Category Archives: CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

Egyptomania

Egyptomania


The fashion for “Egyptian” design that swept Europe after Bonaparte’s expedition was actually a revival of sorts. Europeans had drawn inspiration from the Nile at least since the fifth century B.C., when the Greek historian Herodotus wrote his famous account of the land that even then was seen as the fountainhead of ancient wisdom. 

Medieval sense of humour

Medieval sense of humour

The passions of a violent society spill over into the sense of humour you will encounter. Yes, there is humour, lots of it, amid the violence and sexism. But whether you will find it funny is a quite a different matter. For example, here is a medieval joke. One merchant asks another, ‘Are you married?’ ‘I had three wives,’ the second merchant responds, ‘but all three hanged themselves from a tree in my garden.’ The first merchant retorts, ‘Pray, give me a cutting from this miraculous tree.’

The changing role of woman in 20th-century Britain

The changing role of woman in 20th-century Britain

Perhaps the most dramatic improvement in Britain’s way of life in the 20th century was the change in the place of women in the nation’s working life. The foundations for this change, which only reached a climax later in the century, were gradually laid in the decades before World War II.

Coffee-houses in 17th century England

Coffee-houses in 17th century England

Coffee was one of the fancy new comestibles introduced to England in Stuart times. The first coffee-house was opened in Oxford in 1650; two years later they began to appear in London, and then elsewhere in the country; by the 1660s they were pretty well established. Customers generally ad to pay a penny for a cup, and the coffee-house was sometimes called the ‘penny university’, reflecting the intellectual stimulation visitors could expect. The habitués were almost entirely male, and fairly well-off. Inevitably, men of various professions and political persuasions came together at particular haunts.

History of the game: “Tennis balls, my liege”

History of the game: “Tennis balls, my liege”

The insulting ‘treasure’ that France’s Dauphin sent to Henry V in Shakespeare’s play had long since played its part in French sport. Louis X (1314 – 16) was an enthusiastic player of jeu de paume or ‘game of the palm’ from which modern tennis is derived, and his innovation of an indoor court supplemented the game’s outdoor version.