A New Plea for an Old Subject? Four Nations History for the Modern Period



This introductory chapter argues for the use of ‘four nations’ approaches to modern ‘British’ history. It engages critically with the strengths and weaknesses of such pluralistic frameworks, contending that they enable us to construct polycentric narratives that acknowledge not only the separate histories of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also their shared experiences. The chapter traces the emergence and significance of the ‘New British History’ and examines how four nations history can build on its insights and correct its imbalances. It emphasises how, in the current political, cultural and social climate, the need for holistic perspectives is more pressing than ever. Finally, it provides an overview of the collection’s chapters, and considers where the discipline can go from here.


Four nations history United Kingdom Historiography Methodology British history 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Hertford CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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