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Britons: Forging the Nation by Linda Colley
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In this prize-winning book, Linda Colley interweaves political, military, and social history to recount how England, Wales, and Scotland joined together to form a new British nation and how heroes and politicians, artists and writers, and ordinary men and women helped forge a British identity. Paperbackpages. Published September 10th by Yale University Press first published Wolfson History Prize To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Britonsbritona sign up. Limda with This Book. Sep 23, Miriam rated it liked it Shelves: 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 to the 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.
Colley sets herself a challengingly expansive task, attempting to cover major themes such as religion and empire from the Act of Union 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. The current, and ongoing for the foreseeable future, business of Brexit adds a further facet to this book. Identity, group identity, Benedict Anderson’s view spoiler [ that loyal and true citizen Benedict Arnold always comes to mind first as the author of that book requiring me to check and distinguish again between the two, perhaps there is some significance in that hide spoiler ] Imagined Communities view spoiler [ which who knows perhaps one day I will reread and review here, if not quite i The current, and ongoing for the foreseeable future, business of Brexit adds a further facet to this book.
Identity, group identity, Benedict Anderson’s view spoiler [ that loyal and true citizen Benedict Arnold always comes to mind first as the author of that book requiring me to check and distinguish again between the two, perhaps there is some significance in that hide spoiler ] Imagined Communities view spoiler [ which who knows perhaps one day I will reread and review here, if not quite in this precise space hide spoiler ] Colley agrees is a contingent thing and created, encouraged and developed rather than inevitable or natural.
The dates she chooses to begin and end her study tell the whole story – if you can read them, which she tries to do, the first is the Act of Union between England and Scotland, the second the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria, hidden just before that Catholic Emancipation in and the First Reform Act of Once England and Scotland were politically unified the old group identities were no longer sufficient, a new one was needed, a new thing, a British national identity, a key component of this was Protestantism, or perhaps more precisely anti-Catholicism, or established Churchism, others included the monarchy and not being French.
The connection to Brexit in my mind is that in two-thirds of the UK population voted in favour of joining the ECC while injust over half voted to leave the EU. Naturally in the Eighteenth century there was no thought of asking the population as a whole to approve or disapprove the union it was considered sufficient for the Scottish Parliament to vote to dissolve itselfColley’s point was that the creation of identity is not accidental and that it cannot be relied upon to come about by itself without assistance and effort.
People don’t change that much if at all and the fears and anxieties caused by Union in the eighteenth century were the same as in the twentieth and twenty-first, there is uncontrollable migration across the border, the incomers are taking all our britona and they are sexually voracious, a risk to all our women. In the earlier era the anxieties could be defected onto anti-papalism and anti-French feeling, assisted by a string of wars against the French and occasionally the Spanishwar itself united the elites of England and Scotland – there were no shortage of jobs for the boys under the colours.
However the new British identity was problematic as well as successful, it is all well and good being anti-Catholic but when the new Imperial state includes a substantial number of Catholics, one notices that eventually there will be a problem. Attempts were made to defuse it through Union with Ireland, Catholic Emancipation, and the hope of Cllley Rule, Colley ends her account inbut spoiler alert you can notice that there was a failure to adapt the Linfa notion of identity sufficiently to avoid Independence for a republic of Ireland in the s or one could say that a separate notion of Irish independence proved to be more convincing than one of British unity.
One sees from Colley’s book that fixed, certain and natural looking phenomena like flag waving group identities are contingent, changing, uncertain and continually under negotiation, one can watch the people who make the claims and assertions that push vritons boundaries of identity in their desired direction and can wonder how much they hope to gain by doing so.
May 14, T. The first time I read through this book I was floored. Colley’s writing challenged me, made em e look at colonialism in different ways, and really made me want to study the disparate British identities that existed within the empire. It gave me my master’s thesis topic, which studied coolley development of eighteenth century britobs and its context in both the metropole and the colonial site. However, brritons second and third reads, the book is problematic.
