History: Fact or Opinion?

History nowadays seems to be more focused on the opinions of historians rather than the cold hard facts of history. I think that it’s disgusting that people can’t name, for example, the year that the First World War started or the year of the Battle of Hastings. History should be about facts – everyone should be able to name the British monarchs in order from the Battle of Hastings onwards. I must admit that I can’t quite, but I think that’s a failing of the school system rather than me. I’m intending to learn them all.

Site of the Battle of Hastings 1066.
Site of the Battle of Hastings 1066.

I feel that reading and memorising historians’ opinions isn’t as important and beneficial as actually learning the facts of history. I think that knowing the key opinions is important, and writing historiography essays can also be very beneficial, but the basis of history is facts and details. In some ways, children’s school textbooks are more useful in this manner than scholarly texts, which do focus on opinions. But textbooks tend to spread out the facts which kids should learn. Continue reading “History: Fact or Opinion?”

Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’


'Utopia' by Thomas More.
‘Utopia’ by Thomas More.

For those who don’t know, Utopia depicts a fictional society and its religious, social and political ideals. In some ways, it is quite similar to some of the ideas that Plato had in The Republic and some of the ideas of other Greek philosophers like Cicero and Polybius.

When you look up Utopia on Wikipedia (a mine of information, though not to be used in serious scholarly work!), there is a section on the meaning of the work:

“Most scholars see it as some kind of comment or criticism of contemporary European society, for the evils of More’s day are laid out in Book I and in many ways apparently solved in Book II. Indeed, Utopia has many of the characteristics of satire, and there are many jokes and satirical asides such as how honest people are in Europe, but these are usually contrasted with the simple, uncomplicated society of the Utopians. Continue reading “Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’”

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