Read Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 by Linda Colley Free Online
Book Title: Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837|
The author of the book: Linda Colley
Loaded: 1943 times
Reader ratings: 5.9
Date of issue: May 13th 1996
ISBN 13: 9780712697859
The size of the: 878 KB
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Format files: PDF
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In the past three decades the historical discipline has seen a shift away from issues of political strife and economics to less concrete questions such as identity, nationalism, and ideology. This example is a well-written and thought-provoking attempt to challenge historiographic paradigms, but weakened by overstatements and some serious omissions.
Colley sets herself a challengingly expansive task, attempting to cover major themes such as religion and empire from the Act of Union (1707) to the reign of Victoria and how each contributed to the formation of British (as opposed to earlier, more local) identity. She places a great deal of weight on Protestantism as the core of this identity, portraying the British as xenophobes who saw themselves as superior to all foreigners, especially those depraved Catholics. Prolonged wars with France obviously would have reinforced this attitude, and subsequent prosperity in England was attributed to divine favor.
This works as a generalization, but ignores the marked internal divisions of British "Protestantism," which in fact consisted of many sects with Anglicans not always the majority. There was considerable internal tension between religious groups. Colley also leaves out Ireland completely, and does not discuss British Catholics (whom primary source documents indicate to have considered themselves British and patriots even though Protestants may not have seen them thus).
A usefully thought-provoking study, but one that needs to be read with some skepticism.
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