CategoryMiscleaneous

The Times They Were A Changin’

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A fascinating, multi-authored study seeks to make sense of a momentous, tragic year ‘Has this country gone mad’, declaimed the Democratic politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Saturday Evening Post during May 1968 Fifty years later, historians still wonder about the meaning of this tortured year Here, 1968 appears both as an end – for the youth political movement – and as a beginning, as the...

Across the Great Divide

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His father was hung, drawn and quartered for his role in the Gunpowder plot of 1605, when Kenelm was just two years old His devoutly Catholic wife, the society beauty Venetia Stanley, died suddenly in 1633 – and was portrayed on her death bed by Anthony van Dyck His brother and his eldest son died fighting in the Civil Wars, while Digby was imprisoned by Parliament for his prominence among the...

The Suffragette Songstress

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The prison governor was deeply embarrassed, later dismissing Smyth as ‘highly histerical [sic]’, ‘neurotic’, even ‘mentally disturbed’ But Beecham – who had come expressly to visit Smyth – knew that she was nothing of the sort There, in the prison yard, she was giving what would prove to be her most memorable concert The daughter of a distinguished artillery general, she had been given a...

Skanderbeg: a Man for Our Times?

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Now an obscure figure outside Albania, for centuries Skanderbeg was lauded throughout Europe Who was this forgotten hero – sometimes called ‘The Albanian Braveheart’ – and what relevance, if any, does he have today Gjergj left his homeland at the age of nine for Adrianople (Edirne, in modern Turkey), where he was converted to Islam from Christianity and given a new name: Alexander, or in Turkish...

The Nazi Holiday Camp

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On the coast of Rügen island in northern Germany is a beach resort fit for a Führer Stretching nearly three miles along the north coast of Rügen, an island in northern Germany, Prora was built between 1936 and 1939 as part of Adolf Hitler’s Strength Through Joy ( Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project Much like a Nazi version of Butlins, the resort was designed to be affordable for the average...

Lettice Knollys, the Great Survivor

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Henry VIII’s granddaughter survived numerous scandals, family tragedy and seven monarchs Hearing nothing in reply, he risked the queen’s infamous wrath by racing back to London His wife was long since dead, dying in the queen’s own rooms Lettice was accused of flirting with Elizabeth’s untouchable favourite and would later boldly marry Dudley Granddaughter of Henry VIII’s mistress and Anne...

Poland and the Holocaust

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Poland’s memory law, passed in February 2018, threatens to imprison anyone who falsely attributes German war crimes to the Polish state or nation The subsequent commemoration of HMD in Britain reflects a predominant Holocaust mythology that developed almost immediately after the war: that of Britain as unknowing bystander and eventual liberator More uncomfortable episodes of British wartime...

The Ascension

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A master of the early Renaissance depicts the moment that Christians regard as the confirmation of Jesus’ divinity Forty days after his resurrection, Christ, shrouded in clouds, ascends to Heaven The climactic event of his time on Earth is witnessed by 11 of his 12 Disciples: Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver, had hanged himself in shame Various accounts claim that St...

Whose Civilising Mission?

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It accused him of murdering Europeans: as punishment, he had been ‘blown away from a gun’ Half a century later, the publican’s heirs – who felt queasy about the matter – contacted Kim A Wagner, an academic of British imperial history at Queen Mary, University of London Men condemned to death by ‘cannonade’ were bound hand and foot to cannon wheels with the barrel pressing into their chest; a half...

Monstrous Regiment

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Acknowledging that trans histories exist as a principle is different from being able to know for certain that individuals whose behaviour transgressed the extremely fixed gender structures of early modern England ‘were definitely a woman’ or ‘would be called a trans man today’ It does not erase historians’ knowledge about soldiers who did live as women to allow for trans possibilities in other...

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