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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

History: The True Story Uncovered (Part 1)

[As some of you know, I have for the last decade been trying to put together my ideas on a philosophy of history that attempts to do two things: first returning academic history to a place (if it ever had one) where it is taken seriously as an intellectual discipline rather than a bourgeois pastime or a service industry for popular entertainment; and second where it has a coherent ethical/political framework for those who, like me, think that the writing of history is inescapably political and that the politics of history should be emancipatory. The first part of this book (Why History Doesn't Matter) essays a deconstruction of the current practice of history by setting what seem to be uncontroversial ideas about the practice of history against the most frequent statements about its purpose and value, and finding them contradictory and incoherent.

This is the current draft of the projected chapter 1 ('The True Story Uncovered') of that book, which I want to share because discussions of the teaching of history (especially with regard to the British Empire) have come round again. I am fairly sure I have posted at least some of it before but if nothing else, this is an updated version. Here I have split it into two parts for ease of reading. In this first part, I set out why history is inescapably - always - about the writing of stories. I set out how histories are always shaped by various choices about where and when to start and end and about how they can always be read in any number of different ways, regardless of the writer's intention. They can't be pinned down. Then I use a medieval story to show how, as a narrative rather than an atomised collection of facts, history (as opposed to 'the past) never happens - that narratives are not in themselves facts. They are conected by imaginative, narrative, argumentative links which can be more or less plausible but are never empirical. None of this means that facts aren't important. Nor does any of this render history impossible; it is just how history is Indeed it is History's very condition of possibility. Think about it, if all this weren't the case, if explanations and narratives could be proved, the whole historical project would be finite. Finally in this part I try to demonstrate how the past cannot even be conceived of effectively without turning it into a story.

Note that this is still a draft and that the footnotes are neither complete nor consistent. Note also that for reasons to do with cutting, pasting and rearranging this text from it's original word document, the notes start again from i in the last section.] 

But let us be wise enough to learn the true history so that we can recognise a myth when we see one.
- Dee Brown[i]
In a newspaper piece setting out his vision of how history should be taught in British schools, Simon Schama enjoined educators to “[t]ell a classroom of 12-year-olds the story of the British (for they took place across our [sic] nations) civil wars of the 17th century…”[ii] It is difficult to disagree with many of the points Schama makes along the way but overall his argument is profoundly incoherent. My response to Schama’s injunction that we tell a classroom of 12-year-olds “the story of the British civil wars” is simple enough: which story? Let me explain.

Zulus and Redcoats

When I was young, my family habitually spent Christmas with my paternal grandparents in Blackpool. One Christmas I forewent a last-minute shopping trip into town to watch the TV première of the film Zulu Dawn about the disastrous British defeat at the battle of iSandlwana (1879).[iii] When my family got back later, my father, aware of the movie’s subject-matter, asked drily if it had “had a happy ending”: we laughed. A few years later, I read an article in a wargaming magazine which described Zulu Dawn as “very good historically” but “less satisfying [than the 1964 classic Zulu] as a piece of cinema”.[iv] I imagine, of course, that it has a happier ending and is less unsatisfying as a movie if you don’t view the story from the British side. Indeed, I once read a reminiscence by someone who had seen Zulu in a Jamaican cinema, where the audience greeted each shooting or skewering of a redcoat with rapturous cheers. [n.b. I cannot for the life of me track down this story, but I haven't made it up. I have discussed it in correspondence with Ian Knight who also remembered reading it but could not identify it either. If anyone can help, please get in touch.]

Among aficionados at least, it is well-known that Zulu barely comes within waving distance of being an accurate portrayal of the battle of Rorke’s Drift and that even Zulu Dawn makes some inexplicable departures from fact.[v] To an extent of course, this is understandable in the process of rendering a historical event into an entertaining cinematic experience lasting a couple of hours. Zulu Dawn – one can legitimately argue – has little choice but to telescope the events between Chelmsford’s crossing of the Mzinyathi/Buffalo River and the battle itself, fusing discrete episodes into single actions. Nonetheless, even if both movies stuck rigidly to historically-attestable fact or academically defensible interpretations thereof,[vi] several points would remain unchanged and would apply just as well to historians.

