It’s an unlikely inscription, to be sure. British Professor David Starkey leads off an episode of the 2003 documentary, Monarchy, with a scene from Bayeux, in Northern France. He’s walking amid the headstones—4,000 of them—of British Commonwealth soldiers who died during the World War II invasion of Normandy. But the inscription he reads, carved above the classic columns of the war memorial, brings us back—far back—into the mists of time:

Nos a Gulielmo

Victi Victoris

Patriam Liberavimis

(We, Conquered by William, Have Liberated the Conqueror’s Native Land.)

Now, that is a sense of history! Nine hundred years after William the Conqueror invaded England from that same French coast, men from England, that “Blessed Plot, ” returned to free France and Normandy from the Nazi yoke of oppression.

England has not survived without a deep sense of history. The whole world watched last spring when William—who may be one day King William V—wed Kate Middleton. They took their vows in Westminster Abbey, not far from the very spot where William the Conqueror—that cruel and despotic ruler—had had himself crowned in 1066.

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