CategoryMiscleaneous

From the Editor: Counter Culture

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History is at odds with our desire for simple certainties Can its cultivation of complexity create a better future It is regrettable that many of the things that have given me greatest pleasure in life – test match cricket, classical music, Italy – appear to be in long-term decline You can add the pursuit of serious history to this rarefied roster The pursuit of serious history is especially...

Monuments to the Past

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History, tourism and public knowledge are all intertwined in this part of Philadelphia This includes an equestrian statue of General Robert E Lee (by Frederick William Sievers, 1917) It was the proposed removal of another statue of General Lee – that in Charlottesville, Virginia – which prompted various Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist and ‘Alt-Right’ groups to demonstrate in a ‘Unite the Right’ march...

Pakistan: A Failed State?

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Yet here, days before Pakistan became a reality, its leader asserted an inclusive agenda for the new country The Objectives Resolution was presented and passed in a hurried manner, with any reservations being brushed aside This was a hugely significant event on several counts, not least in terms of the country’s relationship with India, which worsened considerably It was unprecedented for such...

Tourist Trinkets: The Medieval Pilgrim Badge

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In our possession, these objects take on new meanings that transcend their low material quality, or the fact that thousands of other people have got one just like it Pilgrimage was the primary form of extended travel for ordinary people in late medieval Christendom It is no wonder that pilgrims, like the modern tourist, demanded souvenirs at their destination It would be anachronistic to claim...

The Myth of Symmetry and Balance

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The idea that the ancient Greeks were exemplars of rationality and logic, who worshipped ideas of perfection, beauty and honour, is an enduring one A document authored by the chronicler Strabo reports the work of Crates of Mallos (c180-150 BC), although care is needed here, for Strabo and Crates are separated by a century and a half Crates wanted to reconcile this observation with his...

The Law According to Justinian

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The Codex of Justinian: A New Annotated Translation with Parallel Latin and Greek TextFred H Blume (trans He achieved this within a period of little more than five years, while pursuing a war with Sasanian Iran and putting down a dangerous revolt in Constantinople in 532 that destroyed some of the ceremonial heart of the city and nearly put an end to his reign The Codex , or Code , of Justinian...

Back in Time to an Ice Age and a Great Fire

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It was, he suggests, a turbulent time: an age of revolutions, experimentation and genius Other towns were also devastated by fire, including Bungay, Newmarket, Rolvenden, St Ives, Morpeth, Builth, Northampton and Warwick Such a book has to try to avoid anachronism and, generally, Mortimer is successful Not only would modern visitors to Restoration Britain find transport and postage frustratingly...

Savage Nobles and Noble Savages

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Exploration was seen by many Britons as being not only the preserve of officers and gentlemen, but of honourable British heroes: success was less important than observing the correct forms – Johnny Foreigner, the lower orders and the frailer sex were often perceived as interlopers Gradually, exploration came to mean not map-making in the unknown but adventure tourism and self-advertisement Some...

Passchendaele: What’s in a name?

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Actually, there were at least five distinct major bouts of fighting in the Ypres area during the First World War, which quickly became known as ‘battles’ Although useful for constructing a narrative, the official, unwieldy names did not catch on Passchendaele became synonymous with the Third Battle of Ypres Why, then, do I query its use for the current commemorations In general, I have no...

Tacitus’ Perfect Man

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Tacitus seems to ramp up this portrayal with his description of the popular reaction to Germanicus’ death: he is called a new Alexander the Great, one who may have overtaken Alexander in military fame had he been able to succeed Tiberius; a man of extraordinary talents, virtues, good qualities and general handsomeness who was universally adored In Rome, Tacitus says, people spontaneously observed...

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