Some things, naturally, differ profoundly between composing the screenplay for a “historical” drama and writing actual history. Historians get things wrong for all sorts of reasons. Mistakes are made in the reading of sources whether through carelessness, a lack of scholarly sophistication or simple human error. Sometimes historians get things wrong for reasons beyond their control: new evidence is discovered that renders earlier accounts obsolete;[vii] new scholarship reveals that what had hitherto been regarded as solid evidence is anything but reliable. But one of the very few things that all historians would agree on would be that writers who knowingly distorted the empirical picture given in the surviving evidence would be committing gross professional malpractice. Nonetheless, important similarities with screenplay-writing remain. One is the element of selection to which we will return; even if it wanted to, no history (or film) can tell everything, even if it is aware of everything (which inevitably it is not).[viii] All historians decide which events are important to the story they want to tell. Most importantly they decide the beginning- and end-points of the story. That itself shapes a “narrative arc” and the flavour or form of the story told. To return to our cinematic examples, the choice to start Zulu Dawn in the discussions immediately preceding the invasion of Zululand and to end with Chelmsford’s return to the wreckage of his camp governs the tone of the narrative, of hubris and tragedy. On the other hand, Zulu’s opening with the aftermath of iSandlwana and closure with the relief of the post at Rorke’s Drift frames a story of heroism and triumph over the odds. The same points apply to historical writing. A history that starts with the rise to power of Napoleon and ends with Waterloo, for example, tells one type of story. One that begins with Waterloo and ends with the accession to power of Napoleon III tells quite another. The “facts”, in and of themselves, whether disputed or not, determine neither the content nor the shape of history.

Historical narrative is also much more than a string of events placed in chronological order. Schama thought schoolteachers should tell their classes the story of the seventeenth-century British Civil Wars, but he knows that the story is not composed simply of a sequence of events of indisputable facticity. In the same article, he further instructs schoolteachers to “reinvent the art and science of storytelling in the classroom”. Once you recognise that history is about storytelling, arguments about the value of knowing historical facts begin to empty out their content. Schama wants children to learn “the history of how we [sic] came to execute our [sic] king”. Leaving aside the use of the first person plural,[ix] several important points arise. First, history lies in the “how people came to execute their king”. That “how they came to” cannot be not encompassed in any selection and sequence of events but in the story that the events are chosen to support. Some historians might see that story as reaching right back into the reign of Elizabeth I and composed of a serious of constitutional steps (or mis-steps) leading inevitably to crisis; others might see the story as having a much shorter arc and as being characterised by the failure by various parliamentarians, even Cromwell, to get an obdurate Charles to accept any number of compromises that would have kept his bum on his throne and his head on his shoulders after the end of the First Civil War. What sort of end-point does Charles’ execution represent? Was it a dramatic constitutional (as well as personal) moment, altering the nature of monarchy, or had monarchy already been irrevocably changed with the Elizabethan settlement? In other words, were the parliamentarians, in killing Charles, doing any more than – metaphorically – beheading a corpse?[x] There is still more to it than that. Do children learn of Charles I’s beheading as some sort of whiggish[xi] step on the road to modern constitutional monarchy and representative parliamentary democracy, or as the martyrdom of “Saint Charles”? Are Cromwell, Ireton and the rest champions of democracy or regicides, king-killers? Does 1649 represent triumph or tragedy? All of these stories are equally possible; none of them is empirically wrong. Which one does Schama want “all schoolchildren” to learn? Arguments like Schama’s[xii] that all schoolchildren must learn certain things about “our” history and that the story of the British Civil Wars would be one of them, clearly imply that someone, somewhere, must decide which story they learn, from all the permutations just mentioned. I do not think that that would serve children well and it certainly restricts history to a form of fact-learning, no matter how lively the story is that you put those facts into.

One might suggest getting schoolchildren to discuss whether the events of January 1649 were the inevitable outcome of eighty years of political events or a historical accident, contingent on the personalities of 1646-48, which no one had really wanted to bring about. You could ask them whether they thought it was a triumph in the rise of parliament or a tragedy of the demise of kingship.[xiii] I would suggest that both of those would be educationally more valuable than telling them a predetermined story that everyone learnt. However, if you accept that those activities, interpretations and debates are, educationally, the bit that matters, that undermines the argument about having to know certain stories. The choice of which story to use becomes incidental.[xiv] The educational value of that sort of unpicking of narrative could equally well be served by a study of the Ming dynasty or indeed the downfall of the Zulu kingdom.

