Simon Heffer: We Can't Afford to Have Less History Taught at Universities





[Simon Heffer is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph (UK)]

Sussex University is one of the better establishments of our higher education system. It is proposing, because of cuts, to emasculate its history department by scrapping research into, and in-depth teaching of, British history before 1700 and European before 1900. One should not need a GCSE in the subject to see the insanity of this. Our country remains shaped today by the Reformation, the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, which happened between the 1530s and the 1680s. No one who does not understand the importance and nature of those events can understand why Britain post-1700 was as it was. And, of course, those events were part of a continuum that (working backwards) included the Wars of the Roses, the Hundred Years' War, the Crusades, the Norman Conquest, the arrival of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, the Roman invasion, and so on. For a university to be so limited attacks the credibility of the institution....

The European history restriction is even more damaging. The First World War began, effectively, in 1870, when the French foolishly thought it would be a good idea to provoke a war with Prussia. Centuries of history before that have a direct bearing on the problems of the 20th century on our continent. What serious university can afford to stop exploring them?...


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