logoEdward Henry Carter

by E. H. Carter and C. K. Ogden

First published September 1938 . Reprinted 1943, 1944, 1946,


The purpose of this book is to give a bird’s eye view of history from the earliest times to the present day. It is hoped that it may be of value in two ways : first, by offering a framework with the help of which details of history outside the range of the book itself may be seen with a certain order and relation ; second, by putting in a clear light the connection between the histories of different countries, so that the story of any one of them is seen as but one thread in the complex design which is the story of them all.

It is not only the young reader who is in need of such help ; there are a number of older persons who would be interested in such a book. But a general knowledge of history and an international outlook on it are things which it is important to have as early as possible. In other words, it is the reader for whom this will be a ‘ First Book ’ who will get most from it, and whom the writers have kept chiefly in mind.

For this reason the language of the book has been made so simple and straightforward that no boy or girl who is old enough to be interested in history would have any trouble in reading it. The book is, in fact, in Basic English ; so that not only the very young but even those with a very limited knowledge of English may make good use of it. Whenever it has been necessary, as in all special fields, to make use of words outside the Basic 850, the sense has been made quite clear—generally in such a way that the reader to whom the word is new is given no trouble, and, on the other hand, the reader to whom it is not new does not have it forced on his attention. Sometimes, however, this has been done with the help of a picture, a footnote, or a straightforward account of its sense.

But it was not only with a view to getting the book into the hands of a younger and more international public that Basic was used in writing it. In no filed is there a greater need for clear and simple statement than in history, and no language gives less opening for the tricks and errors of words than Basic. It was only natural for C. K. Ogden to see in such a History material of the first order for Basic, and again for E. H. Carter to see in Basic the only language for such a History.

Naturally, in so short a book, only a very limited selection of the events of history has been possible. We may not go so far as to say that our selection has been limited to the ‘chief’ events, because it is very probable that no two lists of the chief events of history would be in agreement about more than four or five of them. Even less are we able to say that, among the events which do come into our selection, we have given to every one the right amount of attention in comparison with the others. Our attempt has simply been to give some idea of the great canvas of history, by lighting up, for example, a group, a man, a town, a ship, or a new invention—things sometimes not very important in themselves, but representative of the special qualities of a country or a time. If in this way we have made our readers interested enough to go further, and given them the sort of start which will make it possible for them to get profit by doing so, we have done our part. [pp. ix-x]
*   This page is also Basic English.



1 . Earliest Man and Stone
2 . After the Ice was Gone
3 . 'The Newcomer from Across the Seas'


