Sanitising our history – and why we shouldn’t.

Too often the stories from our history are incomplete. Or events and the places where they heppened are romanticised. I’ve yet to see an episode of ‘Bridgerton’ and probably never will, so maybe I should not suggest that it is another deeply sanitised and romanticised version of life in the period it is supposed to depict.

We celebratee our national heritage, all those great country houses in Great Britain and in Ireland. We admire the collections of artefacts and paintings, some of them looted from foreign countries. We barely touch upon the suffering endured by slaves and labourers in the building of those forrtunes. My own current research into the role of the Tudors in the history of Ireland is revealing a chronicle of deceipt, misappropration and massacre in the name of religion. None of this is taught in English schools.

I am a fan of Ms Bryn and admire what she does. What follows is her own justification for doing so. More power to her pen says I.

8 thoughts on “Sanitising our history – and why we shouldn’t.

  1. The sad truth is that no matter what us escapists choose to write, or what gets excised from textbooks the old saying “You can’t make this shit up” needs to be emblazoned on all the stautues and struggles on the past lest we repeat them.

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  2. Yes. This is a huge challenge for us human beings on a macro level (what it taught in schools, for example) and also on a micro level (what our older relatives do and don’t share with us about our family’s past…) I just listened to a radio interview with a woman who discovered when she was a grown-up professor at MIT that her father (whom her mother had abruptly left when this professor was a one-year-old child and with whom this professor had had no contact after her parents split up until she tracked her father down using a private detective — long after her mother had died) had conducted deprivation experiments on her when she was an infant, leaving her alone in dark rooms, not responding when she attempted to communicate with him using infant-speech, and more. He was a science teacher intent upon doing research using his baby daughter and then publishing his observations. When her mom discovered what her dad had been doing, she packed her bags and moved back with her parents and one-year-ol daughter. This professor’s mother, aunt and grandparents had NEVER told her anything about why her parents had split up…

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  3. Nicely said, Frank. I loved history from an early age, because of the stories. But also because of hard facts and how people dealt, or didn’t, with what was happening. Of course we shouldn’t sanitise it; how will we progress if we do? We should be proud of who we are, but not necessarily proud of the path that brought us here. We should always strive for the truth, for more understanding. But we shouldn’t apologise for the wrongs – that would be silly, because we did not commit them. Neither should we sweep them under the carpet. God forbid the wrongs should be repeated. History has always been politicised – sadly, that is inevitable; what worries me is people dwelling on past wrongs, as I’m afraid many do, and not moving on; this is the 21st century. The past was often ugly; get used to it and join hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for commenting, Mike. I guess I need to point out that the bulk of the content was from the author Rebecca Bryn. But, like you and she, I agree that we ignore, sanitse or misunderstand history at our peril.


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