MAY 1, 2023
History in the making
I hope you’ve all got the bunting and Pimms ready – it’s coronation month!
There’s a real sense about this event that it’s history in the making – it is, for many of us after all, the first coronation of our lives. Not only that, but King Charles III will be the oldest new monarch in British history, following on from his mother, who was the longest-reigning monarch for Britain. With such grand statements, it’s hard not to think that this is the stuff that history is made of.
And in a sense, that’s true. When I was studying my history degree, historians had reems of sources about the great and the good throughout time, and what they were up to. Yet there was (and is) a real tide-change happening for academics – they are turning away from understanding history as ‘what happened’ to ‘what was happening’. In other words, looking less at the big events, and more at what everyday life was like for Jane and Joe Public. This is considerably harder, given that normal life is so – well, normal – that no-one ever really records it. There is (and I am not joking here) great joy when someone discovers a stash of old receipts, shopping lists, or letters in their attic and hands it over to the nearest museum, because it sheds a lot of light on what was making the nation tick over, all those years ago.
So as we all get ready to celebrate history being made, can I gently remind you that you are making history every day. As the King has already begun his legacy, what does your legacy look like? If historians, 100 years on from now, look at how your life was lived, I hope and pray that it’s one of joy, charity, and forgiveness.