History has interested me for decades. While the first Dear America book, Journey to the New World, originally peaked my curiosity, I think the The Royal Diaries book series began my real interest. I read the first The Royal Diaries book on Elizabeth I and ended up reading them all, even once I was out of the “target age.”
I read all sorts of historical fiction and biographies and watched biographical and historical documentaries through the years, which fed my passion. Through my voracious consumption, I found that while an author’s perception or opinion may differ from another’s, the facts were generally the same. History was history, after all. It was practically, and sometimes literally, carved in stone.
But recently, we (humans) have started questioning historical “fact.” We’re acknowledging that history is written by the victors and may be biased or even completely fictional.
It’s been fascinating to “watch” as history is remade closer to unbiased truth. For example, rather than “promiscuous tart,” Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, has been vindicated as an abused child. Henry VIII himself, while not entirely absolved of his more heinous actions, is acknowledged as likely plagued by a personality-altering brain injury. Marie Antoinette is more readily accepted as a scapegoat, rather than a monstrously selfish spendthrift.
I eagerly await future historical discoveries that “change” history. While the new information may not always be palatable, it’s important for us to know what “really” happened. It gives us a very different view of history.
If history’s fluidity is of interest to you, I suggest you look into the “Biggest Fibs” series Lucy Worsley narrates. It includes British History’s, American History’s, and Royal History’s Biggest Fibs. Three parts each for the first two, and six parts (two “seasons”) for the third. Also fascinating is The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo. It examines how the Anne Boleyn we “know” so well today compares to the minimal facts we have about her and where the extraneous information came from.
Have you noticed historys “new” fluidity? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments.