So here they are, the entire catalogue of those figures that played a part in the shaping of the world in time long past - the Crusader kings of Jerusalem and the Atabegs of Mosul, the corsairs of the Mediterranean and the Norse adventurers who planted temporary roots in Dublin, the solitary saints of Wales and the powerful princes of the Roman Church, the magnates who took up arms for Stephen and for Maud, the demon earls of the Fenlands and of Chester, who made regional hells about them for a few months or years, the abbots and obedientaries of Cluny who played host to the pilgrims crossing Europe to the most celebrated shrines of the Western world, the Knights Hospitallers who housed the pilgrims to Jerusalem, all real, all deserving of mention.
And moving to the nearer ground before them, closer yet smaller and more shadowy, in a denial of perspective, the humble people who might have been you or me, had we been born eight centuries earlier - the shopkeepers and artisans of Shrewsbury, the small gentry of the Shropshire manors, the pedlars, the craftsmen, the humble brothers and sisters of the monastic Orders, the villeins bound to the land, the younger men who cut out assarts from the forests, the men-at-arms, the ambivalent souls with one foot in England and one in Wales, like me, like you, the continuity of humanity inhabiting these islands, and especially this shire, I may have given them their names, within the covers of my books. I may have given them a local habitation and a history, but they existed, as surely as did the kings, then and in every age since and still exist today and will continue into future centuries. They are you and me, and the ones who come afterwards.
............I feel a part of a progression which is England. I hope you may feel the same, and be glad of it, as I am glad.
Ellis Peters, from her Introduction to the Cadfael Companion by Robin Whiteman.
A progression which is England. Not the brightest of men, David Cameron.