1,000 Years of Annoying the French
, Sep 19, 2011
- 541 pages
The English Channel may be only twenty miles wide, but it’s a thousand years deep. Stephen Clarke takes a penetrating look into those murky depths, guiding us through all the times when Britain and France have been at war - or at least glowering at each other across what the Brits provocatively call the English Channel. Along the way he explodes a few myths that French historians have been trying to pass off as ‘la vérité’, as he proves that the French did not invent the baguette, or the croissant, or even the guillotine, and would have taken the bubbles out of bubbly if the Brits hadn’t created a fashion for fizzy champagne. Starting with the Norman (not French) Conquest and going right up to the supposedly more peaceful present, when a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy becomes a series of hilarious historical insults, it is a light-hearted - but impeccably researched - account of all our great fallings-out. In short, the French are quite right to suspect that the last thousand years have been one long British campaign to infuriate them. And it’s not over yet ...