account of her captivity in France in the early days of World War II. The design serves as my icon for this book thruout my site.]

Roehenstart A Late Stuart Pretender: To call this guy a pretender (as does the book's title) is pushing it. No Scot ever seems to have thought he was a claimant to the throne of Scotland or the United Kingdom; to his credit, neither did Roehenstart himself, merely using a putative connection to batten off people — the oldest scam in the world — and halfheartedly at that.

[ 17 webpages
— 144 pages of print, 2 photos ]


[image ALT: A head-and-shoulders portrait of a young woman in uniform against a solid background with a striped bar running down the left side. She is Bessy Myers, author of 'Captured', an account of her captivity in France in the early days of World War II. The design serves as my icon for this book thruout my site.]

A book on a now famous covert operation perpetrated by the British in World War II to fool the Germans into thinking there would be no invasion of Sicily in 1943; written by Ewen Montagu, the man who concocted and directed the plot, and thus a primary source — and a fascinating read: The Man Who Never Was.

[ 19 webpages
— 160 pages of print, 1 map, 22 photos, 1 other image ]


[image ALT: A head-and-shoulders portrait of a young woman in uniform against a solid background with a striped bar running down the left side. She is Bessy Myers, author of 'Captured', an account of her captivity in France in the early days of World War II. The design serves as my icon for this book thruout my site.]

Bessy Myers' Captured tells her story as a British ambulance driver in the Mechanised Transport Service, working in France in the early days of World War II: her capture by Germans at the front, her work in the military hospital of Soissons, her captivity in the infamous Cherche-Midi prison in Paris, and how she finally got back to England. It includes a gripping account of the exodus of soldiers and civilians before the German juggernaut in June 1940, some terrible scenes of suffering, and many revealing vignettes of life in wartime France. Soberly told, often in her own contemporaneous diary; one of the five or six best books on my site.

[ 14 webpages
— 314 pages of print, 1 photograph, 1 map ]


In addition, this book, though not exactly history and thus I squirrel it away in my patchy "Gazetteer of England", has plenty of history in it:


[image ALT: An oil painting of a man of about 30 years of age, dressed in a loose tunic or shirt exposing some of his chest, and a heavier long cloak; in his left hand he holds a wooden bow, and he wears a large earring in his right ear. He looks straight at us. It is Metacomet, sachem of the Wamapnoags in the 17c, alias 'King Philip', and serves on my site as the icon for the book 'King Philip's War' by Ellis and Morris.]

A Handy Guide to Oxford (the University): an excellent little book written by one of its better known professors, who spent almost his entire life there: history and architecture, to be sure, but also traditions, rowing, and songs about ducks.

[ 124 pages of print
— 8 webpages, 32 photos, 12 engravings ]


Finally, among the many resources onsite that properly belong to the history of the Americas (for which see my complete listing elsewhere) — Britain's Canadian dominion and her former colonies in what are now the United States — a few might just as well be called British history:


[image ALT: An oil painting of a man of about 30 years of age, dressed in a loose tunic or shirt exposing some of his chest, and a heavier long cloak; in his left hand he holds a wooden bow, and he wears a large earring in his right ear. He looks straight at us. It is Metacomet, sachem of the Wamapnoags in the 17c, alias 'King Philip', and serves on my site as the icon for the book 'King Philip's War' by Ellis and Morris.]

One of the earliest real wars fought on the soil of what is now the United States, and a particularly bloody one in terms of the casualty rate: King Philip's War by George Ellis and John Morris is a serviceable account of the late‑17c conflict between the British and the native people of New England.

[ 315 pages of print
— 20 webpages, 24 photos ]


[image ALT: A portrait three-quarters right, from an oil painting, of an intelligent-looking man in his thirties with tousled hair, who wears a greatcoat (barely distinguishable) and a high scarf entirely concealing his neck. It is a cropped version of the portrait of the explorer Alexander Mackenzie by Lawrence; on this site it serves as the icon for Mark S. Wade's book 'Mackenzie of Canada'.]

In two separate explorations in the last decade of the eighteenth century, Scotsman Sir Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to cross the wilds of Canada down the river now named for him, to its mouth in the Arctic Ocean; and, more importantly for the future history of Canada, the first also to cross the North American continent north of Mexico. Mark Wade's Mackenzie of Canada chronicles those explorations, with much good background on the North American fur trade, and gives details of his life before and after his Canadian period.

[ 22 webpages
— 322 pages of print, 9 photos, 4 maps ]


[image ALT: A highly stylized blocky silhouette of an eagle, its wings spread and pointing down, clutching in his right talon an olive branch, and in his left two arrows. It is a modified and stylized version of the eagle in the Great Seal of the United States found as a decorative vignette on the title page of Francis Beirne's book 'The War of 1812', and serves as the icon for it on this site.]

Francis Beirne's The War of 1812 covers the Anglo-American conflict thoroughly: the causes of the war, the well-known American naval successes, but also the land campaigns which today are pretty much forgotten, and the final peace negotiations. The book is graced by some unusually fine maps.

[ 395 pages of print
— 32 webpages, 11 maps ]


[image ALT: missingALT. The image is further explained on the text of this webpage, and serves as the icon on my site for Longstreet\'s book, \'Esquimalt Naval Base\'.]

Victor F. Longstreet's Esquimalt Naval Base is a thorough, dense sourcebook for the history of Canada's Pacific Coast base from the early 19c thru 1939, detailing the history of the Pacific Station under the Royal Navy and its successor the Royal Canadian Navy, and cataloguing the principal events, the ships, and the commanders.

[ 189 pages of print
— 16 webpages, 13 illustrations ]

Onsite link

Similarly, among the journal articles collected in my American History Notes section, a few are of particular relevance to British history. As chronologically as possible:

The Crown of England's Title to America prior to that of Spain (supposed Welsh discovery of America in the 12c!)

The Lords Proprietors of Carolina

The English and Dutch Towns of New Netherland

The Attack on Norridgewock, 1724

Old Fort Loudon [Tennessee]

Bernardo de Galvez' Diary of the Operations against Pensacola

Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana

English Interest in the Annexation of California

[ 168 pages of print ]



[image ALT: zzz. This design serves to represent the section of my site on British history.]

The icon I use for this subsite is the coat of arms of Great Britain superimposed on the center of her flag.


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Site updated: 14 Dec 20