American history is British history, and British history is English history. I felt in 2001, after 9-11, that the United States had the right and obligation to remove Saddam Hussein from power. I was wrong. Trying to prove it pitched me into a deep search into history, one that paid more benefits than just realizing I had made a mistake.
My reading was chronological, starting with Roman Britain, working through the Viking invasions of the island, then the formation of England by Alfred the Great, and then the Norman invasion of 1066. There was more to come with the church and state in conflict, Henry, Becket, and another Henry and Simon de Montfort and More and Cromwell, and Henry. Then there was the 17th century, and the great historian Christopher Hill who wrote of a revolution that established what we today call democracy.
I followed a thread of pretty conventional history all the way to 1776. My partner’s grandmother, a woman born in England, died in 2006, and at her funeral I found the Book of Common Prayer. There was something called, “The Ratification of The Book of Common Prayer” that caught my eye. The Episcopal Church was the disowned child of the Church of England. I was baptized as an Episcopalian a year later.
Though my ancestors spoke Spanish, my language, the language I use to live, to breath, to think, to dream, to lie, to tell truth, to simmer and to boil, is English. It’s rhythms, accents, and peculiarities are deeply satisfying to me. Margaret Thatcher’s time in Prime Minister’s questions reminded me of the stubborn faith of my grandmothers.
I fell in love with Britain, and thank God, I was able to bike, train, walk, and bus all over it. I am looking forward to getting back.
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