Ever wanted to view the history of England through the microcosm of one town? Go to any English town and you will find war memorials, churches, pubs etc, that all exude history from their concrete pores. Michael Wood has taken on the fascinating challenge of retelling the history of England but from the point of view of just one village.
That village is Kibworth, which sits in the middle of the country and so is ideally placed to get a flavour of momentous events from both the north and the south of the country.
So often in books, when we are told of the history of any country, we see the titanic forces that have shaped our cultures and national character. It is usually seen through the view of the major players, with a few anecdotes from eye witness proles of the time.
The interesting selling point of this book is that we get to see how the monumental and tumultuous events of history, influenced and shaped a single village. Giving national events a more human element, watching families, live and die and seeing through contemporary sources (including a lot of documents on vellum from Merton college), how they were impacted through the generations, seeing the whole scope of a village growing, or falling on hard times.
the beauty of using a single village as an explanation for what was happening in all the such places around England allows us to see how the country as a whole would be faring from the standard viewpoint of ‘just another village’.
There really is everything here from this history of the real people, from prehistory to the coming of the mighty Roman Empire etc. Kibworth being owned, the Black Death, the men who went to the first world war and the impact that had, right the way up to the modern day impact and globalisation that has changed the village life forever. All in all some 1600 years of history are squeezed into just 464 pages.
Admittedly the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are more scant in their coverage than all the past centuries but then again, the closer you get to the modern day, the more people will be aware of and the copious sources that will be attributed to said centuries make it easy to get a clearer and more indepth picture elsewhere so I can’t really complain. Also it has maps, I like maps.