Category Archives: CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

Love and life in the court of King James IV of Scotland

Love and life in the court of King James IV of Scotland


James IV‘s love life was no secret to his people. Marion Boyd had borne him a son in 1493. Margaret Drummond had been his mistress from 1496, but she died suddenly and rather suspiciously with her two sisters, after a breakfast in 1502, coveniently one year before the king was to celebtate his grand dynastic marriage to Margaret Tudor.

Wives and mothers in Tudor age

Wives and mothers in Tudor age

A Tudor marriage was usually a carefully orchestrated affair, be it for monarch or commoner – a business arrangement to safeguard family fortunes, enhance wealth and property and advance social status. The bride was expected to provide an appropriately large dowry. Love matches and Romeo and Juliet scenarios were strictly for the stage.

Does Dickens invented our Christmas?

Does Dickens invented our Christmas?

Thanks to his seminal 1843 novel A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens is often credited with inventing winter festivities as we know them. His book of literary favourites including Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the host of Christmas ghosts are thought to define the Dickensian Christmas but is Dickens’ pioneering reputation really deserved?

William Wilberforce’s Mission for Humane Rights

William Wilberforce’s Mission for Humane Rights
In the late 1700s, when William Wilberforce was a teenager, English traders raided the African coast on the Gulf of Guinea, captured between 35,000 and 50,000 Africans a year, shipped them across the Atlantic, and sold them into slavery. It was a profitable business that many powerful people had become dependent upon.

Did the Scottish mass-murdering cannibal Sawney Bean actually exist?

Did the Scottish mass-murdering cannibal Sawney Bean actually exist?

According to most accounts, Alexander “Sawney” Bean was a Scottish farm labourer born in about 1530 in Galloway. Soon after his marriage, and for reasons unknown, Sawney and his wife moved to live in the Bennane Cave. This cavern is over 200 metres deep and the entrance is covered by the sea at high tide. From this lair Bean ventured out to ambush, murder and rob unwary travellers. The bodies were brought back to the cave where they were butchered and eaten. Thus no evidence of the crimes was left.