    When Europeans went to Tasmania, about a hundred years back, they came across men living in conditions which see probably somewhat like those of very early times. These men had no clothing or houses, and no horses, cats, or dogs. They had no knowledge of plowing, of planting seed, or of fishing.
    Even so, they were at a higher level of development than the men of about a hundred thousand years back. They were able to make a fire and get their food cooked. They had baskets made from the outer coverings of trees ; but they had no pots, because they had not made the discovery that a certain sort of earth may be made hard by heating. They made quite good spears by taking long sticks and giving them points, but not of stone. These spears were used for attacking animals and birds, which were skinned and cut up for food with a sharp-edged, flat tone used as a knife. But, what was most important, they had a working language, with words for things and acts.
    Thousand of years of experience were necessary before early men got further than the rough ways of the Tasmanians. At the start they had not arms or instruments whatever, and everything of that sort which was needed had to be made for the first time. They had no language for talking to one another. They were not even able to make a fire.
    In those early days the north of Europe was covered by tall trees and thick undergrowth, such as are now only to be seen in the warmest parts of the earth. These woods were full of animals, some twenty or thirty times the size of a man, and all very much stronger -- great cats armed with cruel curved teeth ; rhinoceroses, with horns on their noses an thick hair ; rough-coated horses ; and, in the rivers, great black, wide-nosed hippopotamuses (animals something like the rhinoceros, but without its horn). With such dangers all round him, the existence of early man was certainly very hard and very bitter.
    When they first got the idea of making arms and instruments, however poor and rough, by cracking bits off stone, they had taken a great step forward. They had come, probably more than fifty thousand years back, to the stage of man's history named the Old Stone Age.
    After a time these early men became conscious that the air was getting colder and drier in their warm, tree-covered lands. A great change was coming over the earth. The ice was moving down very slowly from the north, and it came on and on till most of North America and Europe was covered up. The science of geology has made it clear that there were four Ice Ages, or stretches of time when much of the earth was covered with ice, and after every cold Age came a warm one. The start of the last cold Age was probably about thirty thousand years back, and to-day, it is said, we are living in the fourth of the warm Ages.
    It was probably when the ice was coming down for the third time that early men first made things of stone. But they had no knowledge of building, and when the ice came they had no houses for cover. So they went into holes in the side of the mountains, and these caves were used by those who came after them for thousands of years. Discoveries of some of the cave-houses were made not very long back in the mountains of Spain and France, and in other countries.
    Masses of earth and sand put down by rivers have been turned over, and deep caves, which have kept their secrets for thousands of years, have been gone through, and the bones of men and great animals have been uncovered. Instruments of roughly-cut stone, for fighting and other purposes, together with other things used by the cave men, have come to light after having been under the earth from the start of man's history. Other materials of which things were made were the bones and teeth of the mammoth, a great animal no longer in existence, and the branching horns of animals which have been forced south by the ice and were looking for grass in the clear spaces near the caves.
    It was with the help of such rough instruments that early men got to a higher level of existence than that of the animals. By degrees they became more expert at cutting and giving form to stone and bone and horn. They made clothing out of animals skins. The bone needles with which they put the skins together are, it is said, much better than those of later times. The Romans, for example never had such good needles as these earlier ones.
    The men of the Old Stone Age necessarily gave most of their time to getting animals for food and to moving from place to place looking for them. It was only by fighting the animals that they were able to get food and to keep themselves safe from attack. But they had enough in common with men of today to make ornaments for their bodies out of colored stones, and they were able to get the forms of animals roughly cut out in stone and bone. They were expert enough to overcome great animals, to get the meat cooked, and to make themselves sharp stone knives for cutting it. In addition they made beautiful outline pictures of animals, on bone, and paintings in color on the walls of their caves. There is one cave-painting of an animal in which the black of his winter coat is seen mixed with the red of his coat in spring, when his long winter hair has come off.


    It seems strange to us now that the men of the Old Stone Age were able to go on foot from Europe into Africa, and that in place of the Straits of Gibraltar, there was a land-bridge between the two. And they were able to go from Europe into Britain because Britain was joined to Europe, and the Thames and the Trent and the Seine all went into the Rhine. South Africa was joined to India. America was joined by land to Asia on the one hand and to Scotland by way of Greenland on the other. Then, through great natural changes, Europe became separate from Africa and Britain from Europe.
    The old stone-workers and the most violent of the great animals had gone when the island of Britain was formed, and more expert men had taken their places. But the Old Stone Age was by far the longest stretch in man's history.
    The ice was probably starting to go north for the last time about ten thousand years back. Then, when the weather conditions again became warmer, the newcomers in the west of Europe gave signs of development. Slowly new and better instruments came into use. From the higher levels of the places where they put their waste all sorts of everyday things have been taken.
    When, while the ice was going back, men became more expert at cracking bits off stones and making sharper and better points and edges, they were at the start of what is now named the New Stone Age. By this time they had knives and other cutting instruments, hammers, heads for spears and for the spear-like arrows used by the archer, flat stones for taking the hair off skins, and polishers -- all made of stone. They gave their instruments sharp edges by rubbing them thin, and they got hand-parts of wood, fixed to hammer- and axe-heads such as you see in the picture. It was with such stone axes that they were able, after a very long time to get trees cut down, and so to make the first small houses, and the first tables and seats of wood.
    Some bits of these early houses of wood may still be seen at the edges of the inland waters in Switzerland. They were put up on wood stages supported by farming, and animals were used for pulling their plows. They put up great tombs for the bodies of their dead in a way which makes it clear that they had some sort of belief in a future existence.
    Probably about ten thousand years before the birth of Christ most men had got to the stage of development named the New Stone Age, and were moving slowly forward to a new level of existence. They were now expert in all the most necessary arts : training animals as servants of man; farming; making thread from plants and cloth from thread; forming pots and cooking vessels. But they were still without metals and without writing.
    In the museums we may see and take in our hands the very things which were used by the earliest men. They are, in fact, our oldest histories. In them we have the most interesting story of the development of early man, from the first attempt at cracking a stone to the polishing and forming of it into a very good instrument for fighting or other purposes.
    A great number of other things used by early man have been taken out of the earth in different countries. In England, experts have been through groups of cave-houses in Anglesey and of houses at the edge of the water near Glastonbury. The old roads made by the feet of early man have been mapped out. Some of these roads go up to the great stone temples, or churches, at Avebury or Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, which were made in the middle of the thickest group of 'barrows' -- stone tombs covered with earth -- where the men of the Stone Ages put their dead chiefs.
    These great barrows may be seen at Carnac, in Brittany, and in fact there are thousands of them about the Atlantic from North Africa to Norway.


