Cornwall: A History
Revised and updated edition
By (author) Philip Payton
Publication date:31 December 2017
Length of book:392 pages
PublisherUniversity of Exeter Press
A new edition of Philip Payton’s modern classic Cornwall: A History, published now by University of Exeter Press, telling the story of Cornwall from earliest times to the present day.
Drawing upon a wide range of original and secondary sources, it begins with Cornwall’s geology and prehistory, moving through Celtic times to the creation of the kingdom of Kernow and its relationship with neighbouring England. The political accommodation of medieval Cornwall by the expanding English state through the twin institutions of the Duchy and Stannaries is examined, as is the flowering in the middle ages of literature in the Cornish language. Resistance to English intrusion – in the rebellions of 1497 and 1549 and in the Civil War – is explored.So too is Cornwall’s role in the subsequent expansion of Britain’s global influence, and Cornwall as an early centre of the industrial revolution is also discussed.
Mining and Methodism became twin strands of an assertive transnational identity which emigrant Cornish transplanted across the globe in the nineteenth-century. Thereafter, as the book shows, a vigorous Celtic revivalist movement championed the rebirth of the Cornish language and Cornwall’s status as a Celtic nation. At the same time, tourism, with its emphasis on Cornish distinctiveness, moved in the twentieth century to fill the gap left by the decline of mining.
The book concludes by examining the nature of twenty-first century Cornwall, contrasting an apparent heightening of Cornish consciousness with the increasing threats to Cornwall’s environment and identity.
Philip Payton is the leader of a new generation of historians exploring Cornwall's ambivalent position within the English state, and questioning the view of Cornwall as 'just another English county'. In this book he argues the case for the Cornish as a separate Celtic people, fully deserving a history of their own, and amply succeeds in his stated aim of bringing that history to the widest possible audience.