E. A. Freeman

(1823—1892) historian

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historian and controversialist. He spent much of his life studying medieval and ancient history, but he was handicapped by prolixity and an aversion to public libraries. His best‐known work is his gigantic History of the Norman Conquest (5 vols, 1867–79), and its sequel, The Reign of William Rufus (2 vols, 1882). Here his Whig belief in the excellence of the British constitution as it had developed from the Conquest was at odds with his deep affection for Anglo‐Saxon culture, which also led him to write in a curiously archaic style, eschewing Latin derivations wherever possible. In his hands, therefore, the events of 1066 emerge as a happy tragedy. He was a man of violent temperament and warm emotions, capable of close friendships (for instance with W. Stubbs and J. R. Green), but guilty of almost paranoid hatreds, particularly for C. Kingsley and J. A. Froude. All his work is infected with anti‐Semitism and xenophobia.

Subjects: Literature.

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