    After thousands of years men made other great discoveries. When they were looking for stones they somehow came one day on a bit of bright hard substance, the metal copper. In time they became expert in hammering and polishing this substance and made use of it for ornament. But they saw that copper was not hard enough to make strong fighting instruments and other such things. After a time they came across another metal, tin. then, later still, very had metal named bronze. This great discovery made possible the use of strong bronze instruments in place of stone ones, and became bronze was better at cutting stone and wood, men were now in a position to put up better buildings. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, put up for the dead, were made with the help of bronze instruments.
    It was probably in the warm and fertile river-basins of the Nile and the Euphrates that men first made use of metal, and so came out of the Stone Ages. While the men of Europe were still in the later Stone Ages, about 5000 B.C., the men in those river-lands were becoming farmers, and living together in small towns. The long first state of man's development was coming to an end.
    In time, by some happy chance, a bronze-worker came across a bit of the hardest and most important of all metals -- iron. The old stories picturing Higher Beings as iron-workers give us an idea of the deep respect and fear which early men had for the new art. With the discovery and first use of iron, man had come into the Iron Age, and in that we are still living.
    The Hittites living in Asia Minor, whose story is in the Bible, were probably the first to get iron regularly from mines, about 1500 B.C. The Assyrians, who were great fighters, got their knowledge of mining from them, and it was their armies which first made use of the new metal for fighting, causing destruction wherever they went. By about 1000 B.C. the Greeks had a knowledge of iron, and a great Greek writer gave it the name 'the Newcomer from across the seas.'
    In the peat moss of Denmark -- earth formed from trees which have been covered up for thousands of years -- workers have come across things, at three different levels, from every one of these long Ages. In the top part they came across the wood of certain trees and the iron axes used in cutting them down. Under this there were trees of a different sort together with bronze axes. and in the oldest and lowest part of all there were trees of a third sort in company with polished stone axes.
    But these three great Ages of man's history -- Stone, Bronze, Iron -- did not have their start and end everywhere at the same time. Early men in different parts of the earth did not go at the same rate through them all. Some places were still in an earlier stage when others had gone on to a later one. Ad even today there are groups which have not got past the first stage of development, such as the Bushmen of Africa and Australia, and the men of New Guinea, who are living in conditions not unlike those of the early cave-men.
    When Columbus first went to America the red men were at the Stone Age level of existence. It was the white men from Europe who gave them a knowledge of iron and steel, and so they were taken suddenly into the Iron Age. As an American writer says, it gives us food for thought when we see a long line of Red Indian women coming back to the house after a day in the fields, with their drying-baskets full of seeds on their backs, supported by bands across the front of their head, and their sticks and trays in their hands. These women are representative of the start of farming, grain-crushing, and cooking.
    No one is quite certain how long the Stone Ages were, or when any country came from one Age into another. It is impossible to give any fixed time for them. In north Europe the New Stone Age was still going on at about 2000 B.C. -- the time of Abraham ; the Bronze Age was somewhere between 1000 and 500 B.C.
    In the fields of France today, where the dead of the Great War are resting, it is a common thing in turning over the earth with a spade to come across a bit of steel from a present-day gun side by side with part of a stone axe -- the earliest of all arms. So the earth keeps her record, and so, thousands of years from now, she will still be keeping it.