One vital lesson to emerge from the very brief discussion of cinematic history with which I began is that the producer of history (whether the latter be on celluloid or in scholarly monograph) has no control over how it is received. The story arc of Zulu Dawn may have been conceived as the tale of how Victorian imperial hubris and injustice led to a disaster and the slaughter of over 1,000 men, a rather clunky but well-intentioned critique of imperialism and the British class system, but it might as easily be consumed as the story of how the arrogant white man picked a fight with the Zulu and how the whole might of the British Empire was humbled by brave African warriors as a result: a happy ending indeed. Then again, even this might be too simplistic. King Cetshwayo and many other Zulus regarded the battle and the heavy losses as anything but a triumph. Zulu was intended to tell the tale of how brave, heroic British soldiers fought off 4,000 Zulus.[xv] The plot clearly aims to create a sort of “will they be able to hold out?” tension, especially as casualties mount and the Zulus take the hospital, the British being gradually forced back.[xvi] Yet the Jamaican audience cheered when the Zulus speared a soldier, seemingly urging the warriors to press on heroically and finish the job in the teeth of the white man’s murderous modern rifle-fire. Ian Knight, furthermore, estimates that perhaps as many as one in three of the Zulus who attacked the British post became casualties, and most of those were killed. It’s worth noting that these were for the most part not young men but they pressed their attacks for four hours.[xvii] That would make for a quite different narrative (or reading) of bravery and determination without any of the “facts” changing at all. Tell the story of how the English executed their king in 1649 as a triumphal step on the road to modern democracy and students may still consume it as the tragic downfall of Renaissance monarchy. The facts of the matter remain the same, be they the events of recorded history or the actions depicted on the screen, but the stories and their reading take on lives of their own. History is about the writing and reading of stories and, as we have seen, stories or narratives are compositions, not “facts”.

It is important to stress this because some historians have been wont to dismiss the idea that history is a “literary fiction” on the basis that the historian is chained to the immovable rocks of things that did or did not happen – or at least which are (or are not) recorded as happening in our surviving evidence. The recorded events are indeed immovable rocks for the historian but the argument that this renders historical writing other than a literary creation is flimsy. History flows lightly over and around the rocks that it chooses and it takes its shape from the spaces in between. This by no means reduces history’s power to do what it does (or has always done); it is simply enough how history is. If we want to restore to the historical discipline some power to matter intellectually, we need to recognise that and embrace its possibilities.

Thurbrand and Uhtred: History never happened

The implication of what I have been saying is that, if you conceive of it as stories, as more than simple collections of fact, then “history” never happened. To explain, I will employ a tale written in twelfth-century northern England.[xviii] It goes like this: Once upon a time there was a powerful and energetic earl called Uhtred who saved Durham from the Scots. Uhtred was married three times. His second marriage was to the daughter of one Styr Ulfsson and was contracted on condition that Uhtred would kill Styr’s enemy, Thurbrand. Alas, when Uhtred came to swear allegiance to King Cnut, his new ruler (and old enemy), in around 1018-20, Thurbrand and the king’s soldiers ambushed him and forty other chief men and killed them all. Uhtred’s brother Eadwulf succeeded him in the earldom but when he died Ealdred, Uhtred’s son by his first wife, became earl and killed Thurbrand. Thurbrand’s son, Carl, then campaigned against Ealdred until the two were prevailed upon to become sworn brothers and go on pilgrimage together to Rome. Unfortunately, the ship upon which they were to sail was delayed by bad weather so whilst they waited, Carl entertained Ealdred at his home in Holderness in the Yorkshire East Riding. One day, whilst showing Ealdred around his estate Carl killed Ealdred in (to quote the source)
a wood called Risewood and still today the place of his murder is marked by a small stone cross. Sometime later, the grandson of Earl Ealdred, Earl Waltheof, who was the son of his daughter, sent a large band of young men and avenged the killing of his grandfather with the utmost slaughter. For when the sons of Carl were feasting together at their elder brother’s house at Settrington, not far from York, the men who had been sent caught them unawares and savagely killed them together, except for Cnut whose life they spared because of his innate goodness. Sumerled, who was not there, survives to this day. Having massacred the sons and grandsons of Carl, they returned home bringing with them much booty of various kinds.
This is a fascinating story for many reasons; what makes it relevant to my argument is how historians have read it as the tale of a “feud”: a vendetta with each murder justified by the last and justifying the next.[xix] But let us look at this story more closely. It illustrates beautifully the fact that history is only constructed after the event. It is written as a story; English is perhaps the only western European language where the word for “history” is not also the usual word for “a story”.[xx] The account also confirms that, as suggested earlier, how we choose to tell that story is crucial. This point is often associated with the “post-modern” turn in historiography[xxi] but it has actually been made since the very earliest days of what we might think of as modern history-writing.[xxii] People like the author of this story (known to scholars as “the Durham Anonymous”) select episodes from the past and link them together to make a single strand of narrative. In this case, it was the story of a feud. But did it really happen like that or were the events simply written up in that way?

