Category Archives: MODERN HISTORY

Manpower for sea power

Manpower for sea power


Life at sea may not have been a particularly attractive prospect for a man in Georgian England, but it was always an option: The Royal Navy was constantly, chronically, in need of sailors. Its peacetime strength in 1792 was fifteen thousand men,but in five years it increased eightfold, and by 1813 the number stood at one hundred and fifty thousand- this in a nation whose population was only about 10 million. England’s navy may have been the envy of the world, but it was not at all uncommon for her warships to sail undermanned.

Spencer Perceval’s assassination

Spencer Perceval’s assassination

All that is generally remembered about Spencer Perceval is that he was the only British prime minister ever to be assassinated. By all accounts he was a thoroughly decent, honourable and competent man, but he was cut off in his prime and failed to make any lasting mark. A lawyer, born in London, the younger son of an aristocratic family and educated at Harrow and Cambridge, he became an MP in his thirties in 1796.

The little Ice Age

The little Ice Age

From about 1550 the climate again grew colder with the intensification of what is known as “The Little Ice Age” which had begun in 1320s. In February 1565 Pieter Brueghel the Elder painted his famous picture Hunters in the Snow, one of the first landscape paintings ever to be painted, which started a fashion for Dutch winter landscapes. It was the coldest winter in living memory, and a symptom of the sharp deterioration of winter temperatures that brought snowfalls to the Swiss Alps twice as often as in the previous twenty years.

Bear River massacre in 1863

Bear River massacre in 1863

Four miles north of Preston, Idaho, the Bear River quietly ambles through green valleys and sagebrush covered mountains, the Shoshone call this place Boa Ogoi. Something happened on this site that is little known to U.S. history. But it is seared forever into the memory of the Shoshone.

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.