The History of England from the Accession of James the Second


The History of England from the Accession of James the Second

"The History of England from the Accession of James the Second" is the full title of the multi-volume work by Lord Macaulay more generally known as "The History of England".

The history is famous for its brilliant ringing prose and for its confident, sometimes dogmatic, emphasis on a progressive model of British history, according to which the country threw off superstition, autocracy and confusion to create a balanced constitution and a forward-looking culture combined with freedom of belief and expression. This model of human progress has been called the Whig interpretation of history.

Macaulay's approach has been criticised by later historians for its one-sidedness and its complacency. His tendency to see history as a drama led him to treat figures whose views he opposed as if they were villains, while his approved characters were presented as heroes. Macaulay goes to considerable length, for example, to absolve his hero William III of any responsibility for the Glencoe massacre.

Macaulay's approach to writing history was innovative for his period. He consciously fused the picturesque, dramatic style of classical historians such as Thucydides and Tacitus with the learned and factual approach of his eighteenth century precursors such as Hume, following the plan laid out in his own earlier "Essay on History".

* "The History of England from the Accession of James II", 5 vols. (1848): [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/1468 volume 1] , [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/2439 vol. 2] , [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/2612 vol. 3] , [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/2613 vol. 4] , [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/2614 vol. 5] .

* "History" in "Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches ", [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/2168 Vol II] .


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