Category Archives: MODERN HISTORY

The Mfecane 1816-28

The Mfecane 1816-28


The rise of the Zulu empire under its warlike king Shaka (r.1816 -28) sent shock waves throughout southern Africa, triggering mass migrations of refugee peoples. Known as the Mfecane (`to be weak from hunger’), these upheavals completely rearranged the pattern of settlement in southern Africa and left vast areas depopulated. The Zulu belong to the Nguni, the most southerly branch of the Bantu-speaking peoples. As a result of the Mfecane the Nguni are now widespread throughout southern Africa, inhabiting  Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.

The Modoc War, 1872-73

The Modoc War, 1872-73

From the late 1860s there was an uneasy peace until the outbreak in 1872 of the Modoc War, one of the smallest, and certainly one of the oddest, campaigns the US Army ever had to fight. As usual, problems arose from political pressure exerted by land-hungry settlers: in this instance, they wanted the fertile lands of the Modoc tribe of northern California. As a result, the Modocs were ordered from their ancestral lands to a reservation in southern Oregon, which they were to share with the more numerous Klamath tribe.

Few leading figures in the English Civil War 1642-51

Few leading figures in the English Civil War 1642-51

In the middle of 17th century England experienced a great convulsion of political and military violence, which quickly spread to engulf Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This was a true civil war, in which men and women at all levelsof society, somethimes even withinthe same family, took different sides on issues of principle, and fought for them to the death. Here are some of the key figures on both sides, apart from King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.

Key moments of the American Civil War

Key moments of the American Civil War

Union and Confederate armies clashed close to the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg in the battle we now know was a defining moment in the American Civil War. At the time of the American revolution it was legal to hold human beings as ‘property’ in all of the British colonies that rebelled. But in the wake of the revolution slavery was abolished in New England and, gradually, in the mid-Atlantic states as well. In the south, though, where most enslaved people were held, abolitionism stalled and slavery expanded rapidly.

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper

On 27th June 1881, 64-years-old coin dealer Isaac Gold was brutally murdered on the 14:00 London to Brighton express train. At preston Park station the ticket collector noticed a man smothered with blood who,on inquiry, claimed he had been attacked by two passengers who had fled. There was no evidence against the man, Percy Mapleton, but he was arrested because police thought he might have attempted suicide (then a criminal offence). Adetective escorted him to his home in Surrey and waited patiently outsidewhile Mapleton went in to change his clothes. Meanwhile Gold’s body had been found beside the railway track, stabbed in the chest and shot in the neck.