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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JAMES TAYLOR REVIEWS ‘DEFENDING THE CITY OF GOD’ BY SHARAN NEWMAN

Defending the City of God: A Medieval Queen, the First Crusades, and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem By Sharan Newman       Palgrave Macmillan In the twelfth century, Jerusalem was ruled by Queen Melisende, an indomitable figure who faced enemy armies, wily ambassadors, and ambitious bishops. The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had only recently been established, created by the crusading armies …

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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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Five Minutes With… Dr Adam Smith

Dr Adam I. P. Smith is an historian, author and senior lecturer at University College London specialising in 19th century American history. His publications include  The American Civil War (American History in Depth) and  No Party Now: Politics in the Civil War North. His biography of Abraham Lincoln is set to be published by The History Press later this year. Adam’s most recent …

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When the Vatican put a Corpse on Trial

Dead Men CAN talk…   There are many odd stories from the Vatican, one of the perennial favourites is that in the Middle Ages there was a Pope Joan. The story goes that a woman managed to become Pope and the deception was only revealed after she gave birth as she mounted a horse. The list of Pope’s is pretty …

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Bunker Hill: A City, A Seige, A Revolution

What was it that, in 1775, provoked a group of merchants, farmers, artisans and mariners in the American colonies to unite and take up arms against the British government in pursuit of liberty? Nathaniel Philbrick, author of  BUNKER HILL: A City, A Siege, A Revolution (already snapped up by Warner Bros.), discusses his bestselling book. You are the author of …

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Five Minutes With… Dr Angela McShane

Dr Angela McShane is Head of Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the V&A/RCA. She specialises in Early Modern broadside ballads and is a project leader on Intoxicants and Early Modernity and the AHRC funded 100 Hit Songs of the 17th century .  She is also the editor of the V&A’s online journal.   What is an historian? Someone who is …

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CRISIS HUNTER: THE LAST FLIGHT OF JOE KENNEDY JR

Exactly 70 years on, a new book re-opens the events of August 1944 when US Navy pilot Joe Kennedy Jr, older brother of future US President John F. Kennedy, was killed over the Suffolk countryside in a top secret mission pioneering drone aircraft for the first time. In this new short book, Kennedy-era researcher Paul Elgood, who uncovered the long forgotten story of JFK’s visit to Birch Grove shortly before his 1963 assassination, recounts these wartime events and journeys to the site …

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World War One: The Trip

Why go on a World War One tour? The question was at the forefront of my mind as I boarded the ferry from Dover to Calais. My trip had started at Victoria coach station in London, but seeing the English Channel made the reality of what I was about to do really sink in. A century ago, my Great-Grandfathers had …

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ICONIC TEXTS: Dr Joanne Paul on ‘Utopia’ by Thomas More

  In the third installment of our new series of podcasts, Dr Joanne Paul explores a text written by one of the most prominent players of the Tudor court. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia – conceived while the author was on a diplomatic mission for Henry VIII – was first published in Latin in 1516 and translated into English in 1551 (years after More’s execution). …

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793 AD : A year of ‘rapine and slaughter’

793 AD the year that should strike fear in every reader’s heart. Reading the contemporary sources for 793 and you’d be forgiven to think that you were reading Lord of the Rings, or a particularly apocalyptic section of the Bible- “A.D. 793.  This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: thesewere immense sheets of …

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