Friday, January 21, 2005

More on the Battle of Hastings, 1066

Ted recently posted a question about which weapon to select if suddenly upon the field of battle near Hastings. After choosing, I had to go check my work on the Encarta article regarding the Battle of Hastings. After reading the excellent information I found there (I love Encarta: short, concise articles on everything and good bibliographies), I followed one of the web links to a fabulous little site about the Battle of Hastings that is clearly someone's labour of love.*

Not only is that a great site with an unbelievable amount of detailed and interesting information, I also found this extremely insightful quote on the nature of history posted there, words from Arthur Bryant, a historian and author:

HOWEVER skilful a man may be in writing--however natural his style--no one can write history naturally. The array of facts which the historian has first to collect is far too great. In my own work I generally find that for perhaps a single paragraph 1 may have four or five hundred typed or hand-written slips of paper--extracts and notes from letters and books and documents. And the sense and truth of all these have somehow to be worked into that paragraph. its like a jig-saw puzzle. However carefully one may have arranged one's material, however thoroughly one has mastered it, to get it all down in the right and natural order is a most difficult business. That is the fun of writing history--its a test, like everything else worth doing, of effort and endurance.

* of course no one could love this historical bit more than a Brit; he is probably either a celebrant of the victory because he was related to William or bitter because his great uncle Harold lost...

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