As related by the anonymous author, the story of the Northumbrian “feud” sounds unproblematic, united by a straightforward thread of cause and effect unfolding through time. In fact, though, long gaps separated the acts of violence and cut that thread. It took ten years for any violence to erupt as a result of Styr’s alleged injunction to Uhtred to kill Thurbrand. Styr’s daughter had died and Uhtred had remarried in the interim, surely freeing him from Styr’s demand. Furthermore, it was actually Thurbrand who did the only recorded attacking. A further seven years or more must have elapsed before Ealdred exacted his revenge on Thurbrand. The episode after that is interesting. Thurbrand’s son Carl is not described as trying to find an occasion to carry out his vengeance killing. Instead, he and Ealdred tried to do away with each other. This period was another long one. Carl’s killing of Ealdred dates to 1038, twenty-three years after his father had killed Ealdred’s father (the first event in the “feud”), and at least ten after Thurbrand’s murder (the second event). The anonymous narrator proceeds from Ealdred’s death to say simply that “sometime later, the grandson of Earl Ealdred, Earl Waltheof, … avenged the killing of his grandfather with the utmost slaughter.” Sometime later … In fact, the Settrington massacre, the fourth and final episode of the Northumbrian “feud”, took place in 1073/4, thirty-six years after Ealdred’s murder. Carl killed Ealdred four years before Waltheof was even born. A lot of selection is going on here, from a background of violence and killing, in order to create this long, unilinear saga of murder and revenge.[xxiii] Like all historians, the “Durham Anonymous” chose which story to tell and how to tell it. The history of eleventh-century Northumbria has thus come to be that of the “feud” between the families of Uhtred and Thurbrand. However, the events were not experienced like that that as they occurred, as the complex mass of events unfolded. The hi/story of the Northumbrian feud was made after the event. There’s no reason to doubt that the different events described happened; the “story”, however, never did.

Selection and narrative composition are inevitable; they are not things that “bad historians” do. The past includes everything that happened between the Big Bang and a second ago: innumerable doings, sayings, thoughts. The past is incapable even of being comprehended as such, except in the most abstract temporal sense of “stuff that has happened”. Before it can properly be envisaged, it must be converted into a narrative, a hi/story. I will return to this. In an important sense, therefore, history comes before the past! To be comprehended, the past must be given a plot with a beginning, a middle and an end (even if that end is not really an end but simply the present – a deferred ending).

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

A simple thought experiment illustrates this further. At any given time, we can conceive of yesterday in general abstract terms as “the day before today” but before we can have any real grasp of it, for example in writing up a diary, we have to decide upon what things happened that give shape to that general concept, in other words the things that turn it into a narrative. It may be that one simply selects the main structuring events of the day: got up; had breakfast; went to work; came home; watched TV; went to bed. It might be that, as here, these things have no especially marked “plot” to them; they are just the things that happened: a sort of bare chronicle.[i] But even here the meaning of the events takes shape not just from their naming (“breakfast”, “work”) but from their sequence and juxtaposition. That record gives shape and meaning to the abstract twenty-four hours of “yesterday” and turns it into the narrative of an ordinary day. There has still been selection. This is hardly a record, even a chronicle, of the whole day. A selection of what, at the time, we thought mattered has been made. All the conversations at work and at home, the details of the trip to and from work, what was on the telly, what was eaten for breakfast (and lunch and dinner have even been omitted) and many other things have been left out.

Now suppose that, having written our diary for the previous day, we have breakfast, go to work and are summoned to see the boss. We are then told that we’re to be made redundant. Now yesterday goes from being a dull day, its hours frittered and wasted in an off-hand way, to being “my last day in the job”. From being just another day those twenty-four little hours now acquire an added, perhaps even a certain tragic, quality. The diary could be amended accordingly. Certainly, how our diarist saw that day would change importantly.