Her discussion of Britain as a primarily The first time I read through this book I was floored. Her discussion of Britain as a primarily Protestant construction is spot on, but her racial theory isn’t very top notch, nor is her gender theory.
Now, when I read it, I tend to see the flaws in her analysis, but I still have a soft spot for the book that encouraged me to study what I’m doing now. I blame her for my PhD research. European Historians, History students, Brits.
Linda Colley wrote this book to address certain questions: First, how did the diverse peoples of the British Isles go from being several “nations” to one? Beyond that, what is this “British” identity which the English themselves of Anglo and Saxon originthe Welsh, and the Scots created?
Finally, Colley asks why women and men chose to become patriotic to Britain, and with what results? Her answers to the questions above hinge on the sense that individual Britons had that the unified kingdom protected their personal interests, and was therefore worth promoting and preserving.
Two of the wars Britain fought during this time, against the insurgent American colonies with the help of the French and the revolutionary Napoleonic regime, Colley describes as vital turning-points in British self-perception.
Surprisingly, Colley further argues that the glue which held Britain together as a nation was religious identity. She does acknowledge the importance which material conditions played in reinforcing this, but ultimately the argument is based in ideas rather than economics.
Colley concludes her argument with statement that: This emphasizes the basic historiographic position she takes, which is to argue that too much emphasis on class conflict and opposition movements during the sixties and seventies had obscured the actual development of national consciousness in Britain and, by extension, elsewhere in Europe.
Her book stands as a successful corrective to this trend, and was largely received as such by reviews at the time of its original release. Mar 02, Karen rated it it was amazing Shelves: Lower class men and all women effected as much change in becoming part of the political establishment by working within the system as against it.
Colley says this far better, however, and it is absolutely worth reading it in its entirety. Dec 25, Lauren Albert rated it it was amazing Shelves: What I DID own was two other of her books on overlapping periods including this one which also starts in but ends a bit later. I do wonder if the books are versions of the same book. This is a great look at how Great Britain came to form an idea of itself as a nation. She never ignores the examples that sometimes prove the rule.
But her main points stand up. Instead, Britishness was superimposed over an array of internal differences in response to contact with the Other, and above all in response to conflict with the Other.
Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837
Usually included news from London papers. Trade going to France. Jacobites sold war to France in part on this. Religion also huge part. The Laudable Association of Anti-Gallicans founded in We need to brifons confusing patriotism with simple conservatism, or smothering it with damning and brotons references to chauvinism and jingoism.
Jul volley, John rated it liked it. This was a good book but I couldn’t concentrate on it. I kept putting it down and picking it up again. I think I read the first two chapters three or four times. I did finally finish though. And I am your King! I can see w This was a good book but I couldn’t concentrate on it. I can see why historians have been picking at this this thesis for a while, because it does seem like there must have been more to colley making of Britishness than Protestantism and profits.
Her arguments do make sense though – this is one of those books where you find yourself agreeing with her and then immediately thinking, brktons wait, what about this other thing? I dogeared a lot of pages. It also kept me thinking about my work which is the reason I read it in the first place. What were the people in the American colonies thinking at the same time?
Or Canada, after the Revolution?
Linda Colley – Historian and Author | Britons: Forging the Nation
What was their Britishness about? Because it britnos just have been defined as anti-French, since the American revolutionaries made friends with the French in about five minutes once the war broke out, and the Canadians after the war had to share their colony with French people. And all Colley’s stuff about the pageantry of the crown doesn’t really work for Britishness in the colonies either. What Colley has written is brritons intriguing insight into the creation and current state of the British identity!
As an American studying British history, it has been an indispensable resource for my research.
She writes about complex ideas of nationality and politics in a way that even someone not well versed in this discussion can understand. I think it also has become britobs relevant since the Scottish Referendum in and the Brexit vote in And with each passing month becomes even more intriguing when intertwined with the present situation.
Jul 28, Margaret Pinard rated it really liked it Shelves: Excellently written, fascinating subject!