What I Did in My Hols

A very busy and productive post-Christmas break had me completing two books. Well, not really. The first was a new final chapter for the 6thedition of The Lion’s Share, entitled ‘Brexit and the Empire’; the second a Preface and a concluding chapter of a collection of old essays about Britain and Europe that I hope Bloomsbury Press will publish, to be called Britain before Brexit. (Originally I wanted Semi-Detached; but that title’s already taken.) Now that they’ve both been sent off to the publishers for scrutiny, I can return to blogging; sometime soon, I hope.

Happy New Year. (Unlikely, I admit.) Incidentally, you do realise that this isn’t the first year of a new decade, but the last year of the old one? Because there wasn’t a year 0.

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8 Responses to What I Did in My Hols

  1. It is true there was no year 0. However, as Stephenkeith0804 points out, 2020 years ago there was no Anno Domini calendar and thus no year 1 BC or 1 AD for those lived at that time. “It was not until the 15th century CE that Europe [universally] adopted the Anno Domini calendar which would then enable Pope Gregory XIII to reform it in the latter part of the next century in 1582 CE.” Historians’ use of the terms I BCE and 1 CE is merely a practical contrivance for the benefit of those who need a viable retrospective dating mechanism. In our own time, every new decade has begun with begun with a 0. As Stephenkeith0804 – whose own nom de plume begins with a 0 – correctly informs us, we think of the ‘twenties’ as beginning in 1920 and terminating at the end of 1929. Similarly, we do not customarily regard Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) as having been published in the nineteenth century.

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  2. Oops – there’s a double ‘the’ towards the end of that. Oh well, nobody’s perfect!

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  3. It depends whether you’re being pedantically arithmetical or pedantically linguistic! I take the view, as a linguist, that a decade is ANY period of ten years, and it makes no sense, linguistically, to suggest that the twenties (etc.) is anything other than the ten years xx20 – xx29. As for the lack of year 0, there was no year 2 3 4 …. either because the CE wasn’t calculated till the 4th century, I think, by a monk who got his sums wrong! You’re the historian – tell us! Christ was born, it seems, around 4 BC, maybe … As for the maths, what’s wrong with this: a simple Venn diagram: draw two circles with a very small overlap; let one circle, set A, represent the years 1-100 and be called the first century; let the other circle, set B, represent the years 100 -199 and be called the the second century, and, as W S Gilbert said, “there you are, out of your difficulty immediately”.

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    • Excellent points, stephenkeith0804, which I have not read before; I am fully convinced.

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    • So the first decade AD was minus 1 to 9?

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      • I would apply the same ‘Venn Diagram’ as before; there’s no reason (that I can see) why the year 10 can’t be both the end of the first decade and the start of the second. I stick to the linguistic argument that this year has to part of “the twenties”. I’m not sure that anything happened in 1BC or 1AD that I need to fret about; it’s a bit like the square root of -1 or infinity +1.

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      • The very first decade was 0 to 9. Just as the second decade was 10 to 19. We are not averse to a decade beginning with a zero; it happens at the start of every decade. Minus 1 to 9 AD would have been an 11 year decade. A bonus year for the first one, perhaps?

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      • But that’s my whole point. There WASN’T a year ‘0’. The year before ‘1 AD’ (by post-Xian reckoning, of course) was ‘1 BC’; i.e, minus 1. So -1 to 9 AD would come to 10 years, not 11.

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