The last successful foreign invasion of England, in 1688, has always been an awkwardness. Whig historiography has needed to affirm its consequences; on the other hand, the great Myth of Continuity in English History has required circumspection. Hilaire Belloc so refreshingly offered his readers an account which eschewed Establishment misrepresentations.
" ... let me consider ... the landing of the Prince of Orange, the Patron of Belfast and of St James's Square and of other things less suitable to ears polite [presumably he means wooftery].
"I should like to have seen that big Dutch fleet, with its few English renegades on board, come sweeping into Torbay. I should like to have seen the crowded boats passing to and fro, landing the Dutchmen and other foreign troops, and the great lords who were conspiring againat their king, and the saturnine William himself. I should like to have seen that mercenary army of adventurers, hired to give the last blow to so great a victim as the wounded kingship of the English, formed in column, and the march up to Exeter: with the villagers timidly peeping from behind closely shut windows at the strange faces, hearing alien speech, and wondering what the issue of the invasion would be.
"There was a fine pageantry about all that miserable business which ended the age-long, but dying, tradition of monarchy in Brtin, and put the rich in the saddle for good, without a master. From the moment when the huge armament bowled through the Straits of Dover under a south-east wind (forming such a crescent that the horns of it neared either shore) to that afternoon, two days later, when the high gilded poops of the Dutchmen stood out in line across Torbay, the whole evil thing was full of grandeur and of colour."
To be continued.