revolting peasants ... of course he was ready a wicked uncle Harold's War front page
introduction to "in History the Future"   in History the Future
  Ancient History    Ancient History
    Medieval History     Medieval History
    Early Modern History     Early Modern History
    Modern History    Modern History

Material on the History site:

Medieval History

Modern History



The Lessons on Reflection


"He who controls the present, controls the past;
He who controls the past, controls the future."

Eric Blair (aka George Orwell), 1984.

Why history? What relevance does the lifestyle of the Byzantine emperors or the expansion of the Vikings, to take but two examples, have on modern Australian society?

For me the answer is that any historical study holds up a mirror on contemporary society by explicating at least part of the human condition and the human reaction to different social stimuli. No history is a waste, even the study of remote parts of the late Middle Ages.

My recent completion of a university degree started decades ago allowed me to concentrate on medieval and early modern history. I found in the late Middle Ages a story that seemed eerily familiar: a society breaking down; complex changes in social, religious and economic relationships which caused confusion, alienation and angst; a transition from medieval to modern society. Very much like the latter half of the twentieth century, but not quite as quick, as we see the transformation from modern to "post-modern", that is to a society to which we cannot as yet give a name.

In the fourteenth century the impetuses included the expansion of trade, the reintegration of classic learning and the effects of a massive plague. In the twentieth century it is globalisation, information overload and the effects of massive technological change. Plus ca change ...

Two themes which emerged from my study and which throw modern times into relief are the tendency to find "villains" whom we can blame for reversals and the lighting on simplistic solutions (often conspiracy-based) as explanations of complex problems.

The material in this site will be, to a large extent, about those two themes. In essence it will be about defending the "villains", debunking conspiracies and simplistic explanations. It will be about finding the reflection of our time in the past. And learning what lessons we can from that reflection.


An Image of Historians

When most people think of historians, especially those who enjoy the study of medieval and early modern history, they imagine desiccated people reclusively sitting in dusty libraries poring over the detritus of a past that can tell us little or nothing about the future. Or of latter-day detectives sifting through hidden treasures in attics of stately homes in an attempt to find the solution to some uninteresting but persistent problem in medieval life.

In Australia, the study of a culture, which ceased to exist half a millennium before white settlement of this country and which existed half a world away, is not of that sort. All the crumbling manuscripts are not immediately available, nor are there hidden treasuries of unread laundry lists or household accounts, let alone the correspondence of great men.

History has always been my preferred area of study. In my first pass at academic life, I studied modern history - especially the world since Napoleon. When I taught high school history that was the material with which I mostly dealt: nationalism, socialism, the industrial and scientific revolutions, world wars, depression, cold war, and the effects of all these on Australian history since white settlement.

return to the timeline
the History Timeline


There are currently two sections of the history site open:

The medieval period, which is the area of my greatest interest at the moment, has three article, dealing, respectively with Ethelred the Unraed, the 1381 Peasants' Revolt and Richard III (who survived into early modern times but was the last of the English medieval kings).

The modern period is an area where most of the material will be a written version of oral history, particularly related to my family's history. The first section here relates to my father's experiences in World War II.

The first item in the early modern gallery will be a look at the war that almost cost the American settlers New England. The ancient history pages will start with some reflections on one of the most over-looked Romans of them all, Marcus Tullius Cicero. But those are not as yet written, so the sections have not as yet been opened.




Comments and correspondence about any of the work in
in History the Future
should be forwarded to Jack.


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Published by
Jack R Herman
Sydney, November 2004

All material © Copyright Jack R Herman.


Last updated: 5 November 2004