Bibliographic ( University of California http://melvyl.cdlib.org)

1. Carter, Edward Henry. A History of Britain, Oxford, The Clarendon press, 1937. 5 v. illus., maps. 20 cm.

2. Carter, Edward Henry, 1876-1953. History of the West Indian peoples, [by] E. H. Carter, G. W. Digby [and] R. N. Murray. [Revised ed.] London, Nelson, 1967- v. illus., maps, ports. 20 cm. unpriced

3. Carter, Edward Henry, 1876-1953. The new past and other essays on the development of civilisation,, by J. H. Breasted [and others] Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press [1968] viii, 183 p. 23 cm. Series title: Essay index reprint series

4. Carter, Edward Henry, 1876-1953. Russian cavalcade,, by E. H. Carter London : Nelson [1944] viii, 152 p. : ill. ; 19 cm

5. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. A history of Britain, 3d ed. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1960. xxiv, 1116 p. illus., maps (part col.) 20 cm.

6. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. The new past and other essays on the development of civilisation,, by J. H. Breasted, H. J. Fleure [and others] edited by E. H. Carter. Oxford, B. Blackwell, 1925. viii, 183, [1] p. diagr. 19 cm.

7. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. The Norwich subscription books, a study of the subscription books of the diocese of Norwich, 1637-1800,, by E. H. Carter. London, New York [etc.] T. Nelson & sons, ltd. [1937] xxii, 201, [1] p. front., fold. maps, facsims. (part fold.) fold. tables, diagrs. (part fold.) 23 cm.

8. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. Russian cavalcade,, by E. H. Carter. London, New York [etc.] : T. Nelson and sons ltd., [1943] x, 166 p. : illus., map, ports. 19 cm.

9. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. The search for peace: a brief survey of world history /, by E.H. Carter ; maps prepared under the direction of J.F. Horrabin. London : Pitman, 1949. x, 189 p. : maps ; 19 cm.

10. Carter, E. H. 1876-1953. Two paths to freedom; Great Britain and the Commonwealth and the United States of America,, by E.H. Carter and Phyllis Wragge. London, Philip, 1951. 346 p. illus. 19 cm.

11. Wells, H. G. 1866-1946. A short history of mankind,, by H.G. Wells; adapted and edited for school use from the author's "Short history of the world", by E.H. Carter ... Oxford, B. Blackwell, 1927. viii, 183, [1] p. front., illus. (incl. maps) 19 cm.

12. Marten, Clarence Henry Kennett, 1872-. Histories, by C.H.K. Marten ... and E.H. Carter ... With illustrations from contemporary sources, and drawings by Hugh Chesterman ... Oxford, B. Blackwell [1942] 4 v. illus., maps. 19 cm.

13. Norwich Cathedral (Norwich, England). Studies in Norwich Cathedral history: an episcopal visitation of the Priory in 1308 and an archiepiscopal adjudication on priory rights in 1411., Documents edited by E.H. Carter. Norwich, Jarrold, 1935. 74 p. illus.

14. Carter, Edward Henry, 1876-1953. A history of Britain /, by E.H. Carter and R.A.F. Mears. Oxford : The Clarendon Press, 1937. xxiv, 1050 p. : ill., maps ; 20 cm.