Let us continue the experiment. Suppose that the person who asked you the time at the bus stop yesterday, and with whom you had a brief exchange of pleasantries, began to be a regular at the bus stop, someone you got to know, and who in time became your husband/wife/partner. Something that didn’t even seem worth recording on the day it happened and possibly for some time afterwards becomes a major shaping event of your life. The dull day has become the day you met your partner, possibly one of the most important days of your life – one would like to think so. Yet, when that event happened, at the time that that “history” was made, you didn’t even notice it. Only later did it become part of a history that made you who you are. Any number of variations on this basic scenario are possible, turning a bland unit of time into a key structuring element of the history of a life. The occurrences that matter have been chosen and placed in order (sometimes, of course, they are moved out of chronological sequence, whether deliberately or otherwise[ii]).

Note, though, that – underlining the point made earlier – the events, the elements themselves, do not change; only how one characterises them, how one selects them and positions them within the narrative, and how one casts that narrative. Events rarely carry an inherent meaning – those that do are often the really traumatic ones. If we return to the diarist, losing her job that day may have been the beginning of a long period of unemployment and of being treated, in spite of one’s best efforts, as an idle scrounger by tabloid editors, journalists and their readers and by populist Conservative (and Labour) governments. Every moment of that conversation with the boss, every vain attempt to keep the job, to talk the boss out of her decision might become etched on the memory; the last day at work becomes a poignant twenty-four hours. Alternatively, though, the diarist might have gone home and applied for another job, been successful, risen to the top of the company, met her partner and lived a very happy period of her life. In that case, one doubts that any especial elements of the redundancy conversation are remembered and the event itself becomes something of a happy moment of transition to something better. And didn’t I show her in the end? That “last day at work” remains just as it was remembered at the start of the following day, as a boring, barely-remembered twenty-four hours. But in all the different scenarios just set out it happened just the same, in just the same way.

In the tale of Thurbrand and Uhtred, the “Northumbrian feud”, the same procedures were followed. A selection was made (whether by the anonymous writer or his informants) from a vast number of different events and this was then arranged in a sequence to form the story of a feud, culminating in the tale of how Earl Waltheof avenged his grandfather. Had the author or his sources been more inclined to support Carl’s family, one imagines that it would have been constructed in a very different way, probably from a different selection of past happenings.[iii] This compels us to think more closely about storytelling and especially about its linguistic and literary aspects.



[i] D. Brown, The American West (London 2004), p.26.

[ii] Simon Schama, ‘My Vision for History in Schools’. The Guardian, 9 November 2010 (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/nov/09/future-history-schools accessed 8 July, 2017). Schama was educated at a public school (Habadashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School) and Cambridge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Schama#Early_life_and_education.  Schama is an exceptional historian by anyone’s definition but it takes that particular (and peculiarly British; as discussed below, p.000-n.000) kind of socio-cultural capital to take to the national newspapers to instruct teachers how to do their jobs, without having held any kind of educational post in the UK since 1980.

[iii] Dir.  D. Hickox (1979).  The movie culminates in a slaughter of Britain’s favourite character and TV actors (including – as well as token Hollywood star Burt Lancaster – Christopher Cazenove, Phil Daniels, Denholm Elliot, Bob Hoskins, Peter Vaughan, Simon Ward “and many more”) on a scale unsurpassed before the Great Celebrity Mortality of 2016.  In other cinematic trivia, Zulu Dawn may have occasioned the first use of the term “prequel”, a film telling the back-story to an earlier movie (in this case Zulu, dir C. Endfield, 1964), though another 1979 move, the banal and unnecessary Butch and Sundance: The Early Years (dir. R. Lester), also has a claim to that title.  I’ll have more to say about prequels. 

[iv] I. Knight, ‘The Zulu Wars Part 3: 1879’, Miniature Wargames 18 (November 1984), pp.39-43, at p.43.  Knight went on to be the pre-eminent authority on the Anglo-Zulu War (see p.000, n.000, above).  Knight’s cinematic judgment was certainly not based on pro-British/Imperial sympathies.

