Category Archives: CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

Victorian Scotland

Victorian Scotland


By the time Victoria became queen of Great Britain in 1837 the powers of the monarch were much more restricted than those of her 18th century predecessors, and far less than the autocratic power, always greater in Scotland than in England, that kings had had before 1688. Parliament was sovereign, although the unelected House of Lords retained powers of veto over the Commons. The House of Commons itself was elected only by a minority of the adult population.

Kievan Russia: The introduction of Christianity

Kievan Russia: The introduction of Christianity

So little is known about Kievan Russia that it has been easy to surround it with the glamour of mystery and opulence. It is true that Russian life, to the extent that any generalizations about it have meaning, centered in Kiev for centuries; it was in fact more than three and a half centuries between the advent of the Scandinavian Varangians and the far more important, enduring and fateful inundation of all Russia by the great Mongol conquests of the 12th century.

Black gold: The triumph of oil

Black gold: The triumph of oil

Yet within the single lifetime of some of its oldest inhabitants today, Europe has undergone an astonishing transformation, a transformation largely wrought by a different resource – oil. The vagaries of supply of that resource from inside and outside Europe have literally changed the history of the world.

Forest, deer parks and hunting in the time of chivalry

Forest, deer parks and hunting in the time of chivalry

Like the inclusion of crenellations, the creation of a deer park required a license from the Crown. The ownership of hunting land or the right to hunt within it was as much a symbol of noble status as the fortified dwelling or heraldic arms. Vast tracts of land, by the late 12th century maybe as much as a third of southern England, were set aside for hunting.

Tricks and treats: The story of Halloween

Tricks and treats: The story of Halloween

Every 31 October in the USA, in Britain and increasingly in places as diverse as Japan, Slovenia and India, costumed children cry “trick or treat” at the doors of neighbours, hoping for sweets or money. To the British ear, this may seem to be yet another American import but the progress of such customs through time is more complex than that.