History (HLD 243)

20 Nov 2020

We have started watching the latest season of a TV show about the Queen. Previous seasons of the show have been an interesting glimpse into the lives of members of the royal family and of historical events of the time.

Sure, we know that it’s only based on the lives of the royals, because let’s face it they’re not going to be forthcoming with the actual facts, are they? And, what’s more, there’s a good chance their lives were, in actual fact, just really really boring and would not make an interesting tv show at all.

But now that the series has reached recent history that is very familiar to a lot of us, the complaints are flying thick and fast about how loose the producers are with the facts.

Anyone who has read anything in the media over the past four years or so would be very aware of the fact that ‘facts’ can be presented blatantly in the face of alternate ‘facts’, even if the other facts are presented by scientists or well documented evidence from respected authorities. You can simply accuse anyone reporting anything that opposes your views as being ‘fake media’.

It could seem that the loudest voice seems to have their opinion taken as ‘truth’.

Let’s put aside modern perceptions of the truth for a while, and look at what is perceived as truth about history.

The phrase “History is written by the victors” is often attributed to Winston Churchill, although it appeared in an earlier publication as “history is written by the survivors”.

It has to be true that vanquished people were probably not as prolific in writing about their defeat. Stories, songs and poems were largely written to appeal to the vanity of the victor, and it would possibly be risky to your health to contradict the popular view about how a particular event happened.

So not much has changed in that department, particularly in politics.

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