A Brief History of England

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Prompted by Opher Goodwin's article describing the British as mongrels, I offer the following ditty penned last year by my alter ego, The Darn-Poor Rhymer.


A Brief History of England

From 871 to the Present

(To be sung, by those with stamina, to “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”)


King Alfred first did codify

The English common law,

Which does to everyone apply;

To rich as well as poor.


The men of Wessex ruled the lands,

The forests and the plains.

But then, along came raiding-bands;

So next, we tried the Danes.


Wise King Canute said to his moot,

While sitting by the sea,

“My friends, you may give me the boot

If one wave touches me.”


But English history has a tide

That’s predisposed to tangles;

Canute’s descendants were off-side.

So next, we tried the Angles.


King Harry nearly did manage

To stave off relegation;

He won away at Stamford Bridge!

But then he lost the nation.


That bastard William fought his way

Through ditch, and bog, and trench;

An arrow ended Harry’s day.

So next, we tried the French.


The Domesday Tax, the Rufus Stone,

Are Norman monuments;

King Henry, too, made people moan,

All at their own expense.


King Stephen’s reign was anarchy,

And monstrous were his debts;

We needed change, as all could see.

We tried Plantagenets.


To John, the barons would not cede;

Submission? A non-starter.

They forced him, thus, to Runnymede,

To sign the Magna Carta.


King Edward did expel the Jew,

And taxed haves and have-nots.

The Welshmen first he did subdue,

Then hammered the poor Scots.


At Crécy did the longbows twang,

Poitiers and Agincourt.

Again, again, the arrows sang

For England; ’twas fine sport.


Alas! The century long fight

Was by mad Henry lost.

And soon the Red Rose and the White

Were warring, at great cost.


Bad Richard’s hopes of governing

In Bosworth’s mud did squelch;

No nail, no shoe, no horse, no King.

So next, we tried the Welsh.


King Henry Eight six wives did wed;

Divorced, beheaded, passed

Away, dismissed, gave up her head,

But one did him outlast.


Soon Bloody Mary did the land

With martyrs’ gore bespot;

And Good Queen Bess remained unmanned,

So next, we tried a Scot.


King Charlie’s reign was full of tears,

The people up were fed;

So Henry Burton lost his ears,

But Charlie lost his head.


An Interregnum then ensued;

Our lives got rather gnarly.

So, as the military argued,

We tried another Charlie.


The new king tolerance avowed;

Our hopes had ne’er been higher.

But Protestants and Catholics rowed,

And we had plague and fire.


When James came king, ’twas quite a jolt.

We didn’t like it much;

There was rebellion and revolt.

So then, we tried the Dutch.


King William bred no Orange men;

Beset by many doubts,

We briefly tried the Danes again,

And then we tried the Krauts.


But England was no more. Alas!

In 1707,

An “Act of Union” they did pass,

Abolishing our heaven.


Three centuries we’ve had since then;

Mixed fortunes, hopes and fears.

Yet, more and more, we Englishmen

Have been reduced to tears.


Now Silly Lizzie sits astride

A throne that’s but a token,

There’s no more justice, no more pride;

Society is broken.


King Dave, King Tony, Drongo too,

Have given us no quarter;

They’d like to flush us down the loo,

Had they sufficient water.


King Alfred, if he came again,

Would likely douse the floor

With tears, at seeing evil men

Corrupt his common law.


Yet honest Englishmen, I know,

On England’s soil still roam.

And Alfred would be pleased, I trow,

That England’s still our home.


opher goodwin Added Nov 21, 2017 - 8:12am
Wow Neil - that was quick! Very good. I enjoyed that drollery. You missed out the Romans though. Perhaps a couple of earlier verses would cover the Britons, Picts, Boudicca and Romans? 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 21, 2017 - 2:18pm
Well said with your addition of some missing forces. 
I liked your poem. 
I can add some Gurkhas , citizens from India and folk from Kenya and other spots in Africa as well as some nice folk from Barbados. Then, there are the Irish and some Americans wandering around. 
Alfred is my 34th great grandfather IF you could believe that the Brits [of any stripe] could get even 3 generations correctly aligned and specifying who begat who.  Stats are against this. 
opher goodwin Added Nov 21, 2017 - 2:49pm
rycK - a few Turks, Jews, Somalis and Jamaicans. Could go on forever.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 21, 2017 - 3:20pm
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 21, 2017 - 4:27pm
opher goodwin
Then, add  some Yanks [on temporary duty] prodding and adding problems to the DNA base.  Can we cite the Australians as a benefit to their society since they were not around to muddle things up?  
Certainly a melting pot. 
opher goodwin Added Nov 21, 2017 - 7:14pm
rycK - there must be an Inuit or two and probably a Maori. We've got some excellent specimens in the Rugby League.
Neil Lock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 4:13am
Opher: I started with King Alfred, because I'm a man of Wessex. Also, I didn't fancy trying to write about the Romans, as my Latin is rather rusty, and I don't think Latin would work very well in the common metre anyway.
Neil Lock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 4:14am
I forgot to add that the current "prince consort" is Greek, too.
opher goodwin Added Nov 22, 2017 - 4:50am
Neil - Alfred is a good place to start. I don't get much opportunity to speak Latin these days. Tempus fugit.
Aaah - yes - the Prince - a man of classical proportion.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 22, 2017 - 6:59am
Well.....I was always interested in British history since I discovered the Magna Charta and the Bayeux Tapestry. Through my English friends I had the chance to see Pevensey, and Pippin and Aethelred have become good friends of mine LOL
Stone-Eater Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:00am
BTW: Actually, France and England are so interconnected that they might as well unite LOL
opher goodwin Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:38am
SEF - I suppose that is why we always have such rivalry with the French. Personally I love European and particularly French culture and lifestyle.
My Mum used to live at Pevensey. Standing at Battle was amazing. To think that such a great effect could be achieved by so few.
Shane Laing Added Nov 22, 2017 - 1:46pm
Neil - You are another David Starkey in the making. Enjoyed your poem.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 22, 2017 - 2:23pm
Richard Starkey LOL
Shane Laing Added Nov 22, 2017 - 2:55pm
Richard Starkey!! Oooh you are a bad man Stone lol
Neil Lock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 5:48pm
Shane: Thank you, at least if you meant David Starkey the poet. There is a British David Starkey too , and he's been described as "the rudest man in Britain." (I'd never heard of either of them until I went to look up who you were talking about!)
As to Richard Starkey, he's more in my zone of understanding. But I march, dance or do whatever else I do to the beat of a different drummer.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 23, 2017 - 11:47am
I meant this one :-) Back off Boogaloo LOL
Neil Lock Added Nov 23, 2017 - 5:03pm
No problem, Stone-Eater Friendli.
opher goodwin Added Nov 23, 2017 - 7:16pm
Neil - well I've got a drum and you can't beat that.
Shane Laing Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:22am
I mean David Starkey the historian. I thought Stone was talking about Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) lol. 
Shane Laing Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:25am
Shane Laing Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:26am
Edward seven next, and thenGeorge the fifth in 1910;Ned the eighth soon abdicatedThen George the sixth was coronated;After which ElizabethAnd that's the end until her death.[n] A good way of remembers kings and queens of England.