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Extradition – A Very Brief History

In October 2012, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that computer hacker Gary McKinnon would not be extradited to the USA. It marked the end of a ten-year battle. Some commentators argued that the request for extradition should never have been made in the first place and that, once again, it highlighted the unequal Anglo-American extradition treaty. McKinnon, who suffers …

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John ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton – The epic story of an English eccentric

You know those outrageous stories of rich British aristocrats behaving in a very odd manner? Well John “Mad Jack” Mytton is the very pinnacle. What you are about to read will sound made up, but Mytton’s biographer, Charles James Apperley, assures us the modern reader that he told Mytton’s exploits without exaggeration. In general mental heathcare was rudimentary in the …

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Tudor Assassination – Derek Wilson Writes About His New Book

‘An assassin [is one] that will slay men for money at the instance of every man that will move him to it, and such a man may lawfully be slain…by every private person.’ – Christopher St.German, A First Dialogue in English on  Fundamental English Law and Conscience, 1531, II, xl So wrote the leading legist in Henry VIII’s London in a …

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Disaster at Sea and the Fall of Captain Noble

Like most people, I hadn’t heard of the RMS Tayleur until a visit to the museum in Warrington, England a few years ago. My eye was caught by a brass porthole, crusted with barnacles but still surprisingly shiny after over 150 years, fixed to the wall next to a pile of chipped crockery and an etching of a shipwreck. A …

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From historical fact to historical fiction

Historian and novelist James Aitcheson on making the transition from fact to fiction, why research matters, and the power of historical novels to challenge myths and misconceptions. One of the most common questions that historical novelists get asked is: where do you draw the line between fact and fiction? Achieving the right balance is a tricky business, and as a …

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Hooke, Newton and the ‘missing’ portrait

Portraits have a peculiar fascination for people. As Lisa Jardine has pointed out, historical figures come to life so much more vividly when a portrait is available. This is true for historians almost as much as anyone else. Therefore the thought that there might be a lost or unidentified portrait of a famous and controversial figure like Robert Hooke is extremely …

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When the US dropped FOUR H-Bombs on Spain

How many times has the US Air Force dropped nuclear bombs on Spain? The answer is just the once but they did drop four of them… By the 1960s the world was in the most tense phase of the “Cold War”. The “West” was in a nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Both sides had enough nuclear weapons to ensure …

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Edward II of England – A King Overthrown by his Wife

King Edward II of England was born in Caernarfon, North Wales on 25 April 1284, as at least the fourteenth, and the youngest, child of King Edward I and his first, Spanish queen Eleanor of Castile.  At the time of his birth, Edward I was almost forty-five and had been king of England for eleven and a half years since …

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Bismarck in Biarritz – a matter of life and death

Tony Boullemier explores what could have been… THE sliding doors of history hold a grim fascination. How our lives could have changed had things turned out just a little bit differently. Last month I stumbled on a grim case in point where one man’s lucky break arguably led to two world wars and tens of millions of deaths. Ever since I published …

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James I & VI and his male ‘favourites’

Samantha Smith examines James VI & I’s relationships with his ‘favourites’ “And yet I cannot content myself without sending you this billet, praying God that I may have a joyful and comfortable meeting with you, and that we may make at this Christenmass a new marriage, ever to be kept thereafter; for God so love me, as I desire only …

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