[v] Zulu Dawn made focused its story on Lt the Hon Standish Vereker, whom it depicts escaping the battle and, with his (presumably) dying shot, killing the Zulu making off with the captured British flag.  Vereker played a minor and little-documented role in the battle before being killed in the camp, shortly after having gallantly given a horse to an African soldier to escape on.  Ironically, and somewhat cruelly to Vereker’s memory, this episode is obviously not depicted.  “Boy” Pullen, played as a callow and nervous recruit by then twenty-year-old Phil Daniels was based on Quartermaster James Pullen.  Pullen, though, enlisted in 1851 and thus, at iSandlwana, must have been well over twenty years older than Daniels’ character.  Conversely, Zulu featured thirty-nine-year-old Nigel Green (a commanding 1.85m [6ft, 1”] tall) as a phlegmatic Colour Sergeant-Major Frank Bourne, who was actually only twenty-four at the time of Rorke’s Drift, only 1.6m (5ft, 4”) tall and nicknamed “the kid”!  The decision by Zulu’s script-writers to portray the upright teetotaller Private Alfred Henry Hook VC as a dissolute, malingering drunk raises rather different ethical questions, even if it did provide James Booth with his career-defining role. Knight, Zulu Rising.

[vi]  And, in so doing, doubtless condemned themselves to never getting beyond a screen-play.  Rigorously historically-accurate portrayals of battles rarely make great cinema.  See, e.g., Gettysburg (dir. R.F. Maxwell, 1993), which, while sometimes visually spectacular, doubtless represents four hours (244 minutes) irretrievably lost from the lives of viewers not interested in Civil War minutiae or typologies of mid-19th-century facial hair.  I loved it.

[vii] This is especially true in periods like late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages which are heavily reliant upon archaeology for much of the “big picture”.  This is not because of the “dramatic discoveries” beloved of the media but because the gradual assembly of information from excavations permits, in kaleidoscopic fashion, quite different pictures to emerge.

[viii] The point is nicely made satirically by The Onion’s review of Captain America: Civil War (https://www.theonion.com/the-onion-reviews-captain-america-civil-war-1819595940 accessed 17 November 2017) which notes that while some characters are known to viewers from earlier films, the directors had failed to make the other 2,500 films necessary to explain the back-stories and motivations of all the other people who appear in the movie, thus (allegedly) rendering the latter entirely confusing.

[ix] See below, ch.2

[x] To adapt Jacques Rancière’s account of Furet’s view of the significance of Louis XVI’s execution. J. Rancière, The Names of History, trans. H. Melehy (Minneapolis, 1994), p.39. On Rancière and history, see O. Davis, Jacques Ranciere (Cambridge, 2010), pp.36-73

[xi] Explain Whig history

[xii] Above, pp.000-000.

[xiii] I have no idea whether or to what extent this would be feasible; I’m not a schoolteacher.

[xiv] It seems to me that most arguments for the value of “cultural literacy” have in any case been undermined by the existence of Google.com and 4G wifi technology

[xv] Probably nearer 3,000 for what it’s worth; it still left the defenders facing odds of nearly 30:1.

[xvi] One episode in the film that, broadly, conforms to the accounts of what happened.

[xvii] Three Zulu amabutho (loosely, regiments) at Rorke’s Drift – the uThulwana, the nDloko, and the iNdlondlo – were formed of men born between c.1830 and c.1835, so in their mid- to late forties.  The other imbutho, the iNdluyengwe were comparative youngsters in their early thirties. I. Knight, The Anatomy of the Zulu Army from Shaka to Cetshwayo 1818-1879 (London, 1995), pp.265-7.  Before launching their attacks, these men had walked and (mostly) run 18km and crossed a flooded river, on an empty stomach. Knight, Zulu Rising, p.594.

[xviii] The story comes from an anonymous source called the De Obsessio DunelmiConcerning the Siege of Durham (a misleading title as the siege of Durham hardly features in this short but interesting tract). Refs

[xix] See further, below, ch.5.

[xx] Compare Geschichte, histoire, storia, historía, história, etc.

[xxi] See above, p.000, n.000.

[xxii] References

[xxiii] See, further, below, pp.000-000

[i] See above, p.000,

[ii] Modern scholars don’t do this, intentionally at least, but it happens regularly, alongside the confusion and conflation of events, in the sources upon which they base their analyses and it is frequently impossible to know if or when this has happened. In Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages this is a particular problem even at the level of high politics, but it is hardly confined to periods where documentary evidence is comparatively restricted. Exactly the same issues occur when looking at accounts of modern events. To return to the Zulu War example with which I started, the point is more than adequately illustrated throughout Knight’s examination of the surviving accounts of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift: Knight, Zulu Rising.

[iii] See